George Osborn, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, spoke today at the Tory Party Conference. Falsely.
He said a lot of things that on closer study are weasel words that do not mean what they lead you to believe you think they mean, and which you want them to mean. In other words, it was a carefully crafted PR speech fitting the role of the leader of a large PR company. Oh, that’s what David Cameron really is, was and always will be, isn’t it?
He specifically warned people that if they paid large dividends instead of rebuilding their capital base, those people would suffer. This was followed by a comment about not allowing taxes paid by lower end taxpayers to be used for the benefit of those earning millionaire bonuses. But that means they will do practically nothing at all! Let me explain.
The people who the average man in the street feel most badly about are the city traders getting multi-million pound bonuses each year. The problem is, these traders are employees, or partners (most stockbroking firms have been partnerships not Limited Companies. And if they are companies, each bonus earner is a small part in the whole so gets salary plus bonus. Salaries and bonuses are taken out of a company’s accounts before the dividends, so by making the bonuses big enough you can minimise the dividends to avoid any Tory inspired wrist slapping. Result? Tories can claim to be hitting the people most voters now want to be hit, but without actually having anything more than a feather duster to do it with.
Then there’s the matter of party funding. David Cameron has been attacking Labour for some time about being funded by the Unions and cozying up to big business, while at the same time they themselves have raised £50 million in 30 months. Well, nothing wrong with that you think. But just look how they’ve been doing it. Two examples.
First off, the Leader’s Group. This is an exclusive club that costs £50,000 a year to join but which gives you the right to evenings with David Cameron – special privileges for the privileged. If you can’t afford the fee, well, you can’t influence his thinking.
Secondly, expatriate Lord Ashcroft and the £4 million donation that became £3 million for the Tories. According to a recent Channel 4 documentary, “Cameron’s Money Men” Ashcroft is not on the voters roll, is therefore not eligible to vote, and by law cannot contribute to a UK political party. So how did the Tories receive his money? A chain of companies starting with one in Belize where he is allegedly tax resident and has considerable interests with the last link in the chain being a company in Southampton. Not only is this not allowed, it may even be criminal, according to one of the experts on the Channel 4 program.
The Tories then used £2 million of his donation to fund publicity campaigns in key marginals across the country. Although there is a limit to how much money political parties can spend on an election campaign once one has been called, there is no limit to how much can be spent in the crucially influential two years preceding an election.
Channel 4 programs do not have the reputation for accuracy that perhaps the BBC might offer (remember The Great Global Warming Swindle?) but they did have some pretty well placed people making comments.