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Polly Toynbee forgets to check her privilege on Marr

10 April 2016

3:11 PM

10 April 2016

3:11 PM

With the Sunday papers filled with the details of David Cameron’s past tax returns, the subject of his family’s wealth remains high on the news agenda. Happily Guardian heavyweight Polly Toynbee was on hand to offer her take on the row during the Andrew Marr show paper review.

Toynbee argued that the real story was not any supposed wrongdoing on Cameron’s part when it comes to paying tax, but instead his personal wealth is the problem. She went on to muse that the Prime Minister was ‘phenomenally rich’ and that this would not sit well with the public given the ‘extraordinary growth of inequality in this country’:

‘That’s the real story, it’s not really about him having done anything abnormal for people as rich as him, it’s about simply being that rich — and once it’s exposed in that granular way, it shocks more as lots of people have always known Cameron and Osborne — the whole lot of them — are multi-millionaires.’

Yet for all of Toynbee’s comments, Mr S suspects she ought to check her own privilege before passing judgment. After all, Toynbee knows a thing or two about wealth. While she told Guido Fawkes back in 2011 that her earnings were around £110,000 per annum, it’s thought that her personal wealth is considerably more. The class warrior owns a holiday home in Tuscany and in terms of some of her spending, she is ahead of even the ‘phenomenally rich’ Cameron in some departments.

When it comes to private education, Toynbee sent two of her three children to public school. In contrast, Cameron is yet to send one child — though he is thought to be considering sending his son Elwen to Colet Court, a feeder for St Pauls. Perhaps Toynbee can offer him some advice on the matter.

Full credit to Iain Dale for hauling her up on this point. After she’d banged on about ‘the extraordinary growth of inequality in this country’ – as she knows, inequality stopped growing about 25 years ago – Dale stepped in. ‘You and I own second homes,’ he said. ‘Maybe we should be banned from owning second homes; we contribute to the problem.’ Toynbee was owned. ‘Indeed. that’s absolutely the case,’ she said.


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