Part of the purpose of this blog was to stop me from shouting at the news. Anger is a fairly legitimate response considering the horrendous state of the world, as capitalism lurches from banker driven crisis to the austere promise of politicians forcing us to foot the bill, and there is much to shout about. Yet sometimes it’s the faintly ridiculous that gets to you. And so it is that we turn to Harry Redknapp.
Given the furore that has surrounded the departure of Fabio Capello from the job of England football manager, and the search for his successor, good old ‘Arry being summoned before the courts, charged with a bit of tax dodging, seems like an age ago. Essentially the case revolved around payments of £189,000 that Redknapp had received whilst manger of Portsmouth from the then club chairman and owner Milan Mandaric. Revenue and Customs argued that the pair had failed to pay any tax on the cash, while Mandaric insisted that the payment was only ever intended as a gift and should, definitely, absolutely, in no way whatsoever be considered a bonus – which would, of course, have been liable for income tax.
The courts in their infinite wisdom found the pair not guilty. Yeah, right. Not guilty like Topshop, Boots, Tesco, RBS, Vodafone and all of the rest of them who manage to escape tax on a whim, a technicality or a word in the right ear. Just like the MPs expenses row (bar one or two cases), no one can point to any rules Redknapp has transgressed and yet everyone knows something exceedingly dodgy has gone on.
If a working class person had tried that sort of thing they’d be hung out to dry as scrounging scum by the right wing press. But of course they would never get the chance – loopholes never make themselves available for the poor. Try asking your boss to stop giving you a wage and instead operate a monthly "present scheme" and see how quickly all hell breaks loose. Harry can make the case for the defence all he wants, but for my money he owes us a fat wodge of tax cash that could have paid for three extra nurses at North Middlesex hospital. If he wants to deposit the sum in used notes in a brown envelope at the Treasury then that would be just fine.
Once again sport acts as a microcosm of society. Greed, one rule for the rich, and institutionalised getting away with it are all there to behold. To paraphrase a Sham 69 anthem, Hurry up Harry! And pay your fucking tax.