THREE MPs and a peer came before magistrates today on charges of fraud. They asked – or rather a lawyer asked on their behalf – if they could be spared the ignominy of actually going into the dock. Could they not (presumably in light of their elevated status and sensitive natures) sit in the main body of the court instead? The judge told them to *** off . . Not quite in those words, but I bet that’s what was going through his mind when he told them they’d be treated like ordinary mortals and would stand in the dock. So – what about the rest of them? What about those who told the taxman one house was their second home, and the parliamentary authorities that it was another? The result of this little scam was that when they came to sell their real second home – ie the one they’d told the taxman was their first – they didn’t have any capital gains tax to pay. The Salford Squirrel waved around a cheque for £35,000 in the summer, proclaiming with great pride that this was the amount she was paying back. Like she had a choice – which of course she would still have exercised if she hadn’t been caught red-handed.
If I’d robbed a bank and been caught, and offered to pay it back, would I still be walking the streets with a hurt look on my face, complaining that I’d been terribly misunderstood? Closer to the point – if we come to sell our Oxford house, and tell the taxman we’re actually living in it, and therefore end up not having to pay capital gains tax on the sale, is there not at least a chance that we’ll end up in court? Or jail?
And they wonder why people are disillusioned with politics.