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Osborne's scared of Trust Fund question.


HOW much George Osborne earns should be a pretty simple question.

We know he has his Cabinet Minister's salary of PS134,565 but he's never declared the rent received from a London property or the income he gets as a "beneficiary of a discretionary family trust".

The personal wealth of a politician is not a trivial matter.

Mr Osborne makes decisions, whether it is cutting welfare or increasing taxes such as VAT, which directly impact on the lives of the poorest.

Would he make the same choices if he had some understanding of what it was like to struggle in a lowpaid job or the insecurity which comes with a zerohours contract? Which is why it would be useful to know how much his trust fund is worth.

This is a question which many journalists would like to ask - if only they had the chance.

Since becoming Chancellor, Mr Osborne has held just one press conference in the Treasury - a joint number with his then Lib Dem deputy David Laws on the second day of the Coalition government in 2010.

He has, of course, given plenty of television and radio interviews but they have all been carefully chosen, usually on days of good economic news, and based on the understanding that a "serious" broadcaster would not stoop to asking anything impertinent or uncouth such as "how much money do you have then, George?" To avoid accusations they are hiding, Osborne and David Cameron, who has abandoned his monthly press conferences, have taken to doing more regional interviews.

These are heavily regulated by the Tory spin doctors. A local radio reporter in the West Midlands was offered the chance recently to interview Mr Osborne but when she said she'd like to raise the issue of food banks was told by his minders that he would not talk about that subject.

My sports writing colleagues will tell how football clubs have taken to barring reporters who have the temerity to pen critical articles.

The Tories are quietly imposing similar restrictions, even though Cameron and Osborne are elected politicians, paid for by the public purse and should be accountable for their actions.

On the rare occasions Mr Cameron has held a press conference in No 10 he has pointedly and pettily refused to take a question from a journalist from the Daily Mirror.

In an ideal world, my fellow journalists would show some solidarity and flatly refuse to do interviews with politicians who deliberately avoid scrutiny in this way.

By colluding with the Tory spin machine, they are supinely allowing them to dictate the news agenda.

The Prime Minister once claimed he led the most "open and transparent" government in history. I'd raise that too if the Mirror ever gets called at a press conference...

He refuses to take a question from the Daily Mirror

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Title Annotation:Features; Opinion Column
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 11, 2014
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