IF I show you mine, will you show me yours?
I’m not talking about anything as silly as my willy. Or anything as rotten as a front bottom. I’m talking tax returns. And holiday plans. And I’m talking to those disciples of open government, our Chancellor of the Exchequer and the man even Rupert Murdoch calls George Osborne’s ‘posh’ school pal, the Prime Minister.
My first call, like so many Google executives seem to have made over the last two years, is at Number 11, Downing Street: Chancellor, yesterday I rather nervously submitted my 20114/15 tax return to HMRC hours before the deadline. Nervously because, although this was my third or fourth year of online submissions, I still find the form impenetrable and had to recall it twice to amend my declaration.
Nevertheless, here it is: as blameless and honest as a maiden’s kiss. It runs to 16 pages and I am happy to provide you and any other member of the GOOGL (Get Out Of Gaol Luncheon) club with the full version on application to firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m not claiming it as my idea: the Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, started the ball rolling when he published his tax return at the weekend. Jeremy Corbyn says he’ll do the same, which will inevitably lead to the Prime Minister’s fiscal opus being laid open to public scrutiny (he has often said he would do so if the Opposition did, too.
But that is not all I want from Mr Cameron: I also require his holiday plans for the rest of this year. It was, after all, his inspired plan to persuade the rest of Britain drop in on the north of England over the Easter break to put cash back into our region’s flood-devastated economy.
“OopNorth has some of the most iconic tourist attractions the UK has to offer,” his speechwriter told him to say the other day when announcing financial help to put that great region up above the Cotswolds back on its feet.
Damp though they might temporarily be, “York Minster, Honister slate mine, Carlisle Castle and the Leeds Royal Armouries” were icons which came tripping off the UK Tourism Tsar’s tongue faster than one might say Tuscany, Ibiza, Cornwall or the Algarve, all of which have been the Camerons’ choice for recent family holidays.
[Oh, I tell a lie: they did once venture beyond the sunlit Southern uplands but they skipped the north of England entirely and made for the Scottish island of Jura where Samantha Cameron’s father, Viscount Astor, owns a country estate.]
Me? Frankly, I’m heading far south, to Ghana for a fortnight to spend time with my grandchildren. After all, I do LIVEOopNorth all year and Grandma and I deserve a break from the dismal downpours.
The grandchildren: we’re heading south to see them!
But what of Mr and Mrs Cameron? Surely they’ll take their own advice and flock off OopNorth to Southport or Scarborough, Blackpool or Berwick on Tweed? Maybe they’ll give the Lakes or the Dales a try? Either way, as the Prime Minister says, OopNorth needs putting back on its feet and the cash is going to have to come from Mr Cameron’s Big Society (by which he means your pocket and mine).
Big Government’s offer of £2m to put the Lake District back together, plus £1m for a ‘Take A Break OopNorth!’ PR campaign has already been pooh-poohed as totally inadequate by the leader of Cumbria county council, who claims it’s nowhere near the £500m needed, with £20m for the Lake District national park alone”.
WHAT? Half-a-billion quid to mop up what Tory peer Lord Howell (yes, the Chancellor’s father-in-law) called “a desolate wasteland”?
Come off it, Cumbria! Who do you think you are. . . Google?
DAVID BANKSis a former editor of the Daily Mirror (UK) and Daily Telegraph (Australia) and was a senior executive with The Australian, New York Post, New York Daily News and The Sun before becoming a columnist and broadcaster.
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