Tag Archives: industry

As the election campaign focuses on the economy, let’s remember what the Tories have done to it

Sajid Javid: He’s saying the Tories are better for the economy – but their plan has always been to ruin it for working people.

The Conservatives and Labour are promoting their economic plans today (November 7), with the Tories heavily attacking Labour plans.

But let’s remind ourselves about what the Tories have done.

Back in 2016 This Site pointed out that every Conservative government from Margaret Thatcher onwards has deliberately worked to de-industrialise the UK and increase unemployment and poverty.

Here’s a reminder of those findings:

 The Impact of Thatcherism on Health and Well-Being in Britain, published by Durham University, stated that Margaret Thatcher, along with other leading Tory neoliberals of the 1970s like Keith Joseph and Nicholas Ridley, decided that they needed to end full employment.

The paper states: “In the years between 1975 and 1979, those around Thatcher—in particular, Keith Joseph and Nicholas Ridley—developed detailed proposals for government. Their view was that defeat of the movement that had forced Heath’s U-turn [from neoliberalism to Keynesianism – it prompted the famous statement, “The lady’s not for turning”] would require, not simply the disengagement of the state from industry, but the substantial destruction of Britain’s remaining industrial base.

“The full employment that had been sustained across most of the post-war period was seen, together with the broader security offered by the welfare state, to be at the root of an unprecedented self-confidence among working-class communities.

“In particular, large-scale manufacturing and extraction industries, generally strongly unionized and often linked to the large-scale provision of social housing at subsidized rents by local government, were seen to underpin a working-class solidarity that gave this confidence a potent political expression.”

So they killed those industries, ended full employment and parked millions of people on incapacity (now sickness and/or disability benefits).

This is why Mrs Thatcher was so desperate to break the miners.

I continued by saying that the Conservative government…

is now deliberately cutting off access to benefit payments – in order to render working-class people destitute.

They knew the result would be a high budget deficit; this was to be used as an excuse for the cuts that would plunge working-class people into poverty.

Make no mistake: This was a deliberate, pre-meditated plan, and anybody who voted ‘Conservative’ between 1979 and 2015 has actively supported it, whether they were aware of it or not.

Source: Proven: The Thatcher project aimed to kill industry and create unemployment. It succeeded | Vox Political

Why are we even discussing this? the CBI really IS scaremongering over Labour’s nationalisation plans

The Confederation of British Industry has started its usual pre-election campaign against the Labour Party – with the usual nonsense claims about Labour nationalisation policies.

It seems we are being asked to believe that bringing national utilities, the railways and the Royal Mail back into public ownership will cost the Treasury £196 billion, with no concurrent benefits to the economy.

I have to agree with Labour on this; it is nothing but scaremongering – and not very clever scaremongering, at that.

For a start, most of the utilities and railway firms Labour wants to take back into public ownership are currently owned by foreign firms – many of them owned by foreign governments.

That’s a lot of UK citizens’ money going abroad, right there. Bringing those firms back into public ownership would bring huge amounts of money back into the UK economy, instead of subsidising services in other lands.

We have been led to believe that Vince Cable sold our Royal Mail to hedge funds. Who knows where they’re putting the profits? That cash certainly doesn’t seem to be going back into the business. A tax haven, perhaps?

If so, then bringing the Royal Mail back into public ownership not only safeguards our postal service but brings huge amounts of money back into the UK economy.

That’s just off the top of my head.

The CBI admits its analysis is flawed, in that it only concentrates on the costs of any renationalisation, and explicitly does not consider any benefits.

The claims of this organisation have no value at all.

Source: Labour plans to renationalise utilities, railways and Royal Mail would cost £196bn, CBI claims | The Independent

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If Brexit is about taking back control from the EU, why is Gatwick Airport now owned by the French?

Gatwick Airport: Britain had a chance to “take back control” of it this week, but a French firm has bought the controlling interest in it instead.

It’s bad enough that Gatwick wasn’t owned by the British when it was sold, but selling it to the French – at a time when all government propaganda is about retaking control from Europe – makes a worse mockery of Brexit than it already is.

Foreigners control our water supplies and railway services; they control our energy suppliers and are heavily involved in our technology industries (as concerns about Chinese firm Huawei have demonstrated).

And yet Theresa May keeps trying to tell us she is taking back control of our destiny for us.

Let’s remember it was Conservatives like Mrs May who originally sold off our state-owned assets. At the time, they tried to make it seem that we were taking back control, too.

(Remember? It was all about, “Now, you have a chance to own [BT/British Gas/British Water/British Rail/whatever else they were flogging that week]!” And who ended up owning those things? Firms from Europe. And to make matters worse, they’re mostly nationalised firms from Europe!)

Brexit is not about the British taking back control of anything. It is about the Tories tightening their grip around our throats after they sold off everything that was worth controlling – to Europe.

And don’t complain about the Opposition parties failing to call a second referendum. Simple Parliamentary arithmetic shows they can’t.

Anybody who whines about Jeremy Corbyn failing to stop Brexit needs to take a crash course in personal responsibility. The buck stopped with the people, back in June 2016.

And it’s the people who will suffer, if Brexit happens in any of the forms Mrs May is threatening.

France’s Vinci Airports is taking a controlling stake in Gatwick for £2.9bn, a week after the UK’s second-biggest airport was brought to a standstill by a series of drone sightings.

A consortium led by the US investment fund Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) is selling a majority stake of 50.01% in the airport to Vinci Airports, one of the world’s top airport operators and part of the infrastructure group Vinci. Vinci and GIP will manage Gatwick together.

The deal, which was agreed on Thursday, was delayed by the chaos caused by three days of drone sightings in the run-up to Christmas. Gatwick, the eighth-busiest airport in Europe by passenger numbers, was forced to close its runway, disrupting flights for 140,000 passengers.

Source: Gatwick airport: majority stake sold to French group | Business | The Guardian

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Opposition to Labour’s plan for business is a real shot in the foot for the UK’s economy

Inspirational: John McDonnell announced a great policy to involve the British workforce in wealth-creation – and employers vowed to do everything in their power to prevent it. You can see who has our best interests at heart.

You’ve got to hand it to Britain’s business leaders – they really know how to de-motivate the workforce and undermine the economy.

Labour’s John McDonnell announced a policy that would hand workers an interest in their employers’ success – and an average dividence of £500 a year – and what did the bosses do? They announced that they would do everything in their power to sabotage such a plan.

How savage. How selfish. How sickening. I heard it on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme just after 6am, as I was taking Mrs Mike and her mother to Stoke University Hospital for an operation and I nearly threw up my breakfast in disgust. Fortunately for residents of – and travellers on – the A53, I was able to hold myself in check.

Here’s Mr McDonnell explaining the new policy:

And what did business bosses have to say about that? The Financial Times provides us with a few answers:

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director-general, said Labour’s “diktat on employee share ownership will only encourage investors to pack their bags and will harm those who can least afford it. If investment falls, so does productivity and pay.”

Stephen Martin, director-general of the Institute of Directors, argued that the policy could cause wide-reaching damage to the UK economy. “To effectively force companies to transfer 10 per cent of company ownership from existing shareholders to employees is far too draconian,” he said. “It could have a negative effect on business investment and business formation in the UK, and undermine the functioning of UK capital markets.”

Draconian, did he say? Isn’t it more draconian to force poor wage settlements on employees in order to take an ever-larger, undeserved, share of profits? Isn’t it more draconian to deny the people who actually create those profits even the smallest say in how their company should be run? I think it is.

On the Today programme, some pundit claimed the policy would be a bonanza for employment lawyers who would be hired to find ways to prevent firms from having to pay workers a single bean.

That is the attitude of business leaders in Conservative Britain: “Never mind you, Jack – I’m all right!”

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Yet another U-turn from Tory Theresa, so now firms won’t have to have workers on their boards

Theresa May U-turned at the CBI conference in London [Image: Andy Rain/EPA].

Theresa May U-turned at the CBI conference in London [Image: Andy Rain/EPA].

This seems less a policy change and more a flat-out lie to make Theresa May more electable, back in July.

She never meant to publish plans for workers and consumers to be represented on company boards by the end of the year.

Her U-turn certainly shows that she doesn’t care for workers as much as it does for company bosses.

So the whole fabric of “one nation” or “caring” Conservatism is now in tatters and Mrs May’s Tories are revealed to be the creatures of naked greed that they always were.

They’re wearing the “Emperor’s new clothes”, rather than turning over a new leaf.

In her keynote speech at the CBI conference today (November 21), she said:

“While it is important that the voices of workers and consumers should be represented, I can categorically tell you that this is not about mandating works councils, or the direct appointment of workers or trade union representatives on boards,” the prime minister told a packed room in central London.

“Some companies may find that these models work best for them – but there are other routes that use existing board structures, complemented or supplemented by advisory councils or panels, to ensure all those with a stake in the company are properly represented. It will be a question of finding the model that works.”

But firms already have an obligation to ‘regard the interests of the company’s employees’, according to the Companies Act of 2006, which was passed by a Labour government.

Theresa May has given company directors an excuse to limit workers’ representation to what it is now.

This writer has seen such representation in action and it didn’t work; the good sense of the employees was drowned out by the greed of the bosses.

The decision not only harms the interests of working people; it harms the companies employing them, who could have benefited from their sensible input.

All because Theresa May is afraid of big business – not a kitten, more a corporate poodle.

Source: Theresa May: I won’t force companies to appoint workers to their boards | Business | The Guardian

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Proven: The Thatcher project aimed to kill industry and create unemployment. It succeeded

zde-industrialisation-destitution

There can be no doubt any more: From Margaret Thatcher onwards, the Conservative Party has deliberately worked to plunge most of the UK into poverty.

The Jobs, Welfare and Austerity report links very well with a paper published a couple of years ago, The Impact of Thatcherism on Health and Well-Being in Britain, published by Durham University, stated that Margaret Thatcher, along with other leading Tory neoliberals of the 1970s like Keith Joseph and Nicholas Ridley, decided that they needed to end full employment.

The paper states: “In the years between 1975 and 1979, those around Thatcher—in particular, Keith Joseph and Nicholas Ridley—developed detailed proposals for government. Their view was that defeat of the movement that had forced Heath’s U-turn [from neoliberalism to Keynesianism – it prompted the famous statement, “The lady’s not for turning”] would require, not simply the disengagement of the state from industry, but the substantial destruction of Britain’s remaining industrial base.

“The full employment that had been sustained across most of the post-war period was seen, together with the broader security offered by the welfare state, to be at the root of an unprecedented self-confidence among working-class communities.

“In particular, large-scale manufacturing and extraction industries, generally strongly unionized and often linked to the large-scale provision of social housing at subsidized rents by local government, were seen to underpin a working-class solidarity that gave this confidence a potent political expression.”

So they killed those industries, ended full employment and parked millions of people on incapacity (now sickness and/or disability benefits). Here’s the proof of that claim:

161107-incapacity-benefit-claimants

You see, when Tories say Labour is responsible for the high number of sickness and/or disability benefit claimants, they are lying.

Marry this information with the new data from Sheffield Hallam University and you can see that the Conservative Party has deliberately de-industrialised the UK – in order to ensure a high rate of unemployment – and is now deliberately cutting off access to benefit payments – in order to render working-class people destitute.

They knew the result would be a high budget deficit; this was to be used as an excuse for the cuts that would plunge working-class people into poverty.

Make no mistake: This was a deliberate, pre-meditated plan, and anybody who voted ‘Conservative’ between 1979 and 2015 has actively supported it, whether they were aware of it or not.

The enduring impact of closing factories and shutting coalmines in the 1980s has been revealed in new research showing that the drain on the exchequer from former industrial areas is responsible for up to half the government’s £55bn budget deficit.

In the first comprehensive analysis of the cost to the state of the de-industrialisation that began three decades ago, Sheffield Hallam University said the annual bill was at least £20bn and was perhaps as high as £30bn.

The report found that the cumulative legacy of the hollowing-out of manufacturing and the year-long miners’ strike of 1984-85 was a far heavier concentration of people claiming incapacity benefits than in the richer parts of Britain and a more widespread use of tax credits to top up the wages of those in low-paid jobs.

The report’s co-author, Prof Steve Fothergill, said: “The long-term effect of job destruction in older industrial Britain has been to park vast numbers out of the labour market on incapacity benefits, these days employment and support allowance (ESA). The cost to the Treasury is immense, especially if all the top-up benefits are included.

“Added to this, low wages in these weaker local economies have jacked up spending on in-work benefits such as tax credits and reduced income tax revenue. None of these impacts have diminished over the years, despite the recent upturn and efforts to cut claimant numbers.

“We estimate that the ongoing cost to the exchequer, in extra benefit spending and lost tax revenue, is at least £20bn a year, and possibly nearer £30bn. To put this another way, approaching half the current budget deficit is the result of job destruction in Britain’s older industrial areas.”

The report – Jobs, Welfare and Austerity – said there was a continuous thread linking what happened to British industry in the 1980s to the welfare cuts being borne by communities in the north, Scotland and Wales today.

Source: Half UK budget deficit ‘is down to job destruction in older industrial areas’ | Business | The Guardian

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If banks want regulation costs cut, they should be more trustworthy

With people like this in charge of banks - and then going on to important roles in Conservative-led governments, can either the banks or the government be trusted to do what's right for UK citizens?

With people like this in charge of banks – and then going on to important roles in Conservative-led governments, can either the banks or the government be trusted to do what’s right for UK citizens?

Banks and other financial organisations want the Conservative government to slash the cost of complying with new regulations, according to the Confederation of British Industry. Doesn’t your heart just bleed for them?

Thse are the organisations that sucked the UK into the global financial crisis and allowed the Conservatives to form a government after the 2010 election (they didn’t win it) with a false claim that Labour overspent.

Now they want the regulations that prevent them from causing another crisis to be eased.

Considering the banks’ record, it would be madness to do so. Let’s see how long it takes the Tories to comply.

According to The Guardian, “As the City recovers from the financial crisis, companies are lobbying for an end to criticism of the banking industry and an easing of rules designed to prevent another crisis.

“They argue the sector is a big employer and that the City’s position as a financial centre is important for the UK’s economy.”

Finance is indeed a big employer, here in the UK – but only because Conservative-led governments since 2010 have utterly failed to build up any other industry while continuing to pander to the banks.

Meanwhile, the taxpayer has been supporting banks heavily, with 4.21 per cent of government spending – that’s £41 billion per year – being supplied to these very profitable institutions for no very good reason.

And they’re complaining about the cost of regulations!

It gets better. The regulations against which they are complaining include:

  • The ring-fence required by 2019 to separate retail and investment banking, so that bad investments cannot affect the safety of depositors’ money.
  • The introduction of criminal liability for senior executives whose reckless behaviour causes their company to fail.

That’s right – bank bosses are angry that the government is actually trying to stop them from penalising ordinary account holders for their gambling losses, and upset that they might have to pay a debt to society if their decisions harm the viability of their firms.

Clearly these bankers have not learned their lesson and want to inflict further debt upon the taxpayer while making off like the bandits they are.

According to The Guardian, “HSBC has taken the lead for the banks by threatening to leave the UK if it decides the cost of remaining is too great. Britain’s biggest bank listed ringfencing and the [bank] levy, which HSBC says affects it disproportionately, as important considerations.”

This is the bank that, earlier this year, was implicated in one of the biggest organised tax avoidance schemes to be uncovered in the UK in recent times.

It is important to note that the survey was compiled with accounting firm PwC, which has been singled out by HM Revenue and Customs as having created hugely lucrative schemes to help companies and the hugely wealthy to avoid paying their taxes.

Shouldn’t the government’s response be: “F*** off, then – but pay your back taxes first”?

The last thing the government should do is give in to these demands, and taxpayers across the country should write in to George Osborne, warning him against any such move.

There is no reason to trust the banks with any more responsibility than the bare minimum. They simply haven’t earned our trust back yet.

If the banks want more freedom, they should be told to bloody well earn it.

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Labour’s new policies show it has been listening

He means business: Ed Miliband announces Labour's plans for business and industry at Jaguar Land Rover in the West Midlands.

He means business: Ed Miliband announces Labour’s plans for business and industry at Jaguar Land Rover in the West Midlands.

The Labour Party has announced a series of new policies intended to improve conditions for both small and large industries in the UK.

They are the latest in an apparently-unending flood of new policies to be placed before the public since the ‘long campaign’ began in earnest at the beginning of the year.

It seems likely that they follow on from a series of in-depth public consultations, such as ‘Your Britain’, that the party has always said would contribute to the shape of its 2015 manifesto.

For once, it seems, a political party was not lying!

Labour announced yesterday, “Ed Miliband will emphasise that Labour’s plan for creating wealth does not rely on just a few at the very top but on boosting productivity in every business and sector of the British economy.

“[He] will declare that Britain needs a better plan for prosperity than the Government’s failing plan which relies on allowing the most powerful and wealthy to do whatever they want.”

Crucially, the party is emphasising that “this modern industrial strategy is a different approach for Labour than in the past because it seeks to support working families not simply through tax-and-spend redistribution but by building a more inclusive prosperity.”

Here are the key points, as described by Labour:

Labour will back small businesses and new entrepreneurs who will provide the growth and jobs of the future.

·         Cutting business rates

·         Improving training and apprenticeships

·         Promoting competition in energy and banking to ensure market efficiency, lower bills and better access to finance

·         Handing more economic power to every part of the UK with £30 billion of devolved funding

Labour will back our biggest exporters which need certainty to invest:

·         Staying in a reformed EU and not taking risks with our membership

·         Building a strong economic foundation with a tough and balanced approach to cutting the deficit

·         Making long-term investment by implementing the Armitt Review recommendation for a National Infrastructure Commission

·         Guaranteeing Britain has the most competitive rate of corporation tax in the G7

·         Promoting long-termism by changing the rules on takeovers

Labour will back our big employing sectors such as retail and social care by tackling undercutting, with firms coming together to raise productivity and standards: 

·         Industry led bodies to raise productivity, like we have now in the car industry

·         Banning exploitative zero hours contracts

·         Raising the National Minimum Wage closer to average earnings  – £8 an hour by 2020

·         Offering tax breaks to employers who adopt the Living Wage

·         Making it illegal to undercut by exploiting migrant workers

Labour will back every sector of the economy by ensuring the public sector plays an active part in driving up productivity by: 

·         Recognising its role in supporting cutting-edge innovation and research

·         Making strategic investment and procurement decisions

In a speech at Jaguar Land Rover in the West Midlands, Mr Miliband was expected to attack the current situation under the Conservative-led Coalition government: “When working people are held back, the country doesn’t prosper as it should. When families don’t have money to spend, it holds back our economy.  When there is so much insecurity in the economy, businesses can’t plan for the long term. When people don’t have the chance to develop their skills and pursue a promotion, our companies become less productive and less competitive in the world.”

He was expected to promise support for both small and large businesses: “The jobs of tomorrow will come from a large number of small businesses, not simply a small number of large ones. Our plan recognises that. We will have a fairer tax system, keeping corporation tax the lowest in the G7 for large businesses, but also cutting and freezing business rates for smaller ones. We will create a British Investment Bank, supported by a network of new regional banks and more competition in business banking on the high street, to help small businesses grow. And a new Small Business Administration to co-ordinate work across government to help small businesses succeed.”

There are also plans to decentralise power, moving it away from London, and to help businesses plan for the long term.

That’s a lot of information to absorb in one go. What do you think of it?

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2010 Ed Balls vs 2014 Ed Balls – alittleecon

140528labour

Those readers who are determined to paint Vox Political as a Labour Party apologist site may be surprised to see this blog publicising an article by alittleecon which lambasts the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer for his apparent capitulation to the Coalition’s economic viewpoints.

In it, Alex Little compares words spoken by Ed Balls at the Labour Party conference last week with those he spoke in what has become known as his ‘Bloomberg’ speech of 2010 – unfavourably.

You can visit the site to compare the speech excerpts yourself, but Mr Little’s conclusions bear quoting here. He writes: “It seems he thinks he has lost the argument and far from standing outside the consensus, he’s now lining up alongside George Osborne to see who can outbid each other on the consensus (but bogus) concept of fiscal responsibility.

“He has totally given up on trying to win the argument and is now quite prepared to pretend the earth is flat, believing that enough voters actually do think the earth is flat to benefit him politically. It’s an incredibly cowardly and cynical point of view, and one that takes us all for fools. Whether he is right about the electorate being fools remains to be seen.”

The consensus concept of fiscal responsibility is that the government needs to “balance the books”, as Mr Balls described it last week – using policies of austerity, which means cuts in government spending and services.

We know from the last four and a half years that this policy is absolute and utter rubbish; it is a tool of neoliberals, intended to create a sense of emergency in the general public in order to make people more likely to accept the strictures being placed on them – for a lie.

Fiscal austerity can never “balance the books”.

Fiscal austerity removes money from the national economy, meaning the government takes less tax every year. This means it becomes increasingly difficult to fund public services – the government must either borrow more money or reduce its spending still further by cutting services or selling them off to the private sector.

The process has been accelerated in some countries (including the UK) by the practice of cutting income taxes for the obscenely rich and corporation tax charged to large and international firms, diminishing the tax take even further.

Fiscal austerity is not about being able to “balance the books” – it is about grossly enriching those who already have too much via the further impoverishment of those who are already poor.

We have Michael Meacher’s letter in The Guardian, republished here, to remind us of the failure of fiscal austerity to do what George Osborne said it would do. There is no reason to believe that Ed Balls will be more successful in pursuing what we all now know to be a pointless cover story for what the police describe as a distraction theft.

It is the latest development in a crime that has been inflicted on the British people since the late 1970s, when Margaret Thatcher’s neoliberals devised their plan to reverse the progress of the years since Labour’s historic 1945 election victory. They believed, according to The Impact of Thatcherism on Health and Well-Being in Britain that undermining the working classes “would require, not simply the disengagement of the state from industry, but the substantial destruction of Britain’s remaining industrial base. The full employment that had been sustained across most of the post-war period was seen, together with the broader security offered by the welfare state, to be at the root of an unprecedented self-confidence among working-class communities. Very large-scale unemployment would end the ‘cycle of rising expectations,’ [and] permit the historic defeat of the trade union movement.”

What we need, then, is a reversal of the neoliberalism that has allowed David Cameron to sell the UK off to anybody with a penny in their pocket. Perhaps economists reading this will correct the following if it goes astray, but it seems that, more than anything, we need:

Expansionary budgets that will put money in the hands of people who actually spend it, building up the national economy towards full employment and boosting the tax take.

Tight re-regulation of our industries – particularly finance – to ensure that the money goes where it is needed, and not into the pockets of tax cheats.

Investment in our manufacturing, service and new industries, to repair the damage caused by right-wing neoliberals – including the possible renationalisation of those that have been most seriously mismanaged.

That will do as a start. If Ed Balls can’t commit to any of it, then he needs to make way for somebody who can. This is a job for someone willing to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty – not some namby-pamby neoliberal apologist.

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Employers should never be allowed to dictate the minimum wage

130829milibandstatesman

Here’s an interesting development: Ed Miliband announced today that a Labour government would link the minimum wage to average earnings, after the Low Pay Commission proved itself woefully inadequate for the job.

Employers’ organisation the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) immediately leapt up to scream that politicians should not set wages, completely missing the point that, under Miliband’s plan, politicians wouldn’t.

CBI chief policy director Katja Hall gave verbal evidence of her inability to understand a simple issue when she told Radio 4’s Today programme: “The system we have at the moment has been really successful and that system involves the setting of the minimum wage by an independent Low Pay Commission… They have done a really good job and we think it’s much better the job is left to them rather than given to politicians.”

… Really?

The Miliband plan would not give the job to politicians. It would make the minimum wage a percentage of the average wage.

Mr Miliband said it was a “basic right” that hard work should be rewarded with fair pay.

He also took time to talk to Today, saying: “This gets at what is a terrible scandal in this country… that we still have five million people in paid work, unable to make ends meet.”

Perhaps the reason the CBI doesn’t like this idea is the fact that the average wage includes its own members’ massively over-inflated salaries. Under the proposed scheme, every increase in their own paycheques would require a similar raise for the lowest-paid workers in the country.

There is no reasonable argument against that, but it is what they are arguing against, nonetheless.

Perhaps politicians’ next target should be the CBI itself.

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