Children’s author Mark Haddon – whose The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time flew off bookshop shelves – has written to his MP to press for leadership on raising taxes for the rich. “I’m a wealthy person,” Haddon wrote. “Austerity measures introduced by the coalition have caused real suffering to many people, but my comfortable life hasn’t changed in the slightest. Why have I, and people like me, been asked to contribute nothing?”
Haddon’s letter echoes the sentiments of US author Stephen King, who in April penned a splenetic column for the Daily Beast arguing that, by failing to raise taxes on the richest 1%, American politicians were ducking leadership responsibilities for improving their nation’s infrastructure.
Transport for London chief Peter Hendy has warned against any complacency creeping in over the strength of the Capital’s transport system, following relatively hassle-free operations during the Olympic Games. Tickets for the upcoming Paralympics have been selling at record levels, and the competition will coincide with the start of the new school year – raising fears of potential traffic gridlock. “I’m very concerned,” said Hendy. “The Paralympics is not small at all – it’s the world’s second-biggest sporting event.”
Tory MP Mark Pritchard has sounded the alarm over the possibility that politicians and retailers could instate a permanent relaxation of Sunday-trading laws. The normal requirement for shops to open only between 10am and 6pm on Sundays has been lifted for the duration of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, with traders free to extend their opening hours and benefit from the influx of foreign visitors. But Pritchard is concerned about the effects that a longer relaxation may have. “A permanent change would harm small traders, workers’ rights, and further damage relations between the Church and the government,” he said.
Bosses at internet giant Google could find themselves in the same position as Murdoch & Son and Bob Diamond by next Easter, having to defend themselves before a panel of UK MPs. The bone of contention? Taxation. Labour’s John Mann – the member of the Treasury Select Committee who recently dubbed Barclays a “rotten, thieving bank” – has described Google’s tax payments of £6m on UK profits of £395m as “entirely immoral … this is a company avoiding its obligations and we are letting them get away with it. I think it would be highly appropriate to pull a Google executive in front of the Committee to justify their failure to pay proper taxes.”
Meanwhile, Bob Diamond’s newly installed replacement at Barclays, Sir David Walker, has caused outrage by calling for an end to free current accounts – and has claimed that the bank’s recent ventures into mis-selling interest-rate swap deals were nothing more than “the consequence of not charging for bank accounts.” Politicians have been united in their scorn of Walker’s stance: while Labour’s Chris Leslie said that the banker’s comments were “a major blunder”, Tory Douglas Carswell surmised: “At last the senior bankers have admitted they’ve been ripping us off.”
In a meeting of managerial minds, mega-rich investor George Soros, 82, has become engaged to his 40-year-old girlfriend Tamiko Bolton – boss of a web-based, yoga-instruction company. His engagement follows a stormy relationship with Brazilian soap actress Adriana Ferreyr, which was recently subjected to courtroom examination as she sued him for breaking an alleged promise to buy her an apartment. With a net worth of $20bn, Soros is thought to have given away up to $8bn recently to organisations that promote democracy and freedom of speech.