Nigel Farage opposes the notion of all politicians having to make their tax and earnings totally transparent, on the grounds that this would deter established and capable persons who had already achieved some measure of material success in their lives from entering politics to 'give something back'. I take his point. Polly on the other hand advocates that all of us should reveal our tax and earnings, so that we can look up the neighbours' claimed allowances in the internet. If all is open, tax avoidance is discouraged. I take her point. Livingstone's repulsive hypocrisy only came to light when his own income tax avoidance was revealed. And then he's lied about it, which is even worse.
Let me be honest. I avoid tax. I suspect most of us do; every father who has bought the champagne for his daughter's wedding in Calais is a tax avoider; every juvenile geek who has bought gadgets or CDs from Luxemburg or the Channel Islands (before the closing of that useful loophole) is a tax avoider. The fight for the boozy lunch receipt ('corporate entertaining'), 10,000 miles a year of 'business' mileage, the ergonomic office chair in front of your PC screen and all the rest. But then most of us aren't standing for public office with the power to raise taxes and charge others.
So why are avoiders demonised whilst evaders are getting no bad press at all? Paying your Polish builder in cash to avoid the VAT, or dishonestly claiming red diesel for a Webasto are surely morally more serious offences? Would Polly be happy to disclose all her builders' accounts, payments to her cleaners and domestic staff?