George Osborne gets (Google) whacked by Tory press... and others
Has there ever been a more politically misjudged tweet than George Osborne’s late-night post last week welcoming the £130 million in back taxes that Google had agreed to pay?
Nearly a week on, the papers are still lining up to give the Government a kicking, accusing George and Dave of being more interested in sucking up to big companies than getting them to pay their fair share.
The Sun perhaps sums it up best in a simply brutal leader column:
"David Cameron’s defence of his Government’s tax let-off for Google was truly pathetic. Who cares if Labour didn’t get a penny out of them? That’s ancient history. This Chancellor, George Osborne, was taken for a ride but spun it as a triumph.
"What was he thinking? Is he not mortified France and Italy are demanding far more?"
Not ideal coverage for a man hoping to rise to the top of his party within the next few years, but Team Osborne may well have seen the bad press coming after Rupert Murdoch unleashed a series of tweets on Wednesday.
The multibillionaire executive chairman of News Corp accused the “posh boys in Downing Street” of being in awe of Google and congratulated the firm on its “most brilliant new lobbying effort yet.
Google et al broke no tax laws. Now paying token amounts for p r purposes. Won't work. Need strong new laws to pay like the rest of us.— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) January 27, 2016
Tech tax breaks facilitated by politicians easily awed by Valley ambassadors like Google chairman Schmidt eg, posh boys in Downing St.@— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) January 27, 2016
Google has cleverly planted dozens of their people in White House, Downing St, other governments. Most brilliant new lobbying effort yet.— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) January 27, 2016
Elsewhere, the Daily Mail appears to be less than happy with its former political editor James Chapman, now Osborne’s communications chief. Indeed, its leader even draws a scathing comparison with the paper's top New Labour bête noire.
"I's not just the cosy deal that has inflamed public anger. More insulting still was the way it was announced, with 9pm leaks to favoured outlets and a midnight tweet by the Chancellor hailing 'victory'. Indeed, George Osborne's attempts at news management were reminiscent of Alastair Campbell at his most cynical."
In The Times, cartoonist Peter Brookes also weighed in quite superbly.
Cameron and Osborne’s dealings with Google have also been heavily criticised by former chair of the Commons public accounts committee Margaret Hodge and former business secretary Vince Cable.
Meanwhile Eva Joly, a French MEP and vice-chair of the European parliament’s special committee on tax rulings, has said she wants Osborne to answer questions about the “very bad deal”.
And last night on Newsnight, the respected Times columnist Rachel Sylvester even suggested the chancellor might be lacking in "emotional intelligence".