Tag Archives: shares

Government buys 100 million doses of vaccine by firm that ‘procurement tsar’ part-owns

Interesting display of priorities by the Conservative government here.

It has bought 100 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, enough to vaccinate 50 million people, having approved its supply with the first doses to be given on Monday.

This compares with just 40 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that was approved in early December – enough for 20 million people, with doses already supplied to nearly 700,000.

Is it a coincidence that – as revealed by the New York Times – Lord Deighton, the Tory procurement tsar whose attempts to get personal protective equipment went so badly wrong, is a shareholder in AstraZeneca?

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved for use in the UK, with the first doses due to be given on Monday amid rising coronavirus cases.

The UK has ordered 100 million doses – enough to vaccinate 50 million people.

This will cover the entire population, when combined with the full order of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.

Meanwhile, the number of new Covid-19 cases has soared again, to 53,135 on December 29. This is due to the Tories’ failure to make any real effort to control the spread of the virus.

Even in the current lockdown, schools will reopen when term begins in January – and schools are now recognised as the principle vector for the spread of the disease.

It’s almost as though someone had created an urgent need for a vaccine, in order to supply that demand.

I know.

It’s just paranoia. And I shouldn’t mind that somebody is getting very rich indeed from the suffering of millions of people.

Source: Covid-19: Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine approved for use in UK – BBC News

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Financial Times gives Labour a huge boost with front page lead on life-changing policies

Plaudits to Skwawkbox for pointing out the fact that the Financial Times has shot itself in the foot with its lead story today (September 2).

The headline states that “Labour would cost companies £300bn” – implying that this is a scare story. But it continues “by shifting shares to staff”.

Brilliant news!

It’s saying that working people, who actually create the profits that the UK’s biggest firms make every day, will actually receive a dividend from those profits under a future Labour government.

That alone is a good reason to vote Labour at any future election.

No doubt the parasites will claim that the move will destabilise UK industry but this is clearly nonsense.

Working people have every right to profit – just as much as bosses and other shareholders – from the work they do.

The Financial Times (FT) has given the ‘above the fold’ half of its front page this morning to policies it presumably thinks will horrify its core readership – but which will be music to the ears of millions of voters hard-pressed under the Tories and their prioritisation, as Corbyn said in his Salford speech this morning, of ‘those who lend and speculate over those who actually make things‘.

The headline may blare about ‘costing UK companies £300bn’ – the FT’s estimate – but it goes on to say ‘by shifting shares to staff’. The article itself can’t help but elaborate a few of Labour’s groundbreaking policies and the way they would revolutionise the life of ‘the many’ in this country:

And it seems the FT digs itself further in by listing other great Labour policies:

The detail of the front-page coverage gives some key information on just a few of Labour’s game-changing policies:

  • Labour in government will give shares to workers in seven thousand of the UK’s biggest employers – entitling them to dividends of up to £500 per year as well as helping the national finances
  • Labour will introduce a right-to-buy for tenants of private landlords at affordable prices, helping to reduce the concentration of property in the hands of a few that has driven up rents and house prices under Conservative governments
  • Shifting power away from ‘bosses and landlords’ and to the people
  • Increasing productivity and long-term thinking by giving employees a meaningful stake

The timing is also hilariously inept for a newspaper trying to undermine Jeremy Corbyn and Labour.

This week, Parliament is in crisis as Boris Johnson’s dictatorial excuse for a government tries to overrule Parliament’s sovereignty in order to push through a “no deal” Brexit that few people want.

MPs may push back, even to the point of demanding a general election.

And on the eve of such a move, the Financial Times has given us all an excellent reason to vote Labour into power.

Tony Blair may be urging Labour to vote against an election on the grounds that Jeremy Corbyn is unpopular – but he is preaching a perspective on the Labour leader that is largely created by the Tory media.

We saw similar claims evaporate during the 2017 election campaign and fearmongers and yesterday’s men like Mr Blair would be better-off keeping their mouths shut.

The message from this newspaper is clear – if not quite as intended: If a general election is possible, bring it on! Labour will walk it.

Source: FT inadvertently gives huge front-page ad to Labour as party of hope and change | The SKWAWKBOX

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Another Tory ‘bait-and-switch’ scam – shares-for-rights scheme is employers’ tax dodge

shares-rights-tax

“This government is taking action domestically on [tax] avoidance and evasion,” wrote George Osborne in an article for The Observer, back in February. How right he was.

The Tory-led Coalition has done everything in its power to facilitate tax avoidance and ignore evasion, it seems, including the latest wheeze, which is to link it with a feeble attempt to get working people to throw away their rights in exchange for a few shares.

The BBC has reported that the new status of “employee shareholder” has come into force, allowing working people to claim shares in the company that employs them, if they give up the rights to claim unfair dismissal and statutory redundancy pay, the right to request flexible working (except in the case of two weeks’ parental leave), and some rights to request time off for training.

Nobody in their right mind would do this and expert opinion is that take-up will be small. So why do it?

Well, it’s not about the workers at all. It’s about helping company bosses avoid paying their taxes. Even the right-wing-leaning BBC was unable to cover up the facts (although it left them until the end of the article):

“Companies can also claim some corporation tax deductions on the issuance of shares to employees.”

Yes – it’s a tax dodge!

Here’s how it works, according to the Mirror: “New analysis show[s] it could also allow executives to avoid paying revenue on company shares. Tax experts commissioned by the TUC believe ruthless bosses could classify themselves as ’employee owners’ to escape Capital Gains Tax. And the Office for Budget Responsibility estimates the scheme could cost up to £1 billion, mainly due to tax avoidance.”

This will, of course, involve a drop in tax income to the Treasury, meaning increases in the national debt and deficit, which the Tories will no doubt use to justify further cuts to public service budgets as part of their ‘Starve The Beast’ agenda. Remember, this country has a chancellor who, for ideological purposes, actually wants to harm the British economy.

Meanwhile, as our friend at Another Angry Voice has put it: “If you’re thick enough to cash in your labour rights for a few grand worth of shares in the company you work for, then in a couple of years time when people are calling you ‘feckless’ for being unemployed, you’ll be one of the minority that actually deserve it (and your shares might well be worth only pennies in the pound compared to the value they had when you scrapped your labour rights to get them).”

Woolly mammoth to be new leader of Conservatives?

The police welcome David Cameron to the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham. His austerity cuts are expected to cripple forces across the country, with part-privatisation already an unwanted reality for some.

So is everyone having fun atmaking fun of the Conservative Party Conference?

The event has been unfortunately-timed, as it turns out a mammoth has been found, frozen in Russia, after 30,000 years. Inevitably it will be the subject of much scientific study and debate, but really, if they wanted to look at a species of woolly monsters long overdue for extinction, they need only go to Birmingham.

Further evidence of unfortunate timing can be found in the International Monetary Fund’s latest report, which shows that the Conservative-led austerity policy has utterly failed to restore confidence and there is “considerable” risk of further deterioration in the economy. Its forecast for the UK in 2013, which stood at 0.2 per cent growth, has now been downgraded by 0.6 per cent to minus 0.4 per cent. That’s a lot, in economic terms.

UK Prime Minister – and Conservative leader – David Cameron, said the UK economy is “slowly healing”.

It is comments like this, along with the general direction of his – let’s try to call it – ‘leadership’ that probably prompted polling organisation YouGov to headline its latest press release ‘Cameron needs a miracle to win’. The poll of voting intentions shows that the Conservative share has slipped to 31 or 32 per cent – the same as in their “crushing” defeats of 1997 and 2001. Any question comparing Labour leader Ed Miliband with Mr Cameron shows significant advances for the Labour leader.

Other poll results are confirmed by comments on the Conservative conference (which I have lifted from Twitter. I don’t intend to give attributions – is yours among those below?).

Fewer than 30 per cent think [the Conservatives] have done a good job on health, education, transport or reforming welfare benefits: “‘We’ll end something for nothing culture’- Tory rich boys who inherited wealth and claimed disability benefits they didnt need”; “I could save 10bn by cutting MPs’ expenses, grace and favour housing, government contracts, offices that are never used etc etc”; “Labeling those on welfare as lazy layabouts is defamation of character and those responsible should face the full force of the law”.

71 per cent think the gap between the richest and poorest has widened since the Tories came to power; and by two-to-one, people think the north-south gap has also widened (Northerners themselves agree by three-to-one): “Misery to those without whilst ensuring prosperity for those who have. They don’t even try to hide it!”.

Just 13 per cent say the government has met their expectations that Britain would be governed well; far more – 34 per cent – say ‘I expected them to do well, but they have been a disappointment’.  Half of those who voted Conservative in 2010 share this sense of disappointment. Most people think they have made no progress at all to get Britain out of recession, reduce immigration, clean up politics, or fulfil their pledge to make theirs ‘the greenest government ever’: “This government should have come with a public health warning the size of a trillion fag packets.”

Let’s look at some of the speeches. I am grateful to the Tweeter who labelled his comments on the Chancellor’s speech ‘Osborne porkies’, pointing out some of the inconsistencies between Gideon’s words and the facts. So: “Attacks Ed M for not mentioning deficit when Labour leader mentioned the debt. ‘We were straight with voters before election’ – Except about NHS, VAT increase, child benefit. ‘Blair achieved nothing in a decade’ – Except minimum wage, devolution, academies, Northern Ireland agreement etc”.

Osborne’s big idea – the plan to offer employees shares in the company where they work, if they give up their rights to, for example unfair dismissal tribunals, came under bitter attack: “‘We’re all in it together’ – unless you’re an employee”; “Osborne’s shares for rights plan shows he’s never employed people. If first thing you say is ‘I want the right to sack you’, people will go”; ” So you get shares in a company… Lose your rights… get sacked with no comeback and paid pence for your shares”.

(This last comment is the nub of the matter. Osborne says the amount of shares on offer could be worth between £2,000 and £50,000, therefore it is possible that employers will try to get workers to barter away their benefits for what is, in the current economic climate, peanuts. Do these people really think we are monkeys?)

Today (Tuesday) Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, made a speech in which he tried to appear to be supporting Mr Cameron while in fact setting out his credentials as a possible future leader. His comments about the Conservatives being the tools to clean up the national mess drew scorn: “Boris the mop, Dave the broom, Osborne the dust pan, Gove the Jay cloth and Hague the sponge – the cabinet according to Boris!”

His self-congratulation about London’s bus conductors attracted this: “Doesn’t mention they will cost £38 million a year and won’t be able to collect fares”; and on his comments about Labour spending: “Yes, Boris, Labour was so excessive in its spending that your party pledged to back its […] plans right up until 2008”.

Final comment on the conference so far: “Tories laugh at Boris being an incompetent buffoon… Clearly the required skills to lead a country!”

Back in the 1980s, on the best radio panel show in the world (I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue), Tim Brooke-Taylor once defined ‘politician’ as “A liar, cheat, double-crossing two-timing scoundrel and lover of nude women. Oh, it’s also a snub-nosed toad.”

All I can say about that is, bring on the snub-nosed toad. I’ll let the nude women pass. They might be Theresa May and Nadine Dorries. Or Maria Miller (that would be REALLY grisly, wouldn’t it?)

Moonlighter Hunt pockets 12 times a nurse’s pay – for no work at all?

There used to be a word for it – what people did when, on top of their main job, they took on another that might be ‘sketchy’ by nature: Moonlighting.

It seems our new health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has been moonlighting – and in a very lucrative way – pocketing £366,000 from his Hotcourses publishing firm, and a further £3,000 for lessons in Mandarin Chinese.

That’s more than 12 times the salary of the average nurse, at a time when millions of healthcare professionals are seeing their pay cut in real terms.

Let me make myself clear: I’m not opposed to people having secondary or tertiary streams of income. In these straitened times, I think many people need the extra money just to make ends meet.

Jeremy Hunt does not fall into that category.

He is now a senior government minister, who takes home an extremely large taxpayer-funded salary for that job. Anyone in his position should be devoting all of their working time to public service, and none of it to their own personal concerns.

Hotcourses tells us that Mr Hunt’s earnings with it are entirely from shares and from taking back and then renting out a building previously owned by the company. In other words, for no work at all.

I don’t care. This is still business that must take his attention away from the Department of Health. He should have left it behind.

It is obscene that a Cabinet minister is banking so much money when the people his department employs – people who work long hours under extremely difficult conditions – are taking a real-terms pay cut.

And it illustrates the contrast between pay for the highest-earning in society and the lowest. Recently we all learned that, if the minimum wage had increased in line with that of company directors, it would be nearly £19 by now.

I wonder how much a nurse’s pay would have increased, if it had been allowed to do so at the same rate?