Category Archives: Business

Victory for grassroots campaign as Tories ‘delay’ giving away your private NHS patient data

This is a victory for social media campaigners like This Site.

The Tories had been planning to pass private details of your mental and sexual health, criminal records, smoking and drinking habits to profiteers without telling you.

They had created a scam scheme in which they would hand over the medical histories of more than 55 million NHS England patients to profit-making organisations – unless the patients opted out.

But they never actually bothered to tell anybody what they were doing.

I mean: if you’re in England, did you see the national advertising campaign on TV, the social media and in the newspapers? Did you catch the news spots with NHS and government representatives debating it with some of the many organisations who oppose it?

I didn’t think so.

Yet Health Minister Jo Churchill, announcing the “delay” in Parliament, had the bare-faced cheek to say the government was “absolutely determined to take people with us”.

The impression I get is that hardly anybody knew a single thing about it until Vox Political – along with a few other social media organisations – publicised it on June 2.

By then, less than three weeks were left before the original June 23 deadline for opting out.

So it was risible when Churchill told Parliament “patients own their own data”.

If that’s an admission that the Tories don’t own patient data, then why have they been trying to sell it ever since they formed their government in 2010? Isn’t that, you know, theft?

The good news is that This Site’s article – and those of the other social media sites that took an interest – caught the public interest and the government had to step back.

The Tories wouldn’t have announced this delay if they had not received significant resistance to their plan.

And the really good news is that the delay means more people can opt out of the scheme.

You can do this by providing this online form to your GP – or by using this website. I strongly urge you to do so.

Be sure to enjoy the “mythbusting” section of the website in which the Tories say it’s all perfectly innocent. And then ignore it.

Source: New NHS patient data store delayed by two months – BBC News

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Electoral Commission ‘wrongly recorded donations to Conservatives’. Oh, so is that all right, then?

Backhander? Or tax evasion? What was really going on with the donations to the Tory Party by companies that had long since gone out of business?

The Electoral Commission has admitted that it mistakenly recorded a donation to the Conservatives from an active company as being from a defunct firm, because they shared the same address.

It has asked for another mistake in recording a donation to the Tories to be taken into account as well.

Does that let the Tories off the hook, then?

No. No, it doesn’t.

There remains one more donation (of which we’re aware) to be explained.

It was apparently made by a firm called Unionist Buildings Limited, in June 2017. Records show the firm was dissolved six months early, in January that year.

The Conservatives have admitted incorrectly reporting donations from that firm but have given no further details.

Why not? Guilty conscience?

These discrepancies only came to light after the Labour Party discovered them and raised them with the Electoral Commission.

How can we be sure they are the only examples of false reporting of donations? We can’t, can we?

HM Revenue and Customs will be interested in donations from dissolved companies, particular if there are monies owing to HMRC or other creditors, because if you can pay donations, then you can pay your creditors.

Also, if this money came from the company, then was it profit generated by the company? If it was, then Corporation Tax and VAT is very likely to be due upon it.

In other words, has Labour uncovered tax evasion by Tory donors?

If so, we need to find out if this is an isolated incident or if it is more widespread. And we need to know now.

I wonder how the Tories will try to squirm out of this.

Source: Elections watchdog admits errors in reporting Tory donations – BBC News

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Tory time travel: now we find the Corruption Party has taken donations from dead firms

Backhander: is this how the Tories take their donations nowadays? In secret, so the donors can hide their identities in increasingly bizarre ways?

I can’t wait to hear the explanation for this, from whichever Tory anti-corruption tsar, ministerial standards watchdog or donations supremo will be ordered to whitewash it.

Will it bear any resemblance to the finding of the Electoral Commission, which is investigating?

Here’s the issue:

Two donations allegedly made to the Conservative Party from companies which had ceased to exist.

That’s right; they didn’t cease trading after giving the donations. They had already ceased to exist when the donations – worth £16,000 – were made.

It’s impossible. Logically, these were donations by people who wanted to hide the fact that they were donating to the Tories.

Now, why would anybody want to do that?

The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, parties may only accept donations from a UK-registered company if it “carries on business in the United Kingdom”.

So a logical possibility is that these were donations from foreign concerns who had an interest – possibly financial – in the Conservatives.

For clarity, these are the donations concerned:

One was for a sum of £10,000 made in November 2019 by a company called Stridewell Estates. Government records indicate that the firm had been dissolved three years previously.

The second donation was made in June 2017 by a company called Unionist Buildings Limited which had apparently been dissolved in January of that year.

I wonder also if this is something to do with Brexit. I’ll say no more than that, for now.

Another question is why it took Labour this long to query these donations. Too busy accusing innocent party members of anti-Semitism?

Source: Labour demands probe into donations to Tories from defunct firms – BBC News

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Tories are forcing ‘mortgage prisoners’ to pay up to three times a competitive interest rate

Houses: are their mortgages competitive or will buyers become ‘mortgage prisoners’ because of decisions made, not by them, but by the Tory government?

Is this part of that “bonfire of red tape” that David Cameron and his cronies were trumpeting a few years ago?

I wonder how many of the quarter-of-a-million so-called “mortgage prisoners” merrily voted Tory in the belief that this meant they would find it easier to switch lenders.

And I wonder how they feel, now they know that the opposite is the case.

The salt in their wound, of course, is the fact that it is the Tory government itself that sold their mortgages to unregulated lenders – and is now blocking a change in the law that would help them.

Tougher affordability checks have made it hard to change lenders if a home owner’s mortgage is large compared to the price of their house, if they are close to retirement or have bad credit.

While many lenders are able to switch to different deals with the same lenders, that have lower interest rates, around 250,000 are blocked from doing this because the lenders to whom the Treasury sold their mortgages don’t offer such deals.

The upshot is that they are stuck forking out two or three times what they would pay in a competitive mortgage.

The House of Lords has passed an amendment to the Financial Services Act to cap rates for borrowers in that position, but government whips are instructing Conservative MPs to vote against the amendment on Monday.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak reckons capping the interest rate would be “unfair” on other borrowers.

I don’t see why. How is it unfair to let these people have the same deal as everybody else?

Or does Sunak mean it would be unfair on the lenders to deprive them of one- or two-thirds of their profits?

Should we perhaps be asking questions about how the Treasury chose these particular firms to receive these particular mortgages?

Is this another aspect of the lobbying scandal that we have yet to grasp?

Source: Treasury snubbing ‘mortgage prisoners’, say MPs – BBC News

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Johnson didn’t have power to change tax rules for Dyson, says former Attorney-General. Was Major Corruption lying AGAIN?

Boris Johnson: he should hang his head in shame. Sadly, he doesn’t have the self-awareness – this shot is just of him checking his notes at a prime ministerial broadcast.

Boris Johnson’s claim that he arranged a tax break for James Dyson was impossible because he doesn’t have the power, according to former Attorney-General (the government’s top lawyer) Dominic Grieve.

Johnson defended himself during Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday (April 21) after evidence emerged that Dyson had contacted him by texting his personal telephone, asking for tax breaks so Dyson staff who had relocated to Singapore after Brexit could return to the UK and build ventilators to tackle Covid-19 without paying tax penalties.

Johnson’s responses are shown in this tweet:

His responses in PMQs were that he refused to accept criticism for doing everything he could to ensure that the UK had the equipment it needed to fight the Covid crisis.

(This is risible when we remember that successive Conservative governments including Johnson’s had systematically weakened the nation’s ability to respond to a pandemic crisis, including selling PPE to China.)

In the end, Dyson provided no ventilators at all.

On the BBC’s Newsnight, former A-G Dominic Grieve made the legal situation abundantly clear:

So either Boris Johnson corruptly and illegally influenced the tax system so this industrialist, who campaigned for Brexit and then scarpered abroad to escape the consequences, could profit from a crisis…

… or everything he can do to secure help for the UK in a crisis is in fact nothing at all.

Major Corruption has shot himself in the foot, it seems.

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Lobbying corruption: Johnson caught promising Covid tax breaks to Dyson – who then provided NOTHING

Boris Johnson and James Dyson: could any of us have won tax breaks from the prime minister, if only we’d had his personal phone number?

Boris Johnson offered to “fix” the tax status of Dyson staff so they could work in the UK to provide ventilators in last year’s Covid-19 crisis – after Dyson sent a text message to the prime minister’s personal phone.

Dyson went on to provide absolutely no ventilators at all. Did his employees still get preferential tax status?

That is just one of the important questions that Johnson didn’t answer during Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday.

The revelation is the latest development in the lobbying-related corruption scandal that began when former PM David Cameron’s activities on behalf of now-collapsed financier Greensill Capital came to light.

The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg reported that

the PM assured businessman Sir James Dyson that his employees would not have to pay extra tax if they came to the UK to make ventilators during the pandemic.

Sir James, whose firm is now based in Singapore, wrote to the Treasury to ask for no change in tax status for staff.

But the BBC has seen text messages sent in March 2020 that show Sir James then went directly to the PM, with Mr Johnson replying: “I will fix it.”

She added, in an opinion piece on the subject,

There are thousands of different circumstances in which having those discussions is perfectly valid.

What about however, when the most powerful politician in the country sends a direct message to an influential businessman promising: “I will fix it tomo”?

A good question – and one that Johnson was asked (if not in so many words) by Keir Starmer shortly after midday yesterday (April 21).

He asked: “What is the right thing to do if he receives a text from a billionaire Conservative supporter asking him to fix tax rules.”

Johnson replied: “I make absolutely no apology for doing everything I could to secure ventilators for the people of this country.”

The trouble is, of course, that he didn’t secure any ventilators, despite having fixed tax rules for his supporter.

He said he had done “everything I could” so we may conclude that he did change the rules for Dyson employees.

But – I reiterate – Dyson did not provide any ventilators:

So we need to know what Dyson did with the tax breaks his firm received and whether he still benefits from them now, despite not having done what he promised to do.

Or did Johnson lie about doing “everything” he could?

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‘Greed is good’ says Johnson over vaccine success. Downing Street rushes to contain the fallout

Not Michael Douglas: Boris Johnson’s attempt to emulate the infamous Gordon Gecko from the film Wall Street left him looking like a reptile.

He may have been trying to emulate Gordon Gecko but he ended up looking more like ‘Boris Dickfingergecko’* instead – a lizard you might find under a rock.

I make the comparison after Boris Johnson tried to tell a private meeting of Conservative MPs that the success of the UK’s vaccine programme was due to “capitalism” and “greed” – in emulation of the speech by the character played by Michael Douglas in the film Wall Street, “Greed is good”.

It seems that even Johnson himself doesn’t believe that mantra, as he immediately retracted his statement once it got into the public domain.

It seems Johnson had been referring to the profit motive that drives corporations to develop new products.

The implication is, of course, disgusting. He was saying that Pfizer and Astrazenica would not have bothered to develop their Covid-19 vaccines if they had not believed they could make a fat profit from doing so.

Such a comment denies that these firms could have rushed to develop a vaccine in order to prevent millions of deaths across the world, in favour of an unfounded claim that they would not have lifted a finger unless there was money in it.

The implication is potentially libellous and the companies should consider litigation against Johnson personally.

*With apologies to the Bibrons Dickfingergecko for associating it with Johnson just because of its name.

Source: ‘Greed’ and ‘capitalism’ helped UK’s vaccines success, says PM – BBC News

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The people want a windfall tax on big firms’ pandemic profits. Why is Keir Starmer getting in the way?

Keir Starmer: yet another own goal.

I bet certain commentators will be doing their best to muddy this issue so let’s make it clear:

There are moves to increase Corporation Tax, forcing companies to pay more when they could be investing that money in (for example) employment of people who desperately need a regular paycheque. This is a bad idea.

There are also moves to levy a windfall tax on firms and individuals who have profited from the Covid-19 pandemic – such as Amazon and all those Tory cronies who won huge Covid-related contracts. This is a good idea and is supported by 70 per cent of the population, according to a Survation poll.

Keir Starmer and his Zombie Labour party oppose any increase in taxation for businesses.

There will be voters who are shocked that anybody claiming to be a Labour Party representative should plead against taxing corporations, and while there are good reasons for leaving Corporation Tax low at the moment, although it is likely that firms will need further incentives to keep them on the straight and narrow, there is no reason at all to back away from a windfall tax.

This decision is spitting in the faces of the voters – at a time when Starmer desperately needs to get them on-side.

Labour is falling increasingly further behind, at a time when – we were told – the party should be at least 20 points ahead of anybody else, having dumped Jeremy Corbyn.

Is it time his supporters’ club admitted that this wasn’t true and Starmer is a non-starter?

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Coca-Cola fox cull halted after campaigners raised the alarm

This article was going to be a call to arms – but now it seems the pressure is off after Coca-Cola announced it has put plans to shoot foxes at its Sidcup factory “on hold”.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the multinational drinks firm won’t kill large numbers of the animal by other means, but at least it signifies that bosses are willing to discuss what can be done.

Residents launched a passionate “Stop the Cull” campaign after they discovered a plan for the mass killing of foxes – to take place today, February 11 – on the Cray Road, Sidcup site.

They pointed out that at this time of year it would mean the targeting of pregnant vixens.

This Writer is not particularly fond of foxes as, in large numbers, they can become pests.

But I have always opposed fox hunting (and any blood sport) and killing animals because they interfere with industry is unacceptable because it ultimately leads to the mass extinctions we are causing across the world.

Coca-Cola has released a statement, quoted in some news outlets as follows:

“Unfortunately foxes can, on occasion, cause damage and we have found the need to keep their numbers under control at our Sidcup site.

“We have taken on board people’s feedback and understand their concerns.

“We have put these control measures on hold at our Sidcup site and we are now reviewing what other options are available.”

Campaigners favour a humane, non-lethal fox management service called Fox-a-gon and it is to be hoped that the firm will take that into account.

Source: Fox culling at Coca Cola’s Sidcup site criticised | News Shopper

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Employers need to plan for the future. Why is the ‘party of business’ denying them this security?

Ditherer: Rishi Sunak doesn’t know how to safeguard businesses and the UK economy, or link its well-being with public health because the neoliberal dogma he learned does not accommodate phenomena like the Covid-19 pandemic.

Covid-19-related support packages for businesses are set to end soon, with no extension or replacement announced – signifying a £50 billion loss to the UK’s economy.

According to Tory plans the furlough scheme, rates holidays, tax deferrals, VAT cuts and other support packages will be closed at the end of the financial year.

But businesses are now expecting to be closed well into the spring and possibly beyond.

Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak is not likely to announce his plans for the future of the economy until he makes his spring Budget statement on March 3 – too late for many firms, whose bosses will have to make decisions based on information currently available to them before that, if they are to be seen to be acting with responsibility to their shareholders, creditors and even employees.

Labour has demanded immediate action and, for once, Keir Starmer’s party is right.

Shadow business minister Lucy Powell also touched a raw nerve when she said Boris Johnson’s Tory government had failed to ensure that business support was integrated with public health measures.

As a result, the UK’s Covid-related recession had been the worst of any major economy.

And the longer Sunak dithers, the worst the situation will become.

Source: Businesses facing £50bn ‘bombshell’ as Covid support withdrawn, warns Labour | The Independent

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