Tag Archives: banker

Tory minister suspended after he grabbed Greenpeace activist by the throat

Attack: Mark Field said he acted in the belief that a peaceful, female Greenpeace protester might be about to do violence. But – in this image – who is attacking who?

If you had not heard of Mark Field before today, nobody could blame you.

The only reference to him on This Site is from 2014, when he was named as one of many Conservative MPs with a stake in private health companies who was therefore likely to profit by allowing those firms to provide NHS services.

It’s a reasonable bet that you’ll have heard of him now, though – he has become infamous overnight after he grabbed a female Greenpeace activist by the throat and forcibly ejected her from the Mansion House, where she was taking part in a climate change protest at the annual dinner for bankers and politicians where Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond was making a speech.

As I type this, it is emerging that (caretaker) prime minister Theresa May has suspended Mr Field from his job as a Foreign Office minister, due to his apparent behaviour in this incident.

Let’s look at the video footage, courtesy of ITV reporter Paul Brand:

Mr Brand’s subsequent thread is worth reading:

Take note of that – he says she did not appear to present any immediate threat. That is important when considering the subsequent protestations of people like Peter Bottomley.

Not half!

No complaint has (yet) been made to the police. But fellow activist Hannah Martin has tweeted this statement:

Some Tories rushed to defend Mr Field’s behaviour, quoting bizarre reasons. Peter Bottomley was quoted by The Mirror as saying it was justified because “a person could be carrying a collapsible truncheon”. Mr Bottomley added: “He intervened. I congratulate him for that. I would have done the same.”

Have a look at the footage again and ask yourself where she could have been hiding a truncheon. In her (tiny) handbag?

Here’s Mike Hurst, who labels himself as a security professional, standing up for Mr Field – and being thrown a truth bomb by another Twitter user:

How about this comment – and the response from a formerly battered wife:

Mr Field himself has released the following statement: “In the confusion many guests understandably felt threatened and when one protester rushed past me towards the top table I instinctively reacted.

“There was no security present and I was for a split second genuinely worried she might have been armed.

“As a result I grasped the intruder firmly in order to remove her from the room as swiftly as possible.”

“Grasped the intruder firmly”? He slammed her against a pillar.

He added: “I deeply regret this episode and unreservedly apologise to the lady concerned for grabbing her but in the current climate I felt the need to act decisively to close down the threat to the safety of those present.”

The “Tory Racism” Twitter account has slowed the footage and added a commentary – making the important point that not one person out of the 350 at the dinner lifted a single finger to help the peaceful protester who was being manhandled out of the room by a man who had gone for her throat:

This lack of intervention has been roundly condemned:

Tim O’Seery tweeted: “I actually find this quite harrowing. He brutalised this young woman while the rest of the Chinless Wonders just sat there and watched. This was assault and people have a Public Duty to prevent this sort of thing happening, if they can.”

Mr Field’s action is even more questionable when one examines his own – expressed – attitude to climate change. In a tweet just two weeks ago, he stated: “Climate security must be at the heart of foreign policy work at a global level. I am grateful for Germany’s action in shining a spotlight on this issue at the Climate and Security Conference yesterday and look forward to continuing our work together.”

To this, ‘Geri the Gerbil’ appended: “As long as they don’t interrupt my dinner.”

Of course there is a political aspect to this:

A petition has been launched to get Mr Field sacked:

Last word on this (for now) should go to Tom Clark of Another Angry Voice:

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Bankers’ bonus cap could be scrapped after Brexit

Mark Carney speaking at the Bank of England. The governor said it was important to take a tough regulatory stance on the banking sector [Image: Andy Rain/EPA].

Is this the reason certain people in the financial sector are so keen on Brexit?

Bankers caused the crash and subsequent Great Recession, around a decade ago, but Tories tried to blame it on the Labour Party in an attempt to divert attention away from the huge bonuses that were still being paid out.

It wasn’t until 2014 that a cap was introduced on bankers’ bonuses. Now, it seems, that cap could be removed with our departure from the EU, making it possible for bankers to fleece the rest of us, all over again.

Why are these people so greedy? Isn’t twice (or even three times) an already-enormous salary enough?

The governor of the Bank of England has raised the prospect that, after Brexit, the EU rule which puts a cap on bankers’ bonuses could be scrapped.

Mark Carney, a long-standing critic of the bonus rules, listed the cap as among the tweaks that could be made to financial regulations when the UK leaves the EU in March 2019.

The bonus cap was introduced in January 2014 and was a reaction to the financial crisis when bankers received multi-million payouts despite huge losses. The cap limits payouts to 100% of salary or 200% with explicit approval from shareholders.

Source: EU rule capping bankers’ bonuses ‘could be scrapped after Brexit’ | Business | The Guardian


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You want to fight government discrimination against the sick? Learn WHY it happens

A DPAC protest against benefit cuts [Image: Artists Against Blacklisting].

A DPAC protest against benefit cuts [Image: Artists Against Blacklisting].

Vast numbers of people are being energised against the Conservative Government’s victimisation of the sick and disabled, thanks to Ken Loach’s film I, Daniel Blake.

They want to express their anger and outrage about what is happening – but most of them don’t even know why.

Do you?

Let me illuminate you: The sick and disabled have been the first targets in a huge con trick to take money away from the poor and give it to the rich.

The idea was simple: Create huge national debts and then make the ordinary – poor – citizens pay for them.

In this way, the rich would be able to justify the privatisation of national assets as necessary measures to combat the debt, to be followed by taxation increases that would, eventually, force the workers into effective slavery, servicing an ever-increasing debt as part of a “zombie economy”.

Who would receive the money? Huge, multinational corporations. Who else?

For a better insight than I can provide, read Austerity: The Demolition of the Welfare State and the Rise of the Zombie Economy by Kerry-Anne Mendoza (yes, the editor-in-chief of The Canary).

The sick and disabled are first in the firing-line for cuts because their income is controlled by the state – the greater the disability, the more a person relies on publicly-funded support.

Of course, it just happens to be true, also, that these people are the most likely to die as a result of the removal of that support – especially when it is justified with nonsense (which is what the current work capability assessment undoubtedly is – look up This Blog’s vast library of articles on the subject for further enlightenment).

The refusal of benefit in an unreasonable way sends many of these already-frail people into a spiral of depression that either worsens their physical condition beyond repair, or drives them to suicide.

And that leaves one less sick person to feed, who cannot work to pay the corporate slave-owners part of the interest on the debt created by the corporates.

Look at the banking crisis of 2008. The people of the UK didn’t cause it. The government of the UK didn’t cause it (and the failure of government regulation isn’t to be blamed – individuals have responsibility for their own actions, you know).

Bankers and financiers caused the crisis – and have never paid a penny of the debts they incurred.

Why aren’t people telling the government they elected to stop bullying and killing the defenceless and start addressing the real cause of the problem?

Are we all afraid?

There are more than 60 million of us in the UK alone. If we all acted at once, we would soon see a few changes!

But we all know that won’t happen, don’t we? Because that’s what we’re all told.

So, I’ll tell you what.

Why don’t you have a look around your own area, and see what’s going on near you. Is anyone from DPAC living nearby? How about Black Triangle? Or any of the other organisations dedicated to helping the sick and disabled?

If you really are angry – and not just enjoying a bit of cathartic emotion after watching a good film – then get involved.

And tell others to do the same.

If you can be bothered to do something, eventually anything will be possible.

That’s simple mathematics.

The resistance begins at the raw front lines of those impacted first and impacted the hardest. The UK grassroots direct action group Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), run by disabled people, has grown out of that immediate need to hit back against crushing austerity. Their story is a microcosm of the neoliberal story, including its construction, its destructive effects and how to fight back.

In 2010, UK chancellor George Osborne announced cuts of 20 per cent to disabled people, despite the fact that the government’s own figures stated only 0.5 per cent of claimants to be potentially fraudulent.

Disabled people have been forced to pay nine times more than the average citizen to reduce the budget deficit and people with high or complex support needs have been forced to pay 19 times more. From the failed Bedroom Tax, cuts to Employment and Support Allowance and the closing of the Independent Living Fund, it has been relentless. The UK has become the first country in the world to use the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities to be investigated for ‘grave and systemic violations’ of disabled peoples’ rights and it is telling that the Tory government has since refused to make public the findings.

Andy Greene, member of the national steering committee for DPAC, tells me, ‘What you have is the people who are engaged most with the state, disabled people because of the nature of impairment, being the first in the firing line when these public services and the welfare state start to be dismantled in the name of austerity… and the fall out is that peoples’ lives shrink or people die.’

Source: Disabled people lead the fight against austerity — New Internationalist

A quick thought about the Conservative ‘tax lock’ silliness

Anyone who thinks David Cameron’s promise of a five-year ‘tax lock’ is a good idea must need psychiatric help.

Cameron promised to introduce a law banning income tax, VAT or national insurance increases in the next parliament if the Conservative Party is elected back into office, clearly in the belief that anybody on average wages or less is too stupid to know what this means.

We know better, don’t we?

We know that taxes are set according to each income group’s ability to pay. This means that people in the lowest taxable bracket pay the lowest amount, as they need most of the money they earn in order to pay their way. The amount of tax then increases by increments up to the highest earners – who take home considerably more than they need to survive, and who can therefore afford to contribute a much larger amount with no impact on their quality of life.

We also know that a five-year ‘tax lock’ will not affect the lowest-earning people at all. Nobody earning up to £10,600 pays any tax at the moment, so a freeze on nothing is still nothing.

What will it do to the people in the highest tax bracket? Well, it depends what they earn and how fast their pay increases, doesn’t it? Let’s have a look at the handy guide to average UK pay rises, created by fellow blogger Tom Pride last November:

141112average-uk-pay-risesTomPride

So the director of a FTSE 100 company, paid the average amount of a mere £2.4 million, would have contributed 45 per cent in tax, or £1.08 million in the 2014-15 tax year. Over a five-year period, if that person’s income continued to rise at 14 per cent, then by 2020 – at a 45 per cent tax rate – they would pay a total of £8,138,360 in tax over the years until 2020. That’s certainly a respectable figure.

But Labour has proposed an increase in the top rate of tax, back to 50 per cent. Under the same conditions, this would mean FTSE 100 directors earning £2.4 million in the tax year 2014-15 would pay £9,042,623.

That’s a difference of £904,263; nearly a million pounds each.

This writer doesn’t have current figures for banker salaries and cannot, therefore, work out how much tax they would pay – but you can see for yourself that the difference between the two scenarios is likely to come to several million pounds per top banker.

Those people don’t need that amount of money in order to survive. The cost of living in the UK is less than 1/50 of what the FTSE directors take home, let alone the bankers. But David Cameron wants them to keep that money.

Meanwhile the UK Treasury goes without millions of pounds that could be used to help balance the national deficit, pay off the national debt, and boost the economy.

We’re back to ‘Starve the Beast’ economics again. The nation’s finances can go to Hell, as far as Cameron is concerned. He wants to starve the Treasury with tax cuts for the rich – either actual cuts or de facto cuts like his ‘tax lock’ – and then claim that public services cost too much and will have to be scrapped or sold off to rich corporations in return for donations to the Conservative Party – as we have seen in the years of the Coalition Government (most obviously in the case of the NHS).

Unless you are a banker, an FTSE100 director, or a member of Parliament, you would be mad to support such a wasteful and selfish plan.

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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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Keep talking, Iain – your idiot ideas will run your party right out of office

Honest appraisal: The national opinion of Iain Duncan Smith is reflected in this comment, delivered direct to the Work and Pensions Secretary by 'pigeon post'.

Honest appraisal: The national opinion of Iain Duncan Smith is reflected in this comment, delivered direct to the Work and Pensions Secretary by ‘pigeon post’.

Iain Duncan Smith typifies the classical definition of an idiot – and his latest speech will prove it by ignoring Britain’s real problems in favour of self-centred, ideologically-motivated foolishness.

The Greeks used to believe idiots were ignorant people, incapable of ordinary reasoning, whose judgement in public and political matters was poor – but who refused to change their minds.

If you don’t think that’s Iain Duncan Smith, take a look at parts of his speech, as quoted in today’s (Monday) Daily Torygraph.

First off, take a look at the headline: “Cutting benefits is vital for economy, says Iain Duncan Smith”. Why? That money goes out to people on extremely low incomes who cannot save it and must use it immediately, to service their needs. They spend it straight away, boosting the economy as it then passes through the system. Taking it away from people will only stall the system so Duncan Smith is wrong from the start.

This is why we call him RTU, or Returned To Unit, on this blog. It’s a phrase referring to his Army career in which he did not achieve promotion to Captain despite training at Sandhurst. This kind of failure, in the Army, leads to a soldier being RTU’d as a failure.

Look at his main claim – that immigrants have taken British jobs, not ahead of British people, but because British people refused to take them, preferring a life on benefits. The man is delusional.

Does he not understand the hell into which he has turned the benefit system? Getting any money out of the Department for Work and Pensions at all is a minor miracle in the age of RTU! The disabled are forced to wait months at a time, without any means of support, while hired hands from private profiteer companies mull over whether the DWP should bother to help, while people who are actively seeking work are sanctioned by Job Centre Plus for attending job interviews rather than signing on.

Those who do get work are either encouraged into self-employment at extremely low pay and no holidays or pensions, zero-hours contracts at extremely low pay with no holidays or pensions, or part-time work with extremely low pay and no holidays or pensions. The figures make it seem that full-time work is increasing but these are reversed when self-employment is removed.

He is trying to say unemployment surged upwards after 2008 because people were refusing work, in line with the Conservative Party’s current attempt to re-write history. In fact it increased because of a recession engineered by greedy bankers that cost many thousands of jobs and had nothing to do with migrant workers or the preferences of the people affected.

In fact, the way to get British people back to work is the exact opposite of what RTU has been doing, and the exact opposite of what he is proposing.

The Conservatives have been pushing wages down, and squeezing benefits with below-inflation rate rises in order to make it possible for them to say they are “making work pay”. Anyone can see through this lie – just because work pays slightly more than benefits, that doesn’t mean it pays enough.

Look at the way the number of people claiming in-work benefits at the moment has shot through the roof, because employers refuse to pay even subsistence wages any more. That is a complete answer to the nonsense in RTU’s speech.

But he wants to make matters worse by lowering the Benefit Cap further – from the already-below-what’s-needed £26,000 per family to £18,000 – the average amount of take-home pay, according to new figures his party has plucked from its posterior.

It is an idiotic move; taking money out of the economy will stall it.

If he were to encourage firms to pay the Living Wage, ensuring that workers do not have to claim benefits at all, he would find that all the issues he mentions would disappear.

Sure, some people would want to remain on benefits – there is an acknowledged 0.7 per cent rate of fraud and error, after all (yes, just 0.7 per cent, and RTU spends billions trying to say it is worse) – but most are desperate to be self-sustaining and would take work that allowed them to achieve that aim.

These people would still be low-earners, meaning the money would still be spent into the economy straight away on necessities, and to pay off debts accrued under RTU’s disastrous regime – and this means it would provide much-needed lubrication for the economy.

They would also be paying Income Tax, rather than claiming benefits, meaning funds would pour into the Treasury rather than out of it.

All the talk of economic recovery indicates that employers are in a much better position to provide the Living Wage, now, than they were over the last few years, so why isn’t Iain Duncan Smith suggesting so in his speech today?

Simple.

He’s an idiot.

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Critics of Miliband’s speech have forgotten the magic words: ‘Check against delivery’

An idiot: Matthew Hancock thinks Ed Miliband should be censured for something he never said [Image: BBC].

An idiot: Matthew Hancock thinks Ed Miliband should be censured for something he never said [Image: BBC].

It really is staggering that the UK Statistics Authority has criticised Ed Miliband for a claim made in a draft of a speech that went out to reporters but was not, in fact, used.

Speeches – especially those made by politicians – are checked by several people, not just the author or the person delivering it (these are not necessarily the same person), and even then, the speaker can decide to omit parts or include new information in the moment.

That’s why the words “Check against delivery” appear at the top of every speech issued by political parties to the press. They protect the organisation and its speaker from exactly the sort of criticism currently directed at Mr Miliband by Andrew Dilnot of the UKSA (who should know better) and business minister Matthew Hancock (who made the complaint and therefore, clearly, does not).

Miliband took his information – a claim that four-fifths of all new private-sector jobs created since 2010 are in London – from the Centre for Cities thinktank. Both have stated that they believe the claim to be accurate.

That doesn’t have any bearing on the argument, in fact. The version of the speech received by the press makes it perfectly clear that the statistic is independently-sourced, not an official figure from the Office for National Statistics.

So not only did Mr Miliband not mention it, but there is no official figure against which to compare it. Mr Hancock, Mr Dilnot and the whiners in the news media are attacking him for something he hasn’t done – and that is the only unsurprising aspect of this story.

After all, it isn’t the first time Tories have made false accusations about the Labour Party.

They’re still trying to make us believe the financial crisis was caused by Labour, rather than bankers.

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Bankers who torpedoed the economy are set to get away with it after all

Not even this many: This Economist cartoon paints a false picture of the situation. The magazine has stated: "In Britain, which had to bail out three of its biggest banks, not one senior banker has gone on trial over the failure of a bank."

Not even this many: This Economist cartoon paints a false picture of the situation. The magazine has stated: “In Britain, which had to bail out three of its biggest banks, not one senior banker has gone on trial over the failure of a bank.”

Here’s a word that should be in all our dictionaries but probably isn’t: ‘MAXWELLISATION’.

It refers to a procedure in British governance where individuals who are due to be criticised in an official report are sent details in advance and permitted to respond before publication. The process takes its name from the late newspaper owner Robert Maxwell, who fell off a yacht after stealing the Mirror Group’s pension fund.

Maxwellisation is how the irresponsible bankers who caused the economic recession, out of which some of us have just climbed according to the latest figures, are likely to get away Scot (and the word is used most definitely in reference to the land north of England) free.

Current folk wisdom has it that most of us are still unhappy about the banking crisis. We want to see heads roll.

This is a serious headache for the Coalition government, according to Private Eye (issue 1371, p33: ‘Call to inaction’) – because almost nobody involved in that fiasco is likely to suffer the slightest inconvenience.

They really are going to get away with it because the government of the day really is going to let them.

It seems that Andrew Green QC has been hired to find out whether action could and should be taken against those who bankrupted HBOS, beyond corporate lending chief Peter Cummings, who has already been banned for life from the industry and was fined half a million pounds in 2012.

That might seem a lot of money but the HBOS crash, along with that of the Royal Bank of Scotland, cost the taxpayer £60 billion (along with who-knows-how-much in interest payments).

Mr Green has also been asked why HBOS chief executives James Crosby and Andy Hornby were untouched, along with chairman Lord Stevenson.

For the facts, he need look no further than what happened with RBS, the Eye reckons.

In 2010, the Financial Services Authority – discredited forerunner to the FCA – allowed (allowed!) RBS’s top investment banker Johnny Cameron to ban himself from another senior banking job. The following year it pronounced chief executive Fred ‘The Shred’ Goodwin and chairman Sir Tom McKillop effectively blameless. Mr ‘The Shred’ was stripped of his knighthood, however.

This whitewash appears to have been an embarrassment for business secretary Vince Cable, who announced in December 2011 that he wanted to prosecute, disqualify as directors or ban from the financial sector those responsible at RBS and passed his request for disqualification up to the Scottish law officers in early 2012.

He is still awaiting an answer, it seems.

Back to HBOS, where Cable has made “similar disqualification noises”, according to the Eye, after a “highly critical” report from the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards last year.

Unfortunately for him, not only is HBOS also based in Scotland, so any proceedings may have to follow a similar path to those involving RBS, but also the FCA’s report into the bank’s failure is currently “unfinished”.

This is because it is being “Maxwellised” – according to the Eye, “whereby lawyers for those in the frame (if allowed) remove anything critical of their clients”.

The report continues; “With RBS, ‘Maxwellisation’ took several months and resulted in the whitewash that made any future action against those found not guilty difficult, if not impossible.

But the public wants heads to roll! Will anybody get what’s coming to them?

According to the Eye, the answer is a qualified “yes”.

Only one boss of HBOS still has links with any organisation regulated by the FCA – James Crosby is a director of the Moneybarn sub-prime car finance group and its parent, the Duncton Group. The FCA took over regulation of the consumer loan industry in April and has until December 2015 to provide full approval to the Moneybarn operation. The Eye states: “By then chairman Crosby would have to pass its ‘fit and proper’ test. He is completely unauthorised. So, a low-hanging scalp.”

Beyond that, expect “a wringing and washing of Coalition political hands, blaming legal loopholes, failures of others and it-was-all-a-long-time-ago”.

It is possible that other directors could be offered the Johnny Cameron deal – agree not to be a director for a few years “and this will all go away quickly and cheaply with no public hearings”.

Cable – along with George Osborne, David Cameron and any other Coalition MP who claimed that they were making laws to ensure the bankers responsible would face prison sentences – will simply walk away from the whole affair and hope that you forget about it.

Are you going to let that happen?

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If this is a recovery, why is the patient still on the critical list?

Time ticks on: We are told the recovery is well under way but have yet to enjoy any of its benefits. Why?

Time ticks on: We are told the recovery is well under way but have yet to enjoy any of its benefits. Why?

Official figures say the British economy has grown by 0.8 per cent in the last three months.

The Conservatives are rejoicing over this feeble effort, while saying there’s more to be done; an amazing attempt to travel in two directions at once, that should fool nobody.

It seems the recovery is becoming more balanced, with services, manufacturing and construction all registering expansion.

And it is predicted that the economy will recover to the same level as its pre-recession peak by the middle of this year.

But who, exactly, is this recovery helping?

I’m actually worse-off than this time last year. How is it for you?

My income has not increased appreciably since 2007. Meanwhile the rent has gone up and the costs of energy and groceries have skyrocketed.

The Labour Party has calculated that average earners will be more than £2,000 a year worse-off than they were in 2010, by the time of the general election next year.

What conclusions may we draw from this?

Well, we know that the recession did not harm the richest in society at all. Their profits increased massively, even while the economy was flatlining, because that’s what happens in times of hardship; the poorer, more precarious firms go out of business while the larger ‘fat cats’ mop up the trade those competitors would have had.

If the economy is recovering to its pre-crash level, and average people are worse-off by around eight per cent of their pre-crash earnings (if you say the average wage was around £25K per year), then somebody must have benefited – and the most likely candidates are the same rich businesspeople who were never touched by the recession or austerity in the first place. Also the bankers who caused the mess in the first place.

So we have a situation in which the average earner – who, don’t forget, makes the entire economy work (we spend a higher proportion of our earnings than anyone else – by necessity, and this pushes money through the system and creates economic growth; the very rich hoard their massive wealth, usually in offshore banks) facing increasingly hard times, while the richest enjoy all the benefits.

…and the gap between the earnings of the richest and poorest increases massively…

… all engineered by a government of millionaires who have financial interests in big business and whose political party is backed mainly by bankers.

This has all the hallmarks of a conspiracy.

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The Tories have run out of momentum, ideas and even arguments

Old Labour: Oversaw the longest periods of economic growth in British history and DIDN'T cause the biggest crash (that was neoliberalism, beloved of Conservatives). There is nothing wrong with it.

Old Labour: Oversaw the longest periods of economic growth in British history and DIDN’T cause the biggest crash (that was neoliberalism, beloved of Conservatives). There is nothing wrong with it.

Dear old Fraser Nelson has been trying to generate some momentum against Ed Miliband’s plans for a Labour government.

But, bless ‘im, not only did he hit the nail on the head when he wrote (in The Spectator), “Tories seem to have lost interest in ideas”, he might just as well have been talking about the Tory press because – other than the parts in which he praises Miliband for his political acumen and perception, Fraser has nothing new to say at all.

“Why, if he is such a joke, has Labour led in the opinion polls for three years solidly? And why has he been the bookmakers’ favourite to win the next general election for even longer?” These are the questions Fraser asks, and then goes on to answer in the most glowing terms possible.

“His agenda is clear, radical, populist and … popular. His speeches are intellectually coherent, and clearly address the new problems of inequality,” writes Fraser.

“His analysis is potent because he correctly identifies the problem. There is [a] major problem with the recovery, he says, in that the spoils are going to the richest, and it’s time to act… George Osborne does not talk about this. He prefers to avoid the wider issue of inequality. This leaves one of the most interesting debates of our times entirely open to Miliband.”

All of the above is a gift to the Labour leadership. Fraser has scored a huge own-goal by admitting the Labour leader – far from being “a joke”, has correctly identified the problem and can say what he likes because the Tories won’t even discuss it!

Worse still (for Fraser), he seems to think that telling us Ed Miliband is mining Labour’s past policies to get future success will put us off.

Hasn’t anybody told Fraser – yet – that it is current neoliberal policies, as practised by both Labour and the Tories, that caused the crash of 2007 onwards? With that as our context, why not go back and resurrect policies that offer a plausible alternative?

As a Conservative, Fraser should appreciate the irony that it is Labour who are now looking at the past to create the future.

“The philosophical underpinning is rehabilitated: that the free enterprise system does not work, and should be put under greater government control,” writes Fraser. “That companies, bankers and markets have buggered up Britain — and it’s time for people, through Big Government, to fight back.” Who could argue with that?

Then Fraser goes into some of those policies, like the plan to revive the 50 per cent tax rate. “But Miliband isn’t taxing for revenue. He’s taxing for the applause of the electorate and he calculates that the more he beats up on bankers and the rich, the louder the masses will cheer.” The answer to that is yes! What’s wrong with that? The Coalition came into office on a ticket that said bankers would pay for the damage they caused, and yet bankers have been among the principal beneficiaries of the ongoing raid on the public finances that the Coalition calls its “long-term economic plan”. In the face of dishonesty on that scale, Fraser should be more surprised that the North hasn’t invaded the Square Mile and strung anybody in a suit up on a lamppost – yet.

Next up, Fraser tries to attack Miliband’s proposed revival of a Kinnock plan for a state-run ‘British Investment Bank’ and two new high street bank chains. To this writer, the prospect of two new, state-run and regulated, banks is a brilliant idea! No more rip-off charges for services that should be free! Investment in growth, rather than short-term profit! And all run the way banks should be run – prudently and with the interests of the customer – rather than the shareholder – at heart. How can Fraser (bless ‘im) argue with that?

Argue he does. He writes: “As Simon Walker, head of the Institute of Directors, put it: ‘The last time the government told a bank what to do, Lloyds was ordered to sell branches to the Co-op’s Reverend Flowers. And we all know how that ended.’ Wrong. European regulators ordered the government (then principle shareholder in Lloyds) to sell the branches, and it happened on the Coalition government’s watch. In fact, George Osborne welcomed the deal. That’s an argument against Conservative mismanagement.

Fraser goes on to claim that Miliband doesn’t care how his bank project will work out – he just wants it done. He’s on an ideological crusade. Again, this provokes comparisons with the Tories that are (for the Tories) extremely uncomfortable. The Tories (and their little yellow Tory Democrat friends) have spent the last four years on an ideological crusade that has robbed the poorest people in the UK of almost everything they have, and are now starting to attack people who are better off (but still not posh enough) – they can hardly criticise Labour for having an ideology of its own.

The line about green policies which cost nine jobs for every four created – in Spain – is risible. Fraser has chosen a country where green policies have not worked well. How are they managing in Scandinavia?

Fraser says Labour’s energy price freeze “magically” makes good a 1983 pledge for everyone to afford adequate heat and light at home – without commenting on the fact that energy companies have been ripping us all off for many years and failing to invest in the future of power generation; they are an example of the worst kind of industrial privatisation.

Fraser says Labour has revived a 1983 demand for “a supply of appropriately qualified teachers” as though that is a bad idea (it isn’t. Bringing in unqualified people to act as teachers in Michael Gove’s silly ‘free schools’ sandpit was the bad idea). Note he says Labour wants “union-approved” qualified teachers – depending on mention of the unions to get a knee-jerk reaction from his readers, no doubt.

Fraser says Miliband attacks “predator” companies – moneylenders who offer short-term loans; people who make fixed-odds betting machines; landowners who stand accused of hoarding and thwarting housebuilding. “When Miliband talks about the future, he says very little about what he’d do with government. He talks about what he’d do to British business. All this amounts to a blitz of regulation, edicts and interference,” he writes.

This is to suggest that “regulation” is a dirty word – a synonym for “interference”. Let’s help Fraser out by suggesting a word he can use instead of “regulation” or “interference”.

That word is “help” – and it exemplifies what regulation is, in fact, about – helping companies to provide the best service possible, with the least possible corruption or profiteering, to ensure that customers get what they want and are happy to come back – boosting prosperity for everybody.

Substitute that word for the others and Fraser’s remaining rhetoric looks very different:

“All this amounts to a blitz of help” evokes the response, about time too!

“[Tristram] Hunt does not pretend that help at this level is being attempted in any free country” begs the question, why not?

While Fraser may have set out to write an assassination piece on Ed Miliband’s Labour, there can be no doubt that he ended up doing the exact opposite. It wasn’t his intention – look at his final few lines: “Miliband is bold enough to think that, in a country midway through the worst recovery in history, there may be a market for all this now. And most terrifyingly of all, he might be right.”

This botched attempt at scaremongering only exposes right-wing ideology for what it is: Out-argued, outclassed and badly out-of-step with the thoughts of the British people.

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