It takes a special kind of worldview to come up with the combination of front and back pages delivered by the Daily Record today.
The piece is yet another account of The Sacred Thoughts of Warbs, and jumps on the Sevco promotion bandwagon by telling us that the former City trader is thinking about doing well in the Premiership next season.
Which is nice.
One sentence stands out, however.
“MARK WARBURTON last night revealed he is already plotting a credible challenge to Celtic next season – as Rangers stand just 90 minutes away from ending four years of hurt.”
Four years of hurt! How on earth must the massed ranks of stiffed creditors feel as the Record continues to gush about the progress of the ‘same club’?!
This is extraordinary stuff which panders to the very worst strain of ‘victim mentality’ exhibited by a section of the citizens of Planet Sevco. Let us not forget that Rangers brought its humiliating demise upon itself, and its tribute act was very fortunate to be fast-tracked into senior football in 2012. Not that the Scottish sports media are likely to report that. The bad bits about the Ibrox brand are usually overlooked. Especially when it comes to rule-breaking and unpaid taxes.
Which brings me to the Record View piece that forms the basis of the paper’s front page splash…
It (quite rightly) blasts the systematic moving of funds offshore to avoid the payment of taxes. An issue which has been thrown into the spotlight by the leaking of the the so-called ‘Panama Papers’. It is well worth a read, if only to give you a yardstick by which to measure the Record’s coverage of other issues.
But here are some key quotes:
“Immoral mercenaries cheating the poor for their own gain.”
“The rich and powerful are shamelessly milking the system for their own reprehensible greed. Now they have been exposed, it’s time for all of us to wake up and smell the stink of corruption.”
“Conjurers who can make taxable funds ‘disappear'”.
“They robbed the tax from the poor to pay the rich and we all let it happen. We can blame ignorance or a lack of political motivation but now we can see through the illusion, the excuses have run out.”
“But the bottom line is that we are all victims of this greedy few whose offshore accounts were swagbags by another name.”
“But this blatant, immoral self-interest lies on our own doorstep. Dressed up as respectability, the rot permeates our Government, our banks and industries.”
“The suffering is felt right here, in our overstretched schools, hospitals and communities, deprived of the tax that is rightfully ours.”
“Semantics have been key in perpetuating the myth that there has been ‘no wrongdoing’. Tax evasion is illegal, tax avoidance is not – but there is a fag paper of difference in their dishonesty and nothing between their immorality.”
“The blindfold has been lifted and this new knowledge is power. We have a voice, we have a vote, we can lobby, we can write, we can take to the streets and we can demand change.
If these revelations are not enough to shake us from our apathy, what is? Wake up, world.”
The paragraphs I have highlighted in bold are the crucial ones when considering the utter hypocrisy of the Record’s response to the ‘Panama Papers’ when compared to its coverage of the ‘same club’ playing out of Ibrox.
Let us not forget that (regardless of the outcome of the Big Tax Case) Rangers went to the wall owing millions of pounds in unpaid taxes. That is money that could have gone to (in the Record’s words) “overstretched schools, hospitals and communities”.
As for Rangers’ use of EBTs (which are currently ruled as taxable) and the already-conceded-as-taxable Discounted Options Scheme, the Record would do well to remember its comments about “semantics” and “immorality”, and its sneering at the concept of “‘no wrongdoing'” the next time it wants to run an article indicating that Rangers’ trophies were “won on the pitch”.
No doubt some will groan and say that “football is different, the cheating of the tax man in the ‘Panama Papers’ is of a different magnitude. And in any case, Rangers have been punished enough”.
To which I call “bullshit”. Every penny wrongly diverted away from the taxman is a penny that is either
- denied to public services; or which
- needs replacing by the honest hard-working taxpayers who can least afford it.
If you cheat the taxman, you cheat your fellow citizens and society.
It doesn’t matter what scale you do it on, or whether it is in the fields of financial services or football. It is all as utterly reprehensible.
So well done to the Record on finding a sense of morality and a thirst for justice in relation to the ‘Panama Papers’.
It now needs to try and avoid rank hypocrisy in its reporting of other situations where the taxman was told to GTF by folk who ought to have known better.