Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Could Life on Zarg Be Any More Ridiculous Than It Is on Earth? Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Could Life on Zarg Be Any More Ridiculous Than It Is on Earth? Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: David Banks

I'VE written before about how much I enjoy spotting life's little ironies - especially when they're big, painfully obvious ones in public or political life.

So when, on the day the South East's hosepipe ban came into force, the rain was sweeping horizontally across rural Northumberland, I couldn't help but smile. I know: that was here, not there, and even if it did rain equally hard down south it was probably the wrong kind of rain.

I'm not sure whether the new Royal Mail stamp celebrating the Tyne and its bridges with an out-of-date picture is a case of irony or sheer incompetence, but I suspect there's been more laughter than fury about it on Tyneside. Rather like the hosepipe ban, it's just what we come to expect from people "doon there". They (whoever they are) don't understand us and don't know what makes us tick up here.

It's generally money-men (and I do mean the male gender) who, when they go public, most clearly demonstrate their own lack of awareness and imagination and their total inability to see the irony of their situation.

We PAYE whom the away before aren't just we're outraged Take Chancellor George Osborne, for example, who earlier this week declared himself "shocked" to discover that some of the wealthiest people in the country pay virtually no tax. HMRC reckons that the average rate of tax paid by the country's mega-rich is only around 10%.

Shocked? Where has George been? On another planet? (Actually, he probably has). We PAYE slaves, from whom the tax is whipped away before pay-day so we never even see it, aren't just shocked: we're outraged, but not surprised. As for those on the minimum wage or none, their feelings must be too deep for words - or for repeatable ones, at any rate. All ordinary people have been furious for years that politicians are so blind.

For years? Yes, literally. A 20-second Google search informed me that as long ago as June 2007, under Gordon Brown's Labour administration, a private equity boss (Nicholas Ferguson, chairman of SVG Capital) admitted to the Financial Times: "Any commonsense person would say that a highly-paid private equity executive paying less tax than a cleaning-lady or other low-paid workers can't be right. …

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