Clarke: Won’t defend bonuses but will do nothing to curtail them

Shadow Business Secretary unenthusiastic about 50 per cent tax on bankers’ bonuses, implying it would be unenforcable and therefore not worth doing.

Ken Clarke gave bankers the green light to avoid paying the super tax today, effectively throwing his hands up in the air and saying he’d do nothing to enforce it.

Speaking on 5ive Live Breakfast (2:08:35-2:17:13), he even went as far as to give advice to companies and individuals on how to evade the new 50 per cent tax on bonuses, broken by the BBC’s Business Editor Robert Peston this morning.

The Shadow Business Secretary said:

“You don’t have to be an accountant to work out the very many ways in which that tax can be avoided.

“I mean, the non doms won’t pay it ’cos you’ll pay them abroad, you start paying people in ways that are other than bonus by giving them a period of higher pay, I mean, the people in the revenue, when the Ministers came in and said that ‘we know people are very angry about big bonuses, can you tax the bonuses of particular people?’ would probably have begun by saying ‘this is ridiculous Minister, you can’t possibly target a tax like that, particularly on such sophisticated financial people.

“Well, no doubt they’ve had a go, if they’ve succeeded, good luck to them, I’m not gonna defend bankers’ bonuses, I think the way in which some of the banks that have been bailed out with public money are paying bonuses is quite ridiculous, they’re quite insensitive to public rage, but, I mean, if they’ve wasted hours of their lives in the Treasury trying to devise a tax to make a headline, I wish they’d devoted a few more hours to the dire state of the public finances.”

Several points leap out, among them the line that non doms won’t pay it, raising once again the spectre of Zac Goldsmith and the millions in tax he’s avoided paying over the years, the line about bankers being paid more to make up for the loss – which would be taxed at 50 per cent anyway – and his fawning attitude towards “such sophisticated financial people” as work in the City, that the State needn’t bother even trying to clamp down on their evasion.

Once again, as with their inheritance tax policies, it appears to be a case under the Tories of austerity for the many, largesse for the few.

Listen to the interview below and download it here:


The Chancellor has just told the House he will be introducing new anti-avoidance measures, and hopes to collect up to half-a-billion pounds from the 50 per cent tax on bonuses of more than £25,000 – to be paid directly by employers.


Vince Cable has just appeared on Sky News to parrot Ken Clarke’s regressive, do nothing attitude; it’s almost as if they’re reading from the same script.

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