Thursday, 21 June 2012

Jimmy Carr: Power To The People!

Carr: "Looks like alien."
Jimmy Carr’s in the news; the Midwich Cuckoo look-alike has been stiffed by the media. It’s been revealed he employs sleazy avoidance loopholes in order to pay as little income tax as possible.

Some of us may go on about civic duty and funding public services.  But from the dawn of time, when dues were paid with root vegetables, given a choice most people would prefer to keep some tax back for themselves.  Why part with more than you need to – after all, the government will only spend it on things you don’t want, or won’t use.

And Jimmy Carr had that choice. Because he’s rich he can afford expensive advice on how best to deal with his tax matters.  From the numbers being touted, Jimmy’s spent wisely, but he’s committed no offence, broken no law.  In a sense he hasn’t been caught out at all, so why the fuss?

For me the episode’s more about pretence and personality.  Much of Carr’s humour is cruel, aimed at disadvantaged people; I don’t like him, so I’m glad he’s being criticised.  But Jimmy’s real deception arises from the difference between his background and the professional image he portrays.

Carr’s from a comfortably-off middle-class Thatcherite family, and before he entered show business was a blue-chip executive for Shell.  Contrasting with that lifestyle though, his comedy act relies on an entirely-feigned political stance, pitched at pop-up raving lefties with opinions most of us discard as we mature.  One of Jimmy’s recent routines was a lampoon on a Barclays tax-avoidance scheme; how he must have chuckled to himself.

Now though, it’s hard to see his collectivist fanbase taking him seriously.  With luck Carr's public repentance won’t help and after all, it’s not as if he’s offered to pay any of the tax he’s avoided.  No: instead, Jimmy’s laughing all the way to the offshore bank.


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