We need to have a frank discussion about the stunt the UK media pulled on Sunday 5 March.
A story about the tax returns of two prominent politicians emerged on Sunday. On the one hand, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn published his tax return in the interest of transparency. On the other, sitting Chancellor Philip Hammond outright refused to do so.
But only The Mirror led with Hammond opting for secrecy over his tax affairs.
Nearly all the other outlets cooked up a storm over Corbyn’s tax return. To anyone taking a pedestrian glance at the news that day, it probably looked dodgy. Wall-to-wall media coverage alleged that Corbyn had failed to declare his income for being leader of the opposition. But the claim was actually a mistake on behalf of the media. The ‘missing’ salary just wasn’t on the front page.
Here are but a few examples of the online coverage:
Many people noted the sheer reach of the false story. The widespread coverage backed up the belief that basic journalistic rigour takes the backseat when bashing Corbyn.
#r4today: "We are in a position to clear up Corbyn tax story"
Transl: Corbyn story was a non-story that didn't survive basic fact checking
— CarolineJMolloy (@carolinejmolloy) March 6, 2017
The Corbyn tax return thing is a failed smear. Anyone would think they're trying to take the attention away from the refuser @PHammondMP pic.twitter.com/QtzwcdNOMD
— Rachael Swindon #GTTO (@Rachael_Swindon) March 6, 2017
Not surprised right-wing press misunderstood Corbyn's tax return and didn't notice 'missing' figures were on page 3.
They don't pay tax.
— Tom Pride (@ThomasPride) March 6, 2017
In fact, Corbyn’s tax return did reveal a few things. As noted by The SKWAWKBOX, Corbyn actually paid more in tax than he owed for the 2015/16 financial year. The tax return also showed Corbyn’s donations under the Gift Aid scheme, a charitable tax incentive.
Why bother paying?
Expressing the importance of “transparency” for those in the highest public office, the Labour leader says:
Tax avoidance and evasion deprives the public purse of billions in revenue for vital services and is unfair on those on much lower earnings who pay a higher proportion of their income in tax.
Now, Theresa May has joined Hammond in point blank refusing to publish her current or future tax returns.
Renowned economist Richard Murphy estimates that tax dodging could cost our UK society around £100bn a year. Whether it is tax evasion or tax avoidance, individuals are taking funds from our public services. But neither the Chancellor nor the Prime Minister are opting for a basic level of transparency for their own tax affairs. And Corbyn’s the bad guy…
Play your part in the ongoing media revolution by reading and supporting new media organisations that do better.
Please add more that you like in the comments.
The Canary, Media Diversified, Novara Media, Corporate Watch, Common Space, Media Lens, Bella Caledonia, Vox Political, Evolve Politics, Real Media, Reel News, STRIKE! magazine, The Bristol Cable, The Meteor, Salford Star
Featured image via Flickr
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?