Imagine you’ve been summoned by your boss to explain your recent poor performance in the job. You respond by blaming it all on the shortcomings of your predecessor, who was sacked five years ago. It doesn’t sound like a winning strategy, does it? Yet time and time again Prime Minister David Cameron reaches for his big “blame Labour” stick, whenever his own smug and shambolic government comes under attack.
Yesterday, during Prime Minister’s Questions, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn questioned the PM about the £130 million back tax deal that’s been struck between HMRC and everyone’s favourite search engine, Google. This nugatory payment, which dates back to 2005, equates to a rate of corporation tax of just 3 per cent. Compare that with the €227 million deal (for the period 2009 to 2013) that Italy has struck with the search engine giant, and you can see why George Osborne’s “major success” looks like a hollow victory.
But I don’t really want to talk about corporation tax or Google, and neither does David Cameron. If you saw his performance on PMQ, you’ll know he’s much more comfortable slinging mud at Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and the previous Labour administrations who also failed to make the greedy global giants pay their way.
Puce with rage and brimming with self-righteousness, Cameron reeled off the current occupations of Blair, Brown and Alistair Darling before declaring:
“Those are the people to blame for Google not paying their taxes. We’re the ones who got them to pay!”
I’m quite happy to go on blaming Tony Blair for our illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003 and for all the death, destruction and misery that has followed. But he’s long gone and Labour has been out of office since 2010. Isn’t it about time that David Cameron stopped taking potshots at Brown and Darling and started taking responsibility for the actions of his own maniacal Chancellor, George Osborne?
It was more of the same with Dave’s robust defence of his government’s position on the much-hated “bedroom tax” (the Court of Appeal ruled it discriminatory in two cases this week). He concluded with a broadside against Labour’s preference for more taxes, more welfare, higher borrowing and shapeless brown suits.
It seems Jeremy Corbyn’s polite attempts to put questions before political posturing haven’t deflected David Cameron from his favourite strategy of playing the blame card. To be fair, it’s a ploy that has also proved very successful over the years for Premier League managers like Sir Alex Ferguson, José Mourinho and the king of the whingers, Arsène Wenger.
Politicians blame the opposition party; football teams blame the ref. Bankers just take your money and run. For everyone else, scapegoating others for your bad decisions isn’t so easy.