Leading article: A populist blunder from Mr Cameron

 

Share
Related Topics

Perhaps it was because David Cameron felt he was not making much of an impression at the G20 summit in Mexico that he could not resist jumping on a passing domestic bandwagon.

Whatever the reason, the home audience was treated to the spectacle of their Prime Minister, at a gathering of world leaders, discussing the personal finances of a stand-up comedian. Jimmy Carr's tax-avoidance arrangements were, he said, "quite frankly, morally wrong".

But for the sake of one good headline, Mr Cameron has created a problem that will see out his Conservative leadership. After all, Mr Carr is by no means the only high earner whose tax arrangements could arguably be called "morally wrong". Most of the very wealthy do all they can to avoid tax legally – including a number of well-known Tory donors. One good example is Lord Ashcroft. The Tory peer, who has given the party £6m and was Mr Cameron's deputy chairman for five years, spent a decade refusing to talk about his tax arrangements before admitting that he was a non-dom. Notably, Mr Cameron's response was that "Lord Ashcroft's tax status is a matter between him and the Inland Revenue".

It seems the Prime Minister was soon aware of his blunder this week. Asked, on his return from Mexico, about Take That star Gary Barlow's alleged tax avoidance, Mr Cameron's previous volubility disappeared. It would not be "right", he said, to "give a running commentary on different people's tax affairs".

What a mess. And it is one entirely of Mr Cameron's own making. Most worrying of all is that this latest debacle is just one of a series of unforced errors which, taken together, only add substance to concerns about the Prime Minister's judgement.

Not only must he take a share of the blame for the string of policy climbdowns that followed the Budget. There are also the questions raised by the hiring of Andy Coulson, the promotion of Jeremy Hunt to judge on the BSkyB deal, and the Prime Minister's own "country supper" closeness to News International, as revealed in such detail at the Leveson Inquiry.

Mr Cameron has considerable charm and fluency. But both he and, by extension, his Government show an alarming tendency not to think things through.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Recruitment Genius: PA

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A PA is required to join a leading provider of...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Any chance the other parties will run their election campaigns without any deceit or nastiness?

Nigel Farage
 

The digital world is incredible – but it’s human bonds that make us who we are

Joanna Shields
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness