Thursday, 23 February 2012

Taxpayers' cash and political footballs

I am more intrigued by people's reactions to what is going on at Rangers Football Club than the eyewatering revelations which emanate from Ibrox on an almost daily basis. 

My immediate and continuing reaction is simple. I pay my taxes on time and so should they. If I didn't then I would have no-one else to blame and certainly would not expect the likes of Alex Salmond to plead with HMRC on my behalf. If this means the end for them, then tough. However, there are many who do not share my view. But if Rangers, or any other club for that matter, is so precious that it shouldn't be allowed to fail, then sorry, the safeguards should have been built into the way it was run to prevent it from ever happening.

As with Rangers, so with RBS, Greece, or any other institution for that matter. Failure, default and liquidation are as much a fact of life as death and taxes, and should be just as inevitable for those who deserve it.

The same sentiments expressed towards Rangers were expressed by some members of the public towards Bonnyrigg Rose when an investigation by Midlothian Council found that it did not have 'visibility' of  £26,000 of Midlothian taxpayers' money which had been granted to the club.

When I highlighted this, instead of people being indignant that taxpayers had been diddled of their contributions, I was accused by some of attacking the club. As with Rangers, Bonnyrigg Rose refused to open their books to scrutiny to clear matters up. I was  accused of threatening the viability of the club by asking what Midlothian Council is going to do about recovering taxpayers' money. Excuse me, but if the club is too important to fail, then those who run the club should have been better monitored and mechanisms put in place to ensure it couldn't get into the kind of mess it now finds itself in.

Whether it's £100 million from HMRC or £26,000 from Midlothian Council, the disappearance of taxpayers' money is not a victimless crime. However, unlike HMRC, Midlothian Council has done nothing to recover the missing money - despite its own audit report recommending a completion date of 31 May 2011 for doing so. Perhaps Midlothian Council is not as strapped for cash as has been claimed.