Tag Archives: investment

Does money matter more than your life? Corporations prepare lawsuits against countries over Covid-19 protections


Remember the fuss over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)? No?

Let me tell you a story.

Back when the UK was part of the European Union, there was a move to create a trading partnership with the United States, allowing goods to flow between the two power blocs, practically tax free.

But problems arose over a so-called ‘Investor-State Dispute Settlement’ system that would have allowed corporations to prosecute individual nations if they passed laws that – for example – protected citizens from having to buy inferior goods that put their health at risk.

This would have interfered with the corporations’ profits, you see.

The possibility of entering an agreement that gave ultimate power to greedy shareholders rather than national governments that – at least nominally – exist to protect citizens killed the TTIP stone dead.

Now we have evidence of what a good idea this was:

Countries could soon face a ‘wave’ of multi-million dollar lawsuits from multinational corporations claiming compensation for measures introduced to protect people from COVID-19 and its economic fallout, according to a new report.

Researchers have identified more than twenty corporate law firms offering services to mount such cases, which would seek compensation from states for measures that have negatively impacted company profits – including lost future profits.

Measures that could face legal challenges include the state acquisition of private hospitals; steps introduced to ensure that drugs, tests and vaccines are affordable; and relief on rent, debt and utility payments.

Under controversial ‘Investor-State Dispute Settlement’ (ISDS) mechanisms, foreign investors, companies and shareholders are able to sue states directly at obscure international tribunals over a wide range of government actions… in what the researchers describe as “a parallel justice system for the rich”.

This Writer is not aware of the UK being a part of any ISDS procedure, and it is clear that any agreement to take part in one would be an offence against democracy.

Note very carefully that the UK’s Conservative government was very keen to take us into such an agreement with the United States, as part of the EU.

I can only agree with Labour’s John McDonnell…

… and urge that anyone hearing of such lawsuits taking place here in the UK let me know immediately.

Source: Exclusive: Countries to face a ‘wave’ of corporate lawsuits challenging emergency COVID-19 measures | openDemocracy

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Plaid Cymru caught lying about Labour’s planned investment in Wales

Plaid lies: the claim is only out by £68 billion, using the same methodology as Scottish Labour used.

The so-called ‘party of Wales’ has reduced itself to lying about the election, it has been revealed.

The claim that Labour is planning to invest no extra money in Wales is clearly nonsense, as the country will obviously gain more as part of national funding increases.

But here’s Dinah Mulholland, Labour’s candidate in Ceredigion, to explain why Plaid’s representatives are lying [boldings mine]:

“Plaid and some media outlets are claiming that Wales will not get any uplift in funding from Labour, and are making negative comparisons with Labour’s apparent uplift of funding in Scotland.

“However, Labour has committed to an additional £3.4bn of annual funding for Wales. This figure is the Barnett consequential of the devolved areas of the UK manifesto and would have an annual uplift.”

(For those who don’t know, the Barnett formula is the method by which the amount of funding applied to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland changes to reflect changes in spending levels allocated to public services in England, England and Wales, or Great Britain, as appropriate.)

“In Scotland the equivalent is £5bn, in Northern Ireland it is £1.9bn.

“Scottish Labour are talking about £100bn over ten years. To get to this figure, they have taken the £5bn Barnett consequential, estimated the additional infrastructure investment through the Transformational Fund and National Investment Bank at another £5bn. They have then added the two and multiplied by 10 (ten years of a UK Labour Govt) to get £100bn. We would expect to receive substantial investment in Wales through the £400bn Transformation Fund and the £250bn National Investment Bank,

“I have been advised to not commit to a 10 year headline figure in Wales. But if we were to take the same formula as Scottish Labour WALES WOULD GET £68BN.

“Plaid’s mendacity never fails to astound me.”

The person who shared this with This Writer added:

Tip for Plaid Cymru – if you want to quote figures with any credibility, you have to measure like with like.

Tip for anyone with their own brain (Plaid must assume you don’t), look it up for yourself: https://labour.org.uk/manifesto/

Fair point. I think Plaid can kiss its credibility goodbye. But then, here in Brecon and Radnorshire, Plaid did that by throwing in its lot with the Liberal Democrats.

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‘Massive’ investment for Scotland if a Labour government is elected

Jeremy Corbyn has launched a campaign for Labour to win back the confidence of Scottish voters with a promise of “massive” investment.

In a clear challenge to the SNP, which has dominated Scottish politics since the Conservatives came back into office in 2010, he said:

“We will build the homes people need and end homelessness, tackle the climate emergency, provide a social care system that gives dignity to our older people and the carers who look after them, end child poverty and end fuel poverty.

“The SNP and the Tories have neither the ideas or the will to transform Scotland for the better, so are hiding from their records in government.

“This is a once-in-a-generation chance to transform Scotland and the whole UK. When Labour wins, Scotland wins.”

Mr Corbyn was set to reveal details of his plan while visiting Scotland today (Wednesday).

Boris Johnson has already reverted to the scaremongering tactics of the 2015 and 2017 elections, claiming that an alliance between Mr Corbyn and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon would be bad for the UK (with no evidence to support his words, as usual).

But Mr Corbyn’s aggressive stance suggests he is trying to win back large numbers of Scotland’s Westminster Parliamentary seats for Labour.

His aim appears to be to ensure that the anti-Tory vote is not divided, as it was in 2017, allowing Conservatives to win Scottish seats.

And his support for another Scottish independence referendum is also likely to charm voters who have supported Scottish nationalists.

The SNP has had little to say after Mr Corbyn laid down his gauntlet – but that may change once the details become clear.

That party’s lukewarm offer on childcare is unlikely to win voters over, in the face of the promises to young people that Labour as already revealed.

Source: General election 2019: Corbyn pledges ‘massive’ Scottish investment – BBC News

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Here are the simple reasons Tory economic policy has been disastrously stupid for the past seven years

Philip Hammond with John McDonnell. Both know that governments do not go bust, which means they can borrow more cheaply than companies. Mr Hammond’s problem is he is ideologically opposed to that kind of borrowing [Image: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA].

We should all be grateful to Larry Elliott at The Guardian – and also to Philip Hammond – for making it easier to discuss the economy in terms everybody can understand.

That is, everybody except Conservatives, it seems.

Tory policy for the last several decades has been to sell off publicly-owned industries and services and cut the welfare state, in order to reduce taxes and provide higher returns to people who run the businesses that make the most money. The rest of us can go hang, in their opinion.

Trouble is, they arrogantly failed to understand that their well-being depends on the prosperity of the rest of the population; if the majority of people don’t have the wherewithal to buy the products produced by the rich, they won’t stay rich for very long.

The financial crash happened because people who weren’t earning enough were being offered loans they couldn’t pay off – by financiers who were betting on them being unable to service the debt.

When the prediction came true, the Conservatives managed to slither into office on the back of a lie that Labour had spent too much. This narrative clearly indicated the choice they took – to cut public spending massively.

This ‘starve the beast’ policy meant the poorest in society – unemployed and working-class people – were starved of money. As the Tories cut public spending in order to reduce the national deficit, the debt burden on these already-poor people rose, hugely increasing poverty. The statistics hide this fact because they are based on average earnings and average earnings have fallen.

The Tories thought their reduction in public investment would be balanced by an increase in private investment – but the boardroom bosses knew there was no point because their products would be bought by too few people to make the investment worthwhile.

That is the reason businesses have taken the easy way out – employing more people on the lower rates of pay and worse in-work benefits supported by the Tories’ cruel policies in order to increase their profits by minimising their outlay.

It is also the reason that public spending on infrastructure is the only realistic way of boosting the economy and reducing the national debt. John McDonnell has it exactly right:

Extra borrowing certainly means an increase in the national debt and higher debt interest payments in the short term, but that is not the real issue.

Imagine the chief executive of a FTSE 100 company going on TV to announce that the company was planning to go to the City to finance a new plant. The interview would not centre on what the investment meant for the company’s debt interest payments. The chief executive would be asked about what it meant for jobs, earnings and profits.

In the event that the chief executive was asked about the cost of the investment, they would give the same answer as McDonnell did, that at current rates of interest the investment would more than pay for itself, because otherwise we would not be doing it. Our debt interest payments will depend on what happens to interest rates and inflation, but our best judgment is that the investment will wash itself.

The Tories cannot support this plan because it conflicts with their neoliberal ideology, which demands that government’s must not spend money and must not interfere in industry.

This proves that their neoliberalism is fatally flawed:

Instead of obsessing about the red herring of debt interest payments, more attention should be paid to the things that do matter. Labour is planning to borrow to invest, not to cover day-to-day government spending, and that makes sense if the return on the investment is higher than the cost of financing the extra debt.

Governments do not go bust, which means that they can borrow more cheaply than companies. Since the financial crisis of a decade ago, interest rates have been historically low and if he chose to do so, Hammond could borrow money at a cost of little more than 2%, below the current rate of inflation.

That’s right – debt is a red herring. It only becomes important when government policy deliberately increases it in order to pressurise poor and working-class people.

Investment in the right places will bring a return of around six times the cost of debt interest payments – a flood of new money that could revitalise a UK economy that has been withering under Tory mismanagement for many years.

And pay special attention to the point that governments do not go bust – at least, UK governments don’t. This is because we have our own sovereign currency and can manipulate it, if needed, to ease our debt burden. That’s what quantitative easing was all about.

Proof of this point is the fact that, even when the UK’s credit rating was slashed after George Osborne missed all his deficit and debt targets, the cost of borrowing – for the government – stayed at rock-bottom.

But both Mr Osborne and his successor, Mr Hammond, have ignored this opportunity. It is against their beliefs as Tories.

So the evidence is clear:

Tory policies don’t work.

Labour policies will.

No wonder the Conservatives are trying to distract you with other things.

What a shame for them that the examples in the Guardian article – Brexit and the implied improprieties of Damian Green – are just as damaging to a government that can only survive if we are stupid enough to believe the stupid things they do.


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Tories have frittered away half a trillion pounds. Is this good financial management?

This looks like another result of Brexit.

It is balance of payments data – the difference between the amount we pay to foreign countries for goods and services and the amount we receive – that shows the loss.

Also, direct investment in the UK by foreign firms has nose-dived.

It is exactly as This Writer warned, only a few days ago.

The really galling aspect of this is that the minority Conservative government will still claim to be the party of sensible financial management, even though it is its own division over Brexit that has created the uncertainty in which the money has disappeared.

Remember: Brexit is happening because David Cameron thought a referendum on EU membership would unify the Tories. It didn’t.

Remember: The vote to leave the European Union was based very strongly on lies and wild speculation by people who knew better but were trying to trick the public. There was never any chance of the NHS seeing £350 million of investment per week, for example.

Remember: The Conservatives have botched negotiations on the terms of our departure so badly that businesses are fleeing the UK. They can’t get away fast enough.

The longer this farce continues, the worse it will be for the UK as a whole.

And it will be the poor who bear the brunt of the harm.

Global banks and international bond strategists have been left stunned by revised ONS figures showing that Britain is £490bn poorer than had been ­assumed and no longer has any reserve of net foreign assets, depriving the country of its safety margin as Brexit talks reach a crucial juncture.

A massive write-down in the UK balance of payments data shows that Britain’s stock of wealth – the net international investment position – has collapsed from a surplus of £469bn to a net deficit of £22bn. This transforms the outlook for sterling and the gilts markets.

“Half a trillion pounds has gone missing. This is equivalent to 25pc of GDP,” said Mark Capleton, UK rates strategist at Bank of America.

Making matters worse, foreign ­direct investment (FDI) by companies is plummeting. It fell from a £120bn surplus in the first half 2016 to a £25bn deficit over the same period of this year.

Source: Britain’s missing billions: Revised figures reveal UK is £490bn poorer than previously thought


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Sell-off means ‘Green Investment Bank’ is now mis-named

Perhaps a better name, now that it has been taken over by Australian money-grubbers Macquarie, would be ‘Bank of Asset-Stripping, Turpitude* And Recondite** Debt’.

Unfortunately the acronym spells out ‘Bastard’. Some may think that’s about right.

There certainly seems to be a certain lack of moral rectitude about the sale.

The minority Tory government’s press release states that “new owner Macquarie has committed to the GIB’s target of leading £3 billion of investment in green energy projects over next 3 years”.

Only £3 billion? The GIB ploughed more than £5 billion worth of investment into green projects in its first two years of existence. Isn’t it supposed to be increasing investment, rather than cutting it?

The press release continues: “The Climate Change and Industry Minister, Claire Perry, confirmed [on 18 August 2017] that the sale of the Green Investment Bank (GIB) to Macquarie Group Limited has now been completed”.

And how nice it is to see Macquarie confirmed as the buyer. Back in January, the Tories refused to admit that Macquarie was the preferred bidder, citing “commercial sensitivity”.

This was at a time when Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said that “Macquarie not only has a dismal and terrible environmental record, it also has an appalling track record of asset-stripping… This selling off could lead to the bank being fatally undermined as an enduring institution”.

We were told at the time that the Green Investment Bank was set up with £3.8 billion of government (meaning our) money, but the Tory press release states: “The £2.3 billion deal ensures that all the taxpayer funding invested in GIBsince its creation, including set-up costs, has been returned with a gain of approximately £186 million.”

It continues: “The sale proceeds of £1.75 billion, which has [sic] now been received, sees all taxpayer funding invested in GIG returned with a gain of around £186 million. This, together with over £500 million of current outstanding commitments which will now be met by Macquarie and its partners rather than taxpayers, means that the transaction value is around £2.3 billion.”

Something can’t be right because the total is £1.5 billion short of the original investment.

The Tories seem to want us to believe that only £1.565 billion of our money was put into the Green Investment Bank. What about the rest of it?

And, even if the claim of £186 million profit is to be believed, that would account for less than half of the £447 million debt the UK racks up every day under Conservative economic mismanagement. That money has already gone.

It seems likely that the bank will be stripped of at least some of its assets by Macquarie – and the Tories knew about this. In January, former Energy minister Nick Hurd (son of Douglas; it must be nice to have your entry into Parliament ensured by your parentage) said he was unopposed to the sale of assets: “Let’s not get into a position where we say holding on to assets is good in itself.”

But selling them for the sake of selling them is just as bad, isn’t it?

These are probably just some of the reasons the Tories were keen to distract us all from the sale – by crying about the fact that Big Ben, the famous bell in the clock tower of the Palace of Westminster, has been taken out of action for four years, while restoration work takes place.

So what? It won’t be gone forever – which is more than can be said for the Conservative Party’s commitment to the environment.

*It means ‘corruption’.

**It means ‘concealed’.


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The ‘Repeal Bill’ will put profit over people in a double-whammy for the Tories

The Tories promised they would take back control after Brexit. They meant they would take it AWAY – from US [Image: PA].

If you were wondering why the Tories have quietly dropped their dodgy ‘Bill of Rights’, it’s because they don’t need it any more – they can achieve the same aims, with far less fuss, in their so-called ‘Repeal Bill’.

The Bill will be the most dishonest piece of legislation to go through Parliament in decades – starting with its title. It will repeal nothing. The stated aim is to enshrine European laws that the UK observes (without having passed them as our own) into UK law, to ensure a smoother transition when Brexit happens.

But this is not true. The Tories intend to pick and choose which EU laws get to go on the UK statute book – and the plan is to ensure that the people lose out to corporations on every line.

So the ‘Bill of Rights’ – which was intended primarily to remove rights that had been conferred on UK citizens by the EU – will no longer be necessary; the Tories will simply cut those rights out of the Repeal Bill and hide it from the public.

Similarly, the Tories won’t have to face public scrutiny over their plans to ensure that corporations can sue the UK government if any future administration tries to put the good of the citizens before private profit.

The so-called Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) system was a principle reason the US-EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement foundered last year. Soon after, it was rumoured that the whole project may have been demanded by the UK government, with the intention of putting corporations in control.

Now, with our departure from the EU imminent, the Tories don’t need anybody else’s permission to impose the worst of all possible worlds on the people of the United Kingdom.

They are planning a new hierarchy, with working people at the bottom, enjoying no rights other than what their overprivileged toff masters hand down to them.

Next will be the apparatus of the state, as embodied in the elected government.

But the government will be a slave to the will of the corporations.

And who will be at the top of this system?

Why, shareholders in corporations, of course. And wouldn’t it be a strange coincidence if these boardrooms turned out to be stuffed with people who are currently Conservative government ministers?

Perhaps you should ask your Tory-voting neighbour why they support this kind of corruption.

Fundamental rights and powers that ordinary citizens currently enjoy will be scrapped.

This week we have discovered, for instance, that British citizens will no longer be able to sue the government for breaking the law.We will lose our rights, if the government gets its way, to sue for compensation in court when the government acts illegally and infringes our rights at work, or our right to a clean and healthy environment.

Currently, a European ruling means an individual can seek damages if the government has failed to properly implement the law. But the government says that no similar domestic law exists, so there will be no legal mechanism to get such redress in future.

There will be plenty more where this comes from. The Great Repeal Bill, after all, awards our government powers that no modern government has enjoyed in peacetime. And far from simply changing the words “European Union” into “United Kingdom”, ministers will gain the ability to make radical changes to fundamental human rights and environmental protections that simply don’t make sense when taken out of an EU context.

As if this weren’t bad enough, Trade Secretary Liam Fox is touring the planet looking for unsavoury regimes we can sign deregulatory trade deals with. And at the heart of those trade deals, in all likelihood, will be special “corporate courts” that allow foreign businesses the power to sue governments for regulations they judge to be “unfair”.

That’s right – as British citizens lose their ability to hold the government to account in court, foreign multinationals will gain rights to sue the government in secret arbitration panels for passing a regulation or standard that those corporations believe will damage their profits.

We know this because these “courts”, formally known as Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), already exist in hundreds of investment deals in which countries all over the world have been secretly sued for such radical actions as putting cigarettes in plain packaging, placing a moratorium on fracking, removing toxic chemicals from petrol. No appeal is allowed. And we know that the British government has been one of the most vociferous in the world in putting the case for such courts.

Read more: The Government is using Brexit to take control away from citizens and give it to corporations


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The Autumn (non-) Statement: Why have there been so few howls of outrage in response?

Over a cliff: The Brexit bus, with all its claims of a new Golden Age for the UK, teeters on the edge. Boris Johnson, in the driver's seat, says: "Boys? I've got an idea."

Over a cliff: The Brexit bus, with all its claims of a new Golden Age for the UK, teeters on the edge. Boris Johnson, in the driver’s seat, says: “Boys? I’ve got an idea.” Then Philip Hammond walks up and pushes bus, Boris and Britain over the precipice.

Probably because there are very few people around with the economic expertise to know that outrage is the proper way to respond.

Philip Hammond’s Autumn Statement – his first real contribution to UK politics as Chancellor of the Exchequer – was a long admission that the Conservative Party has ruined the country, hidden behind an attempt to blame it all on Brexit.

No, Philip; your party’s policies are responsible.

So it seems the UK is going to have to borrow an extra £59 billion – just to cover the cost to the country of Brexit.

This means the claim on the side of the famous red Brexit bus, that we could put £350 million a week into NHS services was definitely a lie. Let’s not beat around the bush any more – it was a lie and the people who made that statement are liars who cannot be trusted with anything.

Oh – but Boris Johnson, one of the arch-liars, is now Foreign Secretary and has a huge responsibility to deliver the best possible exit from the European Union for the population of the UK. Honestly, how do you think that’s going to work out?

We now know there will be less money available for the NHS and other public services than before, due to lower productivity growth (because foreign countries aren’t buying from us) and – yes – lower immigration.

Your wages and prosperity will suffer like never before, because of this. But I bet your right-wing neighbour still thinks immigrant-bashing is a worthwhile activity.

Paul Johnson, of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, has said, “One cannot stress enough how dreadful that is.”

And all as a result of the vote for a Conservative Government last year.

It is worth emphasizing, as many commentators have, the almost-complete failure to mention the National Health Service or provide any more money for it, even though it is in a funding crisis of horrifying proportions. Mr Hammond says announcements about extra funding for the service have already been made, ignoring the fact that his government has not provided enough.

Perhaps one reason for this is the pitiful increase in public investment announced by Mr Hammond, at a time when interest rates are at an all-time low. There will never be a better time to borrow money and invest it in the UK’s infrastructure, but instead we’re getting 0.3 or 0.4 per cent of GDP, in each financial year leading up to 2020 – slightly more than from New Labour in the years before the financial crisis.

This tells us – although Mr Hammond will never say it aloud – that the Conservatives are continuing their squeeze on public services, started back in the dark days of the Coalition Parliament. One might say it is all part of the plan to take everything away from public hands, as started by Margaret Thatcher and her cronies back in 1979 – if only one had the experience and understanding to see that far.

There’s more – we could discuss the hidden policy not to increase fuel duty, that throws out all the economic predictions but gives the Tories a favourable headline in their poodle press; or we could mention the new fiscal rules which set the scene for panic cuts in public investment as we approach the now-fixed (rather than rolling) date for the deficit to be cut back to a new level set by Mr Hammond.

But it is all too depressing, really.

Someone recently said that, with a May as prime minister and a Hammond as chancellor, all we need is a Clarkson for the UK’s government to emulate the former Top Gear presenting team, now relegated to internet TV on their Grand Tour. It is true that Clarkson once considered standing in the 2015 election.

Some might consider that a good idea – a brand behind which to market the UK’s flailing government.

But let’s be honest: Clarkson, Hammond and May were successful because they presented themselves as three petrol-headed idiots.

With May, Hammond and Boris Johnson in the UK’s driving seat, we don’t need any marketing.

We already know they are idiots. Sadly, we also know that their calamities won’t just be television entertainment – we’ll have to live with the consequences.

But the response to the Autumn Statement has been muted. Some have even claimed that John McDonnell was wrong to challenge it by demanding more investment.

This is because we do not – as a nation – know enough about economics. Otherwise we would be on the streets in front of Parliament, right now, demanding a change of direction – or a change of government.

Source: mainly macro: 2016 Autumn Statement

Get angry – about the OTHER foreign investment Cameron never mentioned

David Cameron’s investment in the Cayman Islands-based Vietnam Enterprise Fund emerged after the Panama Papers [Image: Hannah McKay/PA].

David Cameron’s investment in the Cayman Islands-based Vietnam Enterprise Fund emerged after the Panama Papers [Image: Hannah McKay/PA].

This Blog was one of many social media sites, organisations and individuals that called for David Cameron’s resignation when the ‘Panama Papers’ scandal broke earlier this year.

Now, his former director of communications has revealed that he was close to resigning and the revelation that he had another tax-avoiding foreign holding could have forced his hand.

But Craig Oliver said it never came to that because he simply did not release the information.

Nothing in the Guardian article quoted below shows that Cameron was accurate in the statement he eventually released, that “the prime minister, his wife and their children do not benefit from any offshore funds”.

And public opinion is likely to have swung against him in a big way if the Vietnamese holding had become public knowledge.

So get angry. Politicians are supposed to declare all their assets and interests to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority but the then prime minister had clearly flouted this rule.

It makes no sense to say he had an investment that did not benefit him or his family. Why have it, then?

But our watchdogs appear to have let us down.

I think this deserves greater investigation. How many more MPs are fabricating their entry in the register of members’ interests?

Downing Street officials were alarmed to discover that David Cameron had a holding in a Vietnamese investment fund registered in the Cayman Islands at the height of the Panama Papers revelations, according to a book by his former director of communications.

Sir Craig Oliver became aware that the then prime minister had previously invested “in something called the Vietnamese Enterprise Fund” following the Guardian’s investigation into the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. The information was not released to the media at the time, after Oliver and his team decided: “We think it’s fine, but what if it’s not?”

The Vietnam Enterprise Fund is run by Dragon Capital in Vietnam, but registered in the Cayman Islands. Dominic Scriven, the chief executive of Dragon Capital, confirmed that Cameron had previously invested in the fund, and believed his father, Ian Cameron, had decided to invest the money.

In an attempt to control the story in April, Downing Street brought in a series of experts to try to make sense of Blairmore’s tax affairs, Oliver’s book said. They also carried out an analysis of Cameron’s personal tax arrangements and it was during this that the Vietnam Enterprise Fund investment emerged.

At the time, Cameron was facing one of the worst crises of his premiership, with Oliver acknowledging that at one point, he thought the then prime minister might have to resign over the Panama Papers.

Oliver wrote that Cameron and his wife, Samantha, had “an unhappy couple of hours in calls” with their accountant, before putting out a statement saying that the “prime minister, his wife and their children do not benefit from any offshore funds”.

Source: Cameron adviser reveals No 10’s alarm at his holding in offshore fund | Politics | 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.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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