Things go from bad to worse for David Cameron.
Downing Street spent much of last week avoiding questions over the PM’s connections to offshore funds, before having to concede that he did, in fact, once own shares in his late father’s offshore trust, Blairmore Holdings.
Cameron’s critics often reduce his professional experience to having been “a PR man” but by last week’s standards of media management it appears he’s forgotten what he once practiced.
True, he has more important things on his mind (the EU referendum, cabinet splits, the steel crisis – not to mention his upcoming conference on, er, clamping down on tax evasion) but the fact remains that his office made an almighty mess of handling his own (limited) exposure to the Panama Papers fallout.
To regain the initiative (as a PR man might say) the PM has released a summary of his tax returns from 2009 to 2015.
This is a first for a British Prime Minister, and it’s now likely that anyone aspiring to the highest office in future will be expected to do likewise.
If the plan was to prove that the Camerons draw no income from offshore funds, success was short lived. For while this certainly appears to be the case, media and political focus has now shifted to the £200,000 gift from his mother.
This is in addition to the £300,000 inherited from his father in 2010. Labour, who are playing a good hand badly in this row, say this means the PM “still has questions to answer.”
That’s a phrase politicians use when they don’t actually have any questions but they want to keep the issue alive for another news cycle. It’s a deeply cynical move.
When it comes to his inheritance, Cameron has done nothing wrong. Furthermore, the sensible planning of his mother and father echoes the desire of countless parents across the country to pass on their wealth or savings to the next generation.
In the words of former defence secretary Liam Fox, “David Cameron’s father worked hard and left his family money... so what? This witch hunt by smear... is grotesque and hypocritical.”
It’s one thing to call for greater transparency among political elites, but it’s quite another to imply wrongdoing or immorality on the basis that Cameron’s folks left their children some money.
|Panama papers: What you need to know|