Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Why Iain Dale is wrong about Zac Goldsmith

Numerous bloggers (including plenty of Lib Dems) have commented on the story in the Sunday Times today that Tory Richmond Park PPC Zac Goldsmith is a non-dom and currently avoids UK income tax.

Iain Dale has had a crack at a defence of Mr Goldsmith. In a blogpost entitled "Tofftastic" he says:

There was lots of sanctimonious guff on Twitter from assorted lefties last night about the Sunday Times story that Zak Goldsmith is a 'non dom'. They even tried to suggest that he should resign as a candidate or David Cameron should sack him. Er, on what grounds exactly? What law has he broken? Yup, that's right, none. His tax status is a matter between him and the tax authorities. If they are satisfied with it, it's rather difficult to see why Kerry McCarthy (for it is she) shouldn't be. In any case, Goldsmith has decided to withdraw from 'non dom' status before the election so that's rather spiked the guns of those who seek to do him down.

I'm afraid that that is just not good enough. Whilst Mr Goldsmith has indeed not broken any laws, what Iain is ignoring is how important it is that politicians are affected by the same rules that govern ordinary people. This was one of the big issues that the expenses scandal threw up that MPs were not subject to the same sort of scrutiny regarding expenses as the rest of us and Iain knows very well just how well the defence of "it was within the rules" went down there. If Mr Goldsmith has not been subject to the same tax laws as the vast majority of UK citizens then surely he has put himself in a similar category at least in the eyes of the average taxpayer.

Iain's claim that Zac's decision to withdraw from non-dom status before the election has "spiked the guns" of those who are questioning this cuts no ice with me. Reverting to domestic status at the last minute just before an election where to do otherwise would be politically suicidal does not spike anyone's guns.

I met Zac at an event we were both speaking at a couple of months ago which I blogged about here. He is a very charismatic and charming man and he has some very good, strongly held views about the environment. I liked him on a personal level and I could not really find much that he said politically that I disagreed with either. Indeed I think the Parliamentary Conservative Party would be a much better place if they had lots more MPs like him. However this revelation is immensely damaging to his campaign. It has nothing to do with the "Toff" tag as Iain is trying to imply with the title of his post and everything to do with a sense of fair play.

As Paul Walter mentioned in his blogpost on this, Mr Goldsmith's own website points out that "Zac grew up in Richmond and went to school in Richmond. He has lived in Richmond most of his life." I think many in Richmond will struggle to reconcile that statement with his tax status. You can't credibly play the local card if you don't pay tax in this country.

I think Susan Kramer's chances of retaining her seats for the Lib Dems in Richmond Park just got a lot better.


Dippyness. said...

Sorry dude...If I have anything to do with it Susan will be wise to start packing NOW!
I was born & bred in this Constituency. The one single reason Lid/Dems have managed to retain it, is a result of Labour supporters voting to keep Conservatives out. Boundary changes helped when it became the Richmond Park Constituency.
Zac WILL win here. Susan only just got in last time. She's not well liked & nowhere near as charismatic. Sorry dude. ;0

John said...

Sorry's like yer know gotta show you're off the hood yer know pay your way man. Posh geezers that just tell me what to do yer know man don't go down too well wiv me. Better stick to down to earth pays her way Susan, know what ah mean!

Let's face it Goldsmith's chances are toast - most of the soft conservatives are of the pay their way decent variety and they can get all the green stuff from Susan. So it's Kramer vs Goldsmith or should that be now Goldibags - I think I know what the burghers of Richmond Park will choose. As for the Labour voters they're melting away - the idea of being represented by the likes of Zac Goldsmith is like a red rag to a bull.

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with your comments on what Zac is like - I hear the way he speaks to residents, local councillors etc is horrific.

He also has no idea how things like a referendum works, or planning law, or even basic Government functions.

Paul Walter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Oranjepan said...

That kind of tribal apologetics really gets on my wick.

Instead of concentrating on the issues it becomes a matter of personality.

It's what sets the normal population against politicians and it drags politics into the gutter.

I just wonder whether the people who indulge in that kind of behaviour (both the tax evasion by trustafarian millionaires, and the defence of it by their comrades in arms) are conscious of the way they are damaging the reputation of their profession.

If they are you have to wonder how they will benefit, but if they aren't it makes me worry about the reliability of their judgement.

Anonymous said...

Bravely spoken. And rightly so.

Parkie Productions said...

In defence of Zac Goldsmith it has to be said that he has been resident in his chosen constituency for most of his life and has paid pretty handsomely for the privilege of carrying the Conservative Party nomination. That said, there's a feeling afoot that he ought to make some equally conspicuous philanthropic contribution to the constituency too.

It has been suggested to him that he could pay for the forthcoming repairs to Richmond Park's car parks thereby freeing his intended constituents from having to pay car parking fees as the straitened Department of Culture Media and Sport will introduce these in an attempt to claw back some of the outlay through charging and the Park management will get shafted with the thankless task of collecting them.

There is a rally in the park on 30th January 2010 about this - will he announce it then? Or will former banker Susan Kramer's cheque pip him at the post?