This past weekend, Polly Toynbee was on the Andrew Marr Show, speaking about the Cameron Panama affair. The crucial thing she had to say during the spot was this:
“That’s the real story, it’s not really about him having done anything abnormal for people as rich as him, it’s about simply being that rich — and once it’s exposed in that granular way, it shocks more as lots of people have always known Cameron and Osborne — the whole lot of them — are multi-millionaires.”
Toynbee is not a Labour MP, of course. But her language on the Marr programme demonstrates an important dimension of just how and why the Left have lost the plot of late.
Polly thinking Cameron’s wealth is “the real story” is an amazing moment of being greatly out of touch with most people in the country. The real story here is that Cameron may have lied and avoided tax – that’s the real story. Everyone in the country already knew Cameron was well off on May 7, 2015. So given the election result, I think it’s fair to say that Cameron’s wealth isn’t a big deal to a lot of them.
Then McDonnell pipes up yesterday to says that essentially it’s not about Cameron’s honesty, but rather the pressing problem of inheritance taxation. In other words, he’s turned a point about the prime minister’s fundamental character into a boring barmy about a tax most people are against.
You want more? Corbyn yesterday: “there is now one rule for the super-rich, and another for the rest”. Two major points to bring up here. One, David Cameron is not “super-rich”. He is posh, yes, he comes from a privileged background which helped him get on in life, no question about that. But the man has assets seemingly worth less than half a million pounds in total. I’d like to stress, being worth half a million pounds is a very long way from being poor, but “super-rich”? When I hear that term, I think of billionaires, not people who if they liquidised everything they had in the world would just about be able to buy an average house in central London without having to take out a mortgage. I once worked for a bloke who made £110 million a year (relax – very, very little of it saw its way to me) – he was super-rich.
Which brings me to my second major point on “super-richness”. All that Labour MPs as well as members of the press who don’t like Cameron had to do was jump on the fault line with everything they’ve got: David Cameron avoided tax and tried to cover it up, repeat until you are blue in the face. Because do you want to know what people hate? It isn’t super-richness or lack of sufficient inheritance tax in the system – it is politicians who take your taxes but avoid paying it themselves. And they hate what they perceive to be lying politicians as well.
So with an open goal presented to them, Labour once again decide to stop playing football and try and turn it into a game of tiddlywinks while the other side recover, grab the ball back and storm the other end. I think Cameron will get out of this one. He has Corbyn and many of his supporters to thank for that, as usual.