When asked for his political philosophy, an elderly friend once told me: ‘Vote Labour when you’re after it – and Tory when you’ve got it.’
It wasn’t the most profound advice I’d ever received, but it had a certain rough-hewn logic and a pleasing honesty.
I think about it every time I read about the latest high-profile ‘socialist’ who is making money as a result of their former position in politics.
I believe John Prescott is a classic example.
He appears to have been hell-bent on acquiring the fripperies of office and enjoying the finest things in life (at public expense) since he stopped working as a ship’s steward and decided to elbow his way out of Labour’s foothills and up to the summit.
There’s nothing wrong with ambition, if only he would admit to his life-long yearnings and remove the chips from both shoulders .
But even the Baron of Hull’s lust for the good life has been eclipsed by his former leader.
Arguably driven on by his wife (another diamond-studded, gold-leafed socialist), Tony Blair appears to have been filling his boots in spectacular style since moving out of Number 10 four years ago.
According to the latest accounts lodged at Companies House, one of his 12 firms increased its turnover to £12m (an increase of almost 50 per cent) but only £315,000 found its way to the taxman.
A claim for more than £7m worth of ‘administrative expenses’ is said to have raised an eyebrow or two among the fiscal cognoscenti.
This was the man who, according to national newspapers this week, said during his campaign for the Labour leadership in 1994: ‘We must tackle abuse of the tax system. For those who can employ the right accountants, the tax system is a haven of scams, perks, City deals and profits.
‘We should not make our tax rules a playground for revenue avoiders and tax abusers who pay little or nothing while others pay more than their share.’
Apparently Teflon Tony has done nothing illegal – but I wonder if his activities might not be morally reprehensible and egregiously hypocritical?