Tag Archives: retail

140,000 retail jobs lost in worst year for quarter of a century. That’s Tory government for you

Pretty soon, high street shopfronts will be no use as anything other than sheltering spots for homeless people.

So much for the party of business.

Guess what I’m going to say?

That’s right: 14 million Tories voted to flush our shops down the sewer.

Let’s sit back and watch…

… as Boris Johnson does nothing about it apart from talk out of his clacker.

More than 140,000 jobs on UK high streets have been axed in the past year, new figures suggest.

2019 has proved the worst year for high street employment levels in a quarter of a century, according to a report by the the Centre for Retail Research (CRR).

More than 16,000 stores shut their doors for good over the course of the year, the new data shows.

The CRR said job losses had leapt by more than a fifth over the past 12 months compared to the previous year.

It warned the year ahead could see an even more dire outlook for traditional retail stores and jobs.

The majority of job losses, around 78,600, came as part of store closures by retailers cutting costs, as the growth of online shopping and high fixed costs of bricks-and-mortar stores took a heavy toll.

Source: 140,000 retail jobs lost in worst year for quarter of a century

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100,000 retail jobs lost – ironically, because of greed

What would Napoleon have made of this? His “nation of shopkeepers” is falling apart – all by itself.

And it’s all down to greed.

That would be greed by big companies, that are leaving the UK because they know a Tory-negotiated Brexit well mean a drop in profits.

Greed by company bosses who preferred to keep retail profits for themselves, rather than share them with staff.

Greed by central government, that has kept business rates too high to allow businesses to establish themselves on high streets.

Greed by shop landlords, who have pushed rents too high for businesses to be cost-effective in their spaces.

And greed by private car parking firms, making it impossible for shoppers to afford parking charges.

Most of the people named above are idiots.

Shop space that is occupied is better than shop space that is empty. It means retailers are making a profit and can afford to pay rents and business rates.

Some money is better than no money so any landlord with empty shops is a bad landlord and deserves to go bankrupt, and any government that sets business rates so high that retailers can’t afford to occupy the space is a bad government.

And any private car parking company charging so much that most people can’t afford to park in their spaces is a bad car parking company. They may say it’s fine because some people can still afford their prices, but it’s better – obviously – if lots of people can afford them. That way, everybody wins.

The question that arises is, why would anybody want to create conditions that stop retailers from taking up shop space, or employees from taking jobs with those retailers, or shoppers from being able to park their cars near those stores?

And that brings us back to the companies that are leaving the UK because of Brexit. They are greedy and want too much profit so we should have very little sympathy for them.

But we should also have very little sympathy for a government that knows it is creating economic conditions that will drive these big employers away.

Until all of these situations change, the UK’s economy will remain in deep, deep trouble. Who does that help?

Labour has called on the UK Government to save Britain’s “dying” high-streets, as new figures published by the Party reveal that 100,000 retail jobs have been lost over the last three years.

New analysis by Labour of ONS figures released on Tuesday has revealed that a staggering 100,000 retail jobs have been lost in stores across Britain since 2015, with Labour blaming poor wage growth and the Government’s handling of Brexit.

Rebecca Long Bailey, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary, has urged the Government to reform the business rates system to ease the burden on traditional high streets.

She also called for a register of landlords of empty shops, to make it easier to bring boarded up shops back into use, and an inquiry into excessive car parking charges levied by private firms.

Source: 100,000 retail jobs lost in the last three years, Labour analysis reveals

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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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Great Coalition failures: Banking

zcoalitionbanking

Everybody seems to have had fun with yesterday’s analysis of the Coalition Agreement and its provisions on ‘Jobs and Welfare’ – so let’s have a look at another part of it:

1. BANKING

The banking crisis, coupled with incessant propaganda from the Conservative Party and the right-wing press, brought down the Labour government in the 2010 general election. The incoming Coalition government promised reform – but did it deliver?

In recent years, we have seen a massive financial meltdown due to over-lending, over-borrowing and poor regulation [Conservatives were lobbying for less regulation, right until the crash happened]. The Government believes that the current system of financial regulation is fundamentally flawed and needs to be replaced with a framework that promotes responsible and sustainable banking, where regulators have greater powers to curb unsustainable lending practices and we take action to promote more competition in the banking sector. In addition, we recognise that much more needs to be done to protect taxpayers from financial malpractice and to help the public manage their own debts.

  • We will reform the banking system to avoid a repeat of the financial crisis, to promote a competitive economy, to sustain the recovery and to protect and sustain jobs [flannel – but it is just an introduction; setting out the stall, if you like].
  • We will introduce a banking levy and seek a detailed agreement on implementation [The levy, as eventually imposed, was effectively a tax break for the banks, whose share prices actually rose when it was announced].
  • We will bring forward detailed proposals for robust action to tackle unacceptable bonuses in the financial services sector; in developing these proposals, we will ensure they are effective in reducing risk [The Coalition’s bank levy was devised to raise no more than £2.5 billion per year, while bonuses for the year of its introduction were believed to total around £7 billion. No effective effort has been made to curb excessive bonus payments in banks].
  • We want the banking system to serve business, not the other way round. We will bring forward detailed proposals to foster diversity in financial services [diversity has fallen off], promote mutuals [these plans were criticised as having ‘no legs’] and create a more competitive banking industry [no sign of this yet].
  • We will develop effective proposals to ensure the flow of credit to viable SMEs [by the end of 2013, more than 70 per cent of small business owners said they believed the government had produced little or no effect in this regard]. This will include consideration of both a major loan guarantee scheme and the use of net lending targets for the nationalised banks.
  • We will take steps to reduce systemic risk in the banking system and will establish an independent commission to investigate the complex issue of separating retail and investment banking in a sustainable way; while recognising that this will take time to get right, the commission will be given an initial time frame of one year to report [current situation: banks have until January 2015 – nearly the end of the Coalition’s term in government – to detail how they propose to manage this separation].
  • We will reform the regulatory system to avoid a repeat of the financial crisis. We will bring forward proposals to give the Bank of England control of macro-prudential regulation and oversight of micro-prudential regulation [some reform appears to have taken place but have not yet been tested].
  • We rule out joining or preparing to join the European Single Currency for the duration of this agreement.
  • We will work with the Bank of England to investigate how the process of including housing costs in the CPI measure of inflation can be accelerated [this has not happened].
  • We will create Britain’s first free national financial advice service, which will be funded in full from a new social responsibility levy on the financial services sector.
  • We take white collar crime as seriously as other crime, so we will create a single agency to take on the work of tackling serious economic crime that is currently done by, among others, the Serious Fraud Office, Financial Services Authority and Office of Fair Trading [plans for this agency will not be published until the end of 2014 at the earliest].

Conclusion: Where the Coalition has made decisions, they have been weak, meaning banks have enjoyed business as usual for the last four+ years instead of enduring the promised crackdown. Many measures – like the separation of retail and investment banking that we were told was absolutely vital to protect our savings – have not happened at all.

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The Coalition is creating serious problems and distracting you with phantoms

140124earnings

According to the beauty industry, women must now start deodorising under their breasts.

I kid you not – it was in The Guardian.

Columnist Jill Filipovic hit the nail on the head when she wrote: “I can already hear your objections: ‘But the area under my boobs doesn’t stink!’ or ‘What kind of marketing genius not only came up with the term “swoob,” but actually thought half the world’s population might be dumb enough to buy into it?’ or simply, ‘This is a dumb product aimed at inventing an insecurity and then claiming to cure it.’

“You would be correct on all three points.

“In fact, inventing problems with women’s bodies and then offering a cure – if you pay up – is the primary purpose of the multi-billion dollar beauty industry.”

The simple fact is that you don’t really need to worry about smells down there – a good old soapy flannel will cure any such problems.

That’s not the point, though. The aim is to get you thinking about it and devoting your energy to it, rather than to other matters.

Now let’s translate that to politics.

We already know that all the scaremongering about Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants storming the country from January 1 was a crock. That bastion of good statistics, The Now Show, told us last week that the total number of Bulgarian immigrants in the last couple of weeks was “around two dozen so far”, according to their ambassador. In the first three months after our borders were opened to Croatians, 174 turned up.

Yet the government wanted you to believe they would flood our immigration service in their millions, “taking benefits and yet simultaneously also taking all the jobs”.

My use of language such as “storming” and “flood” is not accidental. By far the more serious threat to the UK in the early days of 2014 was the weather – and, guess what, not only was the government unprepared for the ferocity of the storms that swept our islands, the Coalition was in fact in the process of cutting funding for flood defence.

This would have gone unnoticed if the weather had behaved itself, because we would all have been distracted by the single Romanian immigrant who was ensnared by Keith Vaz in a ring of TV cameras at Heathrow Airport.

Now the Tories are telling us that our take-home pay is finally on the rise for all but the top 10 per cent of earners, with the rest of us seeing our wages rise by at least 2.5 per cent.

The government made its claims (up) by taking into account only cuts to income tax and national insurance, using data leading up to April last year, according to the BBC News website.

This kind of nonsense is easily overcome – New Statesman published the above chart, showing the real effect of changes to weekly income for people in various income groups, and also provided the reason for the government’s mistake (if that’s what it was).

“The data used … takes no account of the large benefit cuts introduced by the coalition, such as the real-terms cut in child benefit, the uprating of benefits in line with CPI inflation rather than RPI, and the cuts to tax credits,” writes the Statesman‘s George Eaton.”

He also pointed out that other major cuts such as the bedroom tax, the benefit cap, and the 10 per cent cut in council tax support were introduced after April 2013 and were not included in the Coalition figures.

Once all tax and benefit changes are taken into account, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has shown that almost all families are worse off – and the Coalition also appears to have forgotten the five million low-paid workers who don’t earn enough to benefit from the increase in the personal allowance.

Skills and enterprise minister Matthew Hancock compounded the mistake in an exchange on Twitter with Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR). Asked why his analysis “ignores more than four million people in work (the self-employed)”, Mr Hancock tweeted: “Analysis based on ONS ASHE survey of household earnings data”.

Wrong – as Mr Portes was quick to show: “Don’t you know the difference between household and individual earnings?”

Apparently not. ASHE (Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings) is a survey of employed individuals using their National Insurance numbers – not of households or the self-employed.

So the Coalition – and particularly the Tories – were trying to make us all feel good about the amount we earn.

That’s the distraction. What are we supposed to be ignoring?

Would it be David Cameron’s attempt to bribe councils into allowing shale gas companies to frack their land? Councils that back fracking will get to keep all the business rates collected from the schemes – rather than the usual 50 per cent.

He has also claimed that fracking can boost the economy and encourage businesses into the country, in a further bid to talk down dissent.

Or is it the growing threat of a rise in interest rates, which may be triggered when official unemployment figures – which have been fiddled by increased sanctions on jobseekers, rigged reassessments of benefit claimants, a new scheme to increase the number of people and time spent on Workfare, and the fake economic upturn created by George Osborne’s housing bubble – drop to seven per cent?

It seems possible that the government – especially the Tory part of it – would want to keep people from considering the implications of an interest rate rise that is based on false figures.

As Vox Political commenter Jonathan Wilson wrote yesterday: “If the BOE bases its decisions on incorrect manipulated data that presents a false ‘good news’ analysis then potentially it could do something based on it that would have catastrophic consequences.

“For example if its unemployment rate test is reached, and wages were going up by X per cent against a Y per cent inflation rate which predicted that an interest rate rise of Z per cent would have no general effect and not impact on house prices nor significantly increase repossessions (when X per cent is over-inflated by the top 1 per cent of earners, Y per cent is unrealistically low due to, say, the 50 quid green reduction and/or shops massively discounting to inflate purchases/turnover and not profit) and when it does, instead of tapping on the breaks lightly it slams the gears into reverse while still traveling forward… repossessions go up hugely, house prices suffer a major downward re-evaluation (due to tens of thousands of repossessions hitting the auction rooms) debt rates hit the roof, people stop buying white goods and make do with last year’s iPad/phone/tv/sofa, major retail goes tits up, Amazon goes to the wall, the delivery market and post collapses… etc etc.

“And all because the government fiddled the figures.”

Perhaps Mr Cameron doesn’t want us thinking about that when we could be deodorising our breasts instead.

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If the economy is in recovery, why does it still feel like recession?

Path to prosperity? If the economy has been growing for the last nine months, why has food bank use tripled during the last year?

Path to prosperity? If the economy has been growing for the last nine months, why has food bank use almost tripled during the last year?

No doubt Gideon George Osborne will spend the next few days (if not weeks and months) crowing about the figures from the Office for National Statistics that say the British economy has grown for a third successive quarter.

He has already tweeted, “This shows that Britain’s hard work is paying off & the country is on the path to prosperity.”

The construction industry has grown by 2.5 per cent on the previous quarter, with house builders buoyed up by Gideon’s Help to Buy scheme, which offers (unsupported) mortgage guarantees to buyers and lenders. He has promised to divert £12 million to this, but has not said where he will find the money.

Critics have warned that this is simply creating another housing-fuelled debt bubble that will burst in a couple of years’ time, leaving even more people in debt than after the financial crisis hit us all.

Has this growth generated work for electricians, plumbers, plasterers, roofers? If so, are they being paid fairly? These are the people who will take their disposable income back into the wider economy, for the benefit of other businesses.

Production (including manufacturing) and services are both on the up as well. The BBC report says nothing about retail. But if this good news is true, why is the Department for Work and Pensions determined to expand its Workfare scheme, as laid out in a Conservative conference announcement and by an article reblogged here.

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls welcomed the signs of growth in the ONS report but warned: “For millions of people across the country still seeing prices rising faster than their wages, this is no recovery at all.”

He is right, of course. Look at the rise and rise of food banks, which have seen a massive rise in attendances from even working people – whose wages simply don’t cover the cost of living. Benefits are, of course, being cut back by our “compassionate” Conservative-led government.

They say there’s no money for it but – if the economy is surging back into growth – where are all the tax receipts from the big corporates that are profiting?

Oh yes – they’re safely closeted in the tax havens that Mr Osborne kindly opened up for them. Ordinary, working, and poor people have to use their own limited funds to pay off a Conservative-run national deficit, presumably because Tories think the rich, who caused the problem, shouldn’t have to pay for services they don’t use.

And the Institute of Directors’ chief economist, Graeme Leach, warned that there are “strong headwinds” restricting the possibility of further growth, including “debt and inflation” which are “rising faster than earnings”.

That’s right. Only yesterday, Yr Obdt Srvt was talking with a gentleman who – despite having a full-time job – has fallen so severely into debt that he has had to cut his expenditure down to nothing but taxes, the vital utility bills (water but not heating), and rent. He has no budget for food and faces the possibility of having his belongings, such as his car, repossessed – and even eviction.

Is he on the path to prosperity, Mr Osborne? Of course not. This report is merely further proof that you were lying when you said, “We’re all in it together” – as you did (again) at the Conservative conference.

It’s prosperity for the greedy few, and austerity for the rest of us.

Maybe you have a different opinion, but ask any average worker on the street and they will tell you that continued wage depression and price inflation, the expansion of the Workfare regime that gives free employment to firms that don’t need it while the workers themselves have to survive on benefits, massive growth in food bank use, and the threat faced by thousands of eviction and the repossession of their belongings are not milestones on the path to prosperity.

The High Street implosion is just beginning

highstreetI had a look at the BBC News website’s business page yesterday. What do you think caught my eye?

UK retail sales fall in December

It seems sales dropped off by 0.1 per cent (seasonally adjusted figure) last month, while the quantity of goods sold rose (rose? shurely shome mishtake, unless prices have magically dropped) by a worse-than-expected 0.3 per cent.

Isn’t December supposed to be the busiest shopping month of the year, with everyone rushing to buy Christmas presents and get the food in? I know the news wasn’t totally awful – sales were still up 0.7 per cent on the same time last year – but it does look like a darkening of the skies before the storm blows in.

Online sales increased, as one should reasonably expect – this is the current trend. But what I found worrying was the drop in sales of both clothing and food. They did “notably badly”, according to the BBC.

I would have thought these were two sales areas that would be relatively internet-proof. With clothing and food (and furniture), people like to see what they’re getting. They want to test it first, to make sure it fits their standards.

My concept of the High Street of the Future would have included clothes shops (or boutiques if you want to be all King’s Road about it), grocery stores (not necessarily supermarkets – how about farm-gate stores or farmers’ markets?), furniture stores, chemists and hairdressers/barbers. With possibly the odd gadget/technology shop for people who don’t trust the postman with fragile items. Also private doctor and dentist surgeries, for those who can afford to pay for them as the future gets worse for the NHS.

The rest will probably go. Blockbuster is closing 160 stores, according to the BBC business site today. That doesn’t surprise me in the least. Bosses should have seen the writing on the wall, when digital delivery became an option, and diversified into it. They didn’t; LoveFilm and the like took over and that was that. People who like holding physical copies of movies in their hands can get them from the glorified mail-order companies like Amazon, if they don’t mind giving their money to tax avoiders.

That’s why HMV lost the battle last week. Now I see that Game wants to buy some HMV stores. Wasn’t Game itself in danger of going out of business last April? I think it was, and I wouldn’t expect a business bought by such a firm to last very long, for that reason alone.

We have already discussed, in a previous article, the demise of Jessop’s.

To cap it all, panellists on the BBC’s Question Time last Thursday said a further 140 UK high street shopping chains were facing severe financial difficulty. One hundred and forty!

And that’s just at the moment.

What will happen after the government’s cuts to benefits kick in, ensuring that the poorest in the country, who use the highest proportion of their money as they receive it, have much, much less cash to spend?

Think of the rise in unemployment, as one retail chain after another hits the dirt. The growth in demand for social security (the government calls it “welfare”) benefits; the need to borrow even more money, increase the national debt even further; the increasing number of derelict buildings as our cities’ shops go empty – along with more and more homes, as families fail to keep up rent payments (their benefits won’t cover it) and they get kicked out onto the street; the lights going off across the UK as the Tory-led Coalition, helped by the Liberal Democrats, turns our home towns into ghost towns.

Let’s pause for a moment to remember that the Coalition government inherited an economy that was growing. It wasn’t booming, obviously, but it was going in the right direction. The very first thing this government did was kill that growth, and much of its economic policy since 2010 has been intended to make sure it stays dead.

To shrink the state. To starve the beast.

To end the social security system.

To privatise the NHS.

To increase unemployment.

To keep wages low – and maybe even find opportunities to cut them.

We’ve got two more years with these chumps in charge. That’s plenty of time to ruin the UK beyond repair – or at least so badly that it will take decades to recover.

I think it’s time to put serious effort into making life as difficult as possible for them. we’ve had a few demonstrations in London over the last couple of years – perhaps it’s time to start putting something up every week, even if it has to start with only a couple of people standing outside the Houses of Parliament with banners saying “Coalition Out” and “Resign”.

If they want information from you, in order to put their changes into practice, find a way to slow the process as much as possible – obviously not in situations where there’s a threat to life and limb, but in other administrative ways, why not? Think of it this way: They want to complicate your life – why not return the favour?

In employment law, there is an offence called ‘Constructive Dismissal’. This is when an employer contrives to make a particular employee’s working life so difficult that he or she is effectively forced out the door. There is no such offence relating to the way a nation treats its government.

I’m not an advocate of violence; I’ll take passive resistance every time.

So let’s constructively dismiss the Coalition.

How about it?

Does anyone remember those pesky banks? (Fixing the economy part three)

I was listening to Gideon George Osborne’s Autumn Statement the other day – and my word, don’t I wish I hadn’t! In between lapses of concentration due to boredom and bursts of sudden fury, depending which idiot pronouncement he was drooling, I had the odd lucid thought, one of which was this:

The financial crisis was caused by bankers. Did anyone ever identify who they were?

It’s a good question and one that I don’t believe has ever been answered. A cursory search reveals no list of British names on the Internet but I don’t think we can blame it all on Fred Goodwin, can we? (Fred ‘the Shred’ was, you’ll recall, stripped of his knighthood due to his role in the banking crisis, as chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland)

If nobody else has been named, we can conclude that none of them have been made to account for their actions or pay recompense to those of us who have had to suffer hardships – some extreme – indeed, some fatal – as a result of the foolhardy way they gambled with money that was not theirs and nearly brought the global financial edifice crashing to destruction.

It’s nearly five years since the crash. We can reasonably expect that these people are still in position, still taking home huge bonuses every year (debate among yourself whether they have earned these amounts or not). They have not been held accountable. It seems increasingly unlikely that they ever will.

But their organisations have absorbed huge amounts of public money, paid during the great bailouts of 2008 onwards by the UK Treasury in order to keep them going. It seems to me that these fatcats should be on starvation rations until that debt is paid off but I don’t see that happening. This leads me to my next question:

When are we going to get our money back?

The answer comes to mind immediately: If events continue along the current pattern – never.

That’s not good enough. In fact, it’s downright disastrous for the British economy because we all know by now – and the Autumn Statement confirmed it – that the welfare squeeze and other measures that Gideon has levelled at those of us on low or medium incomes, for the hideous crime of having nothing to do with the banking crisis that led to the recession, isn’t going to make anything better. In fact it can only make matters worse.

Consider fiscal multipliers. Every pound invested by a government in its economy generates more money as it goes through the system. The classic example is investment in construction, which yields more than £2 for every £1 spent. But if you subtract money – for example, by a fiscal squeeze – it follows that the economy suffers a greater loss than just the money that was taken away. I believe writers other than myself have suggested that the planned extra £10 billion welfare squeeze will remove £16 billion from the economy.

Meanwhile the banks, that caused the crisis, are off the hook and free as birds.

I have already stated my belief that the economy needs government investment in order to grow. If that investment took place, people would start making money again and they would logically put it into the banks. At this point, I suggest it would be reasonable to start encouraging the banks to start paying off their debt to us; there could be no argument that repayment would harm their viability as they would be benefiting from new money.

They could start paying a financial transactions tax (FTT) at a rate of 0.1%, applicable to all transactions through the CHAPS (Clearing House Automated Payments System) which is used to make same-day, irrevocable payments. If spent on deficit reduction alone it was envisaged in 2010 that this would halve the deficit by 2013/14. The introduction of the tax at that time would also have fended off overtures of a rise in regressive taxes such as VAT to 20 per cent, which left the most vulnerable in society picking up the bill for the mistakes of the very well-off. It differs from the ‘Robin Hood’ Tax Campaign for a 0.05 per cent tax on banking transactions, as the latter targets a broader range of banking activities. Most of the major EU countries supported such a tax, and on July 18, 2010, the then-head of the IMF, Dominique Strauss Kahn, announced he would back it.

I would also continue levying the Bankers’ Bonus Tax introduced by Alistair Darling in 2009, which raised £2 billion, and extend it to other institutions such as hedge funds and private equity houses, which benefited from the bailout through government-backed guarantees and quantitative easing.

If banks continued to pay excessive bonuses then the tax yield would remain high, accruing a large amount for the Treasury, and a permanent bonus tax could lead to bonus payments being reduced as a way to avoid tax; discouraging the payment of bonuses.

This windfall tax has been replicated in France, where the government warned banks that if they did not obey the strict guidelines on pay they would be excluded from competing for exclusive government contracts.

How about a remuneration cap? This would be a short-term ceiling on total remuneration, given as both cash and share options. This would tackle flagrant high pay, shoring up balance sheets and providing a level playing-field across the banking sector.

The link between excessive pay and the economic crisis is widely acknowledged. Remuneration caps could therefore give greater economic stability to the banking system.

I would also create a High Pay Commission – an open, balanced and thorough examination into pay and income at the top in order to find long term and tested solutions into how better to reduce excessive risk and excessive rewards.

Obviously I would separate banks that engage in ‘retail’ activities from those that engage in ‘investment banking’. I would close that casino because the players use other people’s money. Also, ‘casino’ bankers would be less likely to make riskier choices as they would not have protection from the taxpayer. They would also be regulated, to ensure their actions do not put the economy at risk. I understand this is taking place but I can’t fathom why the government is dragging its feet.

Banks should be encouraged to profit by serving their customers well and collectively providing liquidity and capital to the economy.

These banking regulations would be best enforced multilaterally, by other countries as well as the UK, but this should not stop the UK government taking action on its own.

The disproportionate influence of the financial sector over the UK economy leaves it particularly vulnerable to future crises and we should not allow ourselves to be at the mercy of international consensus.

We know that some automatic opposition to these policies will include fear-mongering that talented individuals will leave Britain in droves and growth will be hit. Evidence indicates this is unlikely but if they want to go, I say, let them. There are plenty more talented people just itching for a chance to take their place.

Others will claim that some tinkering with the system, such as banks planning how they wind-up and toughening up existing rules on capital adequacy and liquidity, will solve all our problems. They won’t. There are some fundamental problems that need to be solved if we are to avoid repeats of this crisis.

Better people than myself have said we must reverse the trend of the past 30 years, where private financial risk has been publicly shared and the gains increasingly privatised.

That’s the truth of it. If we can’t punish the transgressors, we can at least claw back the money they have taken.