Well, how the boyband-come-national-treasures have fallen.
Gary Barlow (no relation to Ken by the way) and two of his Take That bandmates will be scrabbling around down the back of what I’m sure are pretty well-to-do sofas this weekend after being told they can expect quite the bill from Tax Man (who sounds a lot less fun than his Super, Spider and Bat contemporaries by the way).
It was last year when their involvement in an outfit which promised to reduce their financial responsibilities to the rest of the country first came to light. But this week, three out of four of the band (or five if you’re reading this during one of Robbie’s fleeting returns to the TT fold) have been found to be fully signed up members of a tax avoidance scheme, chillingly called Icebreaker. (I had wondered whether this scheme was related to last week’s prison escapee, the ‘Skullcracker’, but apparently not).
At any rate, the aforementioned Gary along with fellow Take Thatters Mark Owing, Howard Rumbled and the band’s crazy-sounding manager, Jonathan Wild were this week confirmed as being among the estimated 1,000 people who put money into schemes which were supposed to be all about supporting the music industry, but had in fact been created with a purpose of reducing the Tax Man bills for all involved.
(Incidentally, for the first time ever, Mum has shifted her Take That favouritism focus to Jason Orange. That’s how serious this is.)
Now despite my advanced skills where an abacus is concerned, I won’t pretend to understand the mathematical ins and outs of all this. However, the judge who was presiding over the matter was in no doubt that they had all been very sneaky when it came to handing over their fair share to the Queen - or at least her customs and excise peeps - and so could expect an imminent multi-million-pound bill. As well as a spell on the naughty step.
The confirmation that Gary, who has enjoyed nothing short of a national-joke-to-national-treasure metamorphosis since Take That came back for good a few years back, had gone out of his way to avoid paying his dues, quickly led to shouts for him to be stripped of the shiny medal the Queen gave him for being an all round good egg who could knock out cracking pop songs.
In response, Prime Minister David Caterpillar (who you may remember called funnyman Jimmy Carr “morally wrong” when it emerged he had been sidestepping his taxpaying responsibilities) said Gary should be allowed to keep his OBE, because he’d been given it in recognition of his charity work and services to the music industry.
Call me a naive pre-schooler if you want, but whether you think that Gary should hand back his gong or not (I would personally rather have the millions he and the rest of them owe us first), I fail to see the logic in DC’s argument. Is he saying that as long as your wrongdoing is in a different arena to the one where you’ve done lots right, then you’re free to ring-fence the applause?
I can’t be sure, but I don’t think there are any people who have been given these honours for ‘services to tax paying’, so I’m wondering what Gary would have to do to cancel out his ‘good’ column.
Mum reckons a dance solo during the predicted Take That: The Tax Bill Tour would probably tip the balance.