By Joe Mellor, Deputy Editor
While watching PMQs last week, I was so frustrated with Miliband’s refusal to answer whether he had said he was “weaponising the NHS,” I stuck two pencils in my nose and prepared to head-butt the desk, but at the last minute I thought, “They are not worth it”
Well today Miliband used all his questions to ask the PM about his tax cuts to hedge funds. The PM failed to answer the question once. I reached for my trusty HBs and rammed them back into place, was this going to be the day they finally break me?
I guess the only relief was that Cameron didn’t fire the “Weaponise” question back to Miliband, that would have been like watching the prototype of the arcade game Pong.
Anyway, today, the issue Miliband was addressing was that in 2013 Gideon gave a tax cut to “Hedgies” that meant they have paid £145 million less in tax. Subsequently they donated £47 million back to the party that made them the money in the first place, which using my dodgy maths (as dodgy as a non-dom donor) is equivalent to a 32% rate, which is a bit tight considering the top rate of tax is 45%.
When it comes to donors, I assumed all politicians have watched The Thick of It as a matter of course, akin to footballers watching Match of the Day. They clearly missed the part when Malcolm Tucker says, “Here’s the fucking thing. Nobody talks about fucking dodgy donors, okay? Because it makes everybody look bad.”
And indeed it did. ”I’ll raise you my Jersey-based tax exile for your two Luxembourg tax avoiders,” was the high stakes game they played today. Mercilessly, Miliband chose not to mention Sam Cam, whose company – Smythson – has decided to use a tax haven. I can’t help thinking the PM would have brought this up if Ed’s wife was involved in the same thing.
Interesting fact (ok I nicked it from Wikipedia) Miliband’s wife is a friend of Frances Osborne, Gideon’s partner, whom she met at university. The establishment remains on the throne, no matter who you vote for. No wonder they had to get a Kiwi to head up the child sex inquiry.
Today’s PMQs set out quite clearly: you either vote for the party with fewer dodgy donors and trade unions, or the one with lots of dodgy donors. Pick your poison and swallow it, let’s see who dies first.
Cameron then moved onto Ed Balls and his performance on yesterday’s Newsnight, where he couldn’t name any business leader who supported Labour, apart from “Bill…Someone,” the PM said Bill isn’t a person, it’s a Labour policy. Word is the scriptwriter will receive a bill and a P45 in the post.
Then the PM -who increasingly uses PMQs to attack the opposition rather than even attempt to answer questions – turned his guns back to Ed and said that one of the comedy duo the Chuckle Brothers said he would hate to be called Ed Miliband.” The thought of Miliband with a moustache, scouse accent and hitting Ed Balls with a 4by2; dare I say it? Made me chuckle. Yep I’ll take my P45 as well.
So in the end, for the second week running, I withdrew the pencils from my nasal cavity. But I didn’t do it for them. I did it for me. I was worried when I made it to the next life, I’d find the party donors had been using it as a tax haven for years.
Sycophantic question of the day
Stuart Andrew, Con, who was looking forward to the PM’s trip to Yorkshire, especially to Morley and Outwood (Ed Balls constituency) allowing the PM to reply “I want to increase the employment rate there by one”. Fair play to Cameron, even Balls laughed.
My pencils; who live to fight another day.