The shame game

Well done Jimmy Carr.

Revealed by a Times investigation to be a multi-million pound beneficiary of a legal tax avoidance scheme, Jimmy has made a smart retreat from his original “not a penny more, not a penny less” position.

This morning he took to Twitter to apologise for his “terrible error of judgment” and to announce he was withdrawing from the K2 scheme and would henceforth “conduct my financial affairs much more responsibly”.

Nice u-turn, Jimmy, and like one of your gags, beautifully timed.

I’m not a fan of Carr’s humour, though I can appreciate that he’s a smart and clever guy. I rarely watch his shows and have no clue as to his political leanings, if indeed he has any.

But as I said, kudos to him for his reaction to this very public flaying.

We might accept that he wasn’t doing anything illegal by salting his millions away in an offshore trust.

But Carr was smart enough to realise quickly that the vast majority also believe it’s morally dodgy for the super rich to be blatantly taking the piss while the rest of us suffer through austerity, recession and depression.

He also knows he’s alienating a very large section of the audience who pay big bucks to watch his live shows. So yes, a smart move, probably motivated more by business than by shame.

But he was publicly shamed. And he didn’t like it. So he did something about it. And I quite like that someone that rich, that famous can still react in this way instead of sticking two fingers up to public opinion and giving it the “let them eat cake” routine.

It’s all-too-rare behaviour. We no longer expect our politicians, civil leaders, churchmen or celebrities to show even the slightest hint of any embarrassment, never mind shame, when their bad behaviour is exposed.

Twas ever thus, I can hear you say, and you’re probably right.

But three cheers for Jimmy Carr for belatedly doing the right thing.

And remember not only was he excoriated on Twitter by his peers and fans, he was also taken to task by the arch hypocrite David Cameron who called the tax avoidance scheme in which Carr participated “morally wrong” yet hadn’t had “time” to examine the equally repugnant tax affairs of that well-known Tory and royal groveller Gary Barlow.

That’s the same David Cameron whose family fortune came from this

Perhaps Jimmy Carr will start a trend of contrition among public leaders shamed by their actions. I won’t hold my breath.

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