The Funniest YouTube Video of the Year

Actvists – probably lefties, but so what? – gatecrashing a dinner held to honour the retiring head of HMRC – a man who has personally let rich corporations off £25bn of tax, while making sure the rest of us are squeezed like grapes in a press.

“You will depart immediately, before we set the dogs on you” – a classic ruling class line!

Of course, the scumbag bureaucrat should be stripped of his cushy pension and left to find out what life is like for the superannuated serfs he and his sort have been milking. SIG

Thanks to D.J. Webb for bringing this to my attention.

And here’s an article from The Daily Mail, kindly supplied by Peter Watson:

Top taxman set to retire as head of HMRC after catalogue of  disasters

David Hartnett is set to retire as head of HMRC after a string of blundersDavid Hartnett is set to retire as head of HMRC after a  string of blunders

Britain’s top taxman is set to retire after a  catalogue of disasters while he was head of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.

HMRC confirmed last night its under-fire  Permanent Secretary of Tax David Hartnett is to retire next summer.

Mr Hartnett’s reign has been dogged by gaffes  as well as controversy over his department’s dealings with big  companies.

He raised eyebrows by signing off a deal  which let Goldman Sachs off a £10million tax bill.  MPs on the powerful  Public Administration Committee accused him of being ‘cavalier’ with taxpayers’ money last month.

The 60-year-old, who has been described as  Britain’s most ‘wined and dined’ civil servant, was also quizzed over the 107  breakfasts, lunches and dinners he enjoyed over three years with big  firms.

Last year Mr Hartnett was hauled over the  coals by the Chancellor following a fiasco that left millions of workers with  the wrong tax code and facing hefty bills.

He initially refused to say sorry to the  1.4million families landed with unexpected demands averaging £1,400 each.

But following an intervention from Chancellor  George Osborne, he was forced to issue a grovelling apology.

While the HMRC veteran survived that crisis,  he faced more calls to resign over a series of ‘sweetheart’ deals he has struck  with big companies.

MPs repeatedly accused him of lying over a  settlement with U.S. bank Goldman Sachs, which cost the taxpayer as much as £8million. Mr Hartnett was also heavily criticised over a deal he signed with  Vodafone. After a lengthy legal battle, the mobile phone giant handed over £1.25billion to settle an investigation into its 2000 takeover of German rival  Mannesmann.

Rag out

However, documents leaked from the  non-ministerial department suggest the tax authorities had wanted to collect £6billion from Vodafone. HMRC dismisses this figure as an ‘urban  myth’.

Last week the Daily Mail revealed a rebel  group of tax office staff have set up a whistle-blowing network aimed at  exposing what they claim to be errant bosses within HMRC.

The group claims to have 324 members and ‘a  presence in every office in the UK’ and says it is ‘tired of the corruption,  ineptitude and mismanagement from within the department in recent  years’.

Recent research shows low morale at HMRC has  affected its service as just 13 per cent of staff felt that when changes were  made they were usually for the better.

Only 18 per cent felt motivated to help the  tax office meet its objectives and only 37 per cent of employees thought poor  performance was dealt with effectively.

A spokesman for HMRC said: ‘Dave Hartnett has  neither resigned nor been sacked. He has  chosen to retire in the summer of 2012 aged 61.’

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8 thoughts on “The Funniest YouTube Video of the Year

  1. Since when do Vodafone owe HMRC anything? Oops, I’m letting my vulgar libertarianism show.

    To what extent have Vodafone benefited at other’s expense? To what extent are they crony capitalists?

    • Read The Daily Mail article and judge for yourself. No one should have to pay taxes – not the sort of taxes presently loaded on us. However, there is reason to suspect that, as ever, the well-connected are cutting deals while the rest of us are nagged and threatened by arrogant Scotchmen if we don’t pay up on our “self-assessment” before the end of January.

      All else aside, why should a tax official be feted by the evidently rich? In a normal country, he’d empty his desk on his last afternoon, enjoy a modest tea party with his colleagues, and then go home on the Circle Line, to spend the rest of his life pottering about in the garden of his Buckinghamshire semi.

      The whole set up shown in the video stinks on the face of it. You don’t have to be a lefty to smell something rotten here, or to enjoy the gatecrashing.

  2. Sean, I would say that he is trying to use his career history to provide a nice little income in dinner speaking fees for himself even after he has retired. To my mind, this is not something civil servants in the 1950s would have done.

  3. (My earlier typo is bothering me. It should read “at others’ expense”.)

    I agree, the whole think reeks to high heaven. However, the actions of a corrupt tax official could produce an outcome which is objectively more libertarian than if he did his job reliably. In this instance, a company keeps more of its profits. What if Mr Hartnett operated as a one-man libertarian infiltration cell, who decided to enter the civil service and work his way right up to Permanent Secretary of Tax, so that companies would not be relieved of their rightful property. Maybe we see the fruits of his labour here, too: “Only 18 per cent felt motivated to help the tax office meet its objectives”. What a fantastic sentence that is! Let’s hope they all stay miserable and unmotivated.

    He has managed to keep £25bn out of government hands? To what end? His own wealth? Fine, let Vodafone pay him off.

    Have English people been deprived of £25bn worth of services? Are Vodafone obliged to help the government meet its outrageous promises? Have Vodafone benefited from the state in some exceptional way in order to gain these profits in the first place?

    Sample case: If I want to sell alcohol in my shop, I must obtain a licence from the state, who limit the number of licences issued in any one (arbitrary) area. If I go out and buy the last alloted licence for my town, am I now colluding with the state in denying opportunities to other potential vendors? Do the subjective conditions matter? (i.e, I just so happen to abhor the state, or love it, or whatever.)

    Ok, so this is all perhaps a bit simplistic. But the bewildering complex of advantage/disadvantage, favours/obstacles makes it so difficult to see what the hell is going on. Who is the host and who is the parasite? I know (I hope) I’m not the only one woefully confused. The confusion feels permanent, somehow. That’s why I’m convinced political capitalism is the most robust form of tyranny ever devised, and it cannot be stopped. The solution has to be detachment. There are no “improvements” to be made to this system, not really. Secession, widespread campaigns against compulsory political association, exit.

    • In a totalitarian state, corruption may be the best way of introducing any degree of humanity. But it undermines the fabric of a constitutional state. Regarding this case, we have a man who has made a number of controversial decisions that have benefited some very rich people, at the same time as he has tightened the screw on people like me. In my view, that makes him fair game for this kind of mockery.

      This being said, I think it a step in the right direction that the oher tax gatherers feel demotivated because of him. But will it stop the arrogant Scotchmen from calling me next January, to demand my tax payment? I suspect they’re on commission.

  4. Understand that the gentleman superciliously threatening to “set the dogs on” the gatecrashers and calling them “trespassing scum” is the tax specialist Robert Venables QC

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