It seems extraordinary to me that David Cameron is waiting until he may or may not win an election and then if he wins to take valuable parliamentary time to make sure that his MPs and peers behave properly over tax. It does not say much for his confidence in the 'moral compass' of his current and future parliamentarians. What is even more curious is that my old friend Matthew Oakeshott proposed an amendment recently in the House of Lords to achieve this objective for members of the Lords - and the Conservatives staunchly voted against it.
Note to readers: Their biggest single donor Lord Ashcroft, who has given eye-watering sums to fund Conservative campaigning in key marginal seats, is a member of the House of Lords and has always refused to clarify his tax affairs in spite of repeated probing. The simple fact of the matter is that anyone of any party or none who sits in our legislature and has the opportunity and power to pass laws about our tax should be paying our taxes - period. I assume that David Cameron's sudden announcement is a desperate reaction to the further revelations of the sheer magnitude of British taxes that his high-profile candidate, Zac Goldsmith, has avoided over the last ten years. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that if Mr Goldsmith's curious tax affairs had not been disclosed, he would have continued with his dual tax status.
Too bad for ordinary mortals who pay their fair share. And the ducking and diving by embarrassed Conservative front benchers whenever they are asked about the murky tax affairs of their largest donor sits ill with the reality that the next Government of any political colour is going to have to dish out unpalatable cuts in public services and tax rises. How can a party have the moral authority to do this if it needs parliamentary legislation and the statute book just to force its own parliamentarians to pay their proper share?