Anna Soubry is obviously too stupid to be a minister

Anna Soubry, the public health minister, told how “gorgeous” cigarette packets made her take up smoking as a teenager because they were a “symbol of glamour”.

Mrs Soubry warned that “many” young people take up smoking because of branding.

For two reasons: She’s incredibly stupid for taking up smoking for the glamour of the packets and she’s even more stupid if she thinks any of us are going to believe her.

It’s like saying that people eat chocolate because Ferrero Rocher comes in gold foil.

Packaging differentiates between types, not instils the initial desire.

Ritchie on Vodafone

And the cost in terms of tax lost on that Vodafone dividend? Over £12 billion. That’s what has gone by the wayside.

If the law was different from what it is then the tax bill would be different from what it is.

Well, yes, I suppose so. And if my Auntie had balls she’d be my Uncle.

Margaret, Lady Hodge, speaks out!

MPs last night demanded Vodafone to ‘do the right thing’ and pay its ‘fair share’.

Margaret Hodge, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, who has led a probe into the tax affairs of Google, Starbucks and Amazon, said: ‘I don’t understand how anyone can justify such a massive windfall without handing any of it to the Exchequer.

‘If this is an instance in which Vodafone has simply played the system then clearly they themselves have an obligation to UK consumers, on whom they depend for their business, to do the right thing.’

They’re following the laws you voted for you cow.

Quite apart from the way that this has nothing at all to do with UK consumers (they’re selling their US company, get that?) the specific and particular law here is the 2009 Corporation Tax bill. Under G. Brown’s government, with Alistair Darling as Chancellor, you were a minister in that Government and you voted for it.

It is this which allows the money in the Dutch company to be paid as a dividend to the UK company and then passed through to shareholders without the company (although the shareholders will still get stung) paying tax.

And if there wasn’t that Dutch company in the way? If the shares were just held directly by the UK PLC? Then no tax would be payable by the company under the 2002 Finance Act. Which you also voted for. And you were a minister in the government that proposed said act.

Please, don’t be a scumbag hypocrite all your life.

The Guardian and Margaret Hodge go entirely doolally over Vodafone

Head of the public accounts committee urges HMRC officials and Treasury ministers to examine potential $35bn tax savings of Vodafone deal


Tax analysts believe Vodafone can structure its deal so as to reduce tax to $5bn, significantly less than the $40bn that could be due.

Who are these shambling cretins?

To get to a $40 billion figure you’ve got to assume that corporation tax is due on the total receipts from the deal. Which is simply nonsense: you would only ever pay tax on the profit made, not the turnover.

But no doubt the ignorants over at UKUncut will start claiming that it’s a $40 billion bill being avoided soon enough.

The UK’s leading tax expert on tax

Vodafone is selling its stake in US mobile network Verizon for about $130 billion according to press reports. That’s more than £80 billion.

And the deal will almost certainly be tax free. No great offshore planning will be needed to achieve this: Gordon Brown introduced the substantial shareholdings exemption in 2002. The result is that Vodafone has an automatic right not to pay tax on this gain in the UK.

Yes, there is that SSE.

But it’s also true that the Verizon stake is being sold for a mix of cash and shares. And the cash part is less than what Vodafone paid for AirTouch 15 years ago. A share swap doesn’t trigger a CGT or corporation tax bill. And if the cash part isn’t a profit…..

Frances O’Grady seems somewhat confused here

O’Grady said: “Swedish derogation contracts are just one more example of a new and growing type of employment that offers no job security, poor career progression and often low pay.”

Hmm. So what actually is this Swedish derogation?

The TUC has become increasingly frustrated about the growing use of the loophole known as the Swedish derogation, which allows agency workers placed with companies to be paid less than direct employees, provided the agency agrees to continue paying them for at least four weeks at times when it is unable to find them work.

So, greater security of pay is now evidence of less security of pay is it?

Willy Hutton’s just such a card

The TaxPayers’ Alliance will be fulminating. On Tuesday, Birmingham’s new library – a £189m tribute to modernity and already receiving great reviews – will open. The largest public building of its type in Europe, it is part of a daring plan to reinvent the centre of the city. But in the world inhabited by the TaxPayers’ Alliance, where all public initiative is futile, this must a priori be a useless waste of money.

The Library of Birmingham is a fabulous public space, less a library, more an attempt to create an open information hub for the city – surely the only future for libraries as they shudder before the twin impact of the digital revolution and the cruellest, fastest withdrawal of local public spending from any major industrialised country since 1945.

The digital revolution means that we don’t really have a future place for buildings called libraries. Therefore it’s wonderful that £189 million of the ratepayers’ money has been pissed away on one.

I’ve said before that the most co0nservative people in Britain are those on the left. And here it is again: we must still have libraries, even if we don’t need them, because we used to have libraries.

The perfect letter from a sociology lecturer

In explaining the rise in inequality between young people in Britain, you dismiss “policy prescriptions driven by ideology” as a “retreat to dogma” (“Too many UK children are born to fail. Why?”, Editorial). As a consequence of this, you then fall into the trap that other proponents of the “end of ideology” thesis make and place the blame for the “problem” on to the “teenage mother who sometimes has no idea how to create a warm, safe, nurturing environment” and, subsequently, needs the help of a government better able to “get the balance between universal and targeted interventions right”.

The problem is the flawed pathology of the lone parent, in need of treatment. This indolent attempt at explanation denies the evidence that more and more working-class and ethnic minority youth find themselves in a world with vastly diminishing opportunities – a situation caused by economic, social and political changes fashioned under three decades of neoliberal restructuring.

To refute this historical and ideological reality is dangerous, for it distracts attention away from the only viable solution to ending this “social apartheid” – the abandonment of the neoliberal project, and a return to economic and social policies shaped by social democratic values and notions of solidarity, justice, democracy and inclusion.

Charlie Cooper

Lecturer in Community & Youth Work Studies, School of Social Sciences

University of Hull

The only thing it’s missing is “We are all guilty”.

I don’t understand this Vodafone tax thing

Chief executive Vittorio Colao is closing in on a sale of Vodafone’s 45pc stake in Verizon Wireless, the US’s biggest mobile operator, to majority owner Verizon Communications.

The company expects tax exemptions to allow it to keep the vast majority of the income which will be positive news for investors, including UK pension funds, which are expecting a major payout following the deal.

People (including some very savvy investors) keep talking about the tax that will be due on this.

But there’s no tax payable on selling such a stake in a subsidiary. Substantial shareholding exemption or SSE. From the UK point of view there’s just not anything to pay at all.

The Americans might want a slice but that should be simple enough to deal with.

I just don’t get it. What tax is it that everyone’s worrying about?

Note that this piece in the Telegraph does talk about this. But what’s confusing me is why anyone ever thought it was going to be different?

Technical Notice

As you know, for the last few months (and more), this blog has been falling over like a particularly clumsy dipsomaniac on a bouncy castle. This was essentially because the server couldn’t take the weight of traffic; and, when the server fell over, it tended to corrupt and crash database tables.

Over the last 24 hours, we have completed the switch to a new hosting company, with burst-able resources, that should ensure that this blog stays firmly in the land of the living. In the course of this transfer, some comments may have been lost—we do hope that you’ll forgive this unavoidable problem.

Obviously there will be some fine-tuning to do—both from an aesthetics perspective, and a performance angle. If you do spot anything behaving weirdly, please leave a comment here and we’ll try to sort it out as soon as possible.

Thank you for your patience over the last day or so; and now—onwards and upwards!



Web Monkey to Mr Worstall