I would imagine there was singing and dancing on the streets of Monaco last night after ‘one of their own’ retained his F1 world title by driving the fastest car in the field faster than the slower cars. There are plenty of people in Britain who are celebrating Lewis Hamilton’s success. I am not one of them.
It’s important to say that I am no fan of motor racing. For all the cutting edge technology on display, to my eyes F1 is a procession and it always has been. There are always top teams, there are mid table teams and there are bottom feeders. It’s as competitive as the English Premier League, which is to say that it isn’t.
I am no fan of Lewis Hamilton for a number of reasons. It is not his fault that he is virtually without charisma, something that should rule him out of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) because if you haven’t got much of a personality, how can you be a serious candidate? I find his mid-Atlantic accent utterly baffling and quite irritating. But above all, I despise his tax dodging.
When I see Hamilton praising his brilliant British fans and wrapping himself up in the Union Flag, I find the whole thing more than slightly nauseating because his patriotism is not matched by his actions. He used to live in Switzerland in order to avoid paying tax, he now lives in Monaco in order to avoid paying tax. He has said when he retires he will go to Colorado to live. I wonder why that is.
Apologists point out that Hamilton does pay some tax, that his success creates jobs, that he benefits the exchequer and business in the UK. All true, but then all of us do, even the millions working in the gig economy, on zero hours contracts, on the minimum wage. Not all of us begrudge paying what can be punishing levels of taxation when people will cancer receive treatment free at the point of delivery and when fire fighters save lives in burning buildings. Hamilton has more money than god and he is so patriotic to the country that made him that he chooses to keep his money instead of contributing to the greater good. His choice of course, as it is to other huge rich people who can afford to make alternative tax arrangements. Most people can’t and, in my case, I wouldn’t want to anyway. If I was worth £250 million, I doubt that I would feel I was struggling so much that I’d go to live in tax exile.
These things taint my views of ‘our’ world champion. The national hero who ducks out of collective responsibility, who constantly goes on about his humble upbringing but then goes on to prove he’s essentially forgotten where he came from.
Doubtless, in a few weeks time Hamilton will be doing his bit for the annual Children in Need fundraiser where the general public dips into its collective pocket to pay for things that the taxpayer deems it not worth funding through our taxes. Then, he can go back to Monaco and get on with counting his money.
F1 is a perfect illustration of Britain today. Those at the top protect their position of wealth and success and the rest are left to bump along the bottom. And Lewis Hamilton is the perfect example of what we have become.