The Diary: The taxing problem that Livingstone just can't shake off

 

Ken Livingstone pulled level with Boris Johnson in the London mayoral contest at the start of this year when a fares hike took effect, but lately he seems to be looking for ways to throw the election away.

His difficult relations with London's Jewish community are reported on our news pages today, but the issue which has given Johnson back his lead appears to be Livingstone's tax arrangements. While he was out of office, Livingstone had his accountant arrange for his earnings to be channelled into a private company to avoid the 50p top tax rate.

Other people do it, but they have not castigated tax dodgers the way Livingstone, pictured, has. It is an open goal, of which David Cameron took full advantage during Prime Minister's Questions yester- day. It's not the first time that Livingstone's penchant for putting his earnings into a private company has made the news and therein lies a heavy irony.

Twelve years ago, he decided to stand as an independent against the official Labour candidate for which he was expelled from the Labour Party. On the day he was expelled, a damaging story appeared in The Times suggesting that Livingstone had broken the law by taking money out of his private firm to finance his political activities.

This story – in contrast to the current stories about his tax affairs – was Labour friendly. Its author was the Times journalist, Tom Baldwin, now Ed Miliband's senior media adviser. The source of his information was possibly not a million miles removed from Labour Party headquarters.

 

Is Danny going cuckoo?

On the BBC website there is an enlightening recording of Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, being interviewed about reports that the Government was thinking of removing the 50p top rate of tax.

"It's something that we as Liberal Democrats pushed very hard for that the Government's first priority in tax reductions would be people on low and middle incomes. We are going to lift the income tax threshold to £10,000. The idea that we are going to somehow shift our focus to the wealthiest in the country at a time when everyone is under pressure is cloud cuckoo land," he vouchsafed.

Yesterday, Mr Alexander was to be seen sitting alongside his boss, George Osborne, just like a cuckoo in a cloud.

 

Alan Turing – a hero of note

Three months tomorrow will be the centenary of the birth of Alan Turing, the mathematician who broke the Enigma code, thus hastening the Allied victory in the war, for which the state rewarded him by forcing him to undergo chemical castration because of his homosexuality. Obtaining a posthumous pardon for Turing is proving impossible, so someone has had the idea of putting a petition on the Downing Street website calling for Turing's face to be put on the £10 note. It attracted 1,500 signatures in double-quick time.

 

Scoops and changing times

In 1983, The Guardian published an exclusive about nuclear weaponry based on a document leaked by a civil servant. When the police came looking, the paper's editor, Peter Preston, surrendered the photocopied document, an act which unintentionally led to the arrest and imprisonment of the leaker, Sarah Tisdall. Preston was widely condemned and has not been allowed to live the incident down.

More recently, the police demanded to see an email exchange between Isabel Oakeshott, political editor of The Sunday Times, and Vicky Pryce, estranged wife of Chris Huhne. The emails were handed over, after brief resistance, and Pryce now awaits trial.

At Tuesday night's press awards ceremony, The Sunday Times was shortlisted for an award for its coverage of the Huhne-Pryce case, and Isabel Oakeshott was named Political Journalist of the Year. Times have changed.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR and Payroll Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This dynamic outsourced contact...

Recruitment Genius: Production & Quality Control Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity for a ...

Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor - Kettering - £32,000

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor with an established...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Generalist

£40 - 50k (DOE) + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a HR Manager / HR Genera...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss