THE PANAMA PAPERS: A DODGY DOSSIER?

By Harry Ballmann

Scandal. An word all too familiar to the British public, all we have to do is cast our minds back to Piggate or the expenses scandal which created a deep rooted hatred for everyone even remotely involved in politics. Even now, when I say that I am studying politics to a stranger or a distant family member, they all give the same reaction, a disgruntled look of distrust, as if I should have undertaken a more morally sound degree like nursing. Nevertheless, the public (of course enticed by media hyperbole) jumped  on the scandal bandwagon and blow things completely out of proportion. This was not helped by Number 10s seeming inability to control this matter, for when they suggested Cameron’s involvement in his Father’s offshore fund should remain a private matter, not only was Downing Street hounded by the newspapers, but a strong sense of distrust lay in the minds of many.

However, despite David Cameron not actually undertaking an illegal act, the question remains whether it’s completely fair to blame him for the entirety of the papers as we seem to be doing, simply because there is nobody else in Britain whom we are able to blame. Whilst many other world leaders and politicians were implicated in these papers, David Cameron remains the Great British scapegoat, we couldn’t exactly hold Putin responsible, could we?  The same issue arose with the 2009 Parliamentary Expenses Scandal, whilst it was only a minority of politicians who claimed inconceivable items on the public’s wallet, the whole government was tainted by the bad press that should have only been directed at a few MPs.

It seems apt to explain the crux of the scandal being associated with Cameron and the 143 world politicians associated with the Papers. Over 11m files were leaked from an offshore law firm (Mossak Fonseca) and were acquired by a German newspaper from an anonymous source. In the case of David Cameron, it has been shown that Cameron’s father Ian, had pooled money alongside a group of people into various ‘securities’ in order to spread their wealth. Money was invested into various shares, and Panama was used mainly for administrative purposes rather than for the purpose of devious tax evasion. It is important to note that Ian Cameron paid British taxes on the income earnt from the various investments.

Had Cameron’s father not paid tax on the investments made, then indeed, those on the scandal-wagon may have had something to go on, calling for Cameron to resign. However, this should not be focussed on the PM and his family, nor any particular individual, but the nature of the taxation system allowing for this type of avoidance to occur. British Politics is certainly characterised by slender nuances with eye-rolling potential to send the media into frenzy, which is why the blame for the Panama Papers should not (entirely) be blamed on Cameron.

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