Britain: Tory Chancellor's dodgy dealings expose sharp class divide

Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak has become embroiled in scandal over revelations that he and his family have utilised shady legal loopholes to dodge UK taxes. The establishment is living on a different planet. Their system must be overthrown.

Despite their best attempts to divert the public’s attention, it seems the Tories cannot wash away the stench of sleaze emanating from Downing Street.

The whiff of partygate still lingers, with police now issuing fines against Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak – amongst others – for attending illegal lockdown gatherings, leading to renewed calls for the Prime Minister to resign.

This latest twist in the saga comes at an unfortunate time for Sunak, who was already in the spotlight as a result of recent revelations surrounding his multi-millionaire wife.

Despite heading up HM Treasury, the Tory Chancellor apparently never felt it necessary to inform anyone that his spouse, Akshata Murty, has been utilising her ‘non-domiciled’ status to dodge a fortune in taxes over the past 15 years – potentially as much as £20 million.

Murty’s father is the so-called ‘Bill Gates of India’. As founder of technology giant Infosys, he is worth an estimated $4.5 billion. And thanks to a 1% share in the company, his daughter’s net-worth comes to about £500 million – even more than the Queen.

Last year alone, as an Infosys shareholder, Akshata Murty received £11.6 million in dividends. Yet thanks to her non-dom status, not a penny of this was paid into HMRC. Meanwhile, Murty and Sunak spent the whole of the pandemic ‘domiciled’ at Number 11 at taxpayers’ expense.

Them and us

The disgraced couple have subsequently attempted to backtrack in order to quell the burning anger generated by this latest Tory scandal.

Murty has magnanimously offered to pay UK taxes on all her international ‘earnings’. Sunak, meanwhile, has invited the government’s ‘independent’ adviser on ministerial standards to investigate whether he failed to properly declare his interests when joining the Cabinet.

But no matter what any officials in Whitehall might decide, workers can clearly see that – as far as the establishment is concerned – there is one rule for them, and another for the rest of us.

Another planet

During the coronavirus crisis, ‘dishy Rishi’ obtained a thin veneer of popularity as he opened up the state’s taps, pouring money into the economy in an effort to stave off an implosion. But now that he is presenting the bill to the working class, with nothing to offer in his recent Budget announcement but further attacks and austerity, the sheen is rapidly wearing off.

Wading into the debate, Keir Starmer asserted that wealthy Tory politicians like Sunak “just don’t get it” when it comes to empathising with the dire situation facing ordinary working people – a fairly ironic statement coming from this champion of the establishment, himself a knight of the realm.

class wedge Image Socialist AppealWhilst Sunak and his family benefit from dubious loopholes, and Tory cronies lap up juicy government contracts, the out-of-touch Chancellor does not even bat an eyelid when it comes to burdening workers with higher taxes / Image: Socialist Appeal

Sunak and his super-rich chums certainly are living on another planet, however. Working-class households face a cost-of-living catastrophe, as energy bills soar and rampant inflation outstrips wages, plunging millions into poverty.

The well-heeled Chancellor, a former investment banker, meanwhile, seemingly has enough spare change to donate more than £100k to the suffering, hardup pupils at his alma mater, the elite boarding school Winchester College.

“This may be legal,” stated one senior Tory MP in the Financial Times, commenting on Sunak and Murty’s tax arrangements, “but this is essentially all about rich people saving money, and that’s what it looks like to my constituents.”

“How many people have £30k spare to spend on trying to save money on taxes?” the anonymous source continued. “They are living in a totally different world.”

Whilst Sunak and his family benefit from dubious loopholes, and Tory cronies lap up juicy government contracts, the out-of-touch Chancellor does not even bat an eyelid when it comes to burdening workers with higher taxes, or pushing through real-terms cuts to benefits and public services.

Yet again, we see that this is a government of the rich, by the rich, for the rich.

Government of crisis

With the City of London’s posterboy now fallen from grace, many are curiously asking as to who might have leaked this sensitive information about his family’s wealth and income.

Some are suggesting that the source may in fact be his next door neighbour, Boris Johnson, in a move designed to wound the credibility of Sunak, a potential leadership rival, and thereby bolster the Prime Minister’s own position.

Such Machiavellian intrigues would no doubt be well within Johnson’s reach. But if these allegations are true, it would signify an almighty split at the heart of government – a deep fissure through which all the accumulated rage and discontent in society can once again burst to the surface, damaging not only the whole Tory Party, but the entire British establishment.

Regardless of the origins of these leaks, it is clear that – with the fumes of jingoism from the Ukraine war wearing off, and the Tories’ attempts to whip up a divisive culture war against migrants and trans people backfiring – this remains a government of crisis; one with dynamite built into its foundations. And any number of sparks could set this combustible cocktail alight.

Ready to explode

Johnson and Sunak are sitting atop a volcano of workers’ indignation. And as the scandals rumble on, and the attacks on living standards intensify, this could explode at any moment.

Martin Lewis, a renowned money saving expert, has even warned that Britain “isn’t far away” from seeing civil unrest over rising living costs, with millions of families struggling to heat their homes, whilst the energy monopolies rake in record profits.

system is broken Image Socialist AppealJohnson and Sunak are sitting atop a volcano of workers’ indignation. And as the scandals rumble on, and the attacks on living standards intensify, this could explode at any moment / Image: Socialist Appeal

With a torrent of corruption spewing forth from the Westminster cesspit, meanwhile, faith in bourgeois democracy as a whole is crumbling. Trust in all the establishment parties – Tories, Liberals, and Labour – is being eroded away.

Recent polling, for example, shows that just 6% of UK voters believe that they have any influence over decisions taken by the government. By contrast, those surveyed felt that party donors, corporations, the mainstream media, and lobbying groups all hold significant sway over politicians.

The same opinion poll found that 78% of adults do not believe that MPs understand the lives of ordinary people; and that a majority of under-65s think that democracy in Britain does not serve their interests.

No wonder that thousands of comments were recently popping off on Twitter with the hashtag #IWantARevolution.

Overthrow their system

A radical mood is brewing. And with the crisis of capitalism deepening, and the bosses going on the offensive against jobs, pay, and conditions, workers and youth are already moving into action – taking to strike action and street protests to defend themselves.

Tepid reforms, such as the windfall tax on fossil fuel companies advocated by Starmer’s Labour, offer no real solution.

Instead, the whole system must be overthrown, with the key levers of the economy taken out of the hands of the billionaire class, and placed under democratic workers’ control.

Events, events, events are hammering away at consciousness, preparing the conditions for revolutionary developments, in Britain and internationally.

The task before us is to urgently build the forces of Marxism; to prepare for the tumultuous battles and sharp class struggles that lie ahead. There is no time to waste.

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