Labour Party

Will Ken sink on tax?

In the Observer today Nick Cohen calls on Ken Livingstone to come clean on his tax affairs today and publish his accounts.

Livingstone who has attacked Boris Johnson for having two jobs, being paid as mayor and by the Telegraph, withers under similar financial scrutiny as he uses a legal tax arrangements to have himself and his wife pay tax not as a couple but a company (Silveta Ltd) where cash from his media appearances and speeches is channeled.

Those media appearances sadly have included Iranian propaganda channel Press TV, which surprises no one around here who knows his record of being linked to high questionable groups and individuals not least Islamic clerics including Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Egyptian cleric who has justified suicide bombings against civilian targets in Israel.

He makes a comparison with how the FBI got Al Capone on tax in the end while they could not get him for the more serious crimes of racketeering and organising murder.

The punishment of Capone serves as a metaphor for the end of the good press Ken Livingstone has had from the “liberal” media. If there were a wider sense of honour on the British liberal-left, it would have turned on Livingstone for his alliances with the religious right long ago. It would have affirmed its belief in the emancipation of women and homosexual and racial equality and said it could not tolerate a politician who in 2004 embraced a cleric who endorsed the genital mutilation of girls, wife-beating and the murder of homosexuals, Israeli civilians and any Muslim who decided to change his or her religion. In 2010, Labour supporters would have demanded that the party expel Livingstone for backing a candidate whose supporters had links to the Islamic Forum of Europe in the contest to be mayor of Tower Hamlets rather than the official Labour contender.

Although a few London Labour MPs and activists have proved that they mean what they say, most have preferred to cheer “Ken” on. (I don’t call “Ken” and “Boris” by their first names, incidentally. I know them only slightly and we are not friends.) Only when the Telegraph revealed Livingstone’s tax avoidance did the stagnant pond of “progressive” opinion stir.

In the end while Cohen lists many reasons why Livingstone does not deserve our vote he says he will give it, but suggests we mitigate this long the way, sound advice as usual:

Do everything you can to mitigate the worst effects of a Labour victory: join the National Secular Society, which opposes divinely inspired bigotry in whatever form it comes; support the Muslims and ex-Muslims running the One Law for All campaign against sharia; and insist that there can be no negotiation or compromise on full equality for gays and women, whatever creed claims dominion over their minds and bodies.