David Cameron and his Conservative government has been torn to shreds by an audience member on BBC’s Question Time who claimed: “He has stripped us of everything.”
In a full-throated takedown prompted by the Prime Minister’s link to the Panama Papers, the woman condemned cuts to services implemented since 2010 that has seen people “lose our jobs, our libraries, our swimming baths” while the “rich got richer and richer and richer”.
The outcry, which even presenter David Dimbleby said was a “major attack” on the Conservative Party, underlines why despite the media narrative moving away from Cameron’s tax affairs, there remains residual, deep anger among sections of the public.
In response, Conservative MEP and Brexit campaigner Dan Hannan was given short shrift for arguing leaving the EU could have saved enough money to have stopped the cutbacks, comments which prompted SNP MP Angus Robertson to ask: “Can you feel the anger?”
The BBC’s flagship political show, which was broadcast from Doncaster, was debating the issue is inheritance tax, which has emerged since the Prime Minister published his tax statement on Saturday and it was revealed he had received £200,000 from his mother following his father’s death.
But one woman intervened: “I find that question posed for Doncaster quite ironic. I see women, my friends, like myself, who are going to lose their jobs in two weeks time because the Tories have been stealing our tax. And domestic violence services are closing in two weeks’ time - it’s been here for 40 years. It’s closing because of the Tories.”
She went on the Panama Papers were “almost like the elephant in the room”.
“The question of inheritance tax is a small issue,” the woman continued. “The question of Google, Boots, Starbucks, the question of Tories … I don’t know how you dare talk about Europe being corrupt when we had Cameron saying he would look after the vulnerable in 2010. He has stripped us of everything.”
Hannan responded that the biggest “tax dodge is that eurocrats don’t pay tax at all,” which fellow panellist Owen Smith, a Labour frontbencher, contended was “totally irrelevant”.
The audience member went back on the attack again: “In 2010, we were told a lie. We were told we had to take austerity. We had to lose our jobs, our libraries, our swimming baths. And do you know what happened? Cameron did not look after the vulnerable. The rich got richer and richer and richer and the gap went like that …”
Hannan argued keeping even the UK’s net £42 billion contribution to the EU budget could have “wiped out every single one of the austerity measures and still had enough leftover to take a penny off income tax”, before arguing local services are “obviously up to the council in Doncaster”.
But Robertson, the SNP’s leader in Westminster, rejoindered: “Can you feel the anger? Can you hear how unhappy people are in Doncaster and elsewhere about the fact that we know we have been played by an ultra-rich elite in this country, and around the world who fiddle their taxes, who salt it away in tax havens. This Government say when it comes to the biggest problem over abuse it is the abuse of benefits.”