James Forsyth

Is this back to basics for financial affairs?

Is this back to basics for financial affairs?
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This morning, there was much Westminster chatter about whether Ed Miliband would repeat his accusation made at PMQs yesterday about the ‘tax avoidance activities of Lord Fink’. But shortly before Miliband spoke, Fink himself gave an interview to The Standard in which he said, ‘I didn’t object to his use of the word "tax avoidance". Because you are right: tax avoidance, everyone does it.' Instead, Fink claimed that his objection was to the implication that he was one of the ‘dodgy donors’ that Miliband was talking about. Now, Fink’s letter of complaint to Miliband yesterday didn’t mention the word ‘dodgy’.

After his speech today, Miliband tellingly refused to call Fink ‘dodgy’. He did, though, talk about Fink and tax avoidance at some length in the speech itself.

I wonder, though, if it was wise for Miliband to go as far as he did on tax avoidance. He has now set the bar higher than just legality for the tax affairs of the shadow Cabinet, Labour MPs and the party’s donors. There is a risk that this could turn into a back to basics for financial affairs with the press poring over the finances of people on the Labour side.

Join The Spectator’s political editor James Forsyth for an exclusive discussion on whether ‘The era of stable governments is over’ on Monday 23 March at The Rosewood Hotel in Holborn.  The panel also includes Matthew Parris, Jeremy Browne, Veron Bognanor and Dr Matthew Goodwin.  The event will be chaired by Andrew Neil. In association with Seven Investment Management. For tickets and further information, click here.