I have been ‘treading the boards’ now for forty long years and I can tell you that since the early 70s most Potentates, Presidents, Monarchs, Prime Ministers, Sheiks, Sultans, Ambassadors/Diplomats have their second, or at the very least third home, in London. It therefore comes as no surprise to see the findings of the ‘Panama Papers’ in this respect.
Lest we forget, the British Empire, before WWII, was the most extensive in the world, and probably larger than the Roman Empire of its day. As such, we have exported our customs, judiciary and culture to many of the far flung countries across the Globe. Children in these foreign lands grow up learning of the British Empire and, as such, nurse a fondness for the former ‘Mother Land’ through the education process and yearn to own a part of ‘English Heritage’ at some time in the future. As this child grows into an adult and accumulates wealth, power or both, one of their ambitions is to buy a property or properties in London where, very often, they also want to educate their children.
This trend has continued for over forty years now and you can walk through the tree-lined avenues of London, particularly the more prestigious ones, and easily point out the homes that belong to these notable individuals.
London in the 70s was a quaint City, rich in heritage and culture, as Paris is today, but hardly the colossus that it is now.
The reforms and aspirations introduced by Margaret Thatcher transformed the fortunes of the Capital and these have manifested themselves to produce the ‘Greatest City on Earth’ that it is today.
London is at the cutting edge of culture, couture, cuisine, technology,education, commerce and finance and is it any wonder that these high-powered individuals choose this place as their second home?
Unlike any other metropolis in the world, all the ‘centres of excellence’ are in one place and every member of the family of these dignitaries, will find something special to do in this wondrous place.
There are more parks and open spaces within the Greater London curtilage than anywhere else in the world and property prices hitherto have tended to go in only one direction over time. Therefore, one can say with some confidence that of all the places in the world to live, London is number one or two on the ‘shopping list’ for these foreign dignitaries.
All this was known long before the ‘Panama Papers’ were ever discovered and one hopes that Mr. Osborne and his Fiscal changes to Non Dom’s will not deter these people from bringing their wealth to the UK.
It is evident that the government has been making mistakes and this crusade about the ‘moral repugnancy’ of tax avoidance started by the Chancellor two/three years ago, is now coming to ‘bite’ him and the Prime Minister on the bottom!
What have we gained by this ‘moral’ initiative? Absolutely nothing, only a benign and meaningless exercise about ‘navel gazing’ to the detriment of political harmony and the inflow of wealth to this country. We have a persistent and relentless trade imbalance, that is a direct result of consumers ‘sucking in’ vast amounts of imported goods (a great deal from Europe – Brexit campaigners take note) whilst our exporters are not selling enough to the world at large i.e. there is a huge trade imbalance with Europe! The only way that we can finance this, without creating a further devaluation of Sterling, is by the inflow of funds to this country, however so arranged.
The changes to fiscal arrangements concerning the Non Dom’s has raised no money for the Chancellor, worse still, has cost money, but it has certainly provoked a stampede of wealth creators to other sunnier climes of the World and this has exacerbated the current account deficit.
The increase in Stamp Duty on Property purchases in London, has also raised very little for the Chancellor, paradoxically at the time when he needs the funds most to try and dent the Budget Deficit, but instead has caused a recession in property prices, above £1million in the Capital.
This will have its detrimental effects on retail spending and the growth of our consumer-lead economy and you have to ask the question, “Why?”
Change should not be feared, but instead should be embraced, however the ‘Laurel & Hardy’ u-turns on Tax Credits and Invalidity Benefits are a perfect illustration that the ‘wet behind the ears’ Mr. Osborne, may have ‘lost the plot’ and does cast doubt on his competence for the job and certainly has undermined his aspirations to be Prime Minister after Mr. Cameron resigns, which could be sooner than we think.
Under his ‘watch’, we are in a lose-lose cycle at a time when we should be ‘holding our heads high’ in the world market place. For the Prime Minister and the Chancellor to suffer the ‘ignominious searchlight’ into their private tax affairs is shameful and unnecessary, but I’m afraid it is symptomatic of a bandwagon that was started many years ago by them, to try and elevate the Tories from the ‘Nasty Party’ to something more fragrant.
I wonder if Mr. Osborne should look carefully at the phrase ‘beware of unforeseen circumstances’.