As far as retorts go, it's sailing close to the wind. "You show me yours," Angela Rayner scoffed at the Tory MPs who would have her publish her tax advice, "and I'll show you mine".

It's not so long since the Westminster misogyny row that was focused on finding the sorry culprit who alleged Ms Rayner used crossing and uncrossing her legs to distract the prime minister at PMQs.

Was Ms Rayner right, and the comment was made by Tory dinosaurs or, as was countered, did the suggestion actually originate from her?

That unedifying vignette was just one in a series of unedifying vignettes involving the Labour deputy leader.

Here's the latest, as far as I can summarise it: Rayner is accused of dodging around £1500 in capital gains tax when she sold her council house. She claims that after she and her ex-husband married, they lived apart for five years in two separate houses.

The tabloids have been round to knock the neighbours, who say otherwise. They claim one property had all the trappings of being a bustling family home while the other was inhabited by Rayner's brother, who referred to Rayner as his "landlady". She is also alleged to have registered to vote at the 'wrong' address, and thus there is a suggestion of electoral fraud. One neighbour put it pithily: "She is a f*cking liar".

Rayner claims to have had tax advice at the time that shows her dealings to be perfectly legit. She has given sight of this to the authorities and to the Labour Party. Greater Manchester Police initially said there was no case to answer but is apparently now re-investigating.

It's a perfect row: it levels a charge of hypocrisy at a left wing politician, it has just enough layers of complication to generate intrigue, it involves tax, it involves housing and - and - it allows for speculation over Rayner's love life.

Sir Keir Starmer says he hasn't seen the tax advice and has no need to because he backs his man. This is extraordinary messaging, given the broader context.

The defence, from Sir Keir and Rayner, is essentially "Nothing is amiss. No, we're not going to prove it. You'll just have to trust us". Have they not seen the state of politics? Asking the public to trust a politician on no more than what amounts to Scouts' honour? Yeah, that'll ... work?

Other standout retorts from Rayner on the topic include the line about "you show me [your tax advice], I'll show you mine" - a challenge from the honourable member to just about any Tory MP who wants to take her up on it.

The story first originated in an unauthorised biography of Rayner by Lord Ashcroft, who likes to commission books about people he dislikes. It was a Lord Ashcroft special that made the - strongly denied - claims about David Cameron's, er, husbandry of pigs.

The book publishes a statement from Rayner in response to the council house sale claims. In it are the words: "It's clear that Lord Ashcroft takes an unhealthy interest in Angela's family." This is the retort of a teenage girl caught up to no good: "Eugh, why are you obsessed with me?" It's not a serious response to serious claims.

But Rayner perhaps does not perceive the claims as serious. She should. The aforementioned pithy neighbour goes straight to the nub of things. When it comes to tax affairs, "the public requires answers". Ten points if you can name the politician who said that?

Yup, Angela Rayner. She wrote this in a letter to HMRC, on behalf of her party, on the issue of Nadhim Zahawi’s tax affairs in January last year.

Her shtick is her cheerful upfrontness; her honest plain speaking. Rayner has been shown in focus groups to be Britain's most popular politician: those held highest have furthest to fall.

She is also relatable and colourful and Northern - all good things, and which are useful to her boss. The obvious comparison is the relationship between Tony Blair and John Prescott - one bringing gravity, one bringing vibes.

Why does my father's death from alcohol cause me so much shame?

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Rayner faces charges of hypocrisy because she has so vocally held herself and her party to a higher standard than the Conservatives, who she called "scum". There has been pointed out an unfairness in the fact that Lord Ashcroft has had to deny evading tens of millions of pounds in tax, while Rayner's alleged avoidance is a paltry sum.

Her colleague Diane Abbott has come out on Twitter/X to defend Rayner with the words, "Ridiculous attacks by Tories on Angela Rayner for allegedly not paying a few thousand in capital gains tax."

Ms Abbott should be careful how she minimises the sum of £1500. Of course, it pales in comparison when compared with the sums involved in other scandals but it is still a decent sum for many people.

Its modesty makes it easy to grasp, as does the prosaic nature of the scandal. It brings to mind Michael Matheson's iPad bill. It is a scandal that resonates because it is something many can imagine in their own lives - the kids running up a phone bill, a failure to declare all financial dealings.

The problem is a lack of immediate, clear explanation; evidence provided; and then an apology. Rayner might have looked at Mr Matheson and seen a salutary tale.

She knows she is an easy target for the right because she is a woman and working class and gobby and aspirational and popular. She is unabashed about the things - teenager motherhood, dropping out of school, becoming a gran at 37 - about which certain sections of the right believe she should be ashamed. She is the sort of woman a certain sort of man wants put in her place.

It is for these reasons this story will rumble on until either the evidence of innocence is presented or she is in some way admonished.

Starmer and Rayner, to borrow a turn of phrase, work together like the blades of a pair of scissors. He is dry; she is ebullient. He is focused on detail and policy; she views speaking to voters as "playtime".

Sophy Ridge, on her Sky News politics programme, had a couple of pundits drink Rayner's Venom cocktail recipe. Ridge revealed her unfamiliarity with such lowbrow things when she rhymed off the cocktail's ingredients list and said "blue W K D" rather than its correct pronunciation, which is "blue Wicked". Unlike so many of her peers, Rayner knows her cheap booze and her everyman appeal.

Her value to Starmer is her plain speaking honesty. Without that, her stock plummets. She should guard it with more than playground retorts; she should guard it with all she has.