Tag Archives: bailout

Branson wants a bailout for Virgin Atlantic. Does he pay his taxes? If not – let it collapse

Richard Branson.

It’s very simple: if Richard Branson, his top executives, and his company have all paid the full whack of taxes applicable to them – since the company was formed – then a government bailout may be considered.

Otherwise, let it all collapse. And Virgin Atlantic used to be my airline of preference.

The bribes Branson is offering are fantastic: he’ll put his private Caribbean island up as collateral, which implies he wants us all to think of the bailout as a loan.

Great! If he defaults on payments, can we – the great British public – take free holidays there after the lockdown is over, using Virgin planes to reach it?

That would be pleasant but I have a doubt that the Tory government would allow it. We’re plebs and livestock, after all.

And he said he was investing £215 million of his own money. Also great! But he’s asking for more than twice as much. And how much money is he keeping?

The simple fact is: Denmark and Poland have the right idea.

If corporations and shareholders pay their full taxes, then it is fair for a government to consider using its scheme to bail them out.

If not, then it doesn’t matter how hard they plead, the answer must still be no.

If you’re not paying in, you can’t expect to draw out.

Source: Richard Branson warns Virgin Atlantic will collapse without Government support as he defends himself over bailout backlash | London Evening Standard

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Carillion crash means public may have to subsidise Tory privatisation yet again

This week alone shares in Carillion have plummeted by around 22 per cent [Image: Reuters].

Isn’t that a contradiction in terms?

Back in the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher sold us a pup. She told us private companies could run public services more cost-effectively than government. Either she was badly mistaken or she was lying.

Most voters believed her, though, and in the decades that followed, she and her successors have sold off as many public utilities and services as they could, hiring private contractors in to run crucial aspects of most of the others.

The Carillion case is indicative of what happens next.

The outsourcing company, which has maintenance contracts in the NHS, a contract for work on the HS2 rail link, contracts with the Ministry of Defence, and is a major supplier of rail infrastructure, is in serious financial trouble.

Its major lenders – banks including Lloyds and RBS – have rejected the company’s rescue plan and are urging the government to pay off its debts – using public money.

So these banks – who were themselves bailed out with public money when they caused the financial crisis that led to the Great Recession 10 years ago – are now saying they need the public to bail out this private company, because they won’t.

It is the most damning evidence possible that privatisation of public services is a failure.

The idea of privatisation was that the public wouldn’t have to pay for services. Instead, it seems we are being asked to pay time and time again.

We bailed out the banks once; now they want us to bail them out again, repaying their loans to Carillion.

No! Let the company go out of business and take the contracts back in-house.

Oh, but the Tories probably can’t manage that because the state no longer has the wherewithal to carry out that kind of work. Typical Tory short-sightedness.

Another brilliant example of the same stupidity is rail privatisation. Private companies took over rail services in the 1990s, and we were led to believe that this would lead to better services, with profits being ploughed into infrastructure and other improvements. Instead, the public subsidy has skyrocketed and so have fares; 70 per cent of our rail companies are owned by foreign concerns (some of them, ironically, nationalised) which means we are subsidising rail services abroad rather than funding improvements here, and those that aren’t seem to be in permanent financial difficulties, meaning more public money is used to bail them out. Look at the Virgin East Coast franchise.

Do you call that value for money? Because I don’t.

It should be no surprise that Chris Grayling is the transport secretary who has admitted Virgin overbid for the East Coast franchise. The company offered to pay too much and that is, we’re told, why it is in financial difficulty now. The same thing happened with the probation service when Mr Grayling was justice secretary.

The social media commentariat have been on the case, of course, so I refer you to a few people who understand the situation better than myself – for the benefit of those who won’t just take my word for it:

I don’t know about good, but grief is certainly an appropriate word.


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It’s a ‘NO’ from Greece! Decisive rejection of austerity

Alexis-Tsipras

Alexis Tsipras has gambled and won.

Greece has voted decisively to reject the terms of the latest loan offer from the so-called Troika – the IMF, ECB and EU.

Figures published by the interior ministry showed 61 per cent of those whose ballots had been counted voting “No”, against 39 per cent voting “Yes”. This means Greece will go back to the negotiating table with a firm mandate to reject demands for further austerity as part of the conditions of any further loans – and to demand that the country’s huge debt be restructured into a sum that it is possible to pay off.

The victory for Tsipras and his Syriza party is all the more remarkable because it faced enormous opposition from representatives of the Troika and elements of Greek society who scaremongered hard that a ‘No’ vote meant Greece would be ejected from the Eurozone, meaning the Euro would cease to be its currency and it would have to create one of its own.

This is a proud day for Greece. As a nation and democratically, these people have made it clear that austerity doesn’t work and they won’t have any more to do with it – especially when it is imposed undemocratically from beyond their borders.

But you probably won’t hear anything of the kind from the media in the UK. Here’s Guy Debord’s Cat to explain why:

“The BBC and the rest of the British media will continue to peddle the lie that George Osborne’s LTEP is “working”. Can you see the green shoots of reification? If you can’t, then you’re probably an “extreme leftist”.

“As I type this, a BBC News reporter in Athens is interviewing a New Democracy politician who’s claimed that it’s a “dark day for Greece”. Then the reporter interrupts to tell her that Antonis Samaras, the leader of the New Democrats, had resigned. She stumbles and mumbles something along the lines of “I couldn’t possibly comment”.

“Cut to some vox pops of Greek people telling the camera how “scared they are for the future”. The propaganda: it’s blatant.”

The Cat also points out something well worth spelling out to the UK’s current Tory government:

“They don’t have a mandate. 24.3 per cent is nothing. 62 per cent is a mandate. Tories, take note.”

They won’t, though.

Not until the UK finally wakes up and follows the Greek example.

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Bank bailout was the greatest theft of wealth in history. Will Miliband reverse it?

150113bankrepayments

The money given to UK banks and the amount paid back by October last year – nothing but interest [Image: claritynews.co.uk].

There’s a passage in Russell Brand’s Revolution in which he quotes a chap called Dave Graeber as follows: “During the bailout of Wall Street, $30 trillion in support and subsidies went to the most powerful players… That was the greatest theft of wealth in history.”

Here in the UK, we were part of that. The Brown (Labour) administration paid a fortune into our own banks to keep them solvent because they were also participants in the global economic crisis – it had to, otherwise all of our savings would have disappeared.

We all thought this was reasonable, at the time. Shore up the banks, sure – they’ll pay us back in the long run. Have they paid us back?

Have they heck as like!

(That’s a colloquialism meaning, emphatically, no.)

The Conservative – sorry, Coalition – government has even been helping them steal some more. Look at this RealFare image:

150113camerontaxcuts

The bankers involved in the bailout were all on the top rate of tax – bank on it! – so there’s a double tax cut for them, and their employers enjoyed the Corporation Tax cut too. That’s a huge amount of money that the Treasury has given away to people who already owe the nation a huge amount of money!

Meanwhile George Osborne announces more billions of pounds worth of spending cuts, taking money from the poor.

You see – and perhaps this has been obscured lately – government spending involves the redistribution of wealth, and on the face of it this is to make society more equal. What the poorest can’t afford, the state will provide, to ensure a reasonable standard of living for everybody.

But George Osborne, David Cameron and their government have pig-headedly used the financial crisis and the debts created by it to punish the poor and increase inequality.

The bankers have not been asked to give back the money they were given to bail themselves out – that money has been stolen.

The government has withdrawn spending from people who need it and given the money to people who don’t in tax cuts – that money has also been stolen.

Just because it doesn’t appear in the statute books as an act of theft doesn’t make it any less so.

And now it seems another banking crisis is on its way – because the people who caused the last one are still in charge, haven’t learned their lesson (why should they? They were rewarded for the last crisis), and are hell-bent on repeating the calamity because the only people it hurt were too poor to do anything about it – people like yourself.

Look at this, by Michael Meacher MP: “Six years after the financial breakdown in 2008-9 it is therefore disturbing to see the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority seeking public acclaim for the large increase in financial penalties it has imposed on miscreant banks, as though this has changed the culture of hubris that has infected the major banks over the last decade or more.

“The FCA has certainly imposed fines of £1.4bn on the UK banks in this last year, but that is… too modest by comparison with the enormity of their regular annual profits to change the City’s amoral mindset, and above all focused on the banking institutions themselves (the shareholders) rather than on the real perpetrators (the top executives and traders).

“Not a single top executive in the UK financial sector has been convicted and sent to prison, even for such egregious offences as rigging the Libor and forex markets.”

Ed Miliband has promised to reform the banks, “so they support small businesses” – is that enough?

In September 2012, he promised that, if banks did not separate their retail and investment arms, a future Labour government would break them up (with the aim of protecting personal account holders from debts created by the gambling of the so-called ‘casino’ bankers) – is that enough?

What will be enough?

From where this writer is sitting, the banks and financial institutions are sitting on billions – if not trillions – of pounds of money that doesn’t belong to them, while millions suffer and starve.

Going back to Revolution, Russell points out that this kind of money could cancel the debts of everyone, not just an elite; it could create employment and ‘ease’ life for ordinary people, not just an elite.

Ed Miliband could win an election on this. If he said “A Labour government will take your money back from the banks and use it to improve the lives of everyone,” he’d have a landslide on his hands.

How about it, Ed?

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