Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Back to Front

The Guardian had a somewhat surreal air about it this morning, following the decision to scrap the separate sports section most days and revert to ye olde back pages. My youngest, who has never known such a thing, pointed out that he now couldn't read the sports section while I read the main section. I pointed out that I was bigger than him so I didn't care.

The real surreal (sounds like a cool band) was not so much the change in the medium as the bizarre content. On the back page (which I do read first) was the news that Arsenal are trying to sign Robin Van Persie's 5-year old son (why don't they just kidnap him?) What was even less credible was RVP's claim that the nipper sometimes beat him at golf and was able to ask for specific clubs (as in "the five iron" rather than "da big wun.")

The front page kept the nonsense going with the news that flippy-floppy Cameron (played by Hugh Grant, presumably) now thinks a yacht for some billionairess in West London would be a good idea, so long as it is funded by the private sector. Well that's all right then.

I've got a better idea. A jubilee in biblical tradition was a time for forgiving debts. Why don't we turn this around. The Queen has only been paying tax since 1993, which means she avoided/evaded it for 41 years of her reign.

I've seen an estimate that her private income (mainly profit from the Duchy of Lancaster Estate), which is distinct from her official income as head of state, was about £7.3M in 2001. Allowing for historic inflation, let us assume an average income between 1952 and 1992 of £3M p.a., and an average top tax rate of 60%. This gives us £73.8M of unpaid tax, not including interest (pretty generous of us), which is uncannily close to the boatyard's estimate: £60M yesterday, £80M today (the increase presumably represents private sector fees).

In the circumstances, I think the least the Queen could do is pony up the cost of the yacht. If she needs any more persuading, we could point out that she avoided £20M in death duties when her mother died.

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