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Revelations about Cameron's financial dealings could prove fatal to his government

In some respects the revelations about dodgy Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca aren’t a surprise, writes Labour's Borough Council Leader, David Ellesmere. We’ve always known that many wealthy people do everything they can to avoid paying their fair share of tax. 

But to have the full scale of this illegality and tax avoidance laid out in black and white in over 11 million documents is quite astonishing. 

Does it really matter though? Does it have any effect on us here in Ipswich? 

Well, our fire service is being cut to only three engines. Our Park and Ride service is being threatened with closure. Our roads are rutted with pot holes. The NHS is suffering a huge financial crisis. Disabled people are having their benefits cuts.  

All because we are told the Government doesn’t have enough money. 

And one of the biggest reasons the Government doesn’t have enough money is because the very wealthy are avoiding paying the taxes they owe. 

So, yes it does matter - to each and every one of us. 

Which brings us to the Prime Minister.

The way he has behaved this week has severely damaged his reputation. 

After a whole series of half true statements, he finally came clean and admitted that he had personally benefitted from the offshore trust his father set up. 

The way this had to be dragged out of him has left him looking extremely shifty and has destroyed a lot of people’s trust in him. 

This is part of a pattern. In 2012 he claimed he was “very relaxed” - a phrase he only uses when he’s anything but relaxed - about releasing his tax returns. It has taken four years and this crisis to force him to release some of this information, but still not his full tax returns. 

This has been coupled with revelations about how he and his government have tried to stop the crack down on tax dodging. 

In 2013 David Cameron personally intervened to prevent offshore trusts like the one he invested in being included in an EU-wide crack down on tax avoidance. This has left a massive hole in the plans. 

And his government has watered down plans to make a register of the real owners of offshore companies publicly available. 

This is not the behaviour you would expect of a Prime Minister who has said in the past that tax avoidance is “morally wrong” and that “sunshine in the best disinfectant”. 

There will be more revelations from the Mossack Fonseca files. Journalists have only scratched the surface of them. They have focused so far on the big politicians and celebrities who are involved. 

There are a whole series of second order names which haven’t been published yet. 

And we should always bear in mind that this is only the dealings of one single company - there are plenty of others involved in this sort of work. 

It is likely that there will continue to be a steady drip of revelations that will be every bit as damaging as those relating to MPs’ expenses. 

David Cameron must take swift and bold action to stamp this out once and for all. 

  • He must make a full statement of his past, present and future financial affairs. 

  • He must order an HMRC investigation into every British citizen named in the Mossack Fonseca files, which will report publicly. 

  • He must drop all opposition to EU financial transparency plans and lead the way in calling for even greater transparency.

If he does anything less then the next revelation about his financial dealings could prove fatal to his government.

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