Thursday 5 April 2012
Ken Livingstone drowning in a sea of hypocrisy
The Green candidate for the London mayoral elections yesterday challenged every candidate to publish their personal earnings to end any speculations about tax evasion in a Newsnight debate. All candidates agreed to do so. Today, Boris Johnson made public what he had earned in the last year and the amount of income tax he pays. The accounts show that he pays full income tax and was right to reject Livingstone’s claim that he ran a tax avoidance scheme similar to that of the former mayor.
To no surprise to most observers, Livingstone was not quite so forthcoming with the amount he earned. Despite his promise on Newsnight, today he only disclosed the amount he paid himself through a company, which is exactly the vehicle he used last year to avoid paying income tax to the tune of £50,000. What he really received we will never know since he refuses to reveal it. The partial account reveal that he paid 14.5% in tax, which is a lower tax rate than any dinner lady at City Hall would have to pay.
One of his strongest supporters, Steve Richards from The Independent called his decision to construct a tax avoidance scheme a ‘catastrophic error of judgement’ on Newsnight tonight. Many Londoners will have another word for it: hypocrisy.