Tory candidate Zac Goldsmith accused of avoiding £5.8m tax as non-dom

So writes today’s Observer:

Zac Goldsmith, David Cameron’s green adviser and a prospective Tory MP, has been accused of avoiding the payment of nearly £6m in tax during the past 10 years by adopting non-domiciled status.

Goldsmith, the prospective Conservative candidate for Richmond Park, is estimated to have a personal fortune of at least £200m, inherited from his late father, Sir James Goldsmith.

Goldsmith admitted last month that he had claimed off-shore “non-dom” status. Since the news became public, he has said he has given it up.

However, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, Chris Huhne, has calculated that Goldsmith is likely to have avoided, at a conservative estimate, around £580,000 a year in UK taxes over the past decade as a result of being defined as a non-dom. Goldsmith, who dismisses Huhne’s figures as “fantasy”, says that the “vast majority” of his income comes to the UK and is taxed here. But Huhne told the Observer that if Goldsmith disputes the figures, he should publish his tax returns to prove it and Huhne would do the same.

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74 Comments

  • Herbert Brown 13th Dec '09 - 1:41pm

    Hmm. Difficult as it is to feel much sympathy for Goldsmith, this figure of £5.8m does seem to have been plucked out of thin air.

    Goldsmith has said that “virtually all” of his income was subject to taxation in the UK, but Huhne has arrived at this figure by assuming that 20% of it wasn’t.

    I realise it must be frustrating not to have a headline figure for the leaflets, but I don’t think the answer is just to invent one.

  • Martin Land 13th Dec '09 - 2:00pm

    or £10,000,000?

    Let’s face it, complicated tax havens have a cost too and you don’t do it to save £10 or £10,000!

  • Goldsmith’s fortune was inherited from his father, the late Sir “Jams” (the one who wasn’t part of a conspiracy to spirit Lord Lucan out of the country). As far as I am aware, Zac has never had a proper job in his life. We may like to think we are a meritocratic country, but we still make public figures out of people whose status is dependent on the fact that their father was as rich crook and their mother is a niece of the Duke of Norfolk.

  • Herbie

    My cousin is a tax lawyer and I asked him earlier today to do the calculations on Goldsmith’s, shall we say, tax shortfall.

    Cuz tells me that £5.8 million is a “conservative estimate” (pun fully intended!)

    I agree with you that it is difficult to feel much sympathy for Goldsmith, but you appear to combat that difficulty on his behalf.

  • Herbert Brown 13th Dec '09 - 4:09pm

    Nick

    You don’t need to be any kind of tax expert to see that the crucial thing is the assumption about how much of Goldsmith’s income was liable to UK tax.

    Goldsmith said it was “virtually all” of it. Huhne assumed it was only 80%. If it was actually more than 80%, then Huhne’s figure is likely to be an overestimate.

  • Goldsmith has a superb opportunity to make Chris Huhne look stupid by publishing the figures. Will he do so? Of course not. Even if he did the “£10 or £10,000” would haunt him.

  • Sounds about right to me. As I have said before the income on a £200m fortune held overseas must be substantial or else Zak Goldsmith has the worst financial adviosors available.

  • Herbert Brown 13th Dec '09 - 5:34pm

    Peter1919

    You don’t need to be any kind of tax expert to see that the crucial thing is the assumption about how much of Goldsmith’s income was liable to UK tax.

    Goldsmith said it was “virtually all” of it. Huhne assumed it was only 80%. If it was actually more than 80%, then Huhne’s figure is likely to be an overestimate.

  • Herbster

    You don’t need to be any kind of tax expert to see that the crucial thing is the assumption about how much of Goldsmith’s income was liable to UK tax.

    Goldsmith said it was “virtually all” of it. Huhne assumed it was as much as 80%. If it was actually less than 80%, then Huhne’s figure is likely to be an underestimate.

  • Herbert Brown 13th Dec '09 - 6:09pm

    Nick

    You do get the point, then.

    Without knowing how much of Goldsmith’s income was liable to UK tax, we actually don’t have a clue how much tax he avoided by being a “non-dom”.

  • Andrew Suffield 13th Dec '09 - 6:35pm

    However, in the absence of other information, there is an 80% chance of it being higher and a 20% chance of it being lower.

  • Herbert Brown 13th Dec '09 - 6:46pm

    Andrew

    But of course Goldsmith said “virtually all” his income was liable to UK tax.

    The point is that Huhne has effectively plucked this rather precise-looking figure of £5.8m out of thin air on the basis of a wild guess, and is publicly accusing Goldsmith of having avoided £5.8m of tax.

    In practice it’s probably a “win-win” situation for Huhne, but I think it’s a pretty shabby tactic nonetheless.

  • Yes, HB, I do get the point. What a pity that what we don’t get is an answer.

    So let me ask you a simple question. It seems that Mr Goldsmith may have avoided paying tax in the UK that ranges anywhere from 1p to whatever 16 years of full adult taxes on £200 million is. Where in this range would you draw the line between what is acceptable and what is not? If it is indeed £5.8 million or more, would you deem that OK? What about £1 million, £100,000 etc. Rather than us all having a guess about how much he has actually avoided, why don’t you tell us exactly how much you think his non-dom status should be worth to him.

    In the past you have been very vocal in claiming that politicians should return money that you say has been gained improperly. Do you think ZG should pay back all the money this ruse has earned for him?

  • Herbert Brown 13th Dec '09 - 7:13pm

    Nick

    I said right at the start that it was difficult to feel sympathy for Goldsmith. (You must have read that – you replied to it!) He had an incredible nerve to seek election as an MP while not even domiciled in the UK for tax purposes. Having said that, as far as I know he isn’t accused of having broken the law and the party doesn’t propose to make what he’s done illegal, so I don’t see that “paying back the money” comes into it.

    The point I’m making is that it’s rather a shabby tactic for Chris Huhne to pluck a number out of the air and publicly accuse Goldsmith of having avoided that much tax, when in fact Huhne doesn’t have a clue what the true figure is. That may be a clever ruse, but I don’t think it’s very honest politics.

  • Herbert Brown 13th Dec '09 - 7:41pm

    “If someone can give me all the estimated income figures on a plate without my having to lift a finger I could work out a calculation based on 99% of income coming onshore, then we’d have something like a range.”

    The trouble is we don’t know any figures. Apparently Chris Huhne assumed that Goldsmith’s total income would be £10m a year, based on 5% of his reported worth of £200m.

  • You seem to be arguing about what exactly constitutes a ‘little bit pregnant’.

    Either Goldsmith is justified in having any form of non dom status or he isn’t. Having a Dutch auction on how much his ill-gotten gains are worth to him misses the point by a mile. He has had ample opportunity to admit and/or justify this in the past when the Ashcroft issue raises its ugly head from time to time. He could also have put his Tory supporters right when they protested that he wasn’t a non dom at all. He chose to do neither of these.

    Your acutely responsive moral compass on such matters seems to have been deflected by Goldsmith’s magnetism, Herbert. It now seems to be pointing in the general direction of the Cayman Islands.

  • Herbert Brown 13th Dec '09 - 8:33pm

    Nick

    “Either Goldsmith is justified in having any form of non dom status or he isn’t.”

    Legally, he is. As a prospective MP, of course he isn’t.

    But – as you must surely have gathered by now – the point I’m making is about Huhne’s behaviour, not about Goldsmith’s.

  • “the party doesn’t propose to make what he’s done illegal”

    If your talking about the conservative party then I think they just did.

  • Herbert Brown 13th Dec '09 - 9:13pm

    David L. G.

    I was talking about the Liberal Democrats. Though as Goldsmith isn’t an MP, even the new Tory proposals wouldn’t have made what he’s done illegal.

  • “But – as you must surely have gathered by now – the point I’m making is about Huhne’s behaviour, not about Goldsmith’s.”

    That certainly hadn’t escaped my attention, HB. That”s my gripe with you.

    You also say that Goldsmith is legally justified in claiming non dom status. Are you absolutely sure about that? I’m no expert so I ask that question in all ignorance. Exactly in what definition of the term is Goldsmith not domiciled in this country?

  • Herbert Brown 13th Dec '09 - 9:36pm

    Nick

    “That’’s my gripe with you.”

    Yes, it’s painfully clear that you’re only arguing with me because I’ve criticised Chris Huhne. So why not drop the rather tedious diversionary stuff about Goldsmith and address the point I’m making?

    When you read “Politician A accuses Politician B of avoiding £X.Ym of tax”, and then when you read further, and it becomes clear that in point of fact Politician A really doesn’t have any idea how much tax Politician B has avoided – that he has effectively just made a figure up to use in his attack, don’t you think that puts Politician A’s honesty into rather a poor light?

    Or do you just think “Politician A belongs to my party, so I’m going to defend him against all comers”?

  • Herbert

    You have accused me of using diversionary tactics by bringing Zac Goldsmith into this thread. Can I suggest you look at its title before repeating such nonsense.

    You say that Goldsmith is legally justified in having non dom status, but I suspect that Philip Young is nearer the truth – exactly on what basis is ZG entitled to classifying himself as a non dom?

    I would also like to repeat my previous unanswered question. What level of tax avoidance do you think it is legitimate to make by using non dom status.

    Or do you just think “Politician B belongs to my party, so I’m going to defend him against all comers”?

  • Herbert, as you know I have taken your side in some arguments on here before, but I don’t accept your point this time. Goldsmith’s advisors said previously that they were unsure whether his gain from non-dom status was worth “£10 or £10,000”. That seems to me to be a much more culpable piece of guesstimation (because so obviously untrue and self-serving) than Chris Huhne’s, particularly when the whole point of Huhne’s estimate was to try to get Goldsmith to reveal the truth about the degree to which he has profited from non-dom status. Is he going to tell us the truth? I doubt it.

  • Herbert Brown 13th Dec '09 - 11:38pm

    tonyhill

    If my point had been that Goldsmith was “less culpable” than Huhne, that might be a fair comment. But of course I’ve said no such thing.

    What I’m saying is that it’s not right – nor is it in the least necessary – for Huhne to get down into the gutter by making an attack based on fabricated numbers plucked out of thin air. In fact, I’d go further, and say that it’s sheer stupidity for a Lib Dem Shadow Home Secretary to behave in this way in order to attack a mere Tory PPC.

  • Herbert Brown 13th Dec '09 - 11:42pm

    “Or do you just think “Politician B belongs to my party, so I’m going to defend him against all comers”?”

    If, after what I’ve posted above, you’re really trying to maintain that I’m “defending” Zac Goldsmith, you’re either very stupid or very dishonest. Or some combination of the two. I leave it to the reader to decide.

    But it must be absolutely obvious to everyone reading this thread that you are trying to avoid the issue of Huhne’s integrity.

  • I am neither stupid nor dishonest, but that doesn’t mean I can’t spot someone who is.

    There is more than one way of defending someone than explaining their actions or failing to critisise them. Another is to throw up a smokescreen of counter accusations. So, yes, I am maintaining that you are defending Zac Goldsmith.

    If ZG has not been at fault in claiming non dom status for the past 16 years, why is he ending it only now that it has been exposed? Do you think he should repay the money that he has avoided in the past 16 years? If not, doesn’t that make you a total hypocrite for some of your previous strictures?

  • Herbert Brown 14th Dec '09 - 12:14am

    And, thinking about it, I suppose Nick is engaging in the boring old game of accusing anyone who is critical of a Liberal Democrat politician of being a Tory in disguise.

    I’ll say this yet again – I’m not a Tory, I have never been a Tory, I would never consider voting Tory. I was an active Liberal Democrat for more than 20 years. I’m not any longer. Next year it will be a question of whether I hold my nose and vote Lib Dem, or whether I abstain.

    Every time I see behaviour of this “end justifies the means” variety from the Lib Dems – and every Lib Dem I see queueing up to defend it – is an extra weight in the scale towards abstention.

  • Herbert Brown 14th Dec '09 - 12:22am

    Nick

    “There is more than one way of defending someone than explaining their actions or failing to critisise them. Another is to throw up a smokescreen of counter accusations.”

    Indeed. And you could scarcely be making that more obvious!

  • Herbert,

    “it’s rather a shabby tactic for Chris Huhne to pluck a number out of the air”

    Actually, this is exactly what the Revenue guys themselves do, when they think someone is trying to con them. They propose a ginormous tax liability. Then they tell their suspect that if he wants to pay less, all he has to do is prove to them what the true picture is. Good for them. It works. We win.

    Huhne is doing much the same, and in the circumstances, it’s a fair tactic.

  • Herbert

    I am definitely not accusing you of being a Tory in disguise.

    David Allen has it about right. It is very difficult to ascertain Goldsmith’s or Ashcroft’s shortfall in paying UK taxes when they are being so “coy” in stating the truth. Maybe Huhne has overstated the case (and maybe not) but he can hardly be blamed for trying to smoke out the details.

    The point that you fail to address still remains. In one sense, does it matter in the slightest if we are talking about £5.8 million, £58,000 ot £5.80? The real question is whether Goldsmith should have non dom status at all regardless of him being a PPC or not. Please explain exactly on what basis he should be entitled to classing himself at not being domiciled in the UK.

  • There was an awfuly similar thread a few months back in which it was debated as to whether we were right to call Rupert Reed was an extreemist; very few people if anyone adressed Herberts points and intstead turned it into an exersise in tribalism, using nothing but straw man arguments to hide the fact that they did not now if Rupert Reed was an extreemist or not or even why we’d called him one.This, sadly has mostly gone the same way.

    That said David Allen does make an interesting point about these being the tactics of the inland revenue although it does depend on the inland revenue’s tactics being moraly acceptable and whether polititians ought to be using the same tactics.

  • Herbert Brown 14th Dec '09 - 8:33am

    “very few people if anyone adressed Herberts points and intstead turned it into an exersise in tribalism”

    Precisely. The tribal psychology is interesting, even if the tribal arguments are rather tired.

  • Herbert Brown 14th Dec '09 - 8:35am

    “I am definitely not accusing you of being a Tory in disguise.”

    So what on earth did you mean by implying I was of the same party as “Politician B” [Goldsmith]?

  • It was a direct copy and paste from your earlier comment in which you claim to know which party I support. Sauce, goose, gander etc.

    Or maybe I was referring to the word ‘disguise’ rather than the word ‘Tory’.

    Oh, and I have answered your point. Any possibility of reciprocation, old bean?

  • Herbert Brown 14th Dec '09 - 9:11am

    Nick

    After that display of childish dissimulation, you must be joking.

  • No, I’m deadly serious (but not very hoepful).

  • I think that I did actually address the question of Rupert Reed’s alleged extremism in a non-tribal way. Like Herbert, I expect the Liberal Democrats to be more honest, more open, employ less spin and generally be morally superior in their actions than the other parties: Herbert has been so disappointed by the LibDems in this respect that he has left; I haven’t, but it does dismay me when we fall short of my ideals. I don’t want to be a member of a party that is not quite as bad as the other two – it needs to be far better than that. However, in this case I absolutely do not believe that Chris Huhne has done anything reprehensible. Let us not forget that Goldsmith’s own advisors made their own estimate of what he had saved – the infamous “£10 to £10,000” – which is a pretty wild guess in itself. Goldsmith claims that he pays tax on the ‘vast majority’ of his income, so to take 80% as a guesstimate of the “vast majority” is not exactly being unfair. If he paid tax on 99% of it he might have said “almost all” or something similar, but even that would mean that his benefit was three times the maximum amount claimed by his advisors.

  • Herbert Brown 14th Dec '09 - 9:48am

    “Goldsmith claims that he pays tax on the ‘vast majority’ of his income, so to take 80% as a guesstimate of the “vast majority” is not exactly being unfair. If he paid tax on 99% of it he might have said “almost all” or something similar …”

    But he did say something similar. He said “virtually all my income comes to the UK where I pay full tax on it”.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8385832.stm

  • Herbert, you’re wrong about Chris Huhne being disingenuous here. It certainly would be an unjustified assertion if he’d made the bald claim that Goldsmith could be avoiding tax up to £580,000 per year without specifying where he got his figures from; instead he’s clearly provided his working as part of the dealings he’s had with the media when pushing this story. This leaves the reader in the position of being able to decide whether it’s a reasonable sum or not. You appear to be arguing that it’s wrong to use an illustrative sum when discussing an issue of this nature – if the source of that sum is given, why would that be the case? The only possible answer is that you don’t believe the rest of the public would be able to distinguish between an illustrated assertion and an actual figure, which seems rather patronising.

  • Herbert Brown 14th Dec '09 - 10:26am

    Adam

    “The only possible answer is that you don’t believe the rest of the public would be able to distinguish between an illustrated assertion and an actual figure, which seems rather patronising.”

    For heaven’s sake, let’s get real. We all know how these things work.

    The virtue of producing an “illustrative figure” is precisely that it will be reported in headlines like that written by Mark Pack above: “TORY CANDIDATE ZAC GOLDSMITH ACCUSED OF AVOIDING £5.8m TAX AS NON-DOM”, so that those who don’t read the details – and even those who don’t click through to the article to see the basis of the “calculation” – will be left with the simple factual assertion.

    The whole point of issuing statements like this is that most people don’t bother to read the “small print”!

  • So, in essence, you’re blaming Chris Huhne for the actions of the Observer’s sub-editors, and the alleged laziness of the majority of the population. This seems rather unfair.

    How, in that case, could this story be tailored to overcome the laziness you allege? How could Chris Huhne overcome the instinct of sub-editors for sensational headlines to ensure that the most cursory glance would demonstrate that the alleged figure is merely illustrative? Should perhaps all stories about this matter avoid illustrative figures entirely, and merely accuse Goldsmith of not paying ‘lots’ of money to the Revenue? Would you prefer a headline that reads ‘Tory candidate Zac Goldsmith accused of avoid lots and lots of tax as a non-dom’?

    I believe you’re arguing for the dumbing down of the media.

  • Goldsmith is being very careful about how he phrases his replies. The sentence “virtually all my income comes to the UK where I pay full tax on it” is not a true or complete account of the situation.

    Both of his UK homes – including the constituency property, purchased for more than £7 million two years ago – are owned by companies based in the Cayman Islands. Is that classed as income? He also omits to say whether he takes his income from the trust or whether some or all of it is re-invested. The phrase that his non dom status had “delivered very few benefiits” is distinctly laboured. It does leave open the question that however few in number they are they may well be very lucrative.

    There is also further defence of Chris Huhne’s assertion that 80% is a fair assessment of the term “the vast majority”. On a totally unrelated matter involving the Conservative Party it is stated that 13 out of 17 is “the vast majority”. I work that out to be 76.5%. So Chris Huhne is being more than fair in his calculations.

    Adam Bell is correct, Huhne is not being disingenuous. He is giving a clear working example based on reasonable assumptions. He could use the real figures if only they were available. Stangely, it seems that they are not.

  • Herbert Brown 14th Dec '09 - 10:58am

    “So, in essence, you’re blaming Chris Huhne for the actions of the Observer’s sub-editors, and the alleged laziness of the majority of the population.”

    No, I’m blaming him for deliberately trying to mislead people. And it actually goes further than just relying on people not reading the details.

    This is what Chris Huhne said on the Today programme this morning, with reference to Cameron’s proposals:
    “Frankly he’s been bounced into this by the revelations yesterday that Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative high-profile candidate, has avoided probably nearly 6 million pounds’ worth of tax through non-dom status over the last 10 years.”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8411000/8411234.stm

    That is the totality of what he said about Goldsmith in that interview. No hint whatsoever that the figure was “merely illustrative”; no qualification at all apart from the word “probably”. You’d have to be psychic to work out from that that Huhne was referring to a figure he himself had plucked out of thin air!

  • On most websites don’t you get banned if you keep posting the same thing over and over again?

  • Croslandist, this is Lib Dem Voice, so I would hope no-one gets banned for voicing their opinion. On the other hand, Herbert, accusing a parliamentarian of deliberately misleading the public is quite a serious, potentially libellous, allegation – is Herbert Brown your real name?

    It’s clear that on the Today programme Huhne referred to the allegations we’re discussing here, allegations which as we’ve already covered were detailed in the original press work he carried out. Now, for him to be required to explain these allegations in full in the time-limited environment of radio seems rather unfair, when he’s already done so publicly elsewhere.

    I repeat my earlier questions. What should he have done differently to bring this matter to public attention? Should all use of illustrative figures be banned under the rule of H. Brown?

  • Herbert Brown 14th Dec '09 - 11:56am

    I’m getting to the usual point of not believing my eyes here.

    Am I to be banned from the site, or served with a libel writ, or what?

    And are politicians who make misleading statements in interviews now to be defended on the grounds that it’s possible for listeners to do their own research and find out for themselves that they’re being misled? Utterly bizarre.

  • I believe, Herbert, you’re answering my question with another, unrelated, question. I do hope you’re not going to try to side-step this debate via sophistry.

    In addition, calling an argument bizarre because you disagree with its conclusions doesn’t constitute a counter. Should not the citizens of a democracy bear some moral responsibility for keeping themselves informed as to the actions of both their elected representatives and those seeking their vote? Is not an enlightened & self-motivated demos a worthy goal?

  • Herbert Brown 14th Dec '09 - 12:36pm

    Adam

    “Should not the citizens of a democracy bear some moral responsibility for keeping themselves informed as to the actions of both their elected representatives and those seeking their vote?”

    I keep thinking nothing I read here can surprise me any more. But to present this as a justification for politicians making misleading statements in interviews … ! The mind boggles.

  • “And are politicians who make misleading statements in interviews now to be defended on the grounds that it’s possible for listeners to do their own research and find out for themselves that they’re being misled? Utterly bizarre.”

    Is it OK for me to pass on your comments to Zac Goldsmith and tell him that you think his actions are bizarre?

    His spokesman claimed that “the benefits were very marginal. I don’t know if it is £10 or £10,000”.

    So here’s a quick offer, Herbert. I am willing to wager that it is nearer Huhne’s figure than it is to Goldsmith’s own spokesman’s (and whose speculative guess I note you haven’t panned on these pages).

  • “very few people if anyone adressed Herbert’s points and intstead turned it into an exersise in tribalism”

    Well, as a victim of similar behaviour myself on many past occasions on this site, I can’t help sympathise! In general, I applaud Herbert’s brave campaign to bring this party back to probity and principle. However, this is one of a small minority of cases where I find I can’t agree with Herbert.

    This question is a little bit like being black in a racist society, and it can have a similar unfortunate side effect on the behaviour of those who are routinely discriminated against. If you know that you are routinely criticised purely on the basis of racist or “tribalist” discrimination, it is all too easy to come to believe that your critics are always wrong.

    In this case, we are talking about a moral judgment. Whilst Huhne is “giving a clear working example based on reasonable assumptions”, he is indeed making an argument that he admits is based on assumptions, and so, it is possible for Herbert to take the view that he should not have done so. If, however, like me, you feel that this is not at all immoral, or unfair in the circumstances, then you will take the opposite view.

    I can assure you, Herbert, that in my case at least, tribalism does not come into that!

  • Herbert Brown 14th Dec '09 - 12:50pm

    David

    But can you really be comfortable with the way he presented the figure in the Today interview?

  • My dear Herbert, not only have you once again side-stepped a question you cannot answer, you’ve now purposely misinterpreted a tangentially related point as being a direct justification for the argument (which merely relied on the fact that the information regarding the figure was supplied by Huhne), in an effort to mislead the reader.

    Have you considered taking up politics?

  • Herbert Brown 14th Dec '09 - 1:49pm

    Adam

    This is rather like trying to nail jelly to the ceiling.

    Let me quote again what Chris Huhne said:
    “Frankly he’s been bounced into this by the revelations yesterday that Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative high-profile candidate, has avoided probably nearly 6 million pounds’ worth of tax through non-dom status over the last 10 years.”

    Are you really trying to argue that that’s not misleading?

  • “But can you really be comfortable with the way he presented the figure in the Today interview?”

    Then surely it was for the Today interviewer to dig deeper and ask for this figure to be justified. It is my contention and that of several others on this thread who have addressed Herbert’s complaint that Huhne is being more than fair in his calculations.

    What Herbert has dismally failed to do is answer any of the points that arise for his strangulated (non) defence of Goldsmith’s lack of transparency. There is one simple way for this matter to be cleared up and to see whose figures are more accurate. My breath will remain unbated.

  • Herbert Brown 14th Dec '09 - 2:01pm

    Nick

    “Then surely it was for the Today interviewer to dig deeper and ask for this figure to be justified.”

    So your line is that when a politician makes a misleading statement in an interviewer, it’s the interviewer’s fault for letting it get through? Wonderful stuff!

  • I never said that it was a misleading statement. I’m suggesting that there was no need for a follow-up question because the assumptions that Huhne made are not implausible.

    Is there the remotest possibility that you could address the points that have been put on here by several contributors about Goldsmith’s actions in all this? They were, after all, what triggered this debate in the first place.

  • Yes. I am willing to say that’s not misleading. Because, as I’ve already stated, Chris Huhne has previously discussed this issue in public and provided the reasoning behind it. It would’ve been misleading if he’d simply stated glibly that Goldsmith owes lots and lots of money in tax as a consequence of being a non-dom, as that would be misrepresenting how the tax system works.

    I have yet to hear from you how you would have changed Huhne’s actions so that they wouldn’t be misleading by your value system. I am beginning to become convinced that you believe the public to be too stupid to hear politicians talk.

  • Herbert Brown 14th Dec '09 - 3:13pm

    Adam

    How would I have changed Huhne’s actions? Surely I’ve made it abundantly clear that I don’t think he should have invented this figure in the first place, as he hasn’t a clue what the true figure is. He certainly shouldn’t be stating it in interviews as a fact when it’s his own invention.

    The fact that people are defending this kind of politics is depressing, though based on past experience not that surprising. But I take some consolation in the regularity with which I’m confirmed in the belief that I was right to leave the party.

  • Labour Non Doms
    Non-Dom Lord Paul a close freind of Brown who is under investigation over his expenses and who has pledged to give as much as he can to Labour’s election campaign has been made a privy counsellor.
    1) Sir Ghulam Noon
    2) Baron Swraj Paul
    3) Lakshmi Mittal
    All non-doms. All bank rolling the Labour Party.

    The Liberal Democrats have also received funds from donors domiciled abroad. Bhanu and Dhruv Choudhrie, businessmen who originate from India, have given more than £475,000 through their companies. Bhanu’s father Sudhir Choudhrie is also domiciled abroad and has given the party £95,000.

    I say ban them all.

  • Herbert Brown 14th Dec '09 - 3:20pm

    “I am beginning to become convinced that you believe the public to be too stupid to hear politicians talk.”

    Does it not occur to you that real people have better things to do with their time than verifying the accuracy of what politicians say?

    That doesn’t mean they’re stupid. It probably means that they act on the assumption that it’s all a pack of lies anyway.

  • I think you’re rather missing the point of my question. Goldsmith, as a non-dom, avoided UK income tax on a certain portion of his income. He refuses to disclose how much income tax he avoided. It’s not acceptable that someone seeking elected office feels free to conceal such an important fact from the electorate – it calls into question how trustworthy that person would be when managing public money. Now, unless you’re suggesting some sort of bizarre anodyne politics in which a candidate’s personal qualities that may have an impact on their fitness to hold office is forbidden from having any impact upon a citizen’s voting intention, it’s perfectly acceptable for an opposing party to raise those qualities. This is what Chris Huhne has done in this case.

    I’m asking you how you would’ve done the same with the illustrative figure. Be sure to mention how you’d actually gain publicity while raising this issue.

    I also note your use of the pejorative phrase ‘real people’; I suggest that claiming to speak on behalf of an ill-defined group which may or may not consititute the majority of the population is rather arrogant.

  • David Allen 14th Dec '09 - 4:09pm

    Herbert,

    I think Huhne’s decision to say “probably nearly 6 million pounds’ worth” was bold and smart. Goldsmith has now been given ample opportunity to correct the figure, if it was wrong. The fact that he hasn’t done so means that it is probably about correct, or, indeed, an under-statement. Huhne is therefore now justified in saying so.

  • Herbert Brown 14th Dec '09 - 4:23pm

    Well, as I seem to be in a minority of one in finding Huhne’s behaviour reprehensible, I won’t trouble the rest of you with any more comments on the matter.

    Or any other matter, come to that. Obviously I was right to get out of the party. Where I went wrong was in continuing to take an interest in it, in the belief that I still had a certain amount in common with those who remained. Evidently I don’t.

  • I have just read this on Ian Dales Blog, I wonder how many more there are in The Lords?

    Monday, December 14, 2009
    The Mystery of Lord Paul’s Privy Councillorship
    Iain Dale 4:32 PM

    I was interested to read THIS article in this morning’s Times, which informs us that Lord Paul has been made a Privy Councillor. Nothing odd in that, you may think. Except there is. It is very rare indeed for such a junior politician to be raised to the Privy Council. Lord Paul is, of course, a major donor to the Labour Party. Tory MP Graham Stuart thinks the whole thing stinks and has written to the difficult to find Lord Mandelson.

    Dear Lord Mandelson

    I am writing to you regarding the troubling suggestions this weekend that the appointment of Lord Paul to the Privy Council, above Lord Brabazon, Chairman of Committees, may have been related to his close financial relationship to the Prime Minister. In particular, attention has been drawn to his promise to provide substantial financial support to Labour’s General Election campaign.

    In order to put any suggestion of impropriety beyond doubt, I would be grateful if you could answer the following questions in your capacity as Lord President of the Council.

    1. Membership of the Privy Council is normally only given to Cabinet and other senior ministers, senior politicians from the Opposition party, members of the Royal Family, senior judges, and British Ambassadors. On what basis therefore was Lord Paul made a Privy Counsellor? 10 Downing Street has claimed he was appointed because he was the first deputy speaker of the Lords from an ethnic minority. However, Keith Vaz was only became a Privy Counsellor in 2006 – seven years after he was made Britain’s first Asian minster.
    2. Was the matter of Lord Paul’s donations to the Prime Minister raised during the process of appointing him to the Privy Council?
    3. Similarly, was Lord Paul’s promise to donate ‘whatever I can afford’ to Labour’s General Election campaign raised during the appointment process?
    4. Shortly before he was sworn in to the Privy Council, it was alleged that Lord Paul had misused his Parliamentary allowances. He has since temporarily stepped down from his post in the House of Lords while an investigation into this matter is completed. Was this subject discussed between the allegations being made and the swearing in of Lord Paul?

    I believe these questions are in the public interest, I would therefore be grateful if you could give them your immediate attention.

    Yours sincerely,

    Graham Stuart MP

  • Herbert: I’m very sorry that you’ve drawn the conclusion that you no longer have anything in common with those of us who remain in the party. People like David Allen and myself who have commented on this thread, and others, and who share your concerns about the ways in which the party has fallen short of the high standards we expect from it just don’t happen to believe that Chris Huhne has done anything reprehensible. I don’t like to see discussion on LibDem Voice degenerating into people abusing each other, and you have been on the receiving end of far too much abuse, but in this case, for the most part, I think that people just genuinely disagree with you and have expressed their arguments coherently.

  • Herbert Brown is clearly a garden gate.

  • Herbert,

    Tony Hill is right. It would be a great shame to lose you.

    It did occur to me, reading this thread, that maybe I should just avoid commenting, because I hate encouraging kneejerk party loyalists. But that, I thought, would be another form of tribalism.

    It so happens that I don’t agree with you on this one particular point, and I thought it would be honest to say so. If nothing else, that might help to disabuse some of our denialists, whose self-serving fantasy is that all those who fail to worship Saint Nick are robotic trolls who are joined at the hip!

    Actually, our numbers are growing, and we are beginning to win the arguments inside our party. Please don’t give up just when we have started to get somewhere!

  • Matthew Huntbach 15th Dec '09 - 9:39am

    Mr Goldsmith wishes to become a member of the British Parliament in which role he will be asking members of the British public to pay considerable amounts of taxation. Many of those people will not have had the opportunity which Mr Goldsmith has had, and has taken, to declare themselves as just temporary residents of Britain whose real home and loyalty are elsewhere and so avoid paying those taxes. So Mr Goldsmith will be in the position of asking people to do what he himself would not do. We may remember how very much many people have given to this country, in times of war their lives even. Mr Goldsmith has shown himself to be a selfish man who would not give what he can as his fair share to this country. He rose to prominence as the son of a man who made a great thing out of Britishness and out of our not being ruled by foreigners, but now he is shown himself as a man who declared himself to be a foreigner because he cares so much for his own wealth and so little for Britain. He has made a big thing about being very environmentally concerned, and one of the reasons more tax may be needed in the future is to deal with the very great problems that environmental degradation are causing, and to pay for necessary measures to protect the environment from further degradation. People like Mr Goldsmith who run abroad when asked to pay tax are a big reason why we cannot do more to protect the environment. I think it fair to give some prominence to these issues when engaged in the process of deciding whether Mr Goldsmith is a suitable man to represent the citizens of the constituency where he is a prospective candidate.

    As for the figure of £5.8 million, it is an estimate. If it is a gross and unfair over-estimate, well, Mr Goldsmith has a simple solution. He can make open his own financial records so that all can see how unfair it is. The actual figures don’t matter that much, would we feel any different if it was half this amount or twice this amount? But if it were a hundredth of this amount or even a tenth of this amount, we would feel the attack to be unfair. So, if that is the case, let Mr Goldsmith show that it was indeed a tenth or a hundredth of this amount, if he could do so he would score some good political points. He would not even have to give much details of where his wealth is or how he earns it to make that point, just sketch it to give us some clue as to what sort of man he is. If I were standing for Parliament I think it would be only fair for me to show what sort of man I am by being honest about how I earn my income. Why can’t Mr Goldsmith do that?

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