How can The Independent say David Gauke is “relatively unknown” when he has been lurking in the Treasury, up to all kinds of mischief, since the Tories slithered back into office in 2010?
This Site has been commenting on his misdeeds since 2012.
According to the online newspaper, “David Gauke, a relatively unknown MP who was previously chief secretary to the treasury, has been appointed the new Work and Pensions Secretary in Theresa May’s cabinet reshuffle.
“Mr Gauke, a solicitor regarded as a quietly effective performer, has been given the high-profile role at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) as Ms May attempts to shore up her position in the wake of her disastrous performance in the general election.”
What can we expect from Mr Gauke? A lot of lies, obviously.
When government borrowing figures for August 2012 came in as the highest they had ever been for an August since records began, I wrote:
Exchequer secretary to the Treasury David Gauke said new figures showing borrowing for 2011-12 came in at £119bn, rather than the OBR’s forecast of £126bn, meant the government was dealing with its debts.
This is particularly rich, coming from him. Everybody now knows that the best way for the government to pay down its debts is to tax all the rich Brits who have stashed their cash in offshore tax-havens. Mr Gauke used to work for a tax avoidance firm and his wife is a tax avoidance lawyer. He is exactly the wrong man to lecture us on getting the deficit – the difference between government spending and tax receipts – down.
Shortly afterwards, Gauke was revealed to have been actively trying to gag a whistleblower who uncovered a “sweetheart” deal to write off a huge amount of tax owed to the UK by a private company.
According to The Guardian, it seemed Mr Gauke green-lit a plan to discredit testimony from Osita Mba, a solicitor with HM Revenue and Customs, after he took the notorious Goldman Sachs “sweetheart” deal to the public.
For those who don’t know about this, the deal with Goldman Sachs was worth up to £20 million, and was part of a series of four such settlements, with large companies, that netted £4.5 billion for the Treasury. That might seem like a lot of money, but how much did we not get?
It was a cover-up, in order to allow a company to escape paying the UK a huge amount of money, with the blessing of ministers including 0sborne and Gauke.
In Gauke’s case, of course, this is unsurprising. It has long been known – as can be seen by this entry on the right-wing Guido Fawkes blog – that the minister has not only avoided paying tax himself but also worked for Macfarlanes, a top city law firm that specialises in helping the wealthy avoid paying tax.
He is a hypocrite:
Before the 2010 election, our old friend David Gauke made a lot of noise about stopping the limitless tax deductibility of interest payments, that had been used by Boots (the chemist) to slash its tax bill. Six months after the election, when he was in a position to do something about it, he was telling everybody the rules would not be altered because business considered them a competitive advantage.
(Note my use of the phrase “our old friend” – indicating that, even in 2013 when those words were written, Mr Gauke could hardly be described as “relatively unknown”.)
He was later caught lying about the ‘tax gap’ – the difference between the amount of tax owed and the amount the government actually collects. I wrote:
Over on Tax Research UK… Richard Murphy has taken David Gauke, the financial secretary to the Treasury, to task over his fudged claims about the tax gap.
Gauke said: “The tax gap as a percentage has been lower in every year under us than it was in any year under the Labour Government”.
Mr Murphy replied: “Percentages are the evasive politician’s favourite tool, so I think that claim can be dismissed. What remains baffling is David Gauke’s apparent inability to see just how wrong his data might be. The government claims that the tax gap is £34 billion. And then it claims that HMRC recover £26 billion a year. Or to put it another way, £60 billion of tax abuse is attempted and 40 per cent is recovered.
“Is there anyone who thinks that remotely likely?”
He goes on to completely trash Gauke’s – and the Conservative Government’s – claims, and it is strongly recommended that you read the article for the details.
And, in the wake of the ‘Panama Papers’ affair in which former prime minister David Cameron’s family were implicated in a tax avoidance scheme, he tried to thwart EU plans to blacklist territories with a zero rate of corporation tax.
He is a fan of food banks and the fact that the government, of which he is a part, has massively expanded the need for them:
I had the misfortune to see Treasury minister David Gauke … saying he was not ashamed of the huge food bank uptake. He said they were doing a valuable job and he was glad that the government was signposting people to them. Nobody seemed to want to ask him: In the country with the world’s sixth-largest economy, why are food banks needed at all?
This does not bode well, considering he is now in charge of the government department most directly responsible for increasing that expansion.
I later reported:
Mr Gauke spent some time crowing about the fact the DWP rules have been altered to allow “signposting” to food banks by Job Centre advisors… (although claiming credit for government employees sending people to someone else, rather than providing help themselves, is in itself a mean-spirited shot in the foot).
At the Treasury, he oversaw plans to sell your personal tax data to companies, researchers and public bodies – plans that were hidden in the hope that nobody would notice:
The plans for HM Revenue and Customs to share its data are, apparently, being overseen by Treasury minister David Gauke… The government’s plans to change the law to allow the sale of anonymised individual tax data and release of the VAT register were buried in documents as part of the autumn statement and recent budget.
It seems Mr Gauke colluded with the HSBC Bank to allow more than 7,000 of the bank’s customers to avoid paying tax. I wrote:
HM Revenue and Customs was made aware of HSBC’s tax-avoiding practices in 2010 but from more than 7,000 British clients, the UK government has prosecuted just one person, despite having identified 1,100 tax avoiders.
Richard Brooks, author of The Great Tax Robbery (Oneworld, 2013), knows a thing or two about tax avoidance and evasion. He summed up the Coalition government’s collusion on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, referring to an agreement between the UK and Swiss governments, signed in 2007, to bring in “billions of pounds” in unpaid tax.
He said: “David Gauke, Tax Minister, and David Hartnett the senior tax official, started negotiating it straight after they’d received this data from the French authorities, so they knew that there was a mass of evidence of tax evasion at the heart of HSBC.
“They set about negotiating agreement with the Swiss Government which says… that ‘it is highly unlikely to be in the public interest of the United Kingdom that professional advisors, Swiss paying agents and their employees – in other words bankers – will be subject to a criminal investigation by HMRC.’
“So, knowing they’re sitting on all this evidence, they’ve simply washed their hands of it and said ‘we’re not going to prosecute’. And that’s why no-one has come before the courts in five years.”
So, far from being “relatively unknown”, Mr Gauke is a well-documented supporter of corrupt business practices, a liar, a hypocrite, an exploiter of the poor, and a man who will use his position to sell confidential information to businesses.
At the DWP, he follows Iain Duncan Smith, Stephen Crabb and Damian Green into the role of Secretary of State.
And, let’s be honest, after that lot he should fit right in.
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