Posts Tagged ‘Centre for Policy Studies’

Private Eye Attacks the Tories’ Stupid and Damaging ‘Free Ports’ Policy

February 20, 2020

Eight days ago on 12th February 2020, Mike put up a piece criticising the Tories’ great new wheeze for invigorating Britain’s economy. They want to set up ten ‘free ports’ after Brexit, in which there will be no import/ export tariffs on goods if they aren’t moved offsite. No duty is paid, if these goods are re-exported, so long as they don’t come into the UK. Similarly, no duty will be paid on imported raw materials if they are processed into a finished product, provided that these aren’t then move to the rest of Britain.

Mike comments

No doubt the businesses involved in taking raw materials, processing them and re-exporting them would have their head office based in a tax haven.

So, who benefits? The UK economy won’t!

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2020/02/12/who-will-profit-from-post-brexit-freeports/

This is exactly the same point made by Private Eye in its latest issue for 21st February to 5th March 2020. In its article, ‘Unsafe Havens’, the Eye says

Given Rishi Sunak’s background in offshore finance, it’s no surprise he will soon be turning parts of the UK into tax havens. Just three days before last week’s promotion, the eager-to-please Sunak launched hi spet policy for freeports around the UK.

He first pushed the plan as a relatively new MP in a 2016 paper for the right-wing Centre of Policy Studies. Now he has his hands on the tax controls and can do whatever it takes to entice major investment in the zones (ie big tax breaks and few questions asked).

At this point, warnings from the EU begin to sound ominous. Although Sunak claimed that freeports, which exempt imports from various taxes and tariffs in great secrecy, weren’t possible within the EU, there are in fact 82 of them. But the EU has found they do far more harm than good. And on the very day Sunak launched his consultation promising to “unleash the potential in our proud historic ports, boosting and regenerating communities across the UK as we level up”, the European Commission was clamping down on freeports yet further, pointing to a “high incidence of corruption, tax evasion, criminal activity”.

Even Sunak innocently asks in his consultation: “In your view, are there any particular tax policies that you think could increase the risk of tax avoidance or tax evasion activity being routed through a freeport?” To which the correct answer is: yes, the freeport policy itself.

I was immediately suspicious of this policy, because it looks like an attempt to copy the Chinese ‘Special Economic Zones’. These are islands of unrestricted capitalism in certain provinces, where there are very low taxes and, I believe, employment rights for workers. They have helped to turn the country into an economic superpower, but the cost is immense. There is massive worker exploitation, and there have been well-publicised cases of employees at various companies, who have committed suicide because of their ill-treatment. So much so that one company responsible for extremely poor working conditions put up suicide nets around one of its factories in order to catch staff trying to end their lives but jumping off. China’s an extremely authoritarian state, but there are rumblings of discontent from its impoverished and exploited workers and human rights activists.

Way back in the late 19th and very early 20th century a nasty term, ‘Chinese slavery’, was applied to conditions like this. Part of the impetus in the formation of the early Labour Party was the fear among British workers that the government was going to force them into similar conditions.

The Chinese shouldn’t have to work in such exploitative environments, and neither should Brits – who include people of Chinese descent, who have been here for generations. This is yet another nasty, exploitative idea from a nasty exploitative party, which feels that the workers, whether White, Black or Asian, should be forced into conditions of near slavery.

While they enjoy the profits funneled through tax havens.

Private Eye on Libel Judges and their Connection to the Tories

March 15, 2016

In their issue for the 2nd – 15th May 2014, Private Eye ran a piece on the way several prominent judges had been allowed to judge a libel case by the Tories against the Sunday Times exposing a lobbying scandal, when those judges were either themselves members of the Conservative party, or had close family members who were.

In the Courts
It’s a Family Affair

How many judges on the libel bench have family connections to the Tory party, and why don’t they declare them when hearing political cases?

The Eye asks because the libel action by former Tory treasurer Peter Cruddas against the Sunday Times is unearthing a family tree of judges’ brothers and sons who work for, stand for or give money to the Conservative party.

Cruddas sued after he med Jonathan Calvert and Heidi Blake, Sunday Times undercover reporters who were posing as agents of foreign financiers in 2012. The headline “Tory treasurer charges £250,000 to meet PM” followed their meeting.

Mr Justice Tugendhat hit the Sunday Times with a damning judgment. Blake had told the court she found it “quite shameful for the prime minister to tout himself to businesses who pay to have their photograph taken”. Tugendhat used her words to conclude that she had a motive to injure Cruddas.

The paper was guilty of libel and malicious falsehood for saying that Cruddas was a corrupt man, who offered opportunities to influence government policy through meetings with ministers in return for foreign donations, knowing that payment of the money would breach UK electoral law.

Tugendhat did not declare that his son, Tom Tugendhat, was committed Conservative, who has been selected to stand in Tonbridge and Malling, one of the safest Tory seats in the country. Nor did the judge mention that his brother, Christopher Tugendhat, is a Conservative peer and former MP. Nor did he declare that Michael Ashcroft, the former Tory chairman and a prominent supporter of Cruddas, had hired him when he was still a barrister and praised Tugendhat as “arguably the greatest legal expert in the country on privacy”.

The Sunday Times applied for the right to appeal. In November last year, Lady Justice Sharp refused to allow the application. The Sunday Times pressed on and asked for a hearing. Lady Sharp was due to hear the case last month, but just before it began, word spread among journalists and lawyers of Tugendhat’s family connections.

The day before the hearing, Lady Sharp contacted the paper and said it may want to know that, like Tugendhat, she also had a brother who was a prominent Conservative.

And so she does. Richard Sharp is a former head of private equity for Goldman Sachs. He is on the board of a right-wing think tank, the Centre for Policy Studies, which campaigns against a mansion tax for wealthy homeowners and in favour of zero-hours contracts for poor workers.

Last year, the Wall Street Journal estimated that Richard Sharp’s personal fortune was £90m. Sharp has personally donated tens of thousands to the Tory party and Tory politicians. Sharp has personally donated tens of thousands to the Tory party and Tory politicians. In 2007, he moved from Goldman Sachs to chair the lobbying and PR firm Huntsworth Plc, which also donates to the Tory party.

The chancellor, George Osborne, appointed Sharp to the Bank of England’s financial policy committee in 2013. Baroness Sarah Hogg was the Treasury’s representative at his interview. She is the wife of Douglas Hogg, a Tory MP, and was an adviser to Ken Clarke when he was Tory chancellor. Sharp is the first committee member in the Bank of England’s history to have been a party donor.

Richard Sharp and Dame Justice Sharp’s father was Eric Sharp, whom Keith Joseph, the then Conservative industry secretary, appointed as chairman of the newly privatised Cable and Wireless in 1980. The Thatcher government gave him a peerage in 1989.

Offering advice on when judges should stand down (“recuse themselves”) because of conflicts of interest, the appeal court said in 2006 that “if in any case there is real ground for doubt, that doubt should be resolved in favour of recusal”.

At the last minute, Sharp offered to stand down after she had already heard one appeal, an offer the Sunday Times gratefully acceped. Mr Justice Tugendhat never offered to stand down, and did not tell the Sunday Times about his family connections. No doubt he didn’t think he needed to under the law as it stands-which explains why many feel the law should be reviewed.

Instead of going before Sharp, the Sunday Times’ appeal was heard by Lord Justice Maurice Kay and Lord Justice Laws on 16th April. Laws said the Sunday Times had to persuade the court that Tugendhat “went wrong on the facts to a radical degree. That is a tall order on any view, and it is right to note that the trial judge in this case [Tugendhat] has a wealth of experience in the field of defamation.”

For all that, Laws found the Cruddas case “unusual and in some ways troubling”. There were “some singular features” about it.

It was clear that the journalists, posing as representatives of foreign financiers, made it plain their interest in approaching the respondent was entirely commercial, Laws said. He had “an uneasy sense” that Tugendhat might not, “despite his painstaking treatment of the case”, have confronted the realities of the exchanges between the journalists and Mr Cruddas.

The Eye’s artice states that the trial was continuing.

This article does indeed suggest that the Conservative party, or at least its individual members, are not above sitting in judgment in cases where there is a clear conflict of interest and their own political views may cause them to give an unjust judgment. This could be easily construed as another Tory attack on freedom of the press.

Apart from the libel case, there is also the matter of George Osborne’s appoint of a Conservative donor, Richard Sharp, to the committee of the Bank of England. If you’re looking for another parallel with Fascism, the Nazis set up vast corporations in order to control and ‘coordinate’ industry with Nazi policy. The boards included members of the Nazi party.