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"You will depart immediately, before we set the dogs on you."
September 24, 2012 5:59 AM   Subscribe

Dave Hartnett was surprised with an award this week for his services to tax avoidance. He was celebrating his retirement as head of the UK's tax and customs department, where he agreed "sweetheart" deals with Goldman Sachs and Vodafone, letting them off outstanding tax bills. Cue some pleasantly awkward confusion as the partygoers realise what is going on.
posted by creeky (58 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
That was pretty fantastic. I also must say I respect the response of the official party-people/security, merely making them leave (and calling them a couple names); I definitely feel like here in America they would've been arrested, at the least.
posted by inigo2 at 6:04 AM on September 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Trespassing scum!!
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 6:11 AM on September 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


Steady on Robert!
posted by quarsan at 6:13 AM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Before we set the dogs on you." ?

I LIKE dogs, I don't see that as a problem.
posted by HuronBob at 6:13 AM on September 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Smithers, unleash the hounds!
posted by mecran01 at 6:17 AM on September 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


"Trespassing scum" really says it all.
posted by DU at 6:21 AM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't believe that man really threatened to set the dogs on them. What a comic-book level of badness threat.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 6:23 AM on September 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


Smithers, release the lawyers!
posted by resurrexit at 6:25 AM on September 24, 2012


Smithers, release the robotic Richard Simmons!
posted by dry white toast at 6:36 AM on September 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Harry Potter and the Golden Handshake of Doom.
posted by incandissonance at 6:41 AM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Smithers, release the Dowager Countess...
posted by jph at 6:43 AM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Trespassing scum" really says it all.

Yes, it's nice to see that the tories have really managed to pair-down their platform.
posted by ob at 6:44 AM on September 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


I can't believe that man really threatened to set the dogs on them. What a comic-book level of badness threat.

Don't laugh. "Having dogs set on you" is an ancient punishment where the condemned is forced to stand in the blazing sun for hours, arms outstretched, with a small terrier set on each palm. Dropping a terrier results in the dogs being replaced with larger breeds. The physical pain in the shoulders and back is reported to be terrible, and the mental strain incalculable.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:44 AM on September 24, 2012 [36 favorites]


..with a small terrier set on each palm.

A corgi, surely.
posted by DU at 6:46 AM on September 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


His corruption trial starts early next year.



Ha, ha, ha, ha. Only kidding. He's getting away with it.
posted by Jehan at 6:57 AM on September 24, 2012 [16 favorites]


If you want to infiltrate a group of finance types, invest in hair spray.
posted by lineofsight at 7:02 AM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I also must say I respect the response of the official party-people/security

Not really.
posted by MartinWisse at 7:05 AM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


A corgi, surely.

Beginning with a corgi is the sign of an offense against the Monarchy, not merely scumish trespassing. In some extreme cases, the corgis are heated to red hot, in the belief that God will protect the innocent. God has so far declined to hear the appeal.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:08 AM on September 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Dave Hartnett really did react in the worst possible way.

Don't just stand there with a face like a slapped arse, man! Here are five better options:

1. Feign a heart attack or asthma. WHO'S LAUGHING NOW!?
2. Seize back the element of surprise. The very first moment you realise it's an ambush, sprint for the door, screaming at the top of your lungs.
3. Create a diversion: slap your best friend's wife in the face really hard, or go in for a passionate kiss with Robert.
4. Pretend it's a sincere award - embrace it, give a very long winded and technical speech -- stultify the room with your terrible HMRC anecdotes!
5. Get your phone out, explain you're you're at a really critical stage in Whale Trail -- you only need one more of those star things before you get a frenzy. Or count wads of cash.
posted by TheAlarminglySwollenFinger at 7:10 AM on September 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


Within a few years' time, this sort of thing will have been eliminated. The police will be able to preemptively detain anyone whose Facebook profile shows trouble-making tendencies, radical sympathies or a suspicious lack of political apathy as soon as the facial-recognition cameras detect them entering a perimeter of any such event.
posted by acb at 7:10 AM on September 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


he agreed "sweetheart" deals with Goldman Sachs and Vodafone, letting them off outstanding tax bills

According to the linked article, it doesn't look like anything's been proven. The lack of transparency surrounding the affair is certainly worth criticizing, but we can't just say he did something just because the opposing party is accusing him of it.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 7:32 AM on September 24, 2012


it doesn't look like anything's been proven

Sure, he has not admitted to it, and it hasn't been proven in a court of law. The information came from leaked documents.
posted by creeky at 7:38 AM on September 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


That video got me thinking (a rare event, to be sure). The posh asshat at the end is right that these protestors are tresspassing, but if they didn't they could never confront Hartnell with his actions. Funny how that works. Meanwhile the violence that he himself has dealt out to thousands or even millions of ordinary British people is not even recognised, let alone something he could ever be called to account for.

Consider that all these billions of taxes he gave to Goldman Sachs and co could've been used to pay for social security and the NHS, not having that money available meant benefit cuts or freezes happened that needn't have happened, investments in health care were not made that needed to be made, which in turn means a lot of people on benefits had somewhat shitter lives, or worse, that people stayed ill longer than they needed have been for want of medications or proper treatment. So people were hurt longer, might even have died, just because Hartnell decided doing his job properly was too much to bother with.
posted by MartinWisse at 7:38 AM on September 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


According to the linked article, it doesn't look like anything's been proven. The lack of transparency surrounding the affair is certainly worth criticizing, but we can't just say he did something just because the opposing party is accusing him of it.
The allegations are grounded, and aren't just party politics. The Private Eye has been knocking on with this for donkeys.
posted by Jehan at 7:40 AM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


The information came from leaked documents

Thanks for the link. Didn't know about this.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 7:56 AM on September 24, 2012


Why do even the words "trespassing scum" sound fairly tolerable when said with an English accent?
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 8:10 AM on September 24, 2012


It said the figure of £25bn tax outstanding had been an initial estimate before investigation, as of March 2011, but in fact in many cases it turned out that no more tax was owed at all.

"Many" is a weasel word most commonly used when the speaker wants to give the listener the impression that he means "most." If I say the estimated total is £25bn, but what I get in response is not the corrected total outstanding amount owed but something else, then I am being lied to.
posted by 1adam12 at 8:12 AM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


"The Private Eye has been knocking on with this for donkeys"

?
posted by etherist at 8:16 AM on September 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's okay, you can ask your question. The comment field contains multitudes.
posted by LogicalDash at 8:22 AM on September 24, 2012


"The Private Eye has been knocking on with this for donkeys"

?


I know, right? But then I've been bricklaying round with this for lemurs.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:22 AM on September 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Knocking about = talking about
Donkeys = ears = years
posted by saucysault at 8:23 AM on September 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Embarrassing lack of message coordination there from the Tories. This week's approved mode of address for social inferiors who get in the way is: "Best you learn your fucking place. You don't run this fucking government. You're fucking plebs."

Additional followups should include the epithet "morons" and a threatening comment that "you haven't heard the last of this."

Hopefully Hartnett will be better briefed next time.
posted by Sonny Jim at 8:24 AM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Donkeys = ears = years"

Your math is not like my math.

Did anyone else google that donkey remark and regret it?
posted by HuronBob at 8:25 AM on September 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


"The Private Eye has been knocking on with this for donkeys"

?


The magazine Private Eye has been reporting about this for a considerable period of time.
posted by normy at 8:25 AM on September 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why do even the words "trespassing scum" sound fairly tolerable when said with an English accent?

They don't if you have that accent.
posted by ob at 8:27 AM on September 24, 2012 [4 favorites]



"Donkeys = ears = years"

Your math is not like my math.


It's Cockney rhyming slang.

Donkey's ears = years
Apple and pears = stairs
Trouble and strife = wife

etc.
posted by Bwithh at 8:36 AM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't believe that man really threatened to set the dogs on them. What a comic-book level of badness threat.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 6:23 AM on September 24 [4 favorites +] [!]


It's a figure of speech, possibly even meant with slight humour. There are no actual dogs. They're guests at a Oxford college dining hall which has been hired for the night. Maybe he means vaguely calling the cops or the porters (i.e. Oxbridge college security). I agree with inigo2 that the targets here dealt with the situation in a surprisingly and admirably calm and restrained manner for the most part (the "scum" remark at the end even got shut down immediately; and they didn't try to shut down the cameraperson first - s/he got to film the activists being led out).
posted by Bwithh at 8:44 AM on September 24, 2012


This whole thing with the Tory resurgence since 2010 reminds me of an episode of Warehouse 13. You know, we thought Tories were cute objects from the past. Decorative and eccentric, certainly, but basically harmless. There's no way they could reach through from past aeons and affect our current lives in real ways, right?

But then people started watching Downton Abbey and taking the Royal Family seriously again and unironically caring about the characters in Parade's End, and the next thing we knew we'd restored the power of the Elder Gods and they were among us again, very much alive, resplendent in spats and overcoats, threatening us with their riding crops and calling us all plebs.

Don't mess with the artefacts, man! Leave the past alone!
posted by Sonny Jim at 8:47 AM on September 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


A corgi, surely.

Don't joke. The Queen's Corgis will fuck you up.
posted by srboisvert at 8:51 AM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't believe that man really threatened to set the dogs on them. What a comic-book level of badness threat.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 9:23 AM on September 24

Don't laugh. "Having dogs set on you" is an ancient punishment where the condemned is forced to stand in the blazing sun for hours, arms outstretched, with a small terrier set on each palm. Dropping a terrier results in the dogs being replaced with larger breeds. The physical pain in the shoulders and back is reported to be terrible, and the mental strain incalculable.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:44 AM on September 24



I'm glad some people think it's funny. When I hear "set the dogs on you", I think of Bull Connor and his attack dogs.

Not saying that Hartnett had trained attack dogs at his disposal or anything, but some of us can't bring ourselves to dismiss such threats out of hand, either.
posted by magstheaxe at 9:05 AM on September 24, 2012


Is there significance to the fact that the "Golden Handshake Award" is a left hand?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:13 AM on September 24, 2012


Yeah, I heard "set the dogs on you" as a very dry joke. The guy chucking them out was insistent but completely calm, and nothing about his body language suggested that violence was on the cards. Also, as already said upthread, this was a dinner in an Oxford college: there's no way that they have dogs to set on people (although there might be a cat in the porters' lodge), and they could reasonably expect the protesters to know this.

Calling them "trespassing scum" was a little jarring -- especially in a tone of voice that suggested he thought they'd care about being called that -- but, again, not a threat.

For my money, this was a brilliant protest. A very good cause, a witty idea to publicise it, and they managed to get their point across before being shut down. The icing on the cake is that the people chucking them out just wanted them gone, did it calmly, and weren't interested in trying to intimidate or punish them.
posted by metaBugs at 10:16 AM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dave Hartnett never lost his composure, standing rock steady face forward head up never honoring his foes with a look or word. A quick whisper and they are vanquished. As if it was no surprise and he knew exactly how to handle the situation, his coolness under fire suggest someone familiar facing down protestors.
posted by stbalbach at 10:31 AM on September 24, 2012


This is great, and follows in a long line of distinguished activism. Good for them; this takes a good amount of courage to do well, and they did it perfectly.
posted by odinsdream at 10:45 AM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]



Dave Hartnett never lost his composure, standing rock steady face forward head up never honoring his foes with a look or word.


A pleb like me might interpret his looking away as cowardice. But I ain't never been this close up to my betters, no, sir, never.
posted by ocschwar at 10:51 AM on September 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I heard "set the dogs on you" as a very dry joke.

Well, if by "very dry joke" you mean that they sub vocalized the "I wish we had the legal cover and the means to..." in the sentence before "set the dogs on them." I mean, I know the British have different humor traditions, but this is more that universal "scratch an extremely privileged person, find a sociopath" kind of thing.

I am also sad to discover that Private Eye does not, in fact, have a special edition for donkeys and other equines.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:07 AM on September 24, 2012


Dave Hartnett never lost his composure, standing rock steady face forward head up never honoring his foes with a look or word. A quick whisper and they are vanquished. As if it was no surprise and he knew exactly how to handle the situation, his coolness under fire suggest someone familiar facing down protestors.

He was not afraid to die, O brave Sir Hartnett!
He was not at all afraid to be killed in nasty ways,
Brave, brave, brave, brave Sir Hartnett!
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 12:00 PM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Angela is the Hartnett for me.
posted by Segundus at 1:38 PM on September 24, 2012


Business ethics.

Moral compass.

It is to laugh.
posted by BlueHorse at 1:41 PM on September 24, 2012




But the really outrageous event on the conference itinerary was the black-tie dinner in the great hall of New College, Oxford, where the after-dinner speaker was Dave Hartnett, former head of HMRC, who has just retired after revelations that his organisation made deals with Vodafone, Goldman Sachs and many other companies, resulting in billions off their tax bills.

That is a lot of fucking nerve.
posted by ocschwar at 2:05 PM on September 24, 2012


Huronbob: Your math is not like my math.

In case you don't know rhyming slang, it is common to have the original word, "years", replaced by a rhyming phrase, "donkey's ears", but then only the first word of the phrase, "donkey's", is actually said. So a man asking "have you seen my trouble about?" is understood to be referring to his "trouble and strife"; his wife.
posted by saucysault at 7:58 AM on September 28, 2012


Setting the dogs is clearly a dog whistle for classism, much as telling a woman complaining about sexism that she sounds "shrill" or "hysterical". Just a nasty little dig putting someone in their place with plausible deniability about being impolite or uncivil.
posted by saucysault at 8:01 AM on September 28, 2012


Is rhyming slang something that people actually do? I was under the impression that it was rather passe.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:09 AM on September 28, 2012


My parents/aunts/uncles are all in their seventies so I don't think they have bothered to learn the new slang. So yes, some people do.
posted by saucysault at 12:37 PM on September 28, 2012




The Intruders crash the Investment Banking Awards in Mayfair

God damn, more of this, for fuck's sake. I cannot fucking believe there aren't hordes of people shouting down these executive pieces of shit.
posted by odinsdream at 4:57 PM on October 16, 2012


US Woman Takes on Banks Over Libor
posted by homunculus at 12:22 PM on October 21, 2012


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