Tag Archives: financier

Corruption scandal makes it easy to believe Johnson has sold us all out over Brexit

Boris Johnson and Jennifer Arcuri: If an inappropriate relationship with her is proved, should claims of another inappropriate relationship – with hedge fund-owning backers who have bet on the disastrous effect of a “no deal” Brexit – also be investigated?

What is Boris Johnson’s Brexit really about?

It has been alleged that he is in cahoots with a number of ‘City’ financiers who backed his campaign to become Tory leader – and prime minister – on condition that he push the UK through a “no deal” Brexit that would enrich them (and, by connection, him).

The claim is that these hedge fund bosses have bet heavily on what’s known as “shorting” – and stand to make £8.3 billion if the pound plummets and inflation skyrockets after the UK crashes out of the EU without a withdrawal agreement.

It’s what Mr Johnson’s own sister has been saying – and also former Chancellor Philip Hammond.

Such a claim is extremely damaging to BoJob’s reputation as it implies that he is working, not as a servant of the public, which is the reason he draws a publicly-financed salary, of course – but in the interests of a shadowy group of self-motivated mobsters who are quite happy to endanger the entire UK economy for their own gain.

And, of course, to satisfy his own personal greed when they pay him off for his services.

Is there any evidence to support the claims? I don’t know. Mr Hammond and Ms Johnson must have reasons for saying what they have, otherwise they have put themselves in a very actionable position.

But what makes them believable to the public is the fact that Mr Johnson has been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) over allegations that he overruled his own officials to give favourable treatment – thousands of pounds in sponsorship grants and places on trade missions – to his friend Jennifer Arcuri when he was Mayor of London.

It is potentially a criminal offence – made worse by the fact that, as London Mayor, Mr Johnson would also have been Metropolitan Police and Crime Commissioner.

Of course, if the IOPC decides Mr Johnson’s behaviour towards Ms Arcuri was inappropriate, it makes it easy to believe that he is in collusion with these hedge fund bosses to rig Brexit – against the best interests of the UK as a whole.

The BBC – in its apparent role as propaganda arm of the Conservative Party – has run a story in which Downing Street has claimed the Arcuri allegations are politically-motivated, as it was timed to happen days before the start of the Conservative conference.

If that were true, why were the allegations published in the overtly pro-Tory Sunday Times, rather than by a news organisation that opposes Mr Johnson’s party, like The Guardian or The Mirror?

It seems clear that Boris Johnson will have to work very hard if he wants to make sure this mud won’t stick to him.

And what if the claims are true, but he fails to deliver the “no deal” Brexit these hedge fund bosses want?

Will they not be annoyed? And won’t they want some kind of compensation?

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.


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Membership figures prove Tories really are a minority party and neo-liberalism has failed

Land of disillusion: Another former Conservative burns his membership card. [Picture: Daily Mail!]

Land of disillusion: Another former Conservative burns his membership card. [Picture: Daily Mail!]

The Conservative Party has released details of its membership, after it was claimed that people were leaving the party in droves.

It had been suggested that membership had dropped below 100,000 and, while the figure quoted is in fact 134,000, it is still pathetically low for a party that claims to speak for a nation of 60 million.

Worse than that, it seems membership has halved under the leadership of David Cameron; in 2005, 253,600 members voted in the leadership contest between him and David Davis.

The party itself claims 174,000 members – but this includes ‘friends, non-member donors and others’ in the numbers. In other words, people who are not members of the Conservative Party – and that figure is another dumb Tory lie.

Let’s hope this puts to rest once and for all any argument against Vox Political‘s long-held position that the Conservative Party is an ever-more rightward-leaning minority interest organisation, upholding the interests of the very wealthy and working to undermine anybody from other sections of society.

Unless you are very wealthy, they cannot represent you. They do not even understand you or your concerns. They just want you to think they do.

This revelation further demonstrates the failure of the neo-liberal philosophy that has been spouted by conservatives (in all the major political parties) ever since Margaret Thatcher held up a copy of Hayek’s The Constitution of Liberty and said “This is what we believe now”.

Neo-liberalism has divested the Conservative Party of its popular membership. How could it have done otherwise? Its other achievements were to change this country from one that was being held to ransom by the trade unions into one that was held to ransom by the bankers and financiers, and later the collapse of the British economy.

Strangely enough, at the time of Thatcher, neo-liberalism’s only foothold was in Chile – where the economy also crashed.

Neo-liberalism is over. As Michael Meacher put it in a recent blog article “That world is now broken beyond repair. Yet that hasn’t stopped the political and economic establishments of all parties from striving mightily to restore it. But that is not only impossible, it’s also irrational.

“The world economy was growing at about 3% a year per capita in the ‘bad old days’ of widespread regulation and ‘punitive’ taxation for the rich in the 1960-70s, but in the last 30 years when unfettered markets dominated it has grown at only half that rate. In Britain the average annual per capita income growth in the 1960-70s was 2.4% when the country was allegedly suffering from the ‘British disease’, but since 1990 after Thatcher had supposedly cured the country of the disease and fought heroic struggles in the 1980s, income growth even before the crash has fallen to just 1.7% a year. The decade and a half of uninterrupted growth, low and stable inflation, and falling unemployment after 1992 was not, we now know, a sign of the magic of neoliberal doctrines, but rather of their deeply flawed dependence on consumption-driven boom and bust. On every other key criterion too – competitiveness, inequalities of wealth, economic imbalances, and social and environmental standards – Britain fared much worse in the 30 years following the Thatcherite counter-insurgency after 1980 than in the 30 years of managed capitalism that preceded it.”

Now, you won’t see any of the mainstream media agreeing with this viewpoint – they’ll adhere to the outdated 1980s Gordon Gecko “Greed is good” mentality just as long as they can – but the longer any of us holds onto this mentality, the worse it will be for us all.

Let’s bear that in mind while the news is full of the major party conferences.

This Royal Mail privatisation will harm us all

End of an institution: We can all wave goodbye to friendly Postman Pat; the new post-privatisation Royal Mail will be run according to strict for-profit rules and rural areas in particular are likely to suffer.

End of an institution: We can all wave goodbye to friendly Postman Pat; the new post-privatisation Royal Mail will be run according to strict for-profit rules and rural areas in particular are likely to suffer.

Is anybody happy that the Royal Mail is to be privatised?

Personally, I see no cause for celebration. Polls show that 70 per cent of the public are against privatisation – no matter which political party they support – and 96 per cent of the workforce don’t want it either, despite being offered shares in the new company. They’re not stupid. They know that workers in other privatised services have not been able to keep their shares. Will they be able to take the shares with them if they leave?

And what will happen to workforce terms and conditions?

Other people buying shares will have to pay at least £750 to get the smallest stake in the new company – that puts the sell-off well out of the reach of most people in these depressed times. It is a privatisation for financiers, lawyers and accountants. They won’t want to share the profit pot with staff – and profits are at a record high of £400 million per year.

Meanwhile, the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government recently nationalised the Royal Mail’s pension fund obligations (its debt) so that taxpayers across the country will have to pay for it. The privatisation means any profits will go to those who can afford to buy the shares. This is bad business. Don’t these two political parties always claim they are the experts when it comes to money? It seems a strange claim to make in the light of such reckless endangerment of public funds.

What of the future? We have seen where privatisation leads, with the flotation of the railways, the energy and water companies on the stock exchange – shares have ended up in the hands of foreign multinationals who have pushed prices up and up, while providing ever-poorer services, and the companies concerned have continued to demand money from the government for any investment; this is because all the profits go to shareholders, who then feel justified in granting huge pay packets to their chief officers.

So the taxpayer continues shelling out for these so-called private utilities while the new owners have the time of their lives at our expense. The workers – and the service – suffer.

This is a change that will affect everyone. I hope everyone remembers who inflicted it on us, when they come to vote at the general election in 2015.

Britain’s worst idlers – the MPs who wrote Britannia Unchained

I have been saddened to learn of two events that will take place in the near future: The death of The Dandy, and the publication of Britannia Unchained.

The first needs little introduction to British readers; it’s the UK’s longest-running children’s humour comic, which will cease publication (in print form) towards the end of this year, on its 75th anniversary. The second appears to be an odious political tract scribbled by a cabal of ambitious right-wing Tory MPs, desperate to make a name for themselves by tarring British workers as “among the worst idlers in the world”.

The connection? Even at the end of its life, there is better and more useful information in The Dandy than there will be in Britannia Unchained.

The book’s authors, Priti Patel, Elizabeth Truss, Dominic Raab, Chris Skidmore, and Kwasi Kwarteng, all members of the Free Enterprise Group of Tory MPs, argue that British workers are “among the worst idlers in the world”, that the UK “rewards laziness” and “too many people in Britain prefer a lie-in to hard work”.

They say the UK needs to reward a culture of “graft, risk and effort” and “stop bailing out the reckless, avoiding all risk and rewarding laziness”.

Strong words – undermined completely by the authors’ own record of attendance at their place of work.

Chris Skidmore’s Parliamentary attendance record is just 88.1 per cent – and he’s the most diligent of the five. Kwasi Kwarteng weighs in at 87.6 per cent; Elizabeth Truss at 85.3 per cent; and Priti Patel at 81.8 per cent. Dominic Raab is the laziest of the lot, with Parliamentary attendance of just 79.1 per cent.

To put that in perspective, if I took more than a week’s sick leave per year from my last workplace, I would have been hauled up before the boss and serious questions asked about my future at the company. That’s a 97.9 per cent minimum requirement. Who are these slackers to tell me, or anyone else who does real work, that we are lazy?

Some have already suggested that these evil-minded hypocrites are just taking cheap shots at others, to make themselves look good for promotion in an autumn reshuffle. Maybe this is true, although David Cameron would be very unwise to do anything but distance himself from them and their dangerous ideas.

I think this is an attempt to deflect attention away from the way the Tory-led government has mismanaged the economy, and from its murderous treatment of the sick and disabled. As one commentator put it: “They get a token Asian, a token African, a token Jew, mix in the middle class/grammar school rubbish propaganda, and suddenly they are just ordinary people? No they are not; they are stooges for the ruling elite.”

Britain doesn’t reward laziness among its working class. What it rewards is failure by managers, directors of industry, financiers. These people continually increase their salaries and other remuneration while their share prices fall, their dividend payments are lacklustre and shareholder value is destroyed. What have they given shareholders over the past 10 years? How many industrial or commercial leaders have walked off with millions, leaving behind companies that were struggling, if not collapsing? Does the criticism in Britannia Unchained apply to senior executives and bankers?

Our MPs are as much to blame as big business. They vote themselves generous pay, pensions and extended vacations (five months per year). They never start work before 11am, never work weekends (or most Fridays, when they are supposed to be in their constituencies, if I recall correctly). They enjoy fringe benefits including subsidised bars, restaurants and gyms. They take part-time directorships in large companies which take up time they should be using to serve the public. Only a few years ago we discovered that large numbers of them were cheating on their expense claims. They take more than £32,000 in “Resettlement Grant” if we kick them out after one term – which, in my opinion, means all five authors of Britannia Unchained should be applying for it in 2015.

These are the people who most strongly represent the ‘something-for-nothing’ sense of entitlement the book decries.

Have any of them ever worked in a factory or carried out manual labour? I’ll answer that for you: With the exception of Elizabeth Truss, who did a few years as a management accountant at Shell/Cable and Wireless, none of them have ever done anything that could be called real work.

In fact, the people they accuse work very long hours – especially the self-employed. When I ran my own news website, I was busy for 12-14 hours a day (much to the distress of my girlfriend). Employees also work long hours, get less annual leave, earn less and pay more – in prices for consumer goods, taxes and hidden taxes – than most of Europe. Average monthly pay rates have now dropped so low that they are failing to cover workers’ costs, leading to borrowing and debt.

Are British workers really among the laziest in the world? Accurate information is hard to find but it seems likely we’re around 24th on the world league table. On a planet with more than 200 sovereign nations (204 attended the London Olympics), that’s not too shabby at all.

Interestingly, the European workers clocking on for the fewest hours are German. Those lazy Teutons! How dare they work so little and still have the powerhouse economy of the continent?

If so many are reluctant to get up in the morning, why are the morning commuter trains standing room only? Or have the Britannia Unchained crowd never used this form of travel?

It seems to me that Britannia Unchained is just another attempt by the Tory right to make us work harder for less pay. The Coalition is currently cutting the public sector and benefits to the bone, while failing to introduce policies that create useful employment, and trying to boost private sector jobs. The private sector has cut wages and pensions. The result is higher unemployment and benefits that cannot sustain living costs, creating a working-age population desperate for any kind of employment at all (even at the too-low wages already discussed).

And let’s remember that Conservatives want to remove employment laws to make it easier to dismiss employees. In other words, they want a workforce that will toil for a pittance, under threat of swift dismissal and the loss of what little they have.

Why do they think this will improve the UK’s performance?

We already work longer hours and have less protective legislation than in Europe (such as the European Time Directive). But we are less productive in terms of GDP than their French and German counterparts, who work fewer hours and are protected by the likes of the ETD.

France is more unionised than we are, yet its production per employee is higher.

The problem is poor management and bad leadership. Poor productivity is almost always due to poor investment and poor training. Workers are abused when they should be treated as an investment. They lose motivation and when managers get their decisions wrong, they blame the workers.

Working class people are sick of grafting for low pay and in poor working conditions, to be exploited by the types of people represented by the authors of Britannia Unchained.

Is it any wonder we feel de-motivated?

I started this article by linking The Dandy to Britannia Unchained, noting that one was coming to the end of its life in print while the other was about to be published for the first time. I’ll end by pointing out a quality they have in common.

The Dandy is closing because it represents ideas that are now tired and out-of-date. Britannia Unchained should never see publication – for the same reason.