Zahawi tax avoidance case shows strength of Westminster ruling class

MP Nadhim Zahawi walking out of Downing Street at dusk.
MP Nadhim Zahawi walking out of Downing Street at dusk.

Conservative Party Chairman Nadhim Zahawi is at the centre of yet another row in Westminster this week – and is facing calls to resign for lying about his finances and failing to declare a penalty he paid to HMRC.

A two-year investigation into the former Chancellor has revealed he was forced to pay nearly £5 million in unpaid taxes to HMRC last year.

This vast sum of money highlights the enormity of the Tory Minister’s wealth although Zahawi’s finances dwarf in comparison to the assets of the current Prime Minister.

Labour have led calls for Burgon’s resignation. MP Richard Burgon said “the Prime Minister stood on the steps of 10 Downing Street and promised the nation he would act with integrity, yet here we are again.”

But the idea that this has anything to do with individual integrity, rather than a system in which the ruling class are able to exert both soft and overt control over the corridors of power, is naive at best.

One point that much of the media has failed to acknowledge is that the unpaid taxes relate to profits made by the polling giant YouGov which Zahawi founded back in 2000, further illustrating the relationship between business and politics.

YouGov has faced numerous controversies, most recently in 2017 when a poll was suppressed by the company because it was “too positive about Labour”.

Zahawi may well resign, and he’ll then join the long list of disgraced ministers filling the backbenches of the Tory Party, but it won’t change or tackle the issue at hand.

Last week domestic abuse charity Refuse dumped over a thousand rotten apples outside Met Police Headquarters, highlighting that, rather than being ‘a few bad apples’, the Police Force as a whole is rotten to the core. Westminster is in much the same state of affairs, and no number of ministerial resignations will change that.

As reported in the Morning Star, “Tory MPs had bagged £15.2 million from ‘second jobs’ (the term is a generous one) since the last election. Former PMs Theresa May and Boris Johnson topped the list, raking in £2.5 million and over £1 million respectively, mainly from public speaking engagements.

“The news raises suspicions that as for Tony Blair, the sources of whose huge fortune accumulated after leaving No 10 remain murky even prime ministerial office is no longer the pinnacle of a politician’s career, but a stepping stone to a place among the plutocrats.”

Class conflict is at an all-time high outside of Parliament, and while Labour are doing all they can to appeal to the middle of the road, it is up to us to expose the whole sham for what it is.

We cannot rely on parliamentary democracy to lift us out of this crisis. We must organise amongst ourselves to wrestle power away from Whitehall and the City of London and back into our communities.

Peter Stoddart, is the Treasurer of the YCL

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