21 June 2013

A Very Long Day for Nigel Farage

It is the summer solstice and it is certainly will be the longest day of the year for Nigel Farage. This morning’s front page story for the Daily Mirror make grim reading for a party that has up until now hoovered up protest votes. This will be a small reverse for UKIP but don’t expect the bandwagon to come to a standstill just yet.

A lot will depend on how hard the media push on UKIP. The Mirror should be commended for their investigative powers. It will now be time to look hard at the public records for other UKIP MEPs and their new cohort of councillors. Are these really politicians who are offering a clean broom for British politics, or will we see a pattern of representatives who have avoided tax and who are measurably worse than our existing parties.

Yesterday the Conservatives readmitted a councillor who had cheated on housing benefit to the tune of nearly £3,000 in Kirklees. Today it is UKIP leader who is in the spotlight with his tax arrangements. Last week, it was Labour accepting a donation as shares due to its “tax efficiency” and let’s not remind people about Michael Brown who actually defrauded people of the £2 million plus he donated to the Liberal Democrats.

So what should the Green Party and in particular our lead candidates at the European Elections do about it? I can’t speak for the others yet, but my strong view is that we should make a declaration on our tax affairs and our earnings. I will be doing that and I should be able to produce 4 years worth of documentation in a very straightforward way.

Jenny Jones did this brilliantly in one of the London Mayoral debates bringing out into the open both Boris Johnston and Ken Livingstone’s personal earnings. This has caused a great deal of disquiet on the right of British politics , as those who potentially have the most money and are therefore more likely to have considered (let’s be kind) “tax efficient investments”, have to give out details for the public to make a judgement on them.

In Liverpool, we followed Jenny Jones’ lead in our own Mayoral contest last year, with Cllr John Coyne making his tax affairs public and challenging other candidates to do the same. No one else followed his lead. John attracted respect from a wider audience of voters for his transparency, not least because it made clear that he had claimed £3,000 a year less than he was entitled to from the council for his role as chair of a scrutiny committee, as his own contribution to the difficult economic situation.

So in what will turn out to be one of my more boring blog posts in the run up to the European Elections, I’ll publish my P60s from the last few years. I can declare now that I have no offshore accounts, that I have not avoided paying tax and that I earn less than £29,000 a year (the average wage in the UK is £26,500).

So this is an open challenge to the other NW candidates from the other parties. Right now, I’d like you to declare that you do not avoid or evade tax that is badly needed to fund our public services. I’ll be raising this again at the beginning of the next tax year. You are on notice to be equally transparent in your own tax affairs and match my pledge today and publication of tax records when the time comes.

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