Tag Archives: development

Did Boris Johnson axe international development department so he could misuse its cash?

Boris Johnson can’t be trusted with cash: he seems to give it to his friends whenever he can – and the fear is that he’ll do it with the budget of the soon-to-be-scrapped Department for International Development.

Boris Johnson is being urged to forget his plan to scrap the Department for International Development on the grounds that money would go to the wrong nations.

The DfID is being merged with the Foreign Office but whereas the DfID has spent a majority of its budget in the poorest countries and has a reputation for transparency, the same cannot be said for the FO – especially under Boris Johnson.

When he was Foreign Secretary (between 2016-2018), it was in the middle of spending £84 million on China – which can hardly be said to require aid.

Indeed, 39 per cent of FO cash has gone to higher- and middle-income nations, with just 22 per cent going to the poorest countries.

The facts of the matter have only just been revealed, so it seems the FO can get away with hiding its spending – handy if you want to hand public cash to your mates.

So the question is:

Is Johnson scrapping the DfID so he can appropriate its money and give it to his dodgy contacts in foreign countries, in the same way he has handed billions of pounds of Covid-related cash to firms run by his cronies, who have provided nothing in response?

And, if that is even the suspicion:

Shouldn’t the plan to scrap the DfID be itself scrapped – to avoid trust in the government collapsing even more than it already has?

Source: Boris Johnson ‘can’t be trusted’ on foreign aid as millions sent to China revealed – Mirror Online

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/


Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Here are four ways to be sure you’re among the first to know what’s going on.

1) Register with us by clicking on ‘Subscribe’ (in the left margin). You can then receive notifications of every new article that is posted here.

2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical

3) Like the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VoxPolitical/

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

4) You could even make Vox Political your homepage at http://voxpoliticalonline.com

And do share with your family and friends – so they don’t miss out!

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.


The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Robert Jenrick must think we are as stupid as he is

Robert Jenrick: his attempt at misdirection has been hopelessly inept. What a shame he doesn’t even have the wit to realise he has been caught out.

The latest chapter in the Westferry development corruption saga demonstrates clearly the lack of talent on the Tory benches.

Z-list human being (let alone politician) Robert Jenrick is now saying his decision to grant permission for Richard Desmond’s development adhered to “natural justice”, as it allowed the developer to avoid paying a levy that he thought should not apply.

There’s just one problem with that:

Both the local authority and the Independent Planning Inspectorate had already said the development should be refused – because it did not meet acceptable planning standards.

It didn’t matter at the time that Desmond wanted to avoid the £45 million levy – although he should certainly have been made to pay it if the application had not been rush-approved by Jenrick to beat its imposition.

The point is that Jenrick’s decision to approve it was corrupt because it did not meet the appropriate criteria.

That’s why he should be removed from office.

After last December’s election it should be possible to replace him with any number of similarly talentless backbench drones.

Source: Robert Jenrick admits deliberately helping Tory donor avoid £45m tax bill by rushing through housing development | The Independent

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/


Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Here are four ways to be sure you’re among the first to know what’s going on.

1) Register with us by clicking on ‘Subscribe’ (in the left margin). You can then receive notifications of every new article that is posted here.

2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical

3) Like the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VoxPolitical/

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

4) You could even make Vox Political your homepage at http://voxpoliticalonline.com

And do share with your family and friends – so they don’t miss out!

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.


The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Is Robert Jenrick safe from the sack because Boris Johnson is implicated in Westferry corruption scandal?

Jenrick and Johnson: both have personal connections with property developer Richard Desmond, so why have they been interfering in the determination of his planning applications?

Here’s an interesting kink on the Westferry planning scandal:

Let’s assume there’s something in what John Stevens – and Henry Mance – are saying and that Richard Desmond, the man behind the Westferry development plan, had a considerable amount of contact with Boris Johnson. That would create cause for concern, and we would certainly be justified in wanting to know the nature of any communications.

Now consider this:

A key player in the controversial Westferry Printworks development can be revealed as an investment firm owned by a super-rich Tory donor and crony of Boris Johnson.

The “development manager” is a company which has donated £200,000 to the Tories.

[The planning application] was made by a company owned by Mr Desmond but the developer was London and Regional Properties, a firm behind £9billion of building projects owned by [Ian] Livingstone and brother Richard. It is unclear if LRP is still involved, but Westferry Printworks is listed as a development on its website.

The company donated nearly £202,000 to the Tories between 2005 and 2012.

It is run by [Mr] Livingstone, who the Prime Minister appointed to the board of his Mayor’s Fund for London.

Mr Johnson approved the original plans for the East London site during his final days as Mayor of the capital.

So now this “cash for favours” row has a strong connection with Boris Johnson and Downing Street.

Also suspicious is the Tories’ apparent desperation to distance themselves from any interest in Mr Desmond and his firm – for example, by banning the BBC from using photographs of Mr Desmond and Robert Jenrick together at a Conservative Party fundraising event:

The Conservatives have banned the BBC from publishing pictures of Robert Jenrick and Richard Desmond at a party fundraising dinner.

The pictures are owned by Conservative Party, with the BBC saying it was prevented from publishing them. A spokeswoman for the corporation told Yahoo News UK on Thursday: “We didn’t use them for legal reasons.”

The same article states that Johnson is standing by his minister:

Downing Street said on Thursday that the prime minister still has “full confidence” in Jenrick, adding Johnson had spoken to the embattled minister in recent days and “considers the matter closed”.

Isn’t that what a prime minister would say if he was unable to fire his underling – for example, because the flunky was only doing what the PM had told him to do?

I ask merely rhetorically.

Meanwhile, it seems Jenrick is now embroiled in another “cash for favours” row:

Labour has called on… Robert Jenrick, to explain a ministerial meeting with a “family friend” who had a financial interest in the future of a rival mining project that Jenrick was overseeing.

The Guardian revealed this week that Jenrick met the Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer while the then exchequer secretary to the Treasury was considering a request for financial support from Sirius Minerals for a mining project that would have rivalled Ofer’s own firm Cleveland Potash.

A spokesperson for Jenrick said on Friday that Ofer was a “family friend” and that the minister had notified officials, who advised him to step back from the decision on Sirius.

But the spokesperson did not say when Jenrick recused himself and the Guardian understands he retained oversight of Sirius’s request for support for at least six months after the meeting.

Put this together with the amount of money that property giants give to the Conservatives…

The Tories have received more than £11m from property developers since Boris Johnson became prime minister, an investigation has found.

Concerns have been raised about the apparent increased influence property developers have over the Conservative government. Their contributions make up nearly a quarter of the £47.5m in donations received by the party from last July to March, up from 7.9 per cent of the total two years ago.

The latest analysis by the OpenDemocracy website found that the Conservatives’ top 10 property donors have given more than £5.7m to the party since Mr Johnson took the helm in July – up from around £1.5million for the equivalent top 10 in the final 12 months of Theresa May’s premiership, a three-fold increase. In total, around 120 individuals and companies from the sector have donated since July last year.

… and there is certainly enough evidence to ask questions.

Of course, there can be no implication of wrongdoing by Conservative donors whose contributions are made only through support for Tory policies; who have no personal connection with Conservative ministers.

But when there is a connection, as with Idan Ofer and Jenrick, and with Richard Desmond and both Jenrick and Johnson, it is not only right to ask questions – an investigation is positively demanded.

The Westferry matter goes a step beyond even this – because wrongdoing is known to have happened, and because the person who is refusing to take action against the minister responsible for the transgression himself has a connection with the developer – and the development itself.

I mean, who can blame us for questioning Jenrick when it seems he won planning permission for an extension to his Westminster home, against planning officers’ recommentations, from councillors who were his fellow Conservatives?

Conservative councillors on Westminster council gave planning permission for an enlargement of Jenrick’s townhouse despite officers recommending the application be refused because it would harm the appearance of the building and the conservation area.

Planning officers were recommending refusal of this third application but Steve Summers a Tory councillor and a neighbour of Jenrick made an official request that a planning committee take the decision and not officers.

In November 2014 the three Conservative members of the planning committee — Richard Beddoe, Robert Rigby and Paul Church — voted to overturn the officers recommendation and approve the scheme. Ruth Bush, the single Labour member of the committee voted against the application.

In March 2018 Robert Davis who was chair of planning at Westminster council for 17 years resigned after the Guardian revealed he had received hospitality and gifts hundreds of times including from property developers.

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/


Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Here are four ways to be sure you’re among the first to know what’s going on.

1) Register with us by clicking on ‘Subscribe’ (in the left margin). You can then receive notifications of every new article that is posted here.

2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical

3) Like the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VoxPolitical/

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

4) You could even make Vox Political your homepage at http://voxpoliticalonline.com

And do share with your family and friends – so they don’t miss out!

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.


The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Westferry development scandal grows as Jenrick admits he knew he was saving tycoon millions

Robert Jenrick: while he was presenting press conferences about Covid-19, he has also been mired in an apparent corruption scandal.

Calls for Robert Jenrick to be removed from his role as a housing minister are escalated after he admitted he knew he was saving tycoon Richard Desmond between £30m and £50m by approving plans for a £1 billion development at Westferry, London – in defiance of planning rules.

Desmond subsequently gave the Conservative Party a £12,000 donation, raising questions about this being a “cash-for-favours” scandal.

According to the Mail:

He insisted ‘all the rules were followed’ over the 1,500-home development in east London.

But he told MPs he knew that the timing of his decision would save the businessman a fortune.

Steve Reed, Labour’s housing spokesman, urged Mr Jenrick to make a full Commons statement, publish all correspondence and ‘disclose all conversations with all Government ministers and officials’.

In response, the Cabinet minister said information relating to the decision has now been passed to Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill.

So he knew he was breaking planning regulations – in fact Jenrick had to quash the planning permission he had granted, as a result of the scandal, and he knew that doing this would benefit the developer, who subsequently rewarded the Tories with a donation. And he isn’t publishing anything.

He still says he’s innocent of wrongdoing, but Jenrick must know how suspicious his behaviour looks.

Indeed, anti-corruption expert Elizabeth David-Barrett, a professor of governance and integrity who is also the director of the Centre for the Study of Corruption at the University of Sussex, has already said he should have resigned:

“In most previous governments, Robert Jenrick would have resigned well before now.

“The questionable conduct that is tolerated and defended in this current government is creating a dangerous new world in which standards in public life are seen as a concept from the past, and personal patronage and loyalty are now prized higher than combatting corruption.

“Although Robert Jenrick eventually reversed the decision on the Westferry scheme, under threat of legal action, this should not be the end of the matter.

“If there is no subsequent investigation into alleged misconduct, then the message that sends is that ministers can do whatever they like and just reverse the decision if their actions are questioned. The system needs to be preventive and act as a deterrent.”

Fat chance of that, under Boris Johnson!

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/


Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Here are four ways to be sure you’re among the first to know what’s going on.

1) Register with us by clicking on ‘Subscribe’ (in the left margin). You can then receive notifications of every new article that is posted here.

2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical

3) Like the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VoxPolitical/

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

4) You could even make Vox Political your homepage at http://voxpoliticalonline.com

And do share with your family and friends – so they don’t miss out!

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.


The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Housing minister Jenrick faces ‘resign’ demands after approving donor’s £1bn scheme

Robert Jenrick: while he was presenting press conferences about Covid-19, he was also mired in an apparent corruption scandal.

The news seems to be full of stories alleging corruption by Tory minister. Does the Covid crisis mean they have nothing better to do?

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick is facing calls to resign after he admitted “unlawfully” signing off a 1,500-home development that saved a Tory Party donor millions of pounds.

The £1bn project on the former Westferry Printworks site on London’s Isle of Dogs was approved in January by Jenrick – a last-minute reprieve after the council and then the independent Planning Inspectorate both deciding it should be refused. They had said it lacked enough affordable housing and conflicted with local conservation policy.

But the housing secretary’s decision came just a day before Tower Hamlets Council approved a new rate for its Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) – a move that would have increased the property owner’s financial liability to the local authority by between £30m and £50m.

That money would have been spent mitigating the impact of the development on the local area, and improving local services. Instead, thanks to Jenrick’s timing, it stayed in the pocket of the developer.

So this was a development proposal that did not meet planning conditions.

It did not provide enough affordable housing.

It conflicted with conservation policy.

It should not have been approved.

But Jenrick stepped in to do just that – and on the day before a new rule was imposed that would have compelled the developer to pay between £30-50 million that would have minimised any harmful impact on the Isle of Dogs.

The money would also have improved local services. All lost, due to this Tory minister’s intervention.

We need to ask who benefits from this decision?

The local authority? No.

People who need affordable housing? No.

The public? Certainly not!

The environment? Don’t make me laugh!

But the developer did.

The land is owned by publisher and former Tory donor Richard Desmond.

The local council – Tower Hamlets – began legal action in March, alleging that the timing of the decision appeared to show bias. It asked the High Court to order the government to disclose documents that, it argued, would show Jenrick was influenced by a desire to help Desmond save money by avoiding the charges.

Faced with the prospect of having to publicly release documents relating to the case, Jenrick accepted his decision letter was “unlawful by reason of apparent bias” and confirmed it was deliberately issued before the new CIL policy could be adopted. He agreed planning permission should be quashed and decided by a different minister.

So the minister admitted interfering in the planning process to grant planning permission to a development that should not have been allowed, and to save a developer connected with a Tory donor from paying extra costs.

This is not the standard of service the public should expect from a government minister.

Should he step down? Should he face disciplinary or legal proceedings for corruption?

Source: Robert Jenrick Faces Calls To Resign After ‘Unlawfully’ Approving Tory Donor’s £1bn Housing Project

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/


Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Here are four ways to be sure you’re among the first to know what’s going on.

1) Register with us by clicking on ‘Subscribe’ (in the left margin). You can then receive notifications of every new article that is posted here.

2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical

3) Like the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VoxPolitical/

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

4) You could even make Vox Political your homepage at http://voxpoliticalonline.com

And do share with your family and friends – so they don’t miss out!

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.


The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Jeremy Corbyn’s social justice speech to the UN in Geneva

Jeremy Corbyn delivering his speech to the United Nations in Geneva.

Jeremy Corbyn had better things to do with his time than listen to Theresa May and her Tories trying to justify their latest Brexit-related mess.

He was in Geneva, delivering a landmark speech about why the survival of our common humanity demands a new approach, based on solidarity, international co-operation and human rights.

Would you like to know what he said?

See for yourself. Here’s the speech in full:

Let me give a special thanks to the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development.

Your work gives an important platform to marginalised voices for social justice to challenge policy makers and campaign for change.

I welcome pressure both on my party the British Labour Party and on my leadership to put social justice front and centre stage in everything we do.

So thank you for inviting me to speak here in this historic setting at the Palais des Nations in Geneva a city that has been a place of refuge and philosophy since the time of Rousseau.

The headquarters before the Second World War of the ill-fated League of Nations, which now houses the United Nations.

It’s a particular privilege to be speaking here because the constitution of our party includes a commitment to support the United Nations. A promise “to secure peace, freedom, democracy, economic security and environmental protection for all”.

I’d also like to thank my fellow panellists, Arancha Gonzalez and Nikhil Seth, and Labour’s Shadow Attorney General, Shami Chakrabarti, who has accompanied me here.

She has been a remarkable campaigner and a great asset to the international movement for human rights.

And lastly let me thank you all for being here today.

I would like to use this opportunity in the run- up to International Human Rights Day to focus on the greatest threats to our common humanity.

And why states need to throw their weight behind genuine international cooperation and human rights both individual and collective, social and economic, as well as legal and constitutional at home and abroad if we are to meet and overcome those threats.

My own country is at a crossroads. The decision by the British people to leave the European Union in last year’s referendum means we have to rethink our role in the world.

Some want to use Brexit to turn Britain in on itself, rejecting the outside world, viewing everyone as a feared competitor.

Others want to use Brexit to put rocket boosters under our current economic system’s insecurities and inequalities, turning Britain into a deregulated corporate tax haven, with low wages, limited rights, and cut-price public services in a destructive race to the bottom.

My party stands for a completely different future when we leave the EU, drawing on the best internationalist traditions of the labour movement and our country.

We want to see close and cooperative relationships with our European neighbours, outside the EU, based on solidarity as well as mutual benefit and fair trade, along with a wider proactive internationalism across the globe.

We are proud that Britain was an original signatory to the European Convention of Human Rights and our 1998 Human Rights Act enshrined it in our law.

So Labour will continue to work with other European states and progressive parties and movements, through the Council of Europe to ensure our country and others uphold our international obligations.

Just as the work of the UN Human Rights Council helps to ensure countries like ours live up to our commitments, such as on disability rights, where this year’s report found us to be failing.

International cooperation, solidarity, collective action are the values we are determined to project in our foreign policy.

Those values will inform everything the next Labour government does on the world stage, using diplomacy to expand a progressive, rules-based international system, which provides justice and security for all.

They must be genuinely universal and apply to the strong as much as the weak if they are to command global support and confidence.

They cannot be used to discipline the weak, while the strong do as they please, or they will be discredited as a tool of power, not justice.

That’s why we must ensure that the powerful uphold and respect international rules and international law.

If we don’t, the ideals of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 will remain an aspiration, rather than a reality and international rules will be seen as a pick and mix menu for the global powers that call the international shots.

Most urgently we must work with other countries to advance the cause of human rights, to confront the four greatest and interconnected threats facing our common humanity.

First, the growing concentration of unaccountable wealth and power in the hands of a tiny corporate elite, a system many call neoliberalism, which has sharply increased inequality, marginalisation, insecurity and anger across the world.

Second, climate change, which is creating instability, fuelling conflict across the world and threatening all our futures.

Third, the unprecedented numbers of people fleeing conflict, persecution, human rights abuses, social breakdown and climate disasters.

And finally, the use of unilateral military action and intervention, rather than diplomacy and negotiation, to resolve disputes and change governments.

The dominant global economic system is broken.

It is producing a world where a wealthy few control 90 percent of global resources.

Of growing insecurity and grotesque levels of inequality within and between nations, where more than 100 billion dollars a year are estimated to be lost to developing countries from corporate tax avoidance.

Where $1 trillion dollars a year are sucked out of the Global South through illicit financial flows.

This is a global scandal.

The most powerful international corporations must not be allowed to continue to dictate how and for whom our world is run.

Thirty years after structural adjustment programmes first ravaged so much of the world, and a decade after the financial crash of 2008, the neoliberal orthodoxy that delivered them is breaking down.

This moment, a crisis of confidence in a bankrupt economic system and social order, presents us with a once in a generation opportunity to build a new economic and social consensus which puts the interests of the majority first.

But the crumbling of the global elite’s system and their prerogative to call the shots unchallenged has led some politicians to stoke fear and division. And deride international cooperation as national capitulation.

President Trump’s disgraceful Muslim ban and his anti-Mexican rhetoric have fuelled racist incitement and misogyny and shift the focus away from what his Wall Street-dominated administration is actually doing.

In Britain, where wages have actually fallen for most people over the last decade as the corporations and the richest have been handed billions in tax cuts, our Prime Minister has followed a less extreme approach but one that also aims to divert attention from her Government’s failures and real agenda.

She threatens to scrap the Human Rights Act, which guarantees all of our people’s civil and political rights and has actually benefited everyone in our country. And she has insisted “if you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere”.

There is an alternative to this damaging and bankrupt order. The world’s largest corporations and banks cannot be left to write the rules and rig the system for themselves.

The world’s economy can and must deliver for the common good and the majority of its people. But that is going to demand real and fundamental structural change on an international level.

The UN has a pivotal role to play, in advancing a new consensus and common ground based on solidarity, respect for human rights and international regulation and cooperation.

That includes as a platform for democratic leaders to speak truth about unaccountable power.

One such moment took place on 4 December 1972, when President Salvador Allende of Chile, elected despite huge opposition and US interference, took the rostrum of the UN General Assembly in New York.

He called for global action against the threat from transnational corporations, that do not answer to any state, any parliament or any organisation representing the common interest.

Nine months later, Allende was killed in General Augusto Pinochet’s coup, which ushered in a brutal 17-year dictatorship and turned Chile into a laboratory of free market fundamentalism.

But 44 years on, all over the world people are standing up and saying enough to the unchained power of multinational companies to dodge taxes, grab land and resources on the cheap and rip the heart out of workforces and communities.

That’s why I make the commitment to you today that the next Labour government in Britain will actively support the efforts of the UN Human Rights Council to create a legally binding treaty to regulate transnational corporations under international human rights law.

Genuine corporate accountability must apply to all of the activities of their subsidiaries and suppliers.

Impunity for corporations that violate human rights or wreck our environment, as in the mineral-driven conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, must be brought to an end.

For too long, development has been driven by the unfounded dogma that unfettered markets and unaccountable multinational companies are the key to solving global problems.

So under the next Labour Government the Department for International Development will have the twin mission of not only eradicating poverty but also reducing inequality across the world.

To achieve this goal we must act against the global scandal of tax dodging and trade mis-invoicing – robbing developing countries and draining resources from our own public services.

In Africa alone an estimated 35 billion dollars is lost each year to tax dodging, and 50 billion to illicit financial flows, vastly exceeding the 30 billion dollars that enters the continent as aid.

As the Paradise and Panama Papers have shown the super-rich and the powerful can’t be trusted to regulate themselves.

Multinational companies must be required to undertake country-by-country reporting, while countries in the Global South need support now to keep hold of the billions being stolen from their people.

So the next Labour government will seek to work with tax authorities in developing countries, as Zambia has with NORAD – the Norwegian aid agency – to help them stop the looting.

Tomorrow is International Anti-Corruption Day. Corruption isn’t something that happens ‘over there’. Our government has played a central role in enabling the corruption that undermines democracy and violates human rights. It is a global issue that requires a global response.

When people are kept in poverty, while politicians funnel public funds into tax havens, that is corruption, and a Labour government will act decisively on tax havens: introducing strict standards of transparency for crown dependencies and overseas territories including a public register of owners, directors, major shareholders and beneficial owners … for all companies and trusts.

Climate change is the second great threat to our common humanity. Our planet is in jeopardy. Global warming is undeniable; the number of natural disasters has quadrupled since 1970.

Hurricanes like the ones that recently hit the Caribbean are bigger because they are absorbing moisture from warmer seas.

It is climate change that is warming the seas, mainly caused by emissions from the world’s richer countries.

And yet the least polluting countries, more often than not the developing nations, are at the sharp end of the havoc climate change unleashes – with environmental damage fuelling food insecurity and social dislocation.

We must stand with them in solidarity. Two months ago, I promised the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, that I would use this platform to make this message clear.

The international community must mobilise resources and the world’s biggest polluters shoulder the biggest burden.

So I ask governments in the most polluting countries, including in the UK:

First, to expand their capacity to respond to disasters around the world. Our armed forces, some of the best trained and most highly skilled in the world, should be allowed to use their experience to respond to humanitarian emergencies. Italy is among those leading the way with its navy becoming a more versatile and multi-role force.

Second, to factor the costs of environmental degradation into financial forecasting as Labour has pledged to do with Britain’s Office of Budget Responsibility.

Third, to stand very firmly behind the historic Paris Climate Accords.

And finally, take serious and urgent steps on debt relief and cancellation.
We need to act as an international community against the injustice of countries trying to recover from climate crises they did not create while struggling to repay international debts.

It’s worth remembering the words of Thomas Sankara, President of Burkina Faso, delivered to the Organisation of African Unity in 1987 a few months before he too was assassinated in a coup.

“The debt cannot be repaid“ he said, “first because if we don’t repay lenders will not die. But if we repay… we are going to die.”

The growing climate crisis exacerbates the already unparalleled numbers of people escaping conflict and desperation.

There are now more refugees and displaced people around the world than at any time since the Second World War.

Refugees are people like us.

But unlike us they have been forced by violence, persecution and climate chaos to flee their homes.

One of the biggest moral tests of our time is how we live up to the spirit and letter of the 1951 Refugee Convention.

Its core principle was simple: to protect refugees.

Yet ten countries, which account for just 2.5 percent of the global economy, are hosting more than half the world’s refugees.

It is time for the world’s richer countries to step up and show our common humanity.

Failure means millions of Syrians internally displaced within their destroyed homeland or refugees outside it. Rohingya refugees returned to Myanmar without guarantees of citizenship or protection from state violence and refugees held in indefinite detention in camps unfit for human habitation as in Papua New Guinea or Nauru. And African refugees sold into slavery in war-ravaged Libya.

This reality should offend our sense of humanity and human solidarity.

European countries can, and must, do more as the death rate of migrants and refugees crossing the Mediterranean continues to rise.

And we need to take more effective action against human traffickers.

But let us be clear: the long-term answer is genuine international cooperation based on human rights, which confronts the root causes of conflict, persecution and inequality.

I’ve spent most of my life, with many others, making the case for diplomacy and dialogue… over war and conflict, often in the face of hostility.

But I remain convinced that is the only way to deliver genuine and lasting security for all.

And even after the disastrous invasions and occupations of recent years there is again renewed pressure to opt for military force, America First or Empire 2.0 as the path to global security.

I know the people of Britain are neither insensitive to the sufferings of others nor blind to the impact and blowback from our country’s reckless foreign wars.

Regime change wars, invasions, interventions and occupations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and Somalia have failed on their own terms, devastated the countries and regions and made Britain and the world a more dangerous place.
And while the UK government champions some human rights issues on others it is silent, if not complicit, in their violation.

Too many have turned a wilfully blind eye to the flagrant and large-scale human rights abuses now taking place in Yemen, fuelled by arms sales to Saudi Arabia worth billions of pounds.

The see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil approach undermines our credibility and ability to act over other human rights abuses.

Total British government aid to Yemen last year was under £150 million – less than the profits made by British arms companies selling weapons to Saudi Arabia. What does that say about our country’s priorities, or our government’s role in the humanitarian disaster now gripping Yemen?

Our credibility to speak out against the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims is severely undermined when the British Government has been providing support to Myanmar’s military.

And our Governments pay lip service to a comprehensive settlement and two state solution to the Israel- Palestine conflict but do nothing to use the leverage they have to end the oppression and dispossession of the Palestinian people.

70 years after the UN General Assembly voted to create a Palestinian state alongside what would become Israel, and half a century since Israel occupied the whole of historic Palestine, they should take a lead from Israeli peace campaigners such as Gush Shalom and Peace Now and demand an end to the multiple human rights abuses Palestinians face on a daily basis. The continued occupation and illegal settlements are violations of international law and are a barrier to peace.

The US president’s announcement that his administration will recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, including occupied Palestinian territory, is a threat to peace that has rightly been met with overwhelming international condemnation.

The decision is not only reckless and provocative – it risks setting back any prospect of a political settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

President Trump’s speech at the UN General Assembly in September signalled a wider threat to peace. His attack on multilateralism, human rights and international law should deeply trouble us all.

And this is no time to reject the Iran Nuclear Deal, a significant achievement agreed between Iran and a group of world power to reduce tensions.

That threatens not just the Middle East but also the Korean Peninsula. What incentives are there for Pyongyang to believe disarmament will bring benefits when the US dumps its nuclear agreement with Tehran?

Trump and Kim Jong-un threaten a terrifying nuclear confrontation with their absurd and bellicose insults.

In common with almost the whole of humanity, I say to the two leaders: this is not a game, step back from the brink now.

It is a commonplace that war and violence do not solve the world’s problems. Violence breeds violence. In 2016 nearly three quarters of all deaths from terrorism were in five states; Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Nigeria and Somalia.

So let us stand up for the victims of war and terrorism and make international justice a reality.

And demand that the biggest arms exporters ensure all arms exports are consistent, not legally, but with their moral obligations too.

That means no more arms export licences when there is a clear risk that they will be used to commit human rights abuses or crimes against humanity.

The UK is one of the world’s largest arms exporters so we must live up to our international obligations while we explore ways to convert arms production into other socially useful, high-skill, high-tech industry.

Which is why I welcome the recent bipartisan U.S. House of Representatives resolution which does two unprecedented things.

First, it acknowledges the U.S. role in the destruction of Yemen, including the mid-air refuelling of the Saudi-led coalition planes essential to their bombing campaign and helping in selecting targets.

Second, it makes plain that Congress has not authorised this military involvement.

Yemen is a desperate humanitarian catastrophe with the worst cholera outbreak in history.

The weight of international community opinion needs to be brought to bear on those supporting Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, including Theresa May’s Government, to meet our legal and moral obligations on arms sales and to negotiate an urgent ceasefire and settlement of this devastating conflict.

If we’re serious about supporting peace we must strengthen international cooperation and peacekeeping.  Britain has an important role to play after failing to contribute significant troop numbers in recent years.

We are determined to seize the opportunity to be a force for good in peacekeeping, diplomacy and support for human rights.

Labour is committed to invest in our diplomatic capabilities and consular services and we will reintroduce human rights advisers in our embassies around the world.

Human rights and justice will be at the heart of our foreign policy along with a commitment to support the United Nations.

The UN provides a unique platform for international cooperation and action. And to be effective, we need member states to get behind the reform agenda set out by Secretary General Guterres.

The world demands the UN Security Council responds, becomes more representative and plays the role it was set up to on peace and security.

We can live in a more peaceful world. The desire to help create a better life for all burns within us.

Governments, civil society, social movements and international organisations can all help realise that goal.

We need to redouble our efforts to create a global rules based system that applies to all and works for the many, not the few.

No more bomb first and think and talk later.

No more double standards in foreign policy.

No more scapegoating of global institutions for the sake of scoring political points at home.

Instead: solidarity, calm leadership and cooperation. Together we can:

Build a new social and economic system with human rights and justice at its core.

Deliver climate justice and a better way to live together on this planet.

Recognise the humanity of refugees and offer them a place of safety.

Work for peace, security and understanding.

The survival of our common humanity requires nothing less.

We need to recognise and pay tribute to human rights defenders the world over, putting their lives on the line for others – our voice must be their voice.


Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Here are four ways to be sure you’re among the first to know what’s going on.

1) Register with us by clicking on ‘Subscribe’ (in the left margin). You can then receive notifications of every new article that is posted here.

2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical

3) Like the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VoxPolitical/

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

4) You could even make Vox Political your homepage at http://voxpoliticalonline.com

And do share with your family and friends – so they don’t miss out!

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.


The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Huge increase in zero-hour contracts – in a ‘booming’ economy?

[Image: Eoin Clarke.]

This graph is now out of date but shows the rapid rise of the zero-hours contract. By the end of 2014, the number of people on zero contracts was 697,000, according to the ONS. [Image: Eoin Clarke.]

Here are a few figures from the Office of National Statistics:

  • Number of people employed on a “zero-hours contract” in their main job was 697,000 for October to December 2014, representing 2.3% of all people in employment. In the same period in 2013, this was 1.9% of all people in employment (586,000).
  • The number of people saying they are employed on “zero-hours contracts” depends on whether or not they recognise this term. It is not possible to say how much of the increase between 2013 and 2014 is due to greater recognition rather than new contracts.
  • Number of contracts that do not guarantee a minimum number of hours where work was carried out was 1.8 million for the fortnight beginning 11 August 2014. The previously published estimate was 1.4 million for the fortnight beginning 20 January 2014.
  • The two estimates of contracts should not be directly compared. They cover different times of year so changes in the numbers may reflect seasonal factors.
  • On average, someone on a “zero-hours contract” usually works 25 hours a week.
  • Around a third of people on “zero-hours contracts” want more hours, with most wanting them in their current job, compared with 10% of other people in employment.
  • People on “zero-hours contracts” are more likely to be women, in full-time education or working part-time. They are also more likely to be aged under 25 or 65 and over.
  • Over half of businesses in Accommodation and Food Services and a quarter of businesses in Education made some use of no guaranteed hours contracts in August 2014.

This is at a time when the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has said the UK has bounced back strongly from the recession and has one of the strongest economies in the G7 nations.

Admittedly, the OECD has said productivity – stagnant for many years now – must improve in order for living standards to rise, but this is not part of the zero-hours plan. The Conservative-led Coalition wanted to put as many people as possible into jobs of any description, in order to claim a drop in unemployment – but zero-hours contracts, while helping businesses by eliminating in-work benefits like sick pay and holiday pay, do not help productivity at all; they use more people to achieve the same result.

In the case of the UK, it seems, they have been achieving worsening results, as dipping tax receipts have made all-too-clear. George Osborne claimed a surplus in January, but this is clearly a manufactured result, formed from panic after the last few tax revenue figures became public.

So what does Labour say about all this?

Scottish Nationalists will be surprised to learn that the party Pete Wishart believes is “cuddling up to the Tories” was unequivocally critical.

“The Tories’ plan is failing working families,” said Chuka Umunna, shadow business secretary.

“While they prioritise a few at the top, for others there’s a rising tide of insecurity. Ministers have watered down every person’s rights at work and zero-hours contracts have gone from being a niche concept to becoming the norm in parts of our economy.

“The ONS’ findings today that there are now 1.8 million zero-hours contracts and that the number of people reporting they are on a zero-hours contract for their main job has risen by almost 20 per cent is yet another stark illustration of a recovery which is not working for working people.”

He said: “Labour’s Better Plan for Britain’s Prosperity would ban exploitative zero-hours contracts, prohibit employers from requiring workers to be available on the off-chance they are needed, ensure zero-hours contract workers who have shifts cancelled at short notice receive compensation and give employees who consistently work regular hours the right to a fixed-hours contract.

“Ministers have sat on their hands and opposed our plans, in the face of rising insecurity for people.”

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

If you have enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
analysing the latest statistics before the spin doctors get the chance.

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Labour’s ultimatum to tax havens

150207ed-miliband

Ed Miliband has warned the tax havens costing British families and businesses billions of pounds that they will have just six months to put their house in order and open their books – or face being placed on an international blacklist.

He has highlighted figures showing that, despite David Cameron boasting more than 18 months ago that he had forced tax havens to open up, not one of the tax havens linked to Britain as Overseas Territories or Crown Dependencies has yet delivered on Cameron’s promise that they would publish a register showing who owns the companies registered there – and some have explicitly refused to do so.

The lack of leadership shown by the UK government has frustrated and slowed the pace of reform on tax avoidance across the world.

In a letter to heads of government, Mr Miliband served notice on them that that under the next Labour government they will have six months to publish publicly-accessible central registers of beneficial ownership.

If they fail to meet this deadline, the next Labour government will withdraw the protection they get from international scrutiny and ask the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to place them on its tax haven blacklist.

In an interview with the Guardian newspaper, Mr Miliband said: “More than 18 months have passed since David Cameron promised to shine a light on the tax havens in UK overseas territories and Crown Dependencies – and their affairs are still shrouded in darkness. That may be good enough for him, but it will not satisfy me, or the incoming Labour government.

“There is nothing pro-business about defending tax avoidance. The United Kingdom has a responsibility to open up the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies which are held responsible for so much tax secrecy and avoidance.

“And it is costing everyone who relies on our schools, our hospitals, our roads and our railways. It is costing everyone who pays their fair share of taxes, including millions of British businesses.

“Billions of pounds are being siphoned off into tax havens where our authorities cannot discover even the true ownership of firms registered there, let alone the scale of wealth hidden away.

“Today, I am putting these tax havens on notice that they will have just six months to open up their books or face international sanction.”

In a speech to the Labour Local Government Conference in Nottingham, Mr Miliband also said: “When you are working every day in your communities to deliver services, you are being let down by a government that operates one rule for those at the top and another rule for everyone else.

“Today, we have a government planning real cuts in spending on schools but one that only postures—and does not act over the scandal of tax avoidance.

“Let me say to the Prime Minister: It is not pro-business to defend tax avoidance.

“Britain is losing billions of pounds in lost revenue that could be invested in our future. It is costing everyone who pays their fair share of taxes, including millions of British businesses.

“Businesses and working people who pay their taxes, do the right thing and play by the rules are affronted by tax avoidance – and they are fed up with a government that has failed to act.”

He said: “The current Conservative leadership have become the political wing of offshore hedge funds.

“Unlike them, we will not stand by.

“We will ensure a country where everyone plays by the rules, from top to bottom – and we need to do so much more to restore the basic bargain of our country.”

This is a brilliant move by Labour. It is a promise to make tax avoiders pay what they owe, and restore balance to a tax system in which the Conservatives have placed too much of the burden on the poor.

With more tax coming in from those who are able to pay more, it follows that there will be less need for cuts – and claims that Labour are a party of austerity will be proved unfounded.

You see, Labour is only planning £7 bn of cuts because it sees that current tax revenue is not enough; the Tories want to make £50 bn of cuts because they don’t want the state to provide any services for people who can’t pay a relative fortune for them. There’s a big difference between them.

Is it too much to hope for a positive Labour announcement on welfare benefits next?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

If you have enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
highlighting positive policy announcements by political parties.

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Income inequality growth means Coalition was either lying or stupid

[Image: Inequality Briefing.]

[Image: Inequality Briefing.]

How nice of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to remind us all, in its new research, that income inequality has a “statistically significant impact” on economic growth!

Perhaps its next report will be entitled “Egg-sucking for grannies”.

It seems that hardly a day goes by without someone telling us this simple fact of life. It isn’t that long since Inequality Briefing told us that a reduction of the gap between the richest and poorest in the UK – to the levels in Denmark or the Netherlands (both of which are roughly on the same level as this country economically) – would put an extra £2,500 in every household’s budget.

That, in turn, would give the economy a major uplift because it boosts spending power. More money would flow through the system and the fiscal multiplier would be higher – meaning the amount of value it creates as it works its way to the Treasury as tax payments would be greater. Then – in a properly-working economy – it would go back into the economy as government investment and the process would start again.

We don’t have a properly-working economy; we have a Tory economy.

That’s why the message has to be repeated constantly, in the same way a teacher might have to repeat a lesson to an uncomprehending child (in this case, George Osborne).

The OECD’s finding that redistribution of wealth via taxes and benefits does not hamper economic growth will fall on deaf ears while George Osborne is the resident of 11 Downing Street. He has been cutting taxes on the rich, and reducing benefits for the poor.

According to the OECD, the gap between rich and poor is at the highest level in 30 years among its 34 members. The richest 10 per cent earn, on average, 9.5 times the poorest whereas – in the 1980s – they earned 7 times as much. Osborne thinks this is a good thing, even though the economy is stuttering on the edge of another precipice.

His policies are designed to increase the income gap: Benefits have been capped to ensure they do not increase in line with inflation – meaning employers are free to pay their workers less, saying that there are plenty of unemployed people who would be happy to take the lower amount. Trade unions are toothless, having had all the fight taken out of them during the first neoliberal Tory government of the 1980s.

The result will be less money flowing through the economy, meaning lower tax income for the Treasury, making it harder to provide public services (as Osborne intends). This provides an excuse for public services to be cut in favour of inferior but more expensive privatised systems that put even more cash into the hands of the rich and starve the economy still further. Debt increases exponentially and the United Kingdom doesn’t just fall over the economic precipice – we leap into the chasm like a lemming in a Disney movie.

The fact is, George Osborne is a Tory. He’ll never accept that his ideas are wrong for the United Kingdom. Whether that means he has been lying to you about his plans, or he is just really, truly stupid, we may never know.

So the OECD’s message isn’t for him at all.

It’s for you – and anybody else who will listen.

The only way to improve our standard of living is to rid the country of Tory neoliberal economic idiocy, by voting them out at the next general election, and taking steps to ensure they can never return on the back of the discredited foolishness they’ve been peddling to us.

The only way that can happen is if we – individually and personally – take responsibility for educating the people around us to understand the faults in Tory ideology and the dangers they represent.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
shining a light on the path to progress!

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Was the crash really ‘all Labour’s fault’? – Flip Chart Fairy Tales

Of course it bleedin’ wasn’t.

It was the result of far too much blind optimism by financial institutions that should have known much better, as this Flip Chart Fairy Tales article shows.

If you want the full details, read that article, but to whet your appetite, here are a few snippets.

For a start, the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) was useless. In June 2007 it suggested that, if there was a downturn, the UK’s deficit might rise above three per cent of GDP; two years later it was at 11 per cent.

The OECD’s idea of the UK’s structural deficit in 2007 was around 2.5 per cent, but it now says the actual level was five per cent, and it didn’t realise. Nice!

Almost all our financial institutions, as the following graph shows, believed the economy would grow (by up to five per cent!) in 2008 and 2009. Outturn: Minus six per cent.

screen-shot-2014-09-11-at-10-21-16

In May 2008 the Bank of England said it expected conditions to improve gradually.

The International Monetary Fund had already said, in April that year, that growth in the UK would slow to 1.6 per cent in 2008, with a moderate recovery (!) in 2009.

And what was Labour’s perspective? At the end of August 2008, Alistair Darling told The Guardian we were facing economic times that were “arguably the worst they’ve been in 60 years. And I think it’s going to be more profound and long-lasting than people thought.”

Most people didn’t believe him.

So – all Labour’s fault? It seems Labour’s Chancellor was the only one who saw it coming! For many, that won’t absolve Labour of the imagined crime; they’ll say Darling – and Brown before him – should have tightened up regulations to head off the crash and protect the UK from what happened in the rest of the world.

But with everybody else and their mother arguing that there was no need, clearly they should take some of the blame as well.

That’s all this blog is saying.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
bringing you the best of the blogs!

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards