Between the Lines: Gary Barlow’s Tax Avoidance Plot In His Own Words

by Thomas Seal

13 May 2014

Gary Barlow has been found by HMRC to have avoided millions of pounds in tax, by investing in a scheme called ‘Icebreaker Management’. He is expected to be asked to pay it back. A spat broke out yesterday after the Labour chair of the public accounts committee, Margaret Hodge, called for Barlow to give back his OBE as a sign of contrition. The Prime Minister disagreed, and has taken no action, despite having slammed Jimmy Carr for the ‘particularly egregious’ act of having avoided much less tax (£500,000) last year.

Jimmy Carr publicly apologised and paid the Treasury in full.

Unrelatedly, Barlow is a loyal and prominent Conservative Party donor.

But it turns out that Barlow has been trying to tell us about his scheme all along, through his subtle and prescient songwriting. As Benedick remarks to his sweetheart in Much Ado About Nothing, “here’s our own hands against our hearts.” Of course, as a fervent Take That fan, I had seen this coming for years. Barlow’s ballads are almost dripping with Randian philosophy before he realises what he’s done and repents. Here is the irrefutable evidence:

At first, Barlow seems as harmless as your average Daily Mail reader:


But it wasn’t long before HMRC started sniffing out some of that boyband cash…


So Barlow did the smart thing: he got connected.


And with that, the cool facade melted away, even before his friends and colleagues:


He soon settled in to the elite coterie, and sang about the proletariat with barely-disguised contempt.


But, suddenly, a sharp pang of regret:


And before long, it was too much to bear, and Barlow poured out plaintive elegies of confusion and remorse:


And if we look back, agonised, pithy clues in his early music point to the moral morass of his current situation:


The tragedy that such camaraderie, such brotherhood, is tainted forever:


At his moral and spiritual nadir, Barlow looked to the one who had proven both his nemesis and fellow enfant terrible:


But, eventually, a glib nihilism prevailed…


And, before the statisticians, press or public had even cottoned on, he had internally already abandoned the pomp and glamour of his glittering career, and psychologically resigned himself to being nothing more than a point of data…


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