We Might Be Fucked, But Let's at Least Hold the People Fucking Us to Account
Come with me, to a land where rich bastards are accountable for their moral bankruptcy.
A weekly column about how young people are totally fucked lol.
Everybody needs a holiday, right? A few precious days – maybe even a couple of weeks – to unwind from the drudgery of life.
Of course, your holiday options are constrained by what kind of person you are. If you're the kind of person this column is about, you might be limited to sitting on your sofa, waiting for the next shift to start. Or maybe you're doing a bit better and can manage a last-minute budget weekend in a European capital – or perhaps, if you're lucky, a bi-annual trip somewhere fancy, wantonly dumping your income in the knowledge that there's no point saving for the Saga worldwide retirement cruise that will never come. Live in the now; there is no tomorrow.
If, on the other hand, you're a wealthy plutocrat, you can go wherever you want. You can also send your money wherever you want – perhaps on a sort of permanent holiday away from the tax-man. That exact practice has been exposed this week, with leaked documents from the law firm Mossack Fontana revealing how members of the global elite have been sending their cash to luxuriate in the world's finest tax havens.
I'm sure your aware by now that the kicker here is that David Cameron is caught up in this. He has previously said tax-dodging corporations like Amazon and Starbucks lack "moral scruples", and that no government has done more to crack down on tax avoidance than his.
But now we know that the guy who leads the British state – largely a mechanism for taking and distributing tax money – is himself somebody who has benefited from this kind of shonky dealing, via his father's offshore trust, which – perfectly – is called Blairmore Holdings.
I for one am shocked – shocked! – to hear that this government of Etonian millionaires is headed up by somebody who has benefited from the privilege bestowed by his family. I mean, I know David Cameron is distantly related to the Queen, but the thought of some sort of class privilege holding sway over British political life is a bit much for me right now.
That kind of world-weariness was pervasive at first. And it seemed that perhaps they'd get away with it – a short, sharp statement on day one declaring that, yes, Dave had benefited from tax avoidance, but it was totally legal and he can't be held accountable for the actions of his father. That could have been it. Instead, in a gloriously ham-fisted attempt to shut things down, five statements were released from Monday to Thursday, each presenting further questions and ensuring the story stayed interesting for the maximum amount of time possible.
It's difficult to really quantify these things, but early cynicism appears to have given way to a sense of outrage and determination, manifested in the overnight creation of a protest demanding that Cameron resign. You're invited to wear your finest Hawaiian shirt outside Downing Street tomorrow to register your disgust in the style of a CEO on his annual visit to the Caymans.
It's time for the rest of us to have a holiday in the haven of our imagination. Treat it like a Royal Wedding, or if you're morbid and northern, Margaret Thatcher's death (three years ago today). Take a few days off work to really celebrate. Please join me and climb aboard a Boeing 747-sized political crisis, destination resignation. Enjoy a hot towel and a can of Stella along the ride.
For as long as this rolls out, we're on holiday from a country where the government's apparent brutality is matched only by its slick professionalism in selling cruelty as the only political possibility. Leave behind you, for a while, a world in which the rich can do whatever they want with a smug impunity, and touch down where the misdeeds of the elite come back to bite them in the arse.
Of course, such a holiday doesn't change the fact that Britain is still the kind of place where local councils fine homeless people £50 for begging. And, Generation Fucked, forget ye not that this is only a reprieve in a week that's seen a pension reform make us £19,000 worse off.
But think about that later, perhaps in a couple of weeks. For now, this story has shown that Britain is not only a damp and grey piece of rock on the north-western corner of Europe, but also a tropical paradise on Earth that could be ours too. The semi-fictional shell companies used to funnel real money demonstrate the political potency of a vivid imagination. Maybe we could turn this into the sort of holiday you don't come back from.
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