Hands up those surprised Ken Livingstone took advantage of a legal loophole to avoid paying income tax on his substantial earnings in 2009.
No, I thought not. Most sensible people have long had Livingstone down as a 24-carat ‘do as I say, not do as I do’ merchant.
By forming a company and paying corporation tax at 20 per cent rather than income tax at up to 40 percent, he’s reckoned to have saved himself about £50,000.
This is common practice – but it might be an appropriate moment to recall Livingstone’s scathing observation three years ago about MPs (mostly Tories, of course) who employ similar tactics
‘These rich b******* just don’t get it,” he said.
‘No-one should be allowed to vote in a British election, let alone sit in Parliament, unless they pay their full share of tax.’
Livingstone may now care to follow his own advice and step down as Labour candidate to become the next Mayor of London.
But it’s not his tax arrangements I find extraordinary so much as how he managed to earn £232,000 in 2009.
Apparently he came by it through ‘personal appearances, speech-making and hosting a radio show.’
This suggests people were actually prepared to part with good money to hear flawed political clichés trotted out in a world-weary nasal drawl.
It’s nothing new though. Livingstone is merely following a well-worn path taken by others such as Derek Hatton and Neil Kinnock.
I understand that Hatton – once an avowed Trotskyist – has since been a property developer in Cyprus and now describes himself as a businessman and a would-be broadcaster.
Kinnock was vehemently anti-European during his early years in politics, but became a handsomely-remunerated EU commissioner.
He was also a constant critic of the House of Lords – but he now appears quite happy to sit in the Lords as Baron Kinnock of Bedwellty.
Some may be forgiven for questioning whether Livingstone, Hatton and Kinnock have abandoned their principles when there’s a bob to be made.