Something to Say with Keith Newbery: Tax system is a haven of scams, perks, City deals and profits

WHEN asked for his political philosophy, an elderly friend told me many years ago: “Vote Labour when you’re after it - and Tory when you’ve got it.”

It wasn’t the most profound advice I’d ever received, but it had a certain rough-hewn logic and a pleasing symmetry of thought.

I think about it every time I read about the latest high-profile ‘socialist’ to be found with their snouts deep in the trough.

John Prescott is a classic example, of course.

He has been hell-bent on acquiring the fripperies of office and enjoying the finest things in life (at public expense wherever possible) since he stopped working as a ship’s steward and decided to barge his way out of Labour’s foothills and up to the summit.

There’s nothing wrong with ambition, if only he would admit to his life-long yearnings and remove the chips from both shoulders in an attempt to get his inverted snobbery under control.

But even the Baron of Hull’s greed and lust for the good life has been eclipsed by his former leader.

Driven on by his wife (another mink-lined, diamond-studded, gold-leafed socialist hypocrite) Tony Blair has been filling his boots in spectacular style since moving out of Number Ten four years ago.

He’s been dashing all over the world making a fortune from public speaking and assuming the role of elder statesman to any country gullible enough to have him.

According to the latest accounts lodged at Companies House, one of Blair’s 12 firms increased its turnover to £12m (an increase of almost 50 per cent) but only £315,000 found its way to the taxman.

More than £7m worth of ‘administrative expenses’ are said to have raised an informed eyebrow or two.

This was the man who said during his campaign for the Labour leadership in 1994: “We must tackle abuse of the tax system.

“For those who can employ the right accountants, the tax system is a haven of scams, perks, City deals and profits.

“We should not make our tax rules a playground for revenue avoiders and tax abusers who pay little or nothing while others pay more than their share.”

Apparently Teflon Tony has done nothing illegal - but are his activities morally reprehensible and egregiously hypocritical?

You bet they are.

THREE months ago Coronation Street actor, Michael Le Vell, was accused of sexually abusing a teenage girl. The police have now decided there is no case to answer and all charges against him have been dropped.

But like anyone accused of such a crime, his reputation has been irredeemably sullied and his name will be forever associated with the charges.

It is only right that victims of sex crimes should be guaranteed anonymity, but surely the time has come for the accused to enjoy a similar privilege until they are actually convicted?

Once a case has been proved, they deserve whatever public opprobrium is directed at them. Until then, they have the right to be protected from malicious or ill-founded allegations.