BRAGGART Prime Minister David Cameron lost some of his swagger yesterday in a row over the Tories’ close links to tax-dodging City hedge funds.
A display of animal-like baying from bully-boy Tory backbenchers failed to protect Mr Cameron from a surgical Commons attack by Labour leader Ed Miliband.
Six times Mr Miliband challenged the Prime Minister to reveal why he had failed to close a loophole allowing hedge funds to save hundreds of millions of pounds in tax by avoiding stamp duty.
And six times Mr Cameron dodged the question.
The PM wriggled as Mr Miliband roared that hedge funds had donated around £50 million to the Tory party.
Speaker John Bercow had to call for order as clamouring Tories tried to protect the Prime Minister by shouting louder and louder in an attempt to drown out the Labour leader.
Mr Miliband warned the PM: “I am going to keep asking him the question until he answers it.”
The Tories had received £7m from Lord Laidlaw, a tax exile living in Monaco, he added.
Another £3m had come from Sir Michael Hintze, who owned a company based in tax haven Jersey.
“They are the party of Mayfair hedge funds and Monaco tax-avoiders,” declared Mr Miliband to Labour cheers.
And this was why the PM refused to act against hedge funds.
The Tories were the party which had one rule for those at the top and another rule for everyone else.
Mr Cameron kept retorting: “We have acted on stamp duty.”
He accused previous Labour governments of failing to act despite their 13 years in power.
Left MP Grahame Morris asked why the PM had allowed offshore companies to apply for financial aid under the National Loan Guarantee Scheme.
But Mr Cameron again sidestepped the issue, replying lamely that this loan scheme was “run by the banks.”
Following the Commons exchanges, Labour shadow Cabinet Office minister Jonathan Ashworth said: “David Cameron’s Tories are the party for a privileged few.
“The Tory election campaign will be funded by those who dine exclusively at the Prime Minister’s top table and a select few in the hedge fund industry.”