Tag Archives: fatcat

Who voted to put fatcat energy bosses before their constituents? Here’s the list

130925energy

The Coalition Government has vetoed a proposal by the Labour Party to put people before profit and give the energy regulator for Great Britain a statutory duty to ensure that energy suppliers pass on price cuts to consumers when wholesale costs fall – if those suppliers fail to act.

The proposal was put to the House of Commons by Shadow Energy Secretary Caroline Flint, and was dismissed with 305 votes against and 228 for – a difference of 77.

Of course, that wasn’t the point of the exercise.

The point was to show which of our MPs actually wants to help struggling households cope with the ever-increasing cost of living by helping them cope with their energy bills… and which of them would rather siphon your money into a Big Six shareholder’s pocket as profit (possibly with an eye on a possible seat on the board during their retirement).

Vox Political has the names of all those who voted. They are presented below in alphabetical order. If your MP appears in the ‘Ayes’ column, then they did right by you.

If your MP appears in the ‘Noes’ column, then they betrayed you. You may wish to consider voting for somebody else on May 7.

Here’s the list:

AYES
Abbott, Ms Diane (Labour)
Abrahams, Debbie (Labour)
Ainsworth, rh Mr Bob (Labour)
Alexander, rh Mr Douglas (Labour)
Alexander, Heidi (Labour)
Ali, Rushanara (Labour)
Allen, Mr Graham (Labour)
Anderson, Mr David (Labour)
Ashworth, Jonathan (Labour)
Austin, Ian (Labour)
Bailey, Mr Adrian (Labour/Co-op)
Bain, Mr William (Labour)
Banks, Gordon (Labour)
Barron, rh Kevin (Labour)
Bayley, Sir Hugh (Labour)
Beckett, rh Margaret (Labour)
Begg, Dame Anne (Labour)
Benn, rh Hilary (Labour)
Berger, Luciana (Labour/Co-op)
Betts, Mr Clive (Labour)
Blackman-Woods, Roberta (Labour)
Blears, rh Hazel (Labour)
Blenkinsop, Tom (Labour)
Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben (Labour)
Brennan, Kevin (Labour)
Brown, Lyn (Labour)
Brown, rh Mr Nicholas (Labour)
Brown, Mr Russell (Labour)
Bryant, Chris (Labour)
Burden, Richard (Labour)
Burnham, rh Andy (Labour)
Byrne, rh Mr Liam (Labour)
Campbell, rh Mr Alan (Labour)
Campbell, Mr Ronnie (Labour)
Caton, Martin (Labour)
Champion, Sarah (Labour)
Chapman, Jenny (Labour)
Clark, Katy (Labour)
Clwyd, rh Ann (Labour)
Coaker, Vernon (Labour)
Connarty, Michael (Labour)
Cooper, rh Yvette (Labour)
Corbyn, Jeremy (Labour)
Crausby, Mr David (Labour)
Creagh, Mary (Labour)
Creasy, Stella (Labour/Co-op)
Cryer, John (Labour)
Cunningham, Alex (Labour)
Cunningham, Mr Jim (Labour)
Cunningham, Sir Tony (Labour)
Curran, Margaret (Labour)
Danczuk, Simon (Labour)
David, Wayne (Labour)
Davidson, Mr Ian (Labour/Co-op)
Davies, Geraint (Labour/Co-op)
De Piero, Gloria (Labour)
Denham, rh Mr John (Labour)
Dobson, rh Frank (Labour)
Doran, Mr Frank (Labour)
Doughty, Stephen (Labour/Co-op)
Dowd, Jim (Labour)
Doyle, Gemma (Labour/Co-op)
Dromey, Jack (Labour)
Dugher, Michael (Labour)
Durkan, Mark (Social Democratic & Labour Party)
Eagle, Ms Angela (Labour)
Eagle, Maria (Labour)
Edwards, Jonathan (Plaid Cymru)
Efford, Clive (Labour)
Ellman, Mrs Louise (Labour/Co-op)
Engel, Natascha (Labour)
Esterson, Bill (Labour)
Evans, Chris (Labour/Co-op)
Farrelly, Paul (Labour)
Field, rh Mr Frank (Labour)
Fitzpatrick, Jim (Labour)
Flello, Robert (Labour)
Flint, rh Caroline (Labour)
Flynn, Paul (Labour)
Fovargue, Yvonne (Labour)
Francis, Dr Hywel (Labour)
Gardiner, Barry (Labour)
Gilmore, Sheila (Labour)
Glass, Pat (Labour)
Glindon, Mrs Mary (Labour)
Godsiff, Mr Roger (Labour)
Goodman, Helen (Labour)
Greatrex, Tom (Labour/Co-op)
Green, Kate (Labour)
Greenwood, Lilian (Labour)
Griffith, Nia (Labour)
Gwynne, Andrew (Labour)
Hain, rh Mr Peter (Labour)
Hamilton, Mr David (Labour)
Hamilton, Fabian (Labour)
Hanson, rh Mr David (Labour)
Harman, rh Ms Harriet (Labour)
Harris, Mr Tom (Labour)
Havard, Mr Dai (Labour)
Healey, rh John (Labour)
Hepburn, Mr Stephen (Labour)
Heyes, David (Labour)
Hillier, Meg (Labour/Co-op)
Hilling, Julie (Labour)
Hodge, rh Margaret (Labour)
Hodgson, Mrs Sharon (Labour)
Hood, Mr Jim (Labour)
Hopkins, Kelvin (Labour)
Howarth, rh Mr George (Labour)
Irranca-Davies, Huw (Labour)
Jackson, Glenda (Labour)
James, Mrs Siân C. (Labour)
Jamieson, Cathy (Labour/Co-op)
Jarvis, Dan (Labour)
Johnson, Diana (Labour)
Jones, Graham (Labour)
Jones, Susan Elan (Labour)
Jowell, rh Dame Tessa (Labour)
Kane, Mike (Labour)
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald (Labour)
Keeley, Barbara (Labour)
Kendall, Liz (Labour)
Khan, rh Sadiq (Labour)
Lammy, rh Mr David (Labour)
Lavery, Ian (Labour)
Lazarowicz, Mark (Labour/Co-op)
Leslie, Chris (Labour/Co-op)
Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma (Labour)
Lewis, Mr Ivan (Labour)
Llwyd, rh Mr Elfyn (Plaid Cymru)
Love, Mr Andrew (Labour/Co-op)
Lucas, Caroline (Green)
Lucas, Ian (Labour)
MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan (SNP)
Mactaggart, Fiona (Labour)
Mahmood, Mr Khalid (Labour)
Mahmood, Shabana (Labour)
Malhotra, Seema (Labour/Co-op)
Mann, John (Labour)
Marsden, Mr Gordon (Labour)
McCabe, Steve (Labour)
McCann, Mr Michael (Labour)
McCarthy, Kerry (Labour)
McClymont, Gregg (Labour)
McDonagh, Siobhain (Labour)
McDonald, Andy (Labour)
McDonnell, John (Labour)
McFadden, rh Mr Pat (Labour)
McGuire, rh Dame Anne (Labour)
McInnes, Liz (Labour)
McKechin, Ann (Labour)
McKenzie, Mr Iain (Labour)
Meale, Sir Alan (Labour)
Mearns, Ian (Labour)
Miliband, rh Edward (Labour)
Miller, Andrew (Labour)
Mitchell, Austin (Labour)
Moon, Mrs Madeleine (Labour)
Morden, Jessica (Labour)
Morrice, Graeme (Livingston) (Labour)
Morris, Grahame M. (Easington) (Labour)
Munn, Meg (Labour/Co-op)
Murphy, rh Mr Jim (Labour)
Murphy, rh Paul (Labour)
Murray, Ian (Labour)
Nandy, Lisa (Labour)
Nash, Pamela (Labour)
O’Donnell, Fiona (Labour)
Onwurah, Chi (Labour)
Osborne, Sandra (Labour)
Owen, Albert (Labour)
Pearce, Teresa (Labour)
Perkins, Toby (Labour)
Pound, Stephen (Labour)
Powell, Lucy (Labour)
Qureshi, Yasmin (Labour)
Raynsford, rh Mr Nick (Labour)
Reed, Mr Jamie (Labour)
Reeves, Rachel (Labour)
Reynolds, Emma (Labour)
Riordan, Mrs Linda (Labour/Co-op)
Ritchie, Ms Margaret (Social Democratic & Labour Party)
Robertson, John (Labour)
Robinson, Mr Geoffrey (Labour)
Rotheram, Steve (Labour)
Roy, Mr Frank (Labour)
Ruane, Chris (Labour)
Ruddock, rh Dame Joan (Labour)
Sarwar, Anas (Labour)
Sawford, Andy (Labour/Co-op)
Seabeck, Alison  (Labour)
Sharma, Mr Virendra (Labour)
Sheerman, Mr Barry (Labour/Co-op)
Sheridan, Jim (Labour)
Shuker, Gavin (Labour/Co-op)
Skinner, Mr Dennis (Labour)
Slaughter, Mr Andy (Labour)
Smith, Angela (Labour)
Smith, Nick (Labour)
Smith, Owen (Labour)
Spellar, rh Mr John (Labour)
Straw, rh Mr Jack (Labour)
Stringer, Graham (Labour)
Stuart, Ms Gisela (Labour)
Sutcliffe, Mr Gerry (Labour)
Tami, Mark (Labour)
Thornberry, Emily (Labour)
Timms, rh Stephen (Labour)
Trickett, Jon (Labour)
Turner, Karl (Labour)
Twigg, Derek (Labour)
Twigg, Stephen (Labour/Co-op)
Umunna, Mr Chuka (Labour)
Vaz, rh Keith (Labour)
Vaz, Valerie (Labour)
Walley, Joan (Labour)
Watson, Mr Tom (Labour)
Weir, Mr Mike (SNP)
Whitehead, Dr Alan (Labour)
Williams, Hywel (Plaid Cymru)
Williamson, Chris (Labour)
Wilson, Sammy (Democratic Unionist)
Winnick, Mr David (Labour)
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie (Labour)
Wishart, Pete (SNP)
Woodcock, John (Labour/Co-op)
Wright, David (Labour)
Wright, Mr Iain (Labour)

Tellers for the Ayes:
Bridget Phillipson (Labour)
and
Nic Dakin (Labour)

NOES
Adams, Nigel (Con)
Afriyie, Adam (Con)
Aldous, Peter (Con)
Amess, Sir David (Con)
Andrew, Stuart (Con)
Arbuthnot, rh Mr James (Con)
Bacon, Mr Richard (Con)
Baker, Steve (Con)
Baldry, rh Sir Tony (Con)
Barclay, Stephen (Con)
Barker, rh Gregory (Con)
Baron, Mr John (Con)
Barwell, Gavin (Con)
Bebb, Guto (Con)
Beith, rh Sir Alan (LD)
Bellingham, Mr Henry (Con)
Benyon, Richard (Con)
Beresford, Sir Paul (Con)
Berry, Jake (Con)
Bingham, Andrew (Con)
Binley, Mr Brian (Con)
Birtwistle, Gordon (LD)
Blackman, Bob (Con)
Blackwood, Nicola (Con)
Blunt, Crispin (Con)
Boles, Nick (Con)
Bone, Mr Peter (Con)
Bottomley, Sir Peter (Con)
Brady, Mr Graham (Con)
Brake, rh Tom (LD)
Bray, Angie (Con)
Brazier, Mr Julian (Con)
Brine, Steve (Con)
Brokenshire, James (Con)
Brooke, rh Annette (LD)
Browne, Mr Jeremy (LD)
Bruce, Fiona (Con)
Bruce, rh Sir Malcolm (LD)
Burley, Mr Aidan (Con)
Burns, Conor (Con)
Burns, rh Mr Simon (Con)
Burstow, rh Paul (LD)
Burt, rh Alistair (Con)
Burt, Lorely (LD)
Byles, Dan (Con)
Cable, rh Vince (LD)
Cairns, Alun (Con)
Carmichael, Neil (LD)
Carswell, Douglas (UKIP)
Cash, Sir William (Con)
Chapman, Jenny (Labour)
Chishti, Rehman (Con)
Clappison, Mr James (Con)
Clark, rh Greg (Con)
Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth (Con)
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey (Con)
Collins, Damian (Con)
Colvile, Oliver (Con)
Cox, Mr Geoffrey (Con)
Crabb, rh Stephen (Con)
Crockart, Mike (LD)
Crouch, Tracey (Con)
Davey, rh Mr Edward (LD)
Davies, David T. C. (Monmouth) (Con)
Davies, Glyn (Con)
Davies, Philip (Con)
de Bois, Nick (Con)
Dinenage, Caroline (Con)
Dorrell, rh Mr Stephen (Con)
Doyle-Price, Jackie (Con)
Drax, Richard (Con)
Duncan, rh Sir Alan (Con)
Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain (Con)
Dunne, Mr Philip (Con)
Ellis, Michael (Con)
Ellison, Jane (Con)
Elphicke, Charlie (Con)
Eustice, George (Con)
Evans, Graham (Con)
Evans, Jonathan (Con)
Evans, Mr Nigel (Con)
Evennett, Mr David (Con)
Fabricant, Michael (Con)
Fallon, rh Michael (Con)
Farron, Tim (LD)
Field, Mark (Con)
Foster, rh Mr Don (LD)
Fox, rh Dr Liam (Con)
Francois, rh Mr Mark (Con)
Freer, Mike (Con)
Fullbrook, Lorraine (Con)
Fuller, Richard (Con)
Gale, Sir Roger (Con)
Garnier, Sir Edward (Con)
Garnier, Mark (Con)
Gauke, Mr David (Con)
George, Andrew (LD)
Gibb, Mr Nick (Con)
Gilbert, Stephen (LD)
Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl (Con)
Glen, John (Con)
Goldsmith, Zac (Con)
Goodwill, Mr Robert (Con)
Graham, Richard (Con)
Grant, Mrs Helen (Con)
Gray, Mr James (Con)
Green, rh Damian (Con)
Greening, rh Justine (Con)
Grieve, rh Mr Dominic (Con)
Griffiths, Andrew (Con)
Gummer, Ben (Con)
Gyimah, Mr Sam (Con)
Hague, rh Mr William (Con)
Halfon, Robert (Con)
Hames, Duncan (LD)
Hammond, Stephen (Con)
Hands, rh Greg (Con)
Harper, Mr Mark (Con)
Harrington, Richard (Con)
Harris, Rebecca (Con)
Hart, Simon (Con)
Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan (Con)
Hayes, rh Mr John (Con)
Heald, Sir Oliver (Con)
Heaton-Harris, Chris (Con)
Hemming, John (LD)
Henderson, Gordon (Con)
Hendry, Charles (Con)
Herbert, rh Nick (Con)
Hinds, Damian (Con)
Hoban, Mr Mark (Con)
Hollingbery, George (Con)
Hollobone, Mr Philip (Con)
Holloway, Mr Adam (Con)
Hopkins, Kris (Con)
Horwood, Martin (LD)
Howarth, Sir Gerald (Con)
Howell, John (Con)
Hughes, rh Simon (LD)
Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy (Con)
Huppert, Dr Julian (LD)
Hurd, Mr Nick (Con)
Jackson, Mr Stewart (Con)
James, Margot (Con)
Jenkin, Mr Bernard (Con)
Jenrick, Robert (Con)
Johnson, Gareth (Con)
Johnson, Joseph (Con)
Jones, Andrew (Con)
Jones, rh Mr David (Con)
Jones, Mr Marcus (Con)
Kawczynski, Daniel (Con)
Kelly, Chris (Con)
Kennedy, rh Mr Charles (LD)
Kirby, Simon (Con)
Kwarteng, Kwasi (Con)
Lamb, rh Norman (LD)
Latham, Pauline (Con)
Leadsom, Andrea (Con)
Lee, Dr Phillip (Con)
Leech, Mr John (LD)
Leigh, Sir Edward (Con)
Lewis, Brandon (Con)
Lewis, Dr Julian (Con)
Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian (Con)
Lidington, rh Mr David (Con)
Lilley, rh Mr Peter (Con)
Lloyd, Stephen (LD)
Lopresti, Jack (Con)
Loughton, Tim (Con)
Luff, Sir Peter (Con)
Lumley, Karen (Con)
Macleod, Mary (Con)
Main, Mrs Anne (Con)
Maude, rh Mr Francis (Con)
Maynard, Paul (Con)
McCartney, Jason (Con)
McCartney, Karl (Con)
McIntosh, Miss Anne (Con)
McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick (Con)
McPartland, Stephen (Con)
McVey, rh Esther (Con)
Menzies, Mark (Con)
Metcalfe, Stephen (Con)
Miller, rh Maria (Con)
Mills, Nigel (Con)
Milton, Anne (Con)
Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew (Con)
Moore, rh Michael (LD)
Mordaunt, Penny (Con)
Morgan, rh Nicky (Con)
Morris, Anne Marie (Con)
Morris, David (Con)
Morris, James (Con)
Mosley, Stephen (Con)
Mowat, David (Con)
Mulholland, Greg (LD)
Mundell, rh David (Con)
Murray, Sheryll (Con)
Murrison, Dr Andrew (Con)
Newmark, Mr Brooks (Con)
Newton, Sarah (Con)
Nokes, Caroline (Con)
Norman, Jesse (Con)
Nuttall, Mr David (Con)
Offord, Dr Matthew (Con)
Ollerenshaw, Eric (Con)
Opperman, Guy (Con)
Ottaway, rh Sir Richard (Con)
Paice, rh Sir James (Con)
Parish, Neil (Con)
Patel, Priti (Con)
Paterson, rh Mr Owen (Con)
Pawsey, Mark (Con)
Penning, rh Mike (Con)
Penrose, John (Con)
Percy, Andrew (Con)
Perry, Claire (Con)
Phillips, Stephen (Con)
Pickles, rh Mr Eric (Con)
Pincher, Christopher (Con)
Poulter, Dr Daniel (Con)
Pugh, John (LD)
Raab, Mr Dominic (Con)
Randall, rh Sir John (Con)
Reckless, Mark (UKIP)
Redwood, rh Mr John (Con)
Rees-Mogg, Jacob (Con)
Reevell, Simon (Con)
Reid, Mr Alan (LD)
Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm (Con)
Robathan, rh Mr Andrew (Con)
Robertson, rh Sir Hugh (Con)
Robertson, Mr Laurence (Con)
Rogerson, Dan (LD)
Rosindell, Andrew (Con)
Rudd, Amber (Con)
Russell, Sir Bob (LD)
Rutley, David (Con)
Sanders, Mr Adrian (LD)
Scott, Mr Lee (Con)
Selous, Andrew (Con)
Shelbrooke, Alec (Con)
Shepherd, Sir Richard (Con)
Simmonds, rh Mark (Con)
Simpson, Mr Keith (Con)
Skidmore, Chris (Con)
Smith, Chloe (Con)
Smith, Henry (Con)
Smith, Julian (Con)
Smith, Sir Robert (LD)
Soames, rh Sir Nicholas (Con)
Soubry, Anna (Con)
Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline (Con)
Stanley, rh Sir John (Con)
Stephenson, Andrew (Con)
Stevenson, John (Con)
Stewart, Bob (Con)
Stewart, Iain (Con)
Stewart, Rory (Con)
Streeter, Mr Gary (Con)
Stride, Mel (Con)
Stuart, Mr Graham (Con)
Stunell, rh Sir Andrew (LD)
Sturdy, Julian (Con)
Swales, Ian (LD)
Swayne, rh Mr Desmond (Con)
Swire, rh Mr Hugo (Con)
Syms, Mr Robert (Con)
Thornton, Mike (LD)
Thurso, rh John (LD)
Tomlinson, Justin (Con)
Tredinnick, David (Con)
Turner, Mr Andrew (Con)
Tyrie, Mr Andrew (Con)
Uppal, Paul (Con)
Vaizey, Mr Edward (Con)
Vara, Mr Shailesh (Con)
Vickers, Martin (Con)
Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa (Con)
Walker, Mr Charles (Con)
Walker, Mr Robin (Con)
Wallace, Mr Ben (Con)
Walter, Mr Robert (Con)
Ward, Mr David (LD)
Watkinson, Dame Angela (Con)
Webb, rh Steve (LD)
Wheeler, Heather (Con)
White, Chris (Con)
Whittaker, Craig (Con)
Whittingdale, Mr John (Con)
Wiggin, Bill (Con)
Willetts, rh Mr David (Con)
Williams, Mr Mark (LD)
Williams, Roger (LD)
Williams, Stephen (LD)
Williamson, Gavin (Con)
Willott, rh Jenny (LD)
Wilson, Mr Rob (Con)
Wollaston, Dr Sarah (Con)
Wright, rh Jeremy (Con)
Wright, Simon (LD)
Yeo, Mr Tim (Con)
Young, rh Sir George (Con)
Zahawi, Nadhim (Con)

Tellers for the Noes:
Harriett Baldwin (Con)
and
Dr Thérèse Coffey (Con)

Basically, if your MP is a Conservative or a Liberal Democrat, they don’t represent you; they represent corporate bosses.

Also, how interesting to see the two UKIP turncoats, Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless, voting with their former Tory colleagues again. “The People’s Army” – what a joke.

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Top bosses have made more money in 2015 than most UK workers will earn all year – High Pay Centre

[Image: theunboundedspirit.com]

[Image: theunboundedspirit.com]

“By the end of today, Britain’s top bosses will have made more money in 2015 than the average UK worker earns in an entire year,” according to calculations by the High Pay Centre thinktank.

“The calculations show that earnings for company executives returning to work this Monday will pass the UK average salary of £27,200 by late afternoon on ‘fatcat Tuesday.’

“FTSE 100 Chief Executives are paid an average £4.72 million. The High Pay Centre found that even if CEOs are assumed to work long hours with very few holidays, this is equivalent to hourly pay of nearly £1,200.”

The rest of the article is on the High Pay Centre website.

Vox Political‘s attention was drawn to this by a tweet from Josie Long: “Have a look at this. It takes two days for the people at the top to surpass the average UK salary. Two days.”

According to Russell Brand’s book Revolution (which has a lot more in it than most reviewers want you to know), human beings and higher primates have an in-built sense of fairness and it seems clear that the pay of these FTSE100 bosses offends that sense.

Russell quotes a laboratory experiment in which “monkeys in adjacent cages… perform the same task for food. Monkey A does the task and gets a grape, delicious. Monkey B who can see Monkey A performs the same task and is given cucumber, yuck.

“Monkey B looks p***ed off but eats his cucumber anyway. The experiment is immediately repeated and you can see that Monkey B is agitated when his uptown, up-alphabet neighbour is again given a grape. This time when he is presented with the cucumber, he is f***ing furious; he throws it out the cage and rattles the bars. I got angry on his behalf and wanted to give the scientist a cucumber in a less amenable orifice. I also felt a bit p***ed off with Monkey A, the grape-guzzling little b*****d.”

Who can blame him? The figures from the High Pay Centre betray an even worse situation, if you think about it, because most people work a lot harder than FTSE100 executives, simply to survive. Why are they guzzling grapes while we have to cope with cucumber?

According to Russell (again), “studies show that [this inherent sense of fairness is] less pronounced in environments where people are exposed to a lot of marketing.”

So all that “Buy this – it’ll make you sexy” advertising is actually telling you that it’s okay to have more – and better – than the next person. If it’s okay for you, then you have to accept that it’s okay for someone else to have more – and better – than you. Right?

Well, is it?

And if it isn’t, what are you going to do about it? Bend over and wait for someone to stick a cucumber up your “less amenable orifice” – as usual?

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How do we wrestle fairness from a rigged economic system?

The problem in a nutshell - and this cartoon was drawn in 1972! [Image: Alan Hardman]

The problem in a nutshell – and this cartoon was drawn in 1972! [Image: Alan Hardman]

It’s terrific when an article makes you think.

Why Capitalism needs unemployment, by Cheltenham & Gloucester Against Cuts, tells us that unemployment is used as a weapon against the workers – with the threat of it used to force pay cuts on employees, while we are told to fear inflation if unemployment falls.

So fatcat company bosses win either way, it seems.

The article commented on Margaret Thatcher’s ideological mentor, Milton Friedman, who “understood that low levels of unemployment give confidence to workers, who can fight for better pay and conditions. When they’re successful, the profit margins of capitalists are reduced, causing them to put their prices up in response“.

We know this happens; we have seen it many times. Some may argue that it is different from cases in which shortages of particular commodities push up their prices and the prices of products that are made from them – but, with fuel prices as the only notable exception, have you ever seen prices drop after these shortages end?

The system is rigged to ensure that working people stay poor, either through pay cuts during high unemployment or inflation in low unemployment; meanwhile the employers and shareholders ensure that they stay rich, by sharing out extra profits gained by keeping pay low or by putting up prices.

What do they do with this money?

The answer, it seems, is nothing. They bank it in offshore tax havens and leave it there. This is why, we are told, Britain’s richest citizens have more than £20 trillion banked offshore at the moment.

That’s more than £20,000,000,000,000! Enough to pay off this country’s national debt 18,000 times over and still have plenty to spare. Enough to solve the problems of the world, forever. It is, in fact, more money than we can comfortably imagine.

It is doing nothing.

Faced with this knowledge, there can only be one logical question: Why?

Why rig the system so that ever-larger sums of money pour into these offshore accounts, if nothing is to be done with it? Where is the sense in that?

The only logical answer appears to relate to its effect on workers: Keeping the profits of their work away from the workforce means they are kept in misery and servitude to the ruling classes – the parasitical board members and shareholders.

There are knock-on effects. Taxpayers are hit twice – not only are they forced to grapple with ever-more-hostile pay offers, but their taxes pay for in-work benefits that subsidise corporate-imposed pay levels; they support people who have been forced into unemployment unnecessarily and the silly make-work schemes that are forced on those people by the Department for Work and Pensions, under threat of sanction.

It’s a protection racket. There should be a law against it. And this begs the next question: Why isn’t there a law against it? How can this corrupt system be dismantled and what should replace it?

That’s a very good question, because the other cosh being held over our collective heads is the possibility that firms will move abroad if new laws in this country threaten their massive profits. This is where an international agreement between nations or groups of nations would be very useful, if it was carried out in the right way – a Transatlantic, or Trans-pacific, Trade and Investment Partnership, perhaps.

And what do we see? Plans for such agreements have been put together and they do the exact opposite of what they should – tying the workers into ever-worsening conditions. This is why the TTIP, currently being pushed on the European Union, must be rejected – and why bosses will do anything to ensure it succeeds.

This is the situation. It seems clear that nothing will change it for the better until somebody has the courage to stand up to these manipulators (who were probably schoolyard bullies back in the day) and say enough is enough; change is coming – do what you will.

Tax evasion and avoidance is already a huge issue here in the UK; perhaps we need to make a criminal offence of manipulating the economy – with prison sentences for bosses who put their prices up purely to retain high profit margins when their salaries are already dozens of times higher than those of their workers.

But what else is needed? How can such a mechanism be brought in without scaring off business? Or should we let them go, and put something fairer in their place? Ban them from trading in the UK unless they conform to the new model?

These are ideas that need exploration – by many people, not just a few.

What do you think should happen?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Screwing the facts: Tory website bid to manipulate views on welfare

I learned about this trick years ago, when I was working for a broadsheet newspaper.

There had been a great deal of debate over its page size in previous years, but this had been settled by a survey, written by the paper’s bosses (who didn’t want any change).

You’re probably thinking the question was “Should this newspaper continue as a broadsheet or change to tabloid size?” If so, you’re a long way out. The actual question was this:

“Should this newspaper be smaller?”

Of course, the answer was a resounding “No!” People wanted value for money, and didn’t realise that they were being asked about the size of the paper’s pages and not the number of pages in the paper as a whole.

Today I was made aware of another survey that attempts to manipulate the responses it receives by cleverly-worded “leading” questions – except I’m referring to a survey on the Conservative Party website, so neither the questions nor their wording are particularly clever.

You can see it for yourself if you like but I’ll quote it verbatim here anyway.

“We’re interested in your view about the fairness of our benefit reforms” is the overture. I have to admit that, on reading this, I was overjoyed. At last a chance to let the Tories know how wrong-headed their approach has been! That they are hitting the vulnerable in society – and that their policies are in fact leading to the deaths of many of the most vulnerable. Fat chance.

“Conservatives in Government have made a decision that we will support people who work hard and that work will be rewarded.” This was the snap back to reality. Anyone reading this has to see that it’s a propaganda exercise. The only other response is to ask, when is this support going to happen?

“Labour say that benefits should go up by more than average wages – even though it will be the taxes of people in work that pays for this increase.” Whoa, whoa, WHOA, wait. The Conservatives aren’t about to lower the base rate of taxes (only the top rate, for the benefit of their extremely rich friends). Nor are they about to increase taxes. This is disingenous and manipulative. They are trying to say that their decision to depress rises in benefit payments is reasonable because it is in line with employers’ (and let’s remember the government is itself an employer) unreasonable decisions to keep their employees’ pay down (and we’ll get onto their own pay rises in a moment).

“We don’t think this is fair for the following reasons…

“1. A real terms increase would have meant that benefits increased more than the average salary.  Since 2007, benefits have increased by 20% whilst salaries have only increased by 10%. If the Government continued to increase benefits at a higher rate than salaries, this would not be fair on working people. The same working people who pay the taxes which fund the benefits to begin with.” Hogwash. Since 2007, benefits have increased in line with inflation and, as a result, people on benefits have been able to survive. Salaries may well have increased by only 10 per cent. I recall my own pay – before I became self-employed. Month after month, year after year, I saw my disposable income being whittled away in a series of poor pay increases, until I reached the point where continuing to work at the same company would put me into debt. That is the harsh reality of the British workplace in the 21st century, under the Tory-led Coalition.

“2. Working people are having their taxes cut. Changes to the personal allowance mean that working people will pay less tax and will keep more of their earnings. Anyone in work and receiving benefits will gain more from paying less tax, than what they lose from benefits not increasing in real terms.” This is simply untrue. 60 per cent of households attacked by the Tory-led government’s cuts to benefits are working households.

“3. To increase benefits in real terms would have meant borrowing more money. This Government is reducing borrowing and cutting the deficit. Labour would borrow more and add more debt to fund unlimited benefit rises. The Conservatives don’t believe that we should burden future generations with our debts in order to live beyond our means today.” The Conservatives are in fact borrowing more money now than Labour would have, if they had won the 2010 election – £212 billion more than planned, by 2015 alone. Using an expected increase in borrowing as an excuse to deprive the most vulnerable of their ability to survive adequately is plain disgusting.

“Have Your Say on Benefits

“We’re interested in what your think about benefits. That’s why we’re asking you whether or not you support two fundamental principles upon which our welfare policies are founded – many will say they don’t but many will also be in favour. Your responses will tell us what the majority think.

“Please also leave your comments.”

Here’s the first question. Remember what I said at the top, about the way the writers manipulate the wording of these things:

“Should benefits increase more than wages?”

See what I mean? The only possible answer to that is “No” – because they shouldn’t! That doesn’t mean that Tory welfare policy is right, though. It means employers aren’t paying their workers well enough (as proven by my own experience). Next question:

“Do you think it’s fair that people can claim more in benefits that (sic) the average family earns through going to work?” Again, the only reasonable answer is “No” – but again it doesn’t mean Tory welfare policy is right. It means this question – like the first – has been carefully worded to prevent anyone responding from giving an unwanted answer.

Never mind – there’s a box for comments, in which respondents may explain their answers. Here’s what I wrote:

“Your questions are slanted to produce a particular set of answers, I notice. My answer to the first is that they should increase in line with inflation. Wages should do that as well. The simple fact is that the majority of employers in this country seem to see fit to fill their own pockets with cash while depriving their workers. It is THIS imbalance that needs to be redressed. Company bosses have given themselves generous pay rises totalling 700 per cent over the last 20 years, while employees’ wages have risen by an average of just 27 per cent in the same period. That is completely unfair – and the reason it is possible for people on benefits to make more money than the average family earns by going to work.

“You don’t make work pay by cutting benefits to the point where people can’t afford the necessities of life – you do it by actually paying people in work enough money to make doing their job worthwhile.

“I don’t think it’s fair for people in benefits to have more money than the average family earns through work, but the answer is not to cut benefits; you must stop the ruthless exploitation of working people by fatcat business bosses. It isn’t rocket science. It’s common sense.”

I pressed the ‘submit’ button and immediately saw this message, in red:

“How do you think we could make the benefits system fairer? must have at least 0 and no more than 300 characters.”

Apparently they wanted an answer only a little longer than a tweet. In other words, one in which it is impossible to present a reasoned argument.

I tried again:

“Your questions are slanted to produce biased answers. Benefits should increase with inflation. Employers have increased their pay by 700% in the last 20 years; employee pay has increased by 27%. It is THIS imbalance that needs to be redressed. You don’t make work pay by cutting benefits – you do it by paying working people fairly. It isn’t rocket science. It’s common sense.”

It was still a little too long but I managed to shave a few bits off.

Sadly (for the truth), I don’t think it matters. It’s the headline figure – the number of people who answered “No” to the two questions – that will give the Tories what they want.

No doubt they hope to delude huge swathes of the voting population with their results.

That’s why I’m publishing my response – in full – in this article.

Please visit the site and see it for yourselves. Then – if you’re as disgusted as I am – make your opinion as public as you can.

Hunter S Thompson once said of Richard Nixon that he was so twisted he needed help to screw himself into his trousers every morning. That could also be said of the Conservative Party.

Let’s make sure they can’t screw the facts.

These people are an obscenity.