In the wake of the current onslaught against first, Jimmy Carr, and now Frankie Boyle for exploiting tax loopholes, the obvious question is why are comedians bearing the brunt of the flack against this endemic practice? Whether or not they are guilty of “moral” crimes (as David Cameron, of all people, would have it) ignorance or just “thrift” – neither of them had broken the law as it currently stands, but simply “managed” their accounts using the same old methods rich people have been using for generations. Creative accountancy is booming business and tax evasion is nothing new. Cameron’s own family fortune was made in tax havens. So is it one rule for big business and another for the rest of us? Why call comedians out for their financial activities when it is so common place among all the wealthy? Is it because they are accused of hypocrisy – undermining the moral high ground they appear to take in their performances? Are they just being called out to set an example because they are household names? Or is it just plain old mudslinging?
Arguably comedians have greater sway over public opinion than most politicians these days, and that may make them a legitimate target on the political playing field. Both Carr and Boyle have been critical of the government and the right-wing media in the past, and both are very popular performers, potentially influencing the opinions of millions of voters. Satire is still one of the most effective weapons against authority, and maybe it is beginning to be treated as such by those who wish to maintain the status quo, and those who have the most to lose in a swing to the left – people like The Daily Mail and David Cameron – the very people lining up to sling the mud. I very much doubt that this is a coincidence – either way it seems very convenient for them!
Frankie Boyle hit back at the allegations in The Daily Mail, tweeting:
“Amazed to read a Daily Mail story that is bollocks. Whatever next? I’m going to stick up the details as soon as my accountant wakes up.”
“From 2007 I have paid £2.7million in tax and this equates to just under 40% of my income. 1/5”
“I am certain I pay more tax than most people in show business and the cabinet. 5/5”
I propose, if this new wave of investigating comedian’s bank accounts is to continue, that the same should take place for all those who work at (and own) The Daily Mail group, the cabinet and every single Tory MP in the houses of parliament. Anything less would be grossly unfair to comedians. Now let’s see whose shirt is clean…