Hands up those surprised that Ken Livingstone took advantage of a legal loophole to avoid paying income tax on his substantial earnings in 2009.
No, I thought not. Most sensible people have long had Livingstone down as a 24-carat ‘do as I say, not do as I do’ merchant.
By forming a company and paying corporation tax at 20 per cent rather than income tax at up to 40 per cent, he’s reckoned to have saved himself about £50,000.
This is common practice – but it might be an appropriate moment to recall Livingstone’s scathing observation made three years ago about MPs (mostly Tories, of course) who employ similar tactics.
“These rich b******* just don’t get it,” he said.
“No-one should be allowed to vote in a British election, let alone sit in Parliament, unless they pay their full share of tax.”
Having now joined the ranks of the well-heeled illegitimates, Livingstone may care to follow his own advice and step down as Labour candidate to become the next Mayor of London.
But it’s not his tax arrangements I find extraordinary so much as the way in which he managed to earn £232,000 in 2009.
Apparently, he came by it through ‘personal appearances, speech-making and hosting a radio show’.
This suggests people were actually prepared to part with good money to hear flawed political clichés trotted out in a world-weary nasal drawl.
Not that Livingstone could care less, because he is merely following in the well-worn path taken by other discredited old Lefties like Derek Hatton and Neil Kinnock.
It’s surprising these two fell out so spectacularly almost 30 years ago at that memorable Labour Party conference, because both are money-grubbing capitalists at heart.
Hatton – who was once an avowed Trotskyist – has since been a property developer in Cyprus and now describes himself as a businessman and a would-be broadcaster.
Kinnock was vehemently anti-European during his early years in politics, but that did not stop him becoming a handsomely-remunerated EU commissioner.
He was also a constant critic of the House of Lords – but accepted the title of Baron Kinnock of Bedwellty at the first opportunity.
Livingstone, Hatton and Kinnock: the three stooges of socialist Britain who abandoned their principles as soon as there was a few bob to be made.
** Use of the word welsh is scotched
The following comes under the heading of ‘just when you think this country couldn’t get any more ludicrous...’
Education Secretary, Michael Gove, used the long-established and perfectly inoffensive term ‘welsh’ in the Commons, meaning a failure to fulfil an obligation.
Up popped the Speaker to ask that he withdraw the expression and alter it to ‘renege’ for fear of offending the Celts (unaware, apparently, that it can also be spelled ‘welch’).
I regret to say Gove (who is actually married to a Welsh woman) complied with this preposterous request.
Does this mean parliamentarians will not now be able to use the word ‘scotch’ (as in ‘to bring an abrupt end to’) without attracting this silly little man’s condemnation?