Tony Blair and his weapon of tax deduction

Creepy: Blair has apparently gone to some efforts to keep his fiances out of the public eye

Creepy: Blair has apparently gone to some efforts to keep his fiances out of the public eye

Tony Blair is such a creep. As a former Prime Minister you might have thought he would act with total propriety in his financial affairs, but oh no he has to be so slippery.

I don’t care that he minimises his tax payment (only paying £315,000 on a declared income last year of  £12 million after writing off almost £11 million as ‘administrative expenses’). Indeed, perhaps he could email me his accountant’s name, since I could do with some help.

But what I really object to is the manner in which he attempted to slip the accounts of his company, Windrush Ventures, under the wire.

The accounts were lodged with Companies House in the week between Christmas and New Year. He surely did that hoping to avoid public scrutiny.

Other tricks from that handbook include holding annual general meetings in the Isle of Skye on Christmas Eve.

Is it too much to ask Mr Blair not to pull that stunt again next year? He’s still a public figure. So he should act like one.

I now hear that all the criminal trials resulting from the phone-hacking trials may not be completed until the spring of 2014. As I have said before, justice delayed is justice denied.

Further spending by the Yard — the inquiry is expected to cost another £20  million — will make this investigation the biggest and most expensive inquiry in history: bigger than Lockerbie, bigger than the Great Train Robbery.

Before BBC1’s Question Time was recorded on Thursday night, veteran host David Dimbleby (who’ll probably still be presenting the programme when the HS2 rail link is completed to Manchester and Leeds in 2033), held a warm-up debate.

I was one of the panellists and it seemed that the aim was to get everybody in the audience in the mood to start booing me.

In a discussion about an independent report which this week revealed how migrants have forced tens of thousands of Britons out of the jobs market, a bright, young, blonde (is that sexist?) biology graduate in the audience complained that she couldn’t find the right job. We had a mini-barney.

Institution: David Dimbleby who seemed to want to rile up the audience on the subject of unemployment

Institution: David Dimbleby who seemed to want to rile up the audience on the subject of unemployment

My point was that I am puzzled why youth employment in Britain is so high when it’s quite clear there are plenty of jobs available but few young people are willing to do them.

Take nursing, for example. We are in the ludicrous position of seeing the number of nurses being recruited from abroad rising by 40 per cent in the past year.

Northampton General Hospital has just brought in 40 nurses from Portugal, Spain and Italy, while hospitals in Cambridge recently sent six senior staff to Madrid, where they hired 25 nurses during a recruitment drive. Why on earth aren’t our young bashing down the hospital doors to become nurses?

Why would they rather stay on benefits — or are they all just waiting to be ‘discovered’ on The X Factor?

I made this point on Question Time but thought it needed a wider airing. It’s already hard enough getting shops to accept a Scottish £5 note in England even though they are legal tender.

Imagine what it would be like handing a Scottish euro to a taxi driver. The idea would make a great movie.

Cartoon by Gary for the Daily Mail

Cartoon by Gary for the Daily Mail

A French university study in South Brittany discovered that young women hitch-hikers wearing red T-shirts got 20 per cent of men drivers to stop and offer them a lift, whereas those wearing black T-shirts attracted only 10  per cent of male motorists.

I know, without the need for any university research, that the way to get 100 per cent  of men to stop for you is . . . wear no T-shirt at all.

Don’t worry, I haven’t become a feminist (I’d be happy to have the operation but would be worried about the silicone implants).

However, having watched John Humphrys on Celebrity Mastermind, I simply can’t understand how he gets a top telly job with a face that bears enough lines to compete with Network Rail, while no woman looking like that would ever be considered? Discuss.

Stan takes a stand on racist tweet

Well done, Stan Collymore. That’s an expression you won’t hear from me very often.

Mr Collymore, an ex-footballer who’s a rather good analyst on the TalkSport radio station, went to the police after he was racially abused on Twitter. A 21-year-old from the North East has been arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated harassment.

Hurrah! It’s all too easy to simply turn the other cheek to the torrent of racist and threatening abuse on Twitter.

Bravo Stan Collymore: police have begun an investigation after the ex-Premier League star and football pundit was allegedly the victim of racist abuse on Twitter

Bravo Stan Collymore: police have begun an investigation after the ex-Premier League star and football pundit was allegedly the victim of racist abuse on Twitter

Twitter provides a massively important news service but gets hijacked by vile thickos with hate in their heart. Sadly, I’m a target all the time.

For example, someone tweeted: ‘I’d happily shoot Kelvin MacKenzie. Anyone wish to hunt him down?’

The executives at Twitter should clean up their act by monitoring their social media site properly. If they don’t, the law must.

Tom cuts through the gloom

I don’t share all the doom and gloom about the economy. I think my friend Turkish Tom has got it right. He runs a small dry cleaners and mending business round my way.

A travel agent next door has closed, so he’s expanding — but keeping the original shop and turning it into a men’s hairdressers.

Since there are already two hairdressers in the town, I asked how he hoped to succeed. He explained that, unlike rival shops, he will open on Sundays and stay open late, as well as charging £10 per haircut — £5 less than elsewhere.

That’s the spirit Tom! I’ll support you and so, I suspect, will many more customers. Business will be fine in 2012. A little bumpy, maybe, but overall no recession.

Happy days are here again.

Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher

Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher

Went to see The Iron Lady. Marvellous performance by Meryl Streep, left, but a downbeat film in which Margaret Thatcher emerges as a poor mum, poor wife, poor Prime Minister — ending her days in poor health. Avoid.

Film experts tell me Streep would have picked up $1 million plus a healthy chunk of the profits. Fascinating isn’t it that all actors lean to the Left — Streep didn’t approve of Thatcher’s politics — but they make a fortune because their agents lean to the Right.

Pop to the shop, Antony

Money-saving tips (cont’d): Get Antony Worrall Thompson to do your shopping . . . also, don’t replace the doorbell battery, simply check your front door every couple of minutes to see if anybody’s there. More ideas please. These are difficult times.


Jobs you would be mad to admit to — especially after this week’s latest assassination: nuclear scientist in Tehran.


A bitter pill for the vets

I Have been absolutely swamped with stories of vets overcharging? Here’s a selection:

Disgraceful: are British vets cashing in on the suffering of our pets?

Disgraceful: are British vets cashing in on the suffering of our pets?

‘My dog has to take heart tablets. If I buy them in the UK through my vet, they cost £20 for a month’s supply. If I go to Egypt I can walk into any chemist and buy the same drugs over the counter for £2.50.’
Jenni Seaton

‘A veterinary practice near me recently tried to charge £135 for a box of 30 Tramadol painkiller tablets for my dog. These are available on the internet from the U.S. for less than $10 for the same quantity.’
Mandy Sainsbury

‘Our elderly cat suffers from thyroid trouble and requires two Felimazole tablets a day which cost £44 per 100 — or 88p a day. In Turkey, the identical pills cost just £2.50 per 100!’
Ron Marshall

‘I get Metacam to treat my dog’s arthritis. It costs £45 for 100ml from the vet’s but on the internet it is £11.57, plus £9.50 for the vet to write a prescription.’
Michael Logan

‘Our vet has increased the price of Loxicom 100ml (an anti-inflammatory painkiller for dogs) from £31.60 to £41.30. With a prescription from the vet, the same drug can be bought on the Net for £18.’
Mary Miller

It is clear vets’ charges are an utter racket. Who will speak for the pet owners in their battle? I’ll do my best.

P.S. Might be looking at dentists’ charges next.

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