Apologies for delayed action blogging. But you might relish the ideas. Last Sunday reviewing the papers on Andrew Marr's BBC 1 TV AM programme, Baroness Shirley William chose as her top story the lead in the Observer's business section on Obama tax haven crackdown. In these troubled times when bankers have had to be bailed out by governments of right, left and centre political persuasions, I wondered how long it would be before someone recalled a misquoted mantra of the 1970s – “tax the rich until the pips squeak”.
I think it is worth while revisiting the circumstances in which it was alleged to have been said at the 1973 Labour Party conference by the then Labour shadow chancellor, Denis Healey.
According to William Keegan, who interviewed this Labour legend (the best prime minister we never had – some say) in 2006, Healey never came out with the quote that the Conservatives are still fond of digging up, namely that he wished 'to squeeze the rich until the pips squeak'. Healey said: 'I never used it. I quoted something from the 1920s....' What the then shadow chancellor in fact said, at Labour's 1973 conference, was 'there are going to be howls of anguish from the 80,000 people who are rich enough to pay over 75 per cent on the last slice of their income'. The 'pips squeak' was originally used by First World War leader Lloyd George; Healey did quote fellow Labour Cabinet minister Tony Crosland, requoting it 'in reference to property speculators, not to the rich in general'.
I wonder what's inhibiting Cameron's Tories today?