We can all learn more about this issue by watching The Town That Took On The Taxman on BBC Two at 9pm on Wednesday (January 20).
A Conservative peer has provoked an angry reaction after advising shopkeepers in Crickhowell, the small Welsh market town that rose to national prominence when its businesses decided to set up their own offshore tax avoidance scheme, to tone down their criticism of George Osborne.
Lord Crickhowell, who served as Secretary of State for Wales in Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet, was accused by one local businessman of trying to “keep the peasants in check” by suggesting in a series of emails that the group should steer clear of criticising the Chancellor as they try to expand their protest into a national campaign.
The café is one of the businesses taking part in The Town That Took On The Taxman, a documentary due to air on BBC2 next Wednesday.
Lord Crickhowell, 81, contacted Mr Lewis and another member of the group in December after the town’s tax protest attracted national attention. In an email, he said they were making a “strategic mistake” in attacking Mr Osborne’s failure to close tax avoidance loopholes in the UK and advised them to withdraw their criticism “before it is circulated any more”.
“He is not your enemy but an ally looking for support and ammunition to win a battle with hugely hostile and powerful forces,” the peer wrote of the Chancellor.
The email drew a sharp response from Mr Lewis, who said the Chancellor was the campaign’s “ultimate target”. He added: “Cosying up to George Osborne is not where we want to be… no intelligent man could possibly defend me paying eight times the tax of Facebook, but he has this issue well on the back burner. He has no appetite for this fight and has kicked it into someone else’s field.”
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