Quadrophenia and David Cameron

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July 7, 2012 by Jake Cantona

Andy Murray is, for another 24 hours or so, still British. Victory will obviously keep him British until this time next year and possibly longer. Obviously, if he loses, he reverts to being Scottish.

This schizophrenic approach to success and failure and our sense of identity is nowhere more apparent than in the shape of our glorious Prime Minister, who in recent weeks has managed to attack welfare claimants for subsisting in a ‘culture of entitlement’ and lambast Jimmy Carr for his use of a tax avoidance scheme while simultaneously defending Sir Philip Green and Gary Barlow’s use of similar schemes and conveniently forgetting the entitlement forged in his own upbringing via Eton and The Bullingdon Club.

Speaking in the wake of the revelations about Carr’s tax affairs, Cameron said “he’s taking money and putting it into some very dodgy tax avoidance scheme”. He was less forthcoming though when asked about Green, a man who has donated millions to the Tories, publicly stating that “I’m not getting into an individual’s tax affairs”.

Cameron is of course, conflicted here. Caught between doing what is right for the public purse while having quite possibly benefitted from similar schemes himself, albeit through inherited wealth. Cameron’s father, as you may be aware, was involved in running offshore investment funds. Green is a massive donor to Cameron’s Conservative party and ‘Sir’ Gary Barlow is a backer. Carr, oddly enough, has links to Labour[1].

We are, however, as Cameron says ‘in this together’. The best place to be in this right now, is probably to have both arms wrapped firmly around Bob Diamond’s ankle as he extricates himself from the mire.

Diamond has resigned from his position at Barclays after a nudge and a wink from the Governor of the Bank of England, despite apparently having done nothing wrong himself. It was, he insists, junior staff who instigated and ran a scam to manipulate interbank lending rates. So that’s alright then.

Diamond’s not the only one blaming the little people for his failures of corporate governance, which find an echo in the New York socialite Leona Helmsley’s famous ‘only the little people pay taxes’[2]. I’m sure she’d be gratified to know that, in the years since her conviction for tax evasion on a grand scale, her philosophy has been adopted as policy by Her Majesty’s government.

As an aside, the I Know Nothing approach to leadership is still going strong in Scottish football[3], where the collective might of the SFA, SPL and SFL[4] still can’t decide whether a bankrupt football club with no players is going to be playing in their competitions next year. How much longer that particular reworking of the Monty Python parrot sketch can keep going is anyone’s guess, but if they don’t get their act together pronto, FIFA will be wading in, and we’ll be looking at a British Football Association being formed by diktat. Regardless of whether Andy Murray wins Wimbledon.

Cameron is similarly duplicitous in his approach to the banking sector. A Venn diagram doing the rounds at the moment illustrates the point nicely, showing on the one hand People Who Think Labour Were Too Soft On Banking Regulation, and on the other People Who Think Labour Were Too Harsh On Banking Regulation. Cameron is, naturally, the schizophrenic overlap.[5]

Things have moved on in many ways since the 1980s, the last time that a government of the rich for the rich told the poor that they were an unaffordable luxury, but the euphemisms[6] and spin are still going strong. I have been increasingly reminded, particularly in the current climate, of a cartoon in Private Eye which explained the ‘trickle-down effect’ of wealth creation by showing a banker pissing on a beggar.

To end where I came in, I’m really not sure if Pete Townsend is a tennis fan, but if the covers go on at any point during Murray’s valiant bid for full British citizenship, a rousing chorus of Won’t Get Fooled Again would go down one hell of a lot better than Summer Sodding Holiday.


[1] See current issue of Private Eye

[2] Another echo is in George Osborne’s decision to send out junior cannon fodder to face the full force of Captain Paxman’s artillery unit on Newsnight last week

[3] See earlier blog ‘Rangers F(uster) C(luck)’

[4] Scottish Football Association, Scottish Premier League, Scottish Football League. Again, just refer to them collectively as SNAFU

[5] We’ve got internet porn for starters

[6] ‘Care in the Community’ was my favourite. Explained by the late Dennis Potter as ‘closing that big expensive building and putting those mad people on the street’ (my paraphrase)

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