So a video emerged from the Tories this morning that showed Ed Balls being interviewed in January about Non Dom status, in which the Shadow Chancellor appeared to rule out outright abolition of non dom status. Now in my view Ed Balls needs to clear up whether or not he thought abolishing non-dom status would be an issue (and there’s little room for nuance in an election campaign).
But lets put that aside for a moment, because there’s something dodgy happening here.
If you listen carefully, it sounds like Balls is about to say something else at the end.
So I asked the official Tory Treasury Twitter account if that was the case. Here’s what they said:
@ToryTreasury that’s not true. the next line is “I think we can be tougher and we should be and we will”
— Mark Ferguson (@Markfergusonuk) April 8, 2015
You can see the full video over at Buzzfeed. But to save time, here’s the final line from Ed Balls that the Tories edited out, and then pretended that they hadn’t:
“I think we can be tougher and we should be and we will”
It’s obvious why they’d edit that line out – it quite significantly alters the tone of Balls’ answer – but why lie about it when it’s so obviously there?
CHAOS – as the boys at CCHQ would probably say…
Update: Ed Balls has published this statement on his website:
“The Tories have edited my words from January in an attempt to deliberately mislead people because they can’t defend their own refusal to act on tax avoidance. They have dropped the part of my interview where on non-domicile rules I say “I think we can be tougher and we should be and we will”.
That is exactly what we have proposed – ending a situation where people permanently living in the UK year after year can claim non-domicile status to reduce their tax bills and play by different rules to everyone else.
Under our plans, no-one living here in the UK will be able to shelter worldwide income from tax because their father was born abroad or they buy an overseas grave plot.
But our plans, which we were working on in January, do allow for temporary residence for people genuinely here for a temporary period, for example people who are here for two or three years at university. Not to have a short-term option would mean students or business visitors being deterred from coming to our country.
As a result, independent experts have said that the changes we are proposing today – abolishing non-dom status while allowing for genuine temporary residence – will raise revenue.
No amount of misleading editing can hide the fact that the Tories are defending a system which means very wealthy people can avoid tax and play by different rules to everyone else.”
For what it’s worth, I still think Balls needs to explain why he warned against abolishing the status back in January, when Labour is saying that Labour will abolish the status today. Balls may argue that what’s proposed (a sensible solution that allows those who live in the UK temporarily some flexibility) is short of abolition, but that’s not quite what Ed Miliband said earlier.