Labour's in no position to preach, blasts Richard

Monday 23 February 2015

Oh what a tangled web we see, when we speak with rank hypocrisy." (With apologies to Sir Walter Scott). Labour's breathtaking hypocrisy on tax avoidance has been pitiful to watch.

Not only are some of the party's own donors happy to paddle in the "vanilla" waters of legal taxdodging but even Ed Miliband set himself up a nice little tax-saving device, didn't he? In 1994 he set up a "deed of variation" (no, me neither) and when Miliband was confronted with his use of this nifty little ruse, guess what he did? He blamed his mum! She was the one who had drawn up the deed. Wow! No hesitation in chucking old mumsie off the cliff, then!

Now as it turns out Ed wouldn't have actually managed to avoid any tax. In the end the house was bought by his brother David (remember him?), Ed paid up his capital gains tax and with Mrs Miliband still alive neither would have inherited it before the loophole was closed some years ago anyway.

But I thought Ed's pious lecturing to us on the evils of tax avoidance wasn't based on the argument that they're technically wrong but that they're morally wrong. If you are going to climb on a high horse as a politician then you had better be above all reproach.

Then came Ed Balls's ludicrous "get a receipt for everything" dictum, even if it's a tenner paid to a bloke to trim your hedge. Stand by for another dose of hypocrisy. Balls claimed he always gets receipts for any work done or service provided.

Really? So why did he and 11 other members of the Shadow Cabinet claim expenses for cleaning, gardening or odd jobs without submitting the receipts?

Quite how this shameless shower has the nerve to lecture us on anything to do with the economy beats me. Remember the note departing chief secretary to the Treasury Liam Byrne left for his successor after the 2010 general election?

"There's no money left. Good luck!" Byrne was later reported to have said that was "meant as a joke". If it had been his own money, it might have been mildly funny, in a self-deprecatory sort of way. But it was our money. Every penny. And they lost all of it.

You know, I don't think Miliband "forgot" to mention the deficit in his party leader's speech last year. I think he was too ashamed to.

Read Richard and Judy's Daily Express column in full here.