Sunday, May 30, 2010

New LibDem MP in Expenses Revelation

The world of politics was left reeling last night after the Daily Telegram uncovered the astonishing revelation that Liberal Democrat Minister Tarquin Boothby has an overdue library book at Ashby-de-la-Zouche town library. Mr Boothby immediately issued a statement explaining that he was unable to return the book due to the inordinate time it takes to write a Focus leaflet urgent parliamentary business. He went on: "I shall of course take immediate steps to return the book and will in future reorganise my affairs to ensure that this sort of error of judgment can never happen again."

But Westminster insiders doubted whether Mr Boothby's ministerial career could survive this latest revelation. Only last year the Telegramm revealed Mr Boothy's April milk bill was paid four days late. Conservative blogger Tim Dale described his situation as "tenuous" and predicted that the coalition might collapse. But Libdem blogger Stephen Pack thought it probable that Mr Booth could survive the revelations. "He's made a minor error of judgement which is certainly no worse than Tory and Labour MPs. At least he hasn't moved in with his boyfriend though, so things are looking up."

Danny Alexander is 94.

45 comments:

john in cheshire said...

Quite.

Jimmy said...

So all of a sudden the right wing blogosphere which has spent the last few years manning the tumbrils suddenly thinks the whole expenses thing has been overblown.

It would take a heart of stone not to laugh.

Oldrightie said...

Iain, you don't do irony.

Liam Rhodes said...

I can't believe this. I blogged that the Telegraph would be holding British democracy to ransom yesterday, and it's come true. Every word in my blog post has come true.

Your conspiracy theory didn't go far enough, Iain. This is bigger than Laws. It's to satisfy the right of the 1922 Committee & the weirdie beardies of the Lib Dems.

This would have been TINY news had it been leaked with the rest of the expenses scandal.

Frugal Dougal said...

Iain, I have to admit feeling puzzled about the cloud of commentary concerning David Laws' resignation which has accrued around his resignation. It's tragic that he and his partner felt, for whatever reasons, that they couldn't come out. But the to-do seems to be about people having no problem with the fact that they live "as spouses", as the Westminster expenses guide says. Which is the more problematic?

AGilinsky said...

I said the expenses thing was overblown before we were in Government. Go me for not being a hypocrite.

Tim Johnson said...

This thing about Alexander really is a complete non story. Under s.223(1)of the taxation of Capital gains Act 1992 "The last 36 months of ownership is exempt in all cases if at some time the residence has been the taxpayer's main residence."

Thus, Alexander did not owe any tax. Under tax law NOTHING WAS DUE. He does not appear to have engaged in any sophisticated dodge. He just did not owe any tax. Was her really supposed to say to the Inland Revenue "I didn't owe any tax, but I'd like to pay some anyway?" Would anyone else do that?

What are we going to get next? "Shock horror revelation: MP avoided tax by putting money into an ISA?"

Lets get real. The Laws story was a real issue. I am sorry the guy has gone - thought he'd got off to a really good start -, but he does seem to have broken the rules. The Alexander story really is nothing.

adrian said...

iain its now obvious whats happening. The telegraph want to discredit the Libdems so they can't bring in the Capital Gains Tax rises which a lot of Tories hate.
So much for your Alister Campbell conspiracy theory.

Sonic said...

Did your mythical MP he charge the taxpayer 40 grand on expenses for the library fine?

Dave Gould said...

Jimmy, put your brain back in.

There are 3 maybe 4 categories of the expenses issue here:
1. Intent to defraud.
2. Intent to defraud which breaks the rules/law.
3. No intent to defraud.
4. No intent to defraud which breaks the rules/law.

David Laws is almost certainly in #3. Most of the expenses scandals are in #1 - notably all the 'flipping'. A few are in #2.

MatGB said...

Who are you, and what have you done with the Iain Dale?

If you keep going like this, I might have to put you back onto my feeds, sane, rational humour? I vaguely recall this from when you started...

John said...

David Laws' appropriation of public money was clearly considered to be significant by David Laws.

Nobody except Labour tribalists and left wing Lib Dem pensioners take and pleasure in this rather sad affair, but belittling the situation will not help a line to be drawn under it.

denverthen said...

Well that was useful.

Oddly enough, I agree with Jimmy. (And Oldrightie.)

Which means I don't agree with you, in case you're still confused. And if you care (which you don't).

..Silicon Implant!! said...

Jimmy, I can't actually see an expenses angle here. As far as I can tell, there was no way he could possibly have organised his affairs that would have resulted in him being liable for CGT on that London flat. Whether he had become an MP or not, and whether he had ever claimed expenses or not. It had really been his main home before he was elected to parliament, so no CGT liabililty existed or ever could have.

So the story becomes "Man with no tax liability pays no tax". Which is, if you put it in 36 point shock horror text and associate it with moats and duckhouses, more an attempted smear than an allegation of wrongdoing. And which Lib Dem could have been accused a few years ago of having any realistic expectation that they might be on the government benches, let alone in the cabinet!

Cogito Dexter said...

Prurience has gone much too far, it seems to me. There's only ever been a handful of actually corrupt MPs and now they're all tarred with the same brush and we're all going to lose some excellent talents and be left with only independently rich obsessives and eccentrics in the Commons as a result. The country will be worse off unless we recognise that nearly all MPs do a hard job for very little thanks or recognition.

http://cogitodexter.wordpress.com/2010/05/31/this-new-prurience-risks-the-countrys-future/

Lord Blagger said...

Category 5.

Paying back money and

1) Not paying tax on the interest
2) Not paying interest at all

Against the rules.

"MPs shall not give the appearance of a personal benefit"

Like Laws. Like those who flip to avoid CGT.

Peter said...

i suggest people Google-Kitty Usher.
She did the same thing and had to resign.

Tom said...

This is a fascinating article:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/consumertips/tax/2811055/Home-sweet-second-home.html

Do you think the Telegraph are aware of their own hypocrisy?

M. Hristov said...

Capital Gains Tax may be one of the most boring subjects on this earth but many people seem to take a startling interest in it and so here we go. Prepare to yawn and please do not take this is as advice. It is to illustrate some of the issues.

Prior to 6th April 2008, capital gains were loaded on top of your income and taxed at the rate applicable for income tax. So, there were three rates of Capital Gains Tax: 10%, 20% and 40%. You paid the one which applied to your gains after adding your total income, deducting your personal allowance for income tax and your personal allowance for Capital Gains Tax, being £9,200.

However, there were two additional relevant reliefs which benefited assets held for a long time,. Indexation, which made allowance for inflation and tapering relief, which reduced the amount paid on business assets held for two years and non-business assets held for three to four years. Indexation and tapering relief rewarded people who kept assets for a long time and discouraged, for example, city speculators making instant profits.

Then along came those great respecters of long held assets and haters of the city speculators, Gordon and Alistair and suddenly the loading on top of your income stopped and a flat rate of 18% was introduced. Indexation and tapering relief were abolished and surprise, surprise, the city speculator was paying less than he was before (if, as was almost certain, he was paying the top rate of income tax) but the little old lady earning a pittance in income but selling her British Gas Shares got no indexation or tapering relief at all and paid 18% tax. 8% more than she was probably paying before, without the tapering relief or indexation. A huge actual rate.

As usual, New Labour were benefiting the very rich speculator at the expense of the little old lady but the press were far too lazy to report this properly. In addition, the rich could claim income was capital gains and pay at 18% instead of 40%.

Now those same speculators face a Capital Gains Tax rate of 40% or 50% without indexation or tapering relief and they do not like it at all. The money is to be used to help take the low paid out of tax but the speculators couldn’t give a fig for them

No wonder there is such a concerted attack on the coalition.

David Laws has been felled and I have to say he did do a very stupid thing but one has to ask which nice person “grassed him up” to The Daily Telegraph. That person must have known him very well, given the fact that he was so private. It could be someone within one of the coalition parties who hates him and it. I hope it is not, for I support the coalition but if it is such a person then this is incident is a major storm warning. A very bad omen for the future.

Clearly there was fertile ground in the Daily Telegraph for this attack on the coalition but anyone who reads the DT should understand that they hate this coalition.

The attack on Danny Alexander is as ridiculous as you suggest, Ian. The Daily Telegraph is referring to Capital Gains Tax Principal Private Residence Relief, which exempts a property from Capital Gains Tax. This is claimed your main residence but can, in certain circumstances, be claimed on a property which was previously your main residence. So, Danny Alexander’s claim was completely lawful and within the rules of the Principal Private Residence exemption.

I am sure that there are many Daily Telegraph directors and journalists who have claimed the Principal Private Residence in the past and I do not see why such a claim is in anyway news.

tapestry said...

And Quentin Davies is on his way to The Lords.....

All is forgiven for a Labour-supporting Europhile with head in trough.

Where is the logic? Laws' sin was to make the coalition work, and betray the leftists. They will never forgive him.

The Lib Dems are the small fry, not the government, for God's sake, and need putting back in their place.

Scabbard said...

Rather flippant when you consider that the issue here is one of dishonesty and fraud on the part of public officials.

Tom said...

Iain

You again miss the point in defending a fellow inside the Beltway man from the anger of ordinary folk.

Alexander said his London gaff was his second home so that you and me and the grateful taxpayers could tart it up so he was able to sell it an an even bigger profit that he would have done without our assistance. He meanwhile told HMRC it was his first home so he paid no CGT on it.

Had he told both HMRC and parliament the same thing he would either have got less taxpayers cash to do up the roof so made less profit or would have had to pay CGT on his profit so handing cash back to the taxpayer.

Why the hell should we mere plebs pay subsidies to allow MPs to make extra tax gains on the property market?

This is not like failing to return a library book. It is cynically telling an untruth to either HMRC or the HoC ( it has to be one or the other) in order to enrich himself at the direct expense of the taxpayer. Why on earth do you view this as acceptable just because the chap is an MP?

And you wonder why many people view this country as a banana republic without the hot weather?

.

Sean Haffey said...

Danny Alexander is 94? What? Not out?

cherami said...

Alexander did not pay CGT on a flat in London because of a loophole in the law.

IOW he wasn't liable.

The Telegraph was quite open about it - the paper is campaigning against CGT on second homes etc.
Its digging around for dirt makes the Mirror look fragrant.

If Heffer or the 1922 Committee are behind this, they presumably want to bring down the Coalition - and replace it with what?

I have never seen a so called serious paper be so totally irresponsible.

Ean Craigie said...

Two points,

One the Barclay brothers will not like the mooted CGT tax rules, are they firing a shot accross the Governments bows over tax in general.

Two what happenned to the Brown Slush fund allegations??

At least Laws had the moral fibre to resign immediatly unlike Mady and his friends who had to be dragged, sometomes twice, screaming and kicking to the exit door.

Dangerouslysubversivedad said...

"At least he hasn't moved in with his boyfriend though, so things are looking up."

You really might want to see someone about that persecution complex, Iain.

Richard said...

You just don't get it, do you? The Westminster bubble denizens have been up their own arses for so long that they have ceased to realise just how much they are loathed out in the real world.

This is not about right and wrongs ... it is about perceptions and confirmation of perceptions. We believe that you are all a bunch of self-serving shits ... this type of publicity just confirms that which we already believe. Since this is self-evidently true, the rest is detail - and entertainment.

Lady Finchley said...

Interesting that all of us who were saying that the Telegraph expenses story developed into a witch hunt were called apologists and worse. Perfectly honest MPs were called troughers and worse. It has created the febrile atmosphere which has forced David Laws to quit. And, it has inflicted on MPs and staff, IPSA, an incompetent organisation which will cause job cuts, pay cuts for hard-working staff, ruinious payment delays for small suppliers and will end up so that only the rich can become MPs. Nice work, Telegraph and all who applauded you.

tory boys never grow up said...

So now its alright to parody expense stories - I wonder what bought that cnange of heart about.

And still they won't give you a peerage.

tapestry said...

It will be interesting when the coalition passes in to law the new voting rules, which permit electors to recall their MP and have a byelection.

Laws could be recalled and re-stand for election. If he succeeds this could be taken as forgiveness and permission to get back into government.

After all the poacher turned game-keeper would be masterful at the Treasury job.

Nigel said...

>>i suggest people Google-Kitty Usher.<<

I suggest that you read the Telegraph article, Peter, rather than merely the headline (and you might also learn to capitalize the personal pronoun).

The flat in question was his only home, from 1999 until 2005. He sold it in 2007 (ie within three years of it's being his principal and only residence). Under current GCT rules no tax was due. You couldn't even describe it as flipping.

Unless you believe that MPs have a special duty to pay tax which isn't due, an interesting, if slightly absurd idea, then this story is absolute bollocks.

That the Telegraph should lead with it on the front page demonstrates that they are a newspaper without serious news values.

Nigel said...

This wasn't taking advantage of a "loophole". It is a specific exemption written in to the CGT code.

I can understand the Telegraph not fully understanding this. After all, their proprietors don't pay tax in the UK.

trevorsden said...

Dear Jimmy ---

Someone could be elected labour leader who along with his wife has fiddled the taxpayer for countless thousands.

Funny old world.

i think you will find that the right wing blogosphere was far from manning the tumbrils. It was desperate to close the issue down.

its the sanctimonious LDs who have been err... bitten back.

Goodwin said...

That's the funniest thing I've read in the last second. Don't give up your day job. How about your thoughts on the Israelis murdering peace activists in international waters? It might be a better use of bandwidth.

ChrisC said...

Wow.
Did you really think public anger over expenses would vanish at the dawn of the "new politics"?

Sorry if you think it's all overdone but - well - tough.

Houdini said...

So we are all defenders to the death of the slimey, shady, hypocritical, stolen money financed LibDems are we?

HampsteadOwl said...

Obviously what happens now is Boothby gets given a guest spot presenting Have I Got News for You and the Nobel Prize for Literature.

It would be no more than a measure of the habitual lionisation this country goes in for of Liberal Democrat politicians. Uncle Vince we treated like a holy man off the back of one decent joke at Gordon Brown's expense and a practised fluency at saying 'as I predicted' in television interviews. Clegg was deified for doing even less: turning up at a television debate and not being either Cameron or Brown. And then, in the last few days, David Laws, with all of two and a half weeks in the Cabinet, becomes this political colossus whose loss to the nation is comparable to the death of Gladstone.

There must be a body one can complain to about this. Better get there quick before the government abolishes it.

John R said...

Ha, ha, how very unfunny and irrelevant. Double top.

How often does it need to be said:

I dont care if politicans are straight, gay or bi. I dont care if its a secret or advertised on hoardings all over the UK. I dont care if they like Marmite or not or if their (so unfunny) library books are late back. Basically I dont care about anything they do that isnt part of their role.

I do care, deeply, that they break the rules and steal my money.

Do you geddit?

Nonny Mouse said...

Shocking news story!

Telegraph avoided corporation tax for 2008 tax year

Nigel said...

>>I do care, deeply, that they break the rules and steal my money.<<

Yes, John, I think I get it. Guilty until proven innocent, I think is what you're saying. And even if entirely innocent, guilty if the Telegraph smears them on the front page.

In Alexander's case, he appears to be condemned for following the explicit rules set out by HMRC. Let me know if you can't understand any of the following:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/cgt/property/sell-own-home.htm

"When you sell or dispose of your own home you don't usually have to pay any Capital Gains Tax...

...The final three years (36 months) always qualify for relief, even if you weren't living there, as long as it's been your only or main home at some point during the time that you've owned it....

...You don’t have to claim Private Residence Relief - it's given automatically."

So the Telegraph story is factually inaccurate on at least two counts.

Junius said...

Ian,
Surely you have omitted to mention that Tarquin is a fellow homosexual and clearly the victim of - what is it, oh,yes - homophobia.
How unlike you to fail to mention such a detail.

norfolkandchance said...

What I continue to find astonishing is the willingness of parliamentarians and others who hang around our legislature to forgive each other things they would condemn in everyone else.

David Laws broke already very liberal expenses regulations. A DSS claimant would be presecuted for it. His sexual preferences are irrelevant.

Keir Hardie said...

Glad you think that the expenses issue is so important Iain.

What was the response on the doorstep:
"They just don't get it"

This 'humour' just 'doesn't get it' as much as Liam Byrnes prattish note to Laws.

FX Man said...

This is a bit far-fetched, isn't it. We all know that politicians [particularly Lib-Dems] STEAL books from libraries.

http://fxbites.blogspot.com/2010/05/hellogoodbye-folks.html

Alix said...

@Richard

"This is not about right and wrongs ... it is about perceptions and confirmation of perceptions."

What, you mean like pretending people have broken the rules when they haven't? I see...

"We believe that you are all a bunch of self-serving shits ... this type of publicity just confirms that which we already believe. Since this is self-evidently true, the rest is detail - and entertainment."

This is called confirmation bias. Most people see it as something to be guarded against rather than embraced.