A Conservative MP responds to the Paradise Papers. People cannot believe their ears. [VIDEO]

Conservative MP Peter Bone spoke in parliament on 6 November. He addressed the uproar over the Paradise Papers. But his response left others in the chamber wondering whether they could believe their ears.

Paradise Papers

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released the Paradise Papers on 5 November. They detail the offshore tax affairs of politicians and corporations around the world. Notably, they show how these individuals and companies use tax havens and schemes to avoid paying tax.

So Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell tabled an urgent question on the leak in parliament. And during the session, Bone spoke up. He accused McDonnell of “misunderstanding” the difference between tax avoidance and evasion. He continued:

Read on...

Evasion is wholly illegal. Avoidance is normal.

The Paradise Papers, and other previous investigations, show that Bone is right. Large-scale tax avoidance costing taxpayers billions in revenue is the norm. But that wasn’t exactly what Bone was getting at. Because he went on to highlight that people who put money into an ISA account are avoiding tax. This, he said, is “completely legal”.

Bone’s argument was essentially that Labour is wrongly painting those implicated in the Paradise Papers as tax avoiders, when they’re no different from ordinary folk who use ISAs.

There are differences, of course. The sheer scale of lost tax revenue is one. Furthermore, many people will pay tax on their money before they deposit it in the government-sanctioned ISA scheme; the same won’t be true of corporations who’ve hired lawyers to hide their money offshore.

Right? Wrong, Bone.

The MP for Wellingborough did then acknowledge that there is a “moral issue” involved:

But this moral dimension, according to Bone, is that Labour “spends a million pounds a year on rent” to a tax-exempt company. He’s referring to the building owner of Labour’s HQ. A Labour spokesperson responded to the allegation, saying that the party gets “no benefit as a result of the financial arrangements” of the building’s owner.

But the fact that the building’s owner rips off Labour for £1m a year in rent isn’t the issue. The problem is that government hasn’t taken action to stop any building owners squirrelling their millions away in tax havens. Bone also fails to mention that, while Labour may be paying through the nose to rent from an overseas owner, his own party directly benefits from tax avoiders. Because a significant amount of party donors engage in avoidance schemes.

Justified outrage

Most crucially, however, Bone neglected to recognise why the Paradise Papers truly touch such a nerve with the public. In the UK, citizens have suffered through seven years of austerity. The government has crippled public services with cuts, and real wages have plummeted.

Yet in January, Oxfam revealed that just eight men own half of the world’s wealth. And this grotesque wealth inequality is in no small part due to the sort of tax practices the Paradise Papers revealed.

No wonder people are angry. It’s one rule for regular people and another for the ruling class. That may be “normal” for Bone, but it’s not an everyday occurrence people are willing to accept.

Get Involved!

Join The Canary if you appreciate the work we do.

Featured image via screengrab

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?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed