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Tory candidate Zac Goldsmith should be made to answer tax avoidance allegations

GoldsmithOn Friday came the least surprising political announcement at the end of a summer full of surprises: That Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston, would be the Tories’ mayoral candidate in 2016.

Goldsmith won 70% of the 9,227 votes cast in the primary, more than the other three candidates (Syed Kamall, Stephen Greenhalgh and Andrew Boff) combined. This has rightly angered the TUC, who have blasted the Tories, asking, “If online balloting is good enough the Conservative Party, why can’t working people use it?” in reference to the Tories’ continued opposition to the use of online ballots for strikes.

By choosing Goldsmith, the Eton-educated son of a billionaire hedge fund owner, as their candidate against Labour’s Sadiq Khan, a son of an immigrant bus driver raised in a council house, the Tories have already allowed Labour to paint this as a choice between ‘their London and ours’.

Goldsmith certainly has a few skeletons in his closet. In 2009 The Observer ran the story that Goldsmith, while a Tory PPC, was accused of avoiding the payment of nearly £6m in tax by registering as a non-domiciled resident. Goldsmith then admitted his use of “non-dom” status, while downplaying its benefits.

In a city where a quarter of people are living in poverty, and where average rents hit £1,500 a year in June, perhaps Goldsmith ought to be asked why he was cutting his personal tax bill by using ‘non-dom’ status rather than paying his fair share, and why that qualifies him to become Mayor of London?

Yet Labour are fearful of Goldsmith’s ability to reach out to Lib Dem and Green voters because of his opposition to a third runway at Heathrow, especially after former Green mayoral candidate Baroness Jenny Jones appeared to endorse a second preference for Goldsmith earlier this year. Jones said, in May, “if Zac Goldsmith is standing, it’s a different scenario. Many of us very much like that he comes across as very green and committed and passionate.” Given 8% of Londoners voted for a Green mayor in 2012, their transfers could prove decisive.

A recent poll by YouGov had Labour just one point ahead of the Tories in London in voting intention for the next General Election, but Khan remains the odds-on favourite of the bookies for the Mayoralty. If Labour can force Goldsmith to openly defend or even apologise for his pre-2010 tax arrangements, maybe those Green and Lib Dem voters might shrink away from the idea of backing a candidate as transparently elite as the multi-millionaire Etonian they are presented with.

3 Comments

  1. Verity says:

    Watch out for the candidates developing positions on the EU. If Goldsmith backs the ‘out’ this issue could easily be the decider for him, even in London. Perhaps the Labour establishment needs one or two further major hits before they start to understand that their base is declining so fast it is only the union link that gives any claim to a future with secured working class support. The only disadvantage of the Corbyn success is that it allows some (most) on the Left some comfort with the illusion that there has been some permanent or continuous Leftward shift in Labour policy – we have just had a shot of caffeine that is all.

  2. Mervyn Hyde says:

    The Labour Party has just recruited thousands of people into the fold, what still remains are Blair’s structures and a large section of his supporters.

    Having discussed old issues facing Labour with centrists in my local party, I am fearful that any keen new members will either rapidly become disillusioned by the inertia within local party activists, or that they will be thwarted by those that have made comfortable life styles out taking up local council seats and going along with the flow.

    I have been recently invited as others in the party to attend a regional conference in the south west, the problem was there was a £30 bill to pay and no knowledge as to what the aims of the conference were to be or how I would participate, my guess would be that I would just sit in the crowd and listen to speeches which I doubt would have much significance to my point of view.

    There is absolutely no doubt that we as individuals need to get back into circulation in our local parties and generate real political debate. I would also note that I did not see one Labour Banner on the march in Manchester, There were no local Labour Party members on the coach that I travelled up in etc., In other words no local activity, which in the past would be leading the march.

    If we are going to challenge the Tories at any level we need committed Labour supporters at the forefront of the battles not just followers of organised union activities.

    We have everything to fight for at present, we need to mobilise activity through the Branches that means getting involved.

  3. Bazza says:

    Good points Mervyn.
    Re the main thrust of the main article I think we have to be wary of the Greens who apart from some notable exceptions can be just niaive opportunists.
    I also think Jeremy has more genuine democratic socialist and green politics.
    Yes the Tory’s dad was a Hedge Fund billionaire and I almost had to laugh at Osborne today calling the Tories the Party of labour!
    Yes and the sinister Trade Union Bill is workers empowerment? – funny how with words deliberately misused, some claim the opposite of reality – you should judge people by their practice.
    The Tories got £50m from Hedge Funds and Hedge Funds in return got £145m of tax cuts!
    The Tories cut Corporation Tax for their big business friends and brought in tax cuts for millionaires as well as tax cuts for private landlords with multiple properties (many Tories are private landlords) etc. so the Tories are really the Party of Capital and where does capital come from? – the surplus labour (legally nicked) from the working billions (all those who have to sell their labour to live).
    So perhaps only those who try to get the workers true share of their whole labour back are the Party of Labour, and it is great to be able to say after many years that (led by the grassroots of Labour) we are getting Labour back to its roots and they are actually starting to stand for something again.
    We need to keep the Son of a Hedge Fund, Safe Green, True Blue, Posh Tory Boy, Out!
    We at least won’t be fooled unlike some Greens. London should Sack Zac!

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