July 22, 2012
I wonder what the BBC’s favourite Lefty “tax expert”
– aka otherwise obscure Norfolk accountant Richard Murphy – will make of this story about the BBC helping its top stars avoid income tax by channeling their earnings through private companies.
Normally – Murphy being ever-available and ideologically in tune with the BBC’s Fabian Weltanschauung – I’m sure they’d have him on in a trice to explain in his usual way how if we all paid more tax we’d all be happier and the sun would shine every day just like it did in the Ukraine in the great days of Comrade Stalin. Given the circs, though, I suspect on this occasion the BBC will pass. There are few things the BBC enjoys less than being called on its own grotesque hypocrisy.
Look, if the BBC were Fox News (please God, I’d crawl on my knees all the way Canterbury Cathedral if you made this happen) few of us would have any problem whatsoever with its stars using whichever legal tax avoidance system they wished. That’s because Fox, in its fair and balanced way, is a tireless and outspoken advocate of free markets, smaller government and lower taxation.
But that is not the BBC’s position. Not one bit. The BBC has nothing whatsoever to do with the free market. Nor – I’d wager – do most of those 148 BBC stars channeling their earnings through private companies to avoid tax. With the possible exceptions of Jeremy Clarkson (and frankly even he’s a bit politically suspect what with his rampant brown-nosing of the Cameron set) and Andrew Neil, small-government, free-market, low-tax types just don’t get a look-in at the Beeb.
“Why isn’t the government doing more to solve this problem?” On any given subject, this is the BBC’s default position. Indeed, one of the reasons our state sector is now so bloated (and ruinously expensive) is because for decades our national broadcaster, with its compulsory licence fee and quasi-monopolistic stranglehold over television and radio, has been propagandising on its behalf. Of all the organisations that have contributed to Britain’s economic and political decline, there is probably none that has done quite so much insidious and long-term damage as the BBC.
If – as its stars’ tax arrangements suggest – the BBC is now tentatively embracing the free market then I applaud its good sense. Perhaps we can now do our bit to helping it in this direction by scrapping the licence fee.