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Oh Gary, how could you?

Mumsnet Blog of the Day!This post was the Mumsnet Blog of the Day on May 14th, 2014… thanks for the support Mumsnet, we consider it an honour!

Gary-Barlow-youngOh Gary, how could you?

You were my favourite boy from a boyband… who turned into my favourite man from a manband… and then went on to be a lovely husband and dad who showed himself to be committed, loving and courageous in the face of personal tragedy. You espoused your dedication to family life, the wider community and your country no less.

You wrote Patience and we all wanted to wait. You wrote Rule The World and we wished you did. In The Flood you wrote that “no one understood” and although we had no idea what you were talking about (a rowing race?), we saw through all the misunderstanding to your inner – and outer – beauty.

Over the years you have become our lovable Mr Britain. You were kind and wise on the telly, expert, honest, funny… but you could still conjure up a smoulder in your lovely black and white music videos. You climbed mountains, organised concerts and B&W Barlowsang all our favourite songs for sick and underpriveleged kiddies everywhere.

In 2013 you wrote Sing and we wept with happiness and patriotism as all those beautiful children from all over the commonwealth joined with the Military Wives in our very own choral tribute to the Queen.

You were such a good chap that you got an OBE. Sir Gary. We thought it was lovely, and you were lovely, and your kids must have been so proud. Awwwwwwww……

And then the next thing we know, you’re exposed as a tax cheat!! Hoarding your own money away in some tax avoidance scheme while simultaneously asking us to reach into our own pockets (ones that aren’t lined with royalties from thirteen no 1 hits) to support Children in Need. Heck Gary, if people like you just paid your taxes maybe there wouldn’t be so many children in need in the first place.

Of course, there’s been a lot of media attention around your own donations to charity, but I have to say, even that is soured by this. What would happen if we all decided to pay the amount of tax we thought appropriate to whichever charity we thought appropriate and just tuck the rest away for posterity? Our whole society would fall apart, Gary, that’s what. You know, schools, roads and hospitals all depend on everyone paying their taxes, and you don’t get to pick and choose what your tax bill is spent on!

Give it back, GazSo what happens next? What do we do when our charitable and generous national treasure is revealed to be a greedy tax dodger who owes us several million pounds??? Demand he repays the tax he dodged and take away his OBE. Sorry Gary, your services to music still stand but your services to charity – except for helping make them a necessity – are questionable.

And of course we’ll have to boycott the X-factor and anything Take That-ish, which is a pity, but now that I think about it, I’ve grown out of this crush anyway.

Lily Allen tweeted: “Can’t get through to NHSDirect, no midwives in your area ? Well at least the Queen got a nice birthday party/jubilee , whatever @GaryBarlow.”

We’re giving the last word to Take VAT, with their comedy spoof “Pay it back for good”. For the record, Davie Quinn “adores Gary” and is “actually not bothered at all by what he did.” He even says he’d do the same. Sigh… eyeroll… He has however promised to pay tax on any profits made by this particular song in the event of it going viral as a direct result of its appearance here…

Published on May 20, 2014 – Comedy spoof cover about Gary Barlow’s tax Scandal.
Vocals, lyrics & video by Davie Quinn
Production by Alex McGowan @ SpaceEko Studios


About Kate

Kate Seamark is the Editor of Diamonds & Daisychains. She is passionate about ethical shopping and committed to buying and wearing 100% sweatshop-free fashion. Read what she's up to in Editor's letters, where she keeps everyone up to date on her latest outrages while trying not to embarrass her six children too much. To find out more about our contributors, visit our Community page.


  1. Kate

    Glad to bring some “larfter” to your office. x

  2. I love it! Give Gary heaps… we read this out in our office and everyone had a good larf. Keep it coming!

  3. Kate

    Assuming Gary agrees with you – and I have no idea what he would say on the subject – perhaps he ought to spend his time campaigning for tax reform and see how that reflects on his character.

  4. Kate

    Hi Tammy
    Firstly, they weren’t all involved, and secondly Gary promotes himself as someone who raises money for worthy causes/ needy people etc, so it seems hypocritical to then dodge his tax, don’t you think? And no he’s not an accountant, but do you REALLY think you would need an accountant to tell you whether hiding tens of millions of pounds from HMRC is ok/ not ok? Even if my accountant told me it was ok, I would know it isn’t. Besides, ignorance is no defence.
    x Kate

  5. Hello,that is a good post.Thanks for sharing!

  6. I had to comment, I feel really sorry for Gary as all the other members of Take That did the same, but Gary actually questioned if putting money into a youth music project was legitimate with his accountant and was told yes as you’ll be paying tax on your earnings. Gary is a singer not an accountant, & why are the other 4 seemly getting away with it at least in the media storm sense!

  7. The underlying problem is that tax rates are far too high in this country.

    Taking 60% of an individual’s earnings is a scandal (I am not a high earner and don’t know anyone who is, but believe this to be against the national interest).

  8. Kate

    Thanks Rach! Dropping my Gary CD’s in the charity bin this morning… x

  9. Kate

    Are you seriously suggesting that he didn’t realise that hiding tens of millions of pounds from HMRC was dodgy?? Are you joking??? I don’t need a tax advisor to tell me it’s dodgy, good old common sense tells me that!
    Gary is a successful businessman and entrepreneur who knew exactly what he was doing. The judge in his case told us so: “Icebreaker is, and was known and understood by all concerned to be, a tax-avoidance scheme. The predominant purpose of entering the scheme was to achieve a tax saving.” – Judge Colin Bishopp.
    He knew. He did it anyway. And then he asked us all to put our hands in our pockets for the needy. Booooooooooo!

  10. Had to comment, as you’ve only had apologists so far! Hear hear, great post.

  11. You maybe have to look at how these kinds of things come about. He pays advisors to give him exactly that advice. If someone came to you and said look you pay me to look after your financial affairs and there is a scheme, which is perfectly legal, that will minimise your tax bill, you would probably accept the advice, wouldn’t you? That’s what they are paid for. There is little difference between what has happened here and an accountant advising a potential investor to put some money into a business to gain tax relief. Personally I think it says more about the advisors than the individual. I’m sure if they had warned him it may not be looked on favourably by the tax authorities then the outcome would have been different. But then they wouldn’t have got their cut!! If he has done it willingly, in full knowledge of all the facts, then that is obviously another matter

  12. Kate

    The Judge in his tax avoidance trial has judged him: Guilty!
    And just because other celebrities / MP’s / rich people do it, it’s not Ok. And if eBayers do it, it’s also not ok. Same for The Guardian or anyone else you might offer up as examples of when people dodge tax: NOT OK.
    I think he’ll pay his tax bill if it’s unavoidable, so to speak…. lucky he has you to keep buying his records!!

  13. Well I don’t think anyone can or should judge. I bet lots of celebrities / MP’s / rich people are doing what they can to avoid paying tax. How about all those selling on Ebay paying tax on their extra earnings? Even The Guardian themselves are indulging tin tax avoidance. The spotlight is simply on Gary because of his recent documentary. I am sure Gary will pay what is due. I don’t think he has to apologise or hand back his OBE. I love Gary, I haven’t outgrown him – nor will I ever. We will continue to buy his music because he makes fab music. I don’t feel disappointment or shame. I still support him.

  14. Kate

    Just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s ok! It’s not illegal to cheat on your partner, to copy someone else’s homework or smoke in the car with your kids (pending new legislation) but they’re still crumby things to do…
    Gary has stood for raising money for needy people while simultaneously avoiding millions in tax. I think that’s awful even if it is technically legal!

  15. I took the legal practice course back in the mid-nineties and one of the first things we were taught as budding lawyers was tax avoidance, which is legal, (not evasion which is illegal) for our rich clients.

    Almost every rich person including your MP’s, who has a good lawyer or accountant is avoiding tax. Every now and again someone will get exposed, but it is the norm in well off circles. Hence why it was on the legal practice course syllabus then and judging from all these exposures nothing has changed.

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