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Tax Avoidance Creates Jobs And Boosts The Economy – Livingstone

Yes, that’s today’s excuse from Red Ken about why he avoided £50,000 of tax/National Insurance by channelling his earnings through a limited company rather than as an employee of is various ‘engagers’, or as a Schedule D* self-employed taxpayer.


OK, so it might not have been as much as £50,000 – it may have been more – but this figure was not calculated by a Ken-bashing swivel eyed right winger like me. It was Richard Murphy; he who, if you asked him if tax avoidance was worse than paedophilia, would have to pause and think about his answer.

Anyway, speaking on Nick Ferrari’s LBC show this morning, Ken said that the £50,000 saved enabled him to give jobs to two people. Clearly Ken isn’t an accountant or economist, but it seems he implicitly recognises the phenomenon of tax incidence and the extent to which much business taxation ends up being borne by the employees – his reasoning for his tax avoidance pretty well says as much. So, his tax avoidance helped create jobs. He could have added the observation that this was an example of him choosing how to spend that £50,000 rather then the government doing so, but let’s take that as read.

His response also acknowledges that fact that tax removes money from the economy. Again, this is a significant departure from the conventional nonsensical leftist line that reducing public expenditure (and thus, by definition, reducing taxation now or in the future) is ‘taking money out of the economy’. Not that Livingstone would see it this way, but when you’re still digging in as deep a hole as he is, I’m surprised he can see anything.

* Showing my age now. Heck, I still find myself talking about SC60’s** sometimes.

** My fellow accountants will understand.

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An Alternative 2011: Mayor Livingstone Reacts to the #Riots

Day 1: Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, expresses shock at Tottenham riots, but said people needed answers over Duggan shooting.

Day 2: Ken is concerned over spread of rioting across North London. He “understands the protestors’ grievances”. He makes comments suggesting that Tesco’s had it coming, but points out to the rioters that they’re wrong because some of the small businesses being hit are run by black business people. Blames the Coalition cuts.

Day 3: Ken says that violence is never the answer and achieves nothing. Announces more cash for youth centres, sponsorship of street artists and grants free Olympic tickets to all under 21’s and single parents in Haringey and Enfield. Blames the unrest on lingering resentment over Iraq and Afghanistan.

Day 4: “Londoners need to come together to say no to racism, hate speech and incitement to violence”, Ken says, adding, “we need calmer voices of reconciliation to be heard”. Announces a summit featuring Lee Jasper, Jody McIntyre, Lindsay German and Ali Desai.

Day 5: Demands explanation after groups complain of police using violence against rioters and kettling of 12 year old looters. Blames the rioting on the legacy of Margaret Thatcher.

Ad nauseam until May 2012….

A Message From Ken Livingstone

Wow. I don’t know what to say.

Actually, that’s  lie. This little message was left on my answerphone:

“Hello, my name’s xxxxxxx I’m calling on behalf of the Ken Livingstone for Mayor campaign.”

Eh?

“Ken’s asked me to give you a quick call to ask your opinions on London …”

Oh, has he really? How could he not have read the less than complementary things this highly regarded and respected blogger I have ever said about Ken (too many to link to)?

“… and if you have any main issues or concerns at the moment.”

Funnily enough yes. Particularly the concern that there might be a theoretical chance that he could get in again. I could have a moan about some things that Boris hasn’t done yet (getting a grip on TfL for one) but he has still done a far better job like Ken did.

“We’ll call you back at a more convenient time.”

Yes, try 4th May 2012 – I expect Ken will have plenty of time to call me in person then.

2012 Beckons

Coming up on Radio 4 next week … the history of the humble park bench. And because there are lots of park benches in London, it’ll include an interview with former London Mayor Ken Livingstone.

Following that, on Cbeebies, a programme about the letter “L”. “London” starts with the letter “L”, and so there’ll be a piece from former London Mayor Ken Livingstone.

Yes, I’ve exaggerated to make a point, but you do you get the picture? There must be some media-studies intern at the Beeb tasked solely with finding excuses to get old Ken on the air.

On the PM programme this evening, there was a package on the forthcoming Gordon Brown shows the world how it’s done expo G20 summit, and the number of protests that are planned to coincide with the event. So, was there an interview with someone from the police? No, too obvious. The Mayor of the last city that hosted the G20 (Washington D.C.), for that international perspective? You must be joking: Justin Webb’s busy, so we would have to have an American on (old habits die hard). Maybe a two way discussion between one of the soap-dodgers and, say, a right wing commentator? No, too much chance of some wacky and unacceptable views being aired (you know, like scepticism about man made climate change, or something in support of capitalism).

Nope, the obvious choice of interviewee was, of course, “someone who has been involved in preparations for security for summits before” … former London Mayor Ken Livingstone.

I wonder how many other commercial radio presenters (Livingstone hosts his own show on LBC) get so much airtime on the BBC? Nick Ferrari gets on Steve Wright’s Radio 2 show once in a blue moon … and that’s pretty much it.

Of course, our Ken has never hidden the fact he wants to return to City Hall (and not just to sit in the public gallery nursing his carrier bag). His brothers under the skin at the BBC are clearly on board with the project.

Like a Bad Smell

Comment has already been made elsewhere (including at Biased BBC) about Ken Livingstone’s too-regular appearances in the media of late. Really, anyone would think he was gearing up for a book launch or something.

The last week or so has seen the newt fancier commenting on China and the athletics meeting that’s going on there, trotting out his standard line of “we have no reason to criticise China’s action in Tibet after what we’ve done in Iraq and Afghanistan”. Well, we probably did some pretty unpleasant things during our Imperial days but that shouldn’t have stopped us having a go at Hitler. (Warning – Godwin’s Law approaching).

This morning it was the treat of listeners to Nick Ferrari on LBC, though to be fair to Nick, Livingstone has never been a stranger to that London station, where he is now finding regular genuine employment.

Ken’s real vitriol was turned on Boris because the Mayor didn’t head off on a junket to the opening ceremony of the Games in Bejing. Yet who cares? Ken’s Communist mate the Mayor of Bejing invited him over, but Boris doesn’t need to be there except at the end to receive the torch. Boris, it seems, has this old fashioned notion that the Mayor for London should spend his time in London.

Livingstone was earlier asked to give his pearls of wisdom on Boris’ first 100 days in office. “Too early to say”, said Ken, almost sounding reasonable when he welcomed the extra PCSOs on the transport network, but then thought it wrong that Boris should be appointing people from the Right to his team (as opposed, presumably, to the – ahem – broad political church that Livingstone gathered around him).

“Boris’ administration was actually more right wing than appointments like Rosie Boycott might make it appear”, he warned ominously.

I should blooming well hope so.

Livingstone: Look, I Came Here For a Good Argument

At the risk of appearing a Livingstone obsessive, I though I’d post a transcript of Ken’s first appearance today as a presenter on LBC radio.

(Errrm, it may not be entirely verbatim, but you’ll get the general idea of how it sounded!)

Ken Livingstone (for it is he): “Hi, this is Ken Livingstone here on LBC. Phone me, text me, or email me, and be as rude as you like.”

Caller 1: “Hi Ken. I’d just like to say what a tragic shame it was that you lost. I compare it to the assassination of Allende in Chile by the evil American Empire, or the rise of Hitler perhaps.”

KL: “Oh dear, how embarrassing. This isn’t a set up, honest. We’d better find someone to criticise me otherwise they’ll complain that we’re not balanced.”

Caller 2: “Hi Ken, I’d like to say congratulations to you on getting a larger vote this time than you’ve ever had before.”

KL: “Errm, thanks, but we’re going to have the authorities onto us because we’re not finding any callers to have a go at me.

Monty Python - The Argument Sketch

“By the way, we asked Boris Johnson if he wants to come on and have a good argument, but haven’t heard back.”

Caller 3: “Ken, mate, I think you could do no wrong. I was so upset when you lost.”

KL: “I’m going to have to cut you off there, surely there’s someone out there who wants to argue with me. Incidentally, if Andrew Gilligan’s listening, he could call in if he thinks he’s hard enough.

Caller 4: “Ken, I’ve got a few points for you. I think you are an anti-semite and a paranoid fascist. Let me go through each of those.”

KL: “OK, fine. This is more like it.”

Caller 4: “Right then. That you’re paranoid. I say this because… police … bbxzxt.”

KL: “Sorry caller, you’re breaking up. Oh well, time for the travel news.”

(Time passes).

Ken: Thanks there to Dave Spart in Neasden. By the way, we did invite God onto the programme, but we haven’t heard back from the big beardy coward.

OK, so now for a few more accurate nuggets (again from memory .. what? I do have to work y’know):

Andrew Hosken (unofficial biographer): “So, would you run for Mayor again?”

KL: “Well, if there was a by-election – I mean, if Boris was arrested and carted off, as he should be – then yes I’d like to do it.”

On the US embassy not paying their congestion charge:

Cuddly Ken: “If I could I’d have directed the police to crush the ambassador’s car … with the ambassador still in it.”

Caller: “Why don’t you have a go at other countries … like the Nigerians for instance?”

KL: “Well, the Nigerians have never paid anyway.” (So that’s alright then?)

Livingstone Admits Mistake!

On Andrew Marr’s show this morning, former Mayor of London (a title which definitely suits him) Ken Livingstone said he regretted putting the congestion charge call centre in Coventry rather than Croydon, because people in Croydon would have had a better idea of where things were in London.

He has a point, though I doubt that is why Croydon was among the many boroughs that voted Ken out of power.

But that was it. It was rather like getting blood out of the stone for Marr, and even now, Livingstone’s admission sounds rather like Stalin regretting that he didn’t use a different interior design scheme in the Kremlin, or Franco wishing he’d tried to rig a different year’s Eurovision.

Needless to say, he still blames his defeat on Labour’s national unpopularity and, of course, the Evening Standard. This week, though, we will have the delight of witnessing Ken’s own dabbling in the media as he hosts the 1-4pm slot on LBC radio.

“I’ll be the perfect afternoon antidote to Nick Ferrari. You can detox with me.”… quoth Ken on the station’s website. Now was the reference to addiction treatment his own invention or that of a mischievous LBC PR bod?

The Ken Livingstone Memoirs: Publish And Be Damned Awkward

So it’s memoir season for the Blairites, which on the face of it shouldn’t unduly bother Ken Livingstone, but his own departure will still be fresh in the mind and publishers’ advances must seem somewhat more enticing when the ink is only just dry on the P45 and the mortgage is still to be paid.

So here’s an interesting question: when will Red Ken publish his own record of the ups and downs of life on the left in the last thirty years? Let’s look at some of his options:

He could publish this year. It’s not as if he hasn’t a little time on his hands, and what better way to spend the summer? For a little while, the chapters on the Blair years, of smashing the New Labour machine before running for a second term with its backing, will still have some relevancy. That is, while Gordon is still keeping the seat in the Number 10 study warm for David Cameron. Perhaps more relevant will be the usefulness of an autobiography in the context of whatever job offer(s) Ken might be mulling over – or fishing for – later this year.

However, any publication near the Labour party conference in September may be less than helpful for the party – the party which Ken, so far, has not appeared to want to hurt. Publication around that time would remind everyone of that Black Thursday in May and draw attention away from Gordon’s umpteenth fightback (though that might be doing GB a favour), and help, perhaps unwittingly or otherwise, to stir the political pot. Publication after September, then, might be less problematic, and in good time for some parliamentary selections.

Option two would be publication after this year, but before the General Election. The relevance of the recent history will be decaying at a rapid rate, but it will be coming out after Boris’ expected honeymoon period, when Ken might hope to remind people how good things were under his own, errrm, benevolent reign. However, as James Forsyth notes, the City Hall audit may uncover some inconvenient facts during this time. However, leave it too close to May 2010 and not only would it again be unhelpful to Labour’s election campaign, but possibly too late to have any impact on his chances for selection for a cosy parliamentary seat (assuming there will still be any Labour safe seats)*.

Clearly if he waits until after 2010, then it will be a true political anorak’s almanac. He can forget serialisation rights. It will be the memoirs of a political giant of the Left, a la Tony Benn. In which case, he might as well wait ten years, though that’s an awfully long time to be filling your time looking forward to your next session sitting gloomily in the London Assembly’s public gallery, hoping that some future Labour Mayoral candidate might remember to offer you a job.

* Ah, which constituency to woo – Bethnal Green & Bow perhaps?

Final Mayoral Thoughts

OK, time to move on, but it has been interesting browsing the lefty blogs and particularly the comment sections on why Ken lost, and while we’re on the subject, why the Lib Dems did so appallingly too. For instance on Michael White’s blog, elsewhere in the Grauniad and at Harry’s Place among others.

There are a few themes emerging:

1) “The Evening Standard was against Ken. ‘snot fair” Well, the ES certainly helped, but don’t shoot the messenger just because he’s found a message to bring. In any case, I don’t remember the Left complaining when the ES was backing Ken.
2) “It was all part of the national swing.” Not as big a factor as they might think. Ken might have been a Labour mayor – for a few years anyway – but he is and always has been Ken first and foremost. The presidential environment of the London Mayor has ensured that the election would always be primarily about him and his record.
3) From the LibDems: “we got squeezed by the two main parties”. Oh please, change the record. You’ve had over twenty years, through both unpopular Conservative and Labour governments – haven’t you got the message yet?
4) Again from the yellow corner: “Paddick was uninspiring”. They’re not wrong – I watched some of those debates. How about the two classic moments on ITV: first was when Alistair Stewart asked if Paddick would tell borough police commanders what to do. Paddick’s response? “Yes. No, I mean….”. Then, at the end of the debate, the coup de grace … Alistair Stewart: “Who would you suggest your supporters put as their second preference vote?” Paddick: “” – that’s five whole seconds of silence … and now we know why (scroll down to 6.34) it was the far Left, er, Left List (this year’s name for the Socialist Workers Party or something).
5) “How can the outer boroughs do this? They don’t use Oysters or the Tube, what gives them the right?” Errr, perhaps the fact that we have to pay for the Tube, and the Zone 1 stuff, yet see little in return. Especially in the south, where we don’t even get the Tube*

And then amongst all that was the more realistic view from some former Livingstone supporters, which show just how he lost the backing of some core voters. Ken’s support for al-Qaradawi reflects the dilemma that others on the Left seem to be facing now – how to embrace multiculturalism but without pardoning the very politically un-correct attitudes of some of those cultures.

* and, some may ask, why would we want it, when you can already get from Bromley South to Central London non stop in 20 minutes, and with a view out of the window!

Just a Few Hours To Go

Judging by the current turnout estimates, if Boris has done it, it’ll be clearly on the back of a massive backlash from the Outer London boroughs. You know Ken – the sort of boroughs, like Bexley and Bromley that you visited less times than you did your friends in South America and Cuba. The sort of boroughs your minions have trouble locating on a map. The sort of boroughs that have bankrolled the Zone 1-centric plans, filled your cronies pockets and paid for the propagandising, smear campaigns and of course “The Londoner”.

As the few unfortunates who have already heard me speak on the subject will know, there’s only one piece of paper I’m interested in seeing with Livingstone’s name on – his P45.
Ken Livingstone\'s P45