William Hague on Churchill’s tax troubles
William Hague writes about politicians, privacy and their finances in The Daily Telegraph 12 April 2016
“Societies can either idealise their leaders but keep some mystique and privacy around them, or they can know everything about them but not expect them to be perfect or “normal”. Take my own hero, William Pitt the Younger, who totally mismanaged and neglected his own financial affairs. The debts he had accumulated by the time of his death totalled, in today’s money, some £2 million, and were written off by parliament – not something for which today’s prime ministers can hope. Yet he was an undoubted genius in handling the finances of the country over a quarter of a century, brilliantly maintaining the credit and resources necessary to wage war against Napoleon.
Others have written about the complex tax affairs of Winston Churchill, which seem unlikely to have withstood the kind of scrutiny to which future prime ministers will now be subjected. Without maintaining his writing activities even during some busy times in office, and keeping his tax bill to the lowest legitimate amount, it is difficult to see how our greatest modern leader could have operated at all.