Posts Tagged ‘Hedge Funds’

Vox Political: Tories Given £55 million by Hedge Funds

February 22, 2015

Mike over at Vox Political has this story about the Conservatives having received £55 million in donations from the hedge funds:

Latest figures from the Electoral Commission reveal that in the last quarter (Q4 2014) hedge funds gave the Tories almost £2 million in donations, which means donations from the hedge fund industry to the Conservative Party now total more than £55 million, according to the Labour Party.

Hedge funds were given a tax cut worth £145m by George Osborne in 2013, and were offered hundreds of millions of pounds worth of shares in the Royal Mail when part of that national asset was sold off by the money-grubbing Coalition for a fraction of what it was worth.

Analysis of Conservative Party donations shows that almost £4 million of donations in the last quarter came from donors who have attended exclusive private dinners with David Cameron and other senior Ministers, taking the total to £11.65m from dinner donors in 2014

“The Tories are now the political wing of the hedge fund industry, said Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister, Jonathan Ashworth.

Jonathan Ashworth also says that the Tories are failing ordinary, hardworking families because their priority is with the privileged few.

This is absolutely correct.

And not only does the receipt of such massive amounts from the hedge funds show the Tories skewed priorities, it’s also a real danger to this country’s health service and particularly the care homes for the handicapped and elderly. I’ve reblogged several stories from Private Eye, Johnny Void and Mike about the scandals that have erupted over the appalling mistreatment of residents and patients in several care homes. A number of these have been forced to close. Part of the problem is that the homes were run by hedge funds as part of a network of enterprises set up to avoid tax. The companies running the care homes were deliberately driven into multimillion pounds worth of debt, as part of this tax dodge. As a result, there was little investment, and so standards of care were appallingly low, and the homes themselves always vulnerable to collapse.

This is the health care system set up by these Tory donors. It will no doubt expand and get worse if the Tories get in at the next election and try to privatise the healthcare system even further.

Get rid of the Tories, and their financial paymasters.

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Angry Kipper Doesn’t Think Farage is a Millionaire Banker

February 19, 2015

This is a piece I found over at the SlatUkip site. It’s the video reaction of a young Kipper absolutely outraged at the Channel 4 programme UKIP – the First 100 Days. He makes his anger and disgust very clear using some very foul language. I apologise for this, as I know many of you find it disgusting and don’t want to hear it. Normally, I wouldn’t reblog something like this fore those exact reasons. However, I’ve decided to do so in this case, because the Kipper’s own weird perception of his party actually needs to be heard from the man himself: he doesn’t seem to realise that Fuhrage is a millionaire banker.

According to him, the Channel 4 programme is a smear job by the bankers, because UKIP aren’t in their pockets. Unlike LibLabCon. Not only doesn’t he know that Duce Farage is himself a millionaire banker, he also doesn’t seem to be aware that Farage has explicitly stated he will try to attract hedge fund managers to his party. And the party is already filled with members from the banking and financial sectors.

Here’s the outraged UKIP supporter speaking

This just shows how far UKIP propaganda has penetrated, and how little many of their supporters know about the character of their own party.

All the comments from Hitler and Goebbels about spreading the big lie, keeping it simple and repetitive, regardless of facts or argument, are relevant here.

From 2011: Private Eye on NHS Privatisation

January 22, 2015

In their issue for 16th -29th September 2011, Private Eye published a block of articles on the government’s privatisation of the NHS. These discussed Circle Health’s attempts to take over the management of Hinchingbrooke Hospital Huntingdon; the proposed putting out to private contract of Suffolk’s 27 community health services, the role of Dr Stephen Dunne in the privatisation process, and negotiations between the NHS and the Helios German private health care group. The articles ran:

NHS PLC
East Extract

Three months after Circle Health, the self-proclaimed “John-Lewis-style health partnership”, was supposed to take over the management of Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon, the Treasury has still not given its stamp of approval.

Despite NHS East of England’s desperation to privatise the 330-bed hospital, government beancounters seem unimpressed by Circle’s bosses (£35m last year) and debts (a massive £82m, against a notional £95m share value of the company). And mandarins may not be happy to sanction a business plan that in the current climate looks increasingly potty. Unless Circle begins to run the 330-bed Cambridgeshire hospital at a surplus, it will receive no payment under the franchise agreement. Yet Circle’s plan hinges on “growing the business” and treating more patients – at a time when local health commissioners are desperate to reduce the use of hospital beds and cut the amount paid for each part of any treatment.

Also, time is running out. While Circle’s leading figure, Ali Parsa, is keen to promote the fact that doctors, nurse and clinicians have a stake in the company, most of the money and decision-making power rests in the 50.1 percent share owned by Circle Holdings. And with the company admitting to problems from angry creditors and uncertainty about the finances even of its showpiece 28-bed boutique hospital in Bath, the entire project would already have sunk without the injection of private equity capital from some of the most powerful and rapacious hedge funds on the planet. Between them they have invested around £100m in Circle but seen no return. How much longer will they stick around as Circle struggles to generate any return?

Also on NHS East of England’s “for sale” list are four “lots” comprising all 27 of Suffolk’s community health services.

Not surprisingly, five private companies have made the shortlist of nine bidders for one or all of the £43m, three-year contracts to provide services from paediatrics, nursing and therapy to adult community hospitals, nurses, physiotherapists and intervention teams.

Assura Medical, bought up last year by Richard Branson’s Virgin group, is interested in bidding for just one “lot”, while services giant Serco hopes to bag all four. Privatised social care company Essex Cares Limited and two equipment providers, Nottingham Rehab Supplies and Medequip Assistive Technology, are in the running for single lots. None of these companies has any base in Suffolk, and none has provided NHS community services before – although Essex Cares does provide social care for the county council.

Although many health authorities have put their community services out to tender since they were required to have separate “commissioning” and “providing”, hardly any private sector companies have secured contracts. Of the four NHS trusts in the running, only one, the West Suffolk Hospital Trust, is local.

But as it’s the East of England, the smart money suggests bosses will lean on the NHS providers to pull out. After all, at Hinchingbrooke the withdrawal of bids from neighbouring foundation trusts left the field clear for Circle, whose experience in running a huge general hospital was limited to a costly 28-bed showpiece.

Leading the privatisation mission in NHS East of England is director of strategy Dr Stephen Dunn, whose outstanding achievements for the private sector were recognised in this year’s Healthinvestor Awards, in a glitzy presentation at London’s Grosvenor House hotel.

Dunn, whose £125,000-plus salary is paid by the NHS, won the award for “Outstanding Contribution by an individual” for his tireless efforts to push through the privatisation of management at Hinchingbrooke Hospital. And also won the magazine’s “Deal of the Year” award for setting up the ground-breaking franchise, which the judges said “has huge implications for both the public and private sectors”.

Given that the “Deal of the Year” has not yet got Treasury approval, some of his NHS management colleagues were less complimentary. But now that the private sector values his services so highly, no doubt there will always be a place for him in the new NHS plc.

Helios to Pay

Discussions between the NHS and German health group Helios on “how international hospital provider groups may help to tackle the performance improvement of English hospitals” present and alarming prospect.

Helios is part of the Fresenius Group, which was fined £82m in the US in May for having “recklessly disregarded federal law when billing the [US taxpayer-funded] Medicare program for home dialysis supplies and equipment”. Although the over-billing itself occurred just before Fresenius bought the companies involved, Fresenius itself was accused in relation to this case.

Nor was it the German group’s first brush with American law enforcers. Ten years before, Fresenius settled the largest ever healthcare fraud case with civil and criminal penalties approaching $500m after making fraudulent claims from Medicare and paying kickbacks to get work referred its way. Then, in 2005, another arm of Fresenius admitted its role in a pharmaceuticals cartel in South Africa, designed to “manipulate prices for pharmaceutical and hospital products”.

There’s nothing to suggest Fresenius’ record is much worse than those of other private health companies with hungry investors to satisfy, but what hope does it offer for its role in “performance improvement”?

Together, these articles present a dire picture of the privatisation of the NHS. Circle Health only last week walked away from its contract to manage hospitals. Those in its care had appallingly low standards of care, and the company itself complained that it could not make a profit. This article shows that Treasury officials were aware from the start that the company would have problems managing a large, proper hospital, rather than its 28-bed showpiece.

The article about the privatisation of NHS services in Suffolk also shows that private firms simply aren’t as competitive as the NHS. The privatisation is ideologically led, and pushed through by ministers. The privatisation is also being pushed by managers like Stephen Dunn, who no doubt fancy themselves as highly paid companies executives.

As for Helios, they join Unum insurance as a private company convicted of massive fraud in America.

Overall, these articles present a picture that NHS privatisation is being forced through by greedy, incompetent companies, offering extremely poor service and ripping off the taxpayer in the process. Precisely the kind of companies Cameron and Osborne want running the NHS as they privatise it.

Private Eye 2011 on Circle Health

January 20, 2015

Last week the Circle Health group finally pulled out of its contract to run NHS hospitals. The standards of care were appalling, and the company had not been able to make the massive profit it expected. Four years ago in their 24th June – 7th July 2011 issue, Private Eye printed this story about Circle Health, and what their acquisition of government contracts augured for the rest of the NHS under the Tories’ privatisation plans.

NHS Competition
Circle Health Merry-Go-Round

As the debate rages over greater private sector involvement in a reformed NHS, the aggressive behaviour of one private health firm, Circle Health, is a sign of things to come.

Using the ‘”Any Willing Provider” rules that are designed to increase competition in the NHS (and which will continue even after the Conservatives’ current health reforms are watered down), Circle is trying to force two NHS trusts to give it more surgical work and on better terms regarding price and timing.

Circle Health is 49 percent-owned by employees and often described as a “social enterprise”. But 51 percent of it is owned by private investors, including around 40 percent by hedge funds Odey Asset Management and Landsdowne Holdings. Since 2003 Crispin Odey and Lansdowne’s Paul Ruddock and David Craigen have between them donated more than £560,000 to the Conservative party.

In January this year, Circle Health applied to the NHS Cooperation and Competition Panel to demand that NHS Wiltshire and NHS Bath and North East Somerset give it more work and on better terms. The panel, a New Labour quango, is meant to determine when the NHS should give operations to private firms, in keeping with the edict that “any willing provider” should be considered for NHS work in competition with NHS hospitals.

Under the government’s current “climbdown” on NHS reform, the panel will be moved into the NHS regulator Monitor and become the main enforcer pushing NHS privatisation. This is supposedly less aggressive than health secretary Andrew Lansley’s original plan because the panel will now consider “cooperation” as well as “competition”, whereas before Monitor only had a duty to promote “competition”.

Circle Health is pressing its demands on Wiltshire and Bath, who jointly commission NHS services, because it built its flagship hospital in Bath and needs the NHS work to pay for its fancy. Norman Foster-designed building with “chauffeur drive service”, “five-star hospitality” and a bistro serving “locally-sourced, mainly organis food” prepared by a “Michelin-starred chef”.

Local NHS suits must be hoping the panel, headed by former private healthcare investor Lord Carter, looks fairly at the case. Worryingly, he and health secretary Andrew Lansley appear to be fans of Circle Health: in January they were guest speakers at its annual conference at the firm’s Bath hospital.

According to papers lodged with the panel, Circle Health is angry that out of a £160m local budget, its own potential revenues “have been capped at 6m”. It claims the health authorities won’t offer it more contracts because they want to keep work in-house to “protect NHS providers from further potential capacity reduction”. Circle also claims that the health authorities are favouring the NHS by only offering private sector providers four types of surgery. Circle wants more, including the chance to carry out liver surgery.

The panel is due to give its verdict at the end of the month.

In the same piece, the Eye also had this to say about Ruth Carnall, the NHS head, who was also on the payroll of the private health care industry. Unsurprisingly, she also favoured cuts and privatisation, for which she was suitable awarded.

Congratulations to Ruth Carnall, who grabbed a CBE for services to the NHS.

Carnall flitted between running the “Change Programme” at the Department of Health … and jobs with private health firm Care UK and consultants KPMG. She is currently head of NHS London, where her hospital cuts plan for the capital was so aggressive even slash-happy health secretary Andrew Lansley had to call for a pause.

At both the national and local level then, the privatisation of the NHS has been carried out by politicians and NHS heads with links to private health care companies and the firms involved in the privatisation – a clear conflict of interest. As for Circle Health, the events of the past week shows how right NHS BANES and Wiltshire were not to want to give NHS contracts to this outfit of incompetent profiteers.

The Fake Anti-Corporatism of Fuehrer Farage

November 27, 2014

There are several pieces of interest in this fortnight’s edition of Private Eye. One of these, on page 5, is the item Landing on Mayfair, which demolishes the claim by UKIP’s generalissimo earlier this month (November 2014) that he and his party stand for ‘radical change’ from ‘corporatist politics’. The Eye states that it must therefore have been a totally different Nigel Farage, who in May last year – 2013 – went to an exclusive party in Mayfair at the offices of the hedge fund Odey Asset Management, hosted by Crispin Odey and attended by a number of City financiers.

The article then gives the details of the amount of sums big business, and particularly the financial sector, has given to UKIP. Harwood Capital Management’s boss Christopher Mills donated £50,000. Odey gave £22,000, and Arron Banks, the insurance tycoon, has promised a cool £1 million. Furthermore, UKIP’s treasurer is Stuart Wheeler, a former Tory, and the inventor of ‘spread betting’. He has also given £197,300 to the party.

UKIP and the Nazis’ Rhetoric against Big Business

I’ve blogged in the past about the similarity between UKIP and the Nazis in their election campaigning. Both are parties of the Right, who disguise their real policies in order to appeal to as broad an electoral base as possible. Hitler was in no way a Socialist, but he stressed anti-capitalist policies, rhetoric and imagery in order to win over working class voters, who would otherwise vote for the Socialist parties. It’s the reason why members of the Tory extreme Right now, like Daniel Hannan, try to present the Nazis as Socialists, and refer to the ‘Left-wing’ BNP.

Farage’s attack on corporatism is another parallel between UKIP and the Nazis’ electoral strategy. Historians of the Nazis have pointed out that Hitler also posed as the protector of the German working class from exploitation by big business when campaigning in working class, Socialist strongholds. In one speech, Hitler proclaimed that when the Nazis seized power, they would throw the coffers and money chests of the rich out into the street. He then went on to reassure the crowd that only Jewish businesses would be affected, and proper German enterprises would be left untouched and in peace. It was a policy that became horrific reality with Kristallnacht and the persecution of the Jews in the Holocaust.

In fact, Hitler actively sought funding from German business. This was originally from small and medium-sized industries, which feared attack and disruption from the unions and organised labour. Hitler then expanded his campaign to gain the complicity of big business during the Third Reich. An official from the financial sector became the head of the Nazi business cartel. Just before the Nazi seizure of power, the Machtergreifung, Hitler spoke to a meeting of German business leaders in order to gain their support. He declared that only under a personal dictatorship would German industry prosper and benefit from protection from Socialism and the trade unions.

Now Farage is not an anti-Semite, and has ostensibly tried to distance his party from the Fascist Right. Nevertheless, his party is populist, ultra-nationalist and extremely Right-wing, and like the Nazis covers up its true polices against the working class with a façade of anti-capitalist rhetoric, while doing precisely the opposite.

From 2012: Private Eye on Government Officials Joining Companies to Privatise Schools

April 11, 2014

Commend him for announcing the Savile investigation

Michael Gove considering which other schools to wreck through privatisation.

This is from Private Eye’s issue for the 30th November – 13 December 2012.

Revolving Doors

Back to School

The revolving door that propels education officials into the trusts and companies lobbying for government cash to run schools is hastening the move of education away from the control of local education authorities (LEAs) towards that of unelected private organisations.

Earlier this year John Coles, former director-general of the Department for Education’s Standards Directorate, became chief executive of the United Learning Trust, the UK’s largest academy chain with 31 schools. Though the rules say Coles cannot lobby government until December next year, there is no real mechanism to enforce the ban.

In September, Miriam Rosen, former chief inspector of schools, became a consultant to ARK Schools, which operates 18 academies and aims to bring hedge fund values to education. ARK stands for Absolute Return for Kids – “absolute return” being a hedge fund phrase about making returns (profits) even when an economy is going down the pan. ARK also employs Tony Blair’s former aide, Sally Morgan.

David Cameron’s former special adviser James O’Shaughnessy is in the academy business now too. In January he left the prime minister and became group strategy director of his old public school, Wellington College, which sponsors a state academy, Wiltshire’s Wellington Academy. O’Shaughnessy recently argued in a pamphlet for the policy Exchange thinktank that only academies can change the “scandal” of “coasting” schools which only achieve “satisfactory” grades rather than “good” or “excellent” marks. Wellington Academy’s most recent Ofsted grade was, er, “satisfactory”.

Currently only non-profit organisations like United Learning, Ark and Wellington can run chains of academy schools. But O’Shaughnessy’s pamphlet proposed bringing profit-making firms into state schools too. He argued that the charitable trusts can’t cope with the thousands of schools education secretary Michael Gove has “freed” from LEAs to become academies; and that academy chains in partnership with non-profit groups. This could be good news for O’Shaughnessy who has set up a firm, Mayforth Consulting, to act as an “educational entrepreneur”.

It could also help the biggest pro-academy voice of all, former Labour education minister Lo0rd Adonis, whose pro-academy stance is widely admired by the current government. Adonis is employed as an adviser by schools firm GEMS. Because GEMs is profit-making, it cannot run academies in the UK; and Adonis says his work for GEMS is “international only”. But under O’Shaughnessy’s plan, firms like GEMS could get into the British academy business after all.

This report shows the institutional corruption, which sees ministers, government officials and senior civil servants join the companies they are supposed to be supervising and regulating, to demand even more state functions should be privatised and handed over to those same companies. This was the ‘sleaze’ surrounding John Major’s administration, and it has continued through subsequent governments into David Cameron’s. The article clearly demonstrates how many ministers and education companies are actively campaigning for our schools to be privatised, just as David Cameron’s party is full of ministers, who stand to benefit from his desire to privatise the health service, including Iain Duncan Smith. As for the companies themselves, their record of providing education in schools is poor. A month ago the government issued a list of 30 academy chains which were banned from acquiring any more schools because of their poor performance. Education should not be in the hands of private companies, and should remain firmly part of the state sector.