Posts Tagged ‘Panama Papers’

Five Reasons Why the Tories Should Never See Power Ever Again

May 2, 2017

This excellent video was posted on YouTube by Scot TV. I’ve no doubt he’s a Scots Nationalist, but it also holds true for the rest of Britain. He states in his explanation that an extra zero could be added to the five, but for the sake of brevity he’s leaving it to the lower number. Those five reasons are:

1. Tory election overspending. He notes that the charges have now been dropped, but about 20 or so Tory MPs are still being investigated.

2. The NHS. This is being starved of cash, so that patients are suffering appalling delays and a consequent disastrous decline in the quality of care. The NHS is at breaking point. Meanwhile, the Tories are privatising it by the back door. This part of the video shows headlines from various papers about the government selling off and handing over NHS hospitals and services to the usual private healthcare companies and outsourcing giants, like Circle Health and SERCO. There is also another funny segment from Jeremy Pie in which the comic reporter rants about how it isn’t outsourcing, it is straightforward privatisation. Pie makes the point that if the NHS needs money, then why can’t it simply be given it.

3. Benefit Cuts. This part of the video documents the terrible effect benefit cuts and sanctions are having on disabled people. It gives the facts and figures on the effects it has had on them. One of the clips is of an MP asking questions in the House about why disabled people are required to go through the Work Capability Tests, when so many – he gives the appropriate figures – die before, during and after the tests. He also shows the complete contempt the Tories have for those forced into misery by the tests, when Ian Duncan Smith didn’t have time to respond to questions about them, but very much did have the time to have his portrait painted. The video also correctly says that the attacks on the poor and disabled were so severe, that the UN was forced to intervene. He also give the sneering response from the Tories, where one snotty MP remarked that the UN rapporteur should mind her own business, just like he didn’t know about poverty in Costa Rica or wherever she came from. The video praises Dennis Skinner’s pointed remarks in parliament, where he called Cameron ‘Dodgy Dave’, and took him to task for having his mortgage paid for by the state while denying state help to others. The video calls this ‘a welcome poke in the eye’ for the Tories.

4. The Panama Papers. This was the scandal that erupted a few years ago when documents came to light showing how the Conservatives had moved their business dealings into offshore accounts in the Caribbean in order to avoid paying tax in the UK. As usual, this was mixed with contempt and sneering towards ordinary people. The clip shows the Tory MP, Alan Duncan, standing up on his hind legs in the House to attack their critics. They are, he claimed, moved solely by hatred of anybody who’s wealthy, and if people like them had their way, the House of Commons would be stuffed full of incompetents and mediocrities, who had never run a business.

5. Tory behaviour during the referendums. Here the video includes clips of the Tories, including David Cameron, once again scaremongering, with ‘Project Fear’ directed at the Scottish Nationalists in the referendum over Scottish independence, and then more of the same in the referendum over whether to leave the EU, with the Tories trying to scare people into voting Remain.

While I am a Unionist, who voted to Remain in Europe, I wholeheartedly agree with the rest of Scot TV’s reasons for kicking out the Tories and keeping them out. They did break the rules on electoral spending. They are deliberately running down the NHS so that they can privatise it by the back door. They are killing the disabled and the poor through benefit cuts. They do add insult to injury by sneering at those concerned with the poverty and suffering they inflict, at ordinary working people. And Ian Duncan Smith was vain. He was also cruel and cowardly, surrounding himself with armed guards when required to give his testimony to the parliamentary committee investigating his conduct. That was when he finally deigned to appear before them. And as Mike showed on his blog, Smith did his level best to stop the mortality figures ever getting out.

They are corrupt, with one set of standards for themselves and another for the poor. They see themselves as a favoured elite, who should be allowed to dodge as much tax as they can, while shifting the tax burden onto those who can least afford it. Half of all millionaires have actually done nothing to deserve their money, as it’s inherited. But they still see a system, that so massively rewards them while penalising the poor simply for being poor as just, and themselves as uniquely deserving their position and power. Hence Alan Duncan’s sneer about their critics being just jealous of the rich, and wanting to have parliament stuffed with mediocrities. It was the sneer of the Tory right in the 19th and 20th centuries, when they wanted to stop the working class getting the vote at all costs.

And even though I wish Scotland to stay in the Union, Scot TV is correct about the Tories running a dirty campaign of fearmongering during the independence referendum. They also ran a Project Fear campaign to get us out of Europe. The impetus for Brexit comes from the Tory right and UKIP, whose leadership are right-wing Tories. They want us to leave because they hate, loathe and detest the minimal rights granted to workers under the Social Charter.

The Tories are vile. They should be voted out and kept out. I urge people to vote for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party to preserve what remains of the British welfare state, and renationalise the NHS.

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A Up Let’s Talk on Why We Support Jeremy Corbyn

July 9, 2016

This is a great, impassioned video from A Up Let’s Talk, whose name and accent mark him out as a proper Northerner. In this video, he tells the Labour party why so many people support Jeremy Corbyn. He starts with clips from the great man’s career, such as his speeches in parliament against the invasion of Iraq and how he was arrested for being offensive to the South African ambassador during apartheid. There’s footage also of him praising trade unions for defending workers, millions of whom are now earning below the minimum wages, and praising the NHS and the people who work in it. A Up Let’s Talk contrasts this with the Tories, and New Labour, who are just out for corporate profits and what they can get for themselves. Jeremy Corbyn has support because he fights for what Labour was founded for, and for the issues that actually mean things to ordinary men and women. He also talks about the issues that aren’t reported so much in the news, like the Panama papers, and the massive corruption that revealed. The press gave this, he said, a bit of coverage, just to make it look like they were interested in the same things ordinary people were interested in, and on their side. But they aren’t and they’re not.

He also attacks the way the Blairites have not given any reasons for their attacks on Corbyn, and concludes, as have very many others, that there are none. They’re attacking him for what he is, and what he represents. And rather than complaining that he was a bit too quiet about Europe, he challenges them to come up north, and explain to the marginalised, working class communities why they should vote for him and Labour, and not for UKIP. Many people left the Labour party following what New Labour turned it into, but they’ve returned under Corbyn. They should be listened to, as they were in the party before New Labour, and before so many of the Blairites were even born. He doesn’t expect great changes from Corbyn, or to be massively better off, but he does want a better, more equal society, and that is why he took part in a march this Saturday for Corbyn with his children. He asks New Labour what they have done for people like him and the rest of us workers. He would like to see some ‘quantitative easing’ for himself and other working class people, and not for the bankers,for whom David Cameron went to Brussels to get money. As for the other leading Tories, Theresa May wants to spy on everyone. And he notes how the Tories seem to be coming apart and disintegrating. Boris Johnson is supposed to be the most popular politician in Britain, but where is he? A Up Let’s Talk states that they’re all rats leaving a sinking ship. And Corbyn can win. So let’s rally around Corbyn.

A Up Let’s Talk is exactly right about all of this, and he’s identified all the issues. The Blairites haven’t presented any arguments, just personal attacks. They do stand for the same things as David Cameron – increased power and profits for the rich and corporations, more poverty and deprivation for the rest of us. Issues like the Iraq invasion, apartheid, workers’ rights, the minimum wage, and the health service have immense importance for ordinary people. And the press has shown itself to be hostile to the organised working class, disguising their hatred with a few, token articles. The Tories were and are bitterly divided on Europe, and they are disintegrating. Robin Ramsay in his ‘News from the Bridge’ column in Lobster described just how far in decline the Tories are as a popular party. Most of their members of are of pensionable age, and there are only 150,000 as opposed to half a million plus in Labour. They haven’t had any interest in genuinely improving conditions for the working class since the mid-19th century and the middle of the 20th in the Coalition government. Theresa May, the probably next leader of the Tories, does want to spy on everyone. She is a threat to civil liberties. New Labour did betray everything that the Labour party originally stood for, and turned away from the working and lower middle classes to concentrate on winning votes in swing marginals. People did leave Labour because of them. Between 1997 and the 2000s Labour lost five million voters. They’re coming back under Jeremy Corbyn. And the rise of UKIP in northern constituencies – and elsewhere in England – is partly explained by many members of the working class feeling that Labour has abandoned them. The embrace of UKIP as an alternative, however, is counterproductive. There are very good, left-wing reasons to be sceptical of Europe. Lobster and Counterpunch have over the years run very many excellent articles on the highly dubious nature of the EU and the corporativism and Cold War politics behind it. But Farage and the Kippers as they are as just as zealously against the working class as the Tories, if not more so. And the country’s ills are due not so much to immigration or to the EU as to forty years of neoliberalism, wage cuts, and attacks on workers’ rights, welfare benefits and the NHS from the governments of Thatcher, Major, Blair and Cameron. It’s a vote for the same kind of people that have carried out these policies, while scapegoating migrants and asylum-seekers.

Corbyn isn’t going to introduce massive changes, or make people vastly more wealthy. But he will do his level best to make us a more equal society, and give working people back at least some of what they have lost, and a renewed voice in parliament.

Dick Coughlan on the Telegraph’s Five Fails Attacking Jeremy Corbyn

April 30, 2016

In this piece from Dick Coughlan, he critiques and refutes the Torygraph’s attempts to smear Corbyn has another self-interested politico profiting from tax-payers’ money. The Torygraph resorted to this in the wake of the Panama Papers, which showed just how much members of the super-rich, including Dodgy Dave Cameron, had used offshore companies to avoid paying tax. The Torygraph therefore ran a hit piece on Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, claiming that he had a salary of over £3 million. Coughlan shows how that’s not actually a refutation of the charge against Cameron. It’s just a rather shabby diversion. And their facts about Corbyn are fundamentally skewed. Firstly, the £3 million are the total sum Corbyn has made to date throughout his career, as released in his tax records by, er, Jeremy Corbyn. This includes the £1.6m pension he will get when he retires. This is the exact same sum as every other MP. Similar inflated figures could also be made for everyone else’s income by the same method the Torygraph used to smear Corbyn. If you added up most people’s annual salaries for every year they’ve been employed, it would similarly make them much richer than they actually are. For example, if someone has a salary of £8,000 a year, and has been employed by a firm for three years, you could claim that they have had an income of £24,000. But this would not mean that they had £24,000 in the bank by any means. This is the type of dodgy accounting that the Torygraph used to smear Corbyn. Corbyn has also made smaller amounts of money from an inheritance left him by his mother, and from a couple of speeches he has made on the lecture circuit. All of which he has declared and paid tax on.

And then Coughlan points out that the Telegraph’s bias is shown by the fact that they haven’t covered how much Boris Johnson has made from sales of his book and various private activities, nor the tax-dodging arrangements of the Torygraph’s own proprietors, the weirdo Barclay Twins.

Private Eye on Plans to Introduces Charges and Privatise Land Registry

April 27, 2016

This past fortnight’s Private Eye also has an article on the government’s plans to introduce charges for using the Land Registry, which they are also currently trying to privatise. Private Eye has covered the proposed privatisation in its ‘In the Back’ section, because of the threat this poses to freedom of information. The Eye has used the Land Registry to track some of the various companies holding vast chunks of land in our fair country back to offshore tax havens. The article runs

Cash Registry

No sooner has the last Eye gone to press, revealing the Land Registry’s plan to frustrate a supposed move towards transparency by charging thousands of pounds for information on offshore companies holding property, than business secretary Sajid Javid said the organisation would be privatised.

His time – as the Panama leaks again show the value of public access to who owns what land and property – was less than ideal.

There is no pretence that the sale, which will further threaten the 150-7ear-old body’s inclination to act in the public interest, is for any reason other than to raise around £1bn to reduce the national debt. This is about 0.06 per cent total government debt and far outweighed by the benefit that a publicly-owned, fully open register would provide in fighting tax evasion and corruption.

Javid claimed, with a straight face, that a privatised Land Registry would benefit from “private capital discipline” and that service would be protected by “key performance indicators” while creating “innovative, new products”. The people who use it, however, disagree fundamentally.

When the coalition floated the idea of farming the Land Registry out to a separate company in 2014, the response was resounding raspberry. Rejecting the plan, the government said: “91 percent of respondents did not acre that creating a more delivery-focused organisation at arm’s length from government would enable Land Registry to carry out its operations more efficiently and effectively.” Only 5 per cent thought it would.

Since most responses were from people working in the property business Javid now says he wants to serve, this was a resounding rejection of a step that was less dramatic than the privatisation now proposed. “Across the world, a trusted system of land registration is central to social stability and economic success,” said former Land Registrar John Manthorpe of the “misguided” plan.

So far one private equity group, Advent International, has expressed an interest. It already owns a number of businesses in the UK such as money transfer company Worldpay – not directly, of course, but through the tax haven of Luxembourg. Just the people for a “trusted system of land registration”.
(Private Eye, 15th-28th April, p. 1).

I don’t agree with the Eye’s conclusion that the privatisation is being done to pay off the debt. The money raised from the sale is too small to make any difference. It looks to me far more to be another ideologically-driven privatisation, done largely to provide their big business donors with yet another state industry. And the charging and privatisation is also being done to keep it out of the reach of the general public, who could use it to draw the highly embarrassing information about British capitalism and landownership that the Eye has done from using it.

Vox Political on the Tories’ Plan to Turn Education into a Tax Avoidance Scam

April 25, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political posted up a very ominous piece reporting the tax affairs of one of the academy chains. Bellevue Education, which runs a number of academies in the south east, appears in the Panama Papers as an offshore company registered in the British Virgin Islands. In other words, it’s a tax avoider. Mike draws the obvious conclusion from this that as David Cameron and Nicky Morgan want all schools to become academies, and thus tax avoidance schemes for the big business fat cats running them.

The Tory plan to turn education into a tax avoidance scam

I don’t doubt for a single moment that Mike’s right, and this fact has very grave implications for the quality of the service these academy chains will provide, and their stability as businesses.

One of the points George Monbiot makes about the PFI initiative for hospitals in his book, Captive State, is that the overheads in running hospitals are so large, that the corporations approached to fund and run them can only be persuaded to do so through massively inflating their costs to the British taxpayer, and by cutting the service delivered to the public. It’s why, thanks to the Private Finance Initiative, Britain now has fewer hospitals than it actually needs, which have been more expensive to build than if the government simply raised the money through the usual sources of bonds, loans and taxation. It’s also why the PFI hospitals are smaller.

The hedge funds that were responsible for running so many of the care homes, that collapsed and were prosecuted for the extremely poor treatment of their elderly or disabled residents, were also involved in massive tax avoidance scams. There was some kind of financial trick involved, which made these homes run at a technical loss. This meant huge profits for the hedge funds running them, but it also meant that they were extremely vulnerable financially. The result was the slew of scandals, which got into the page of the Private Eye’s ‘In the Back’ column, which reported on the extremely dubious financial arrangements behind them.

This new revelation that Bellevue Education is based off-shore, suggests that the private education chains running the academies similarly find it difficult to run them at a profit without indulging in tax avoidance at a massive level. Mike reports that academies perform poorly compared to ordinary LEA schools. This bears out the conclusion that for-profit firms cannot effectively run services, like schools and hospitals, that are properly the responsibility of the state. Like the PFI hospitals, it shows that the private investment in schools is more expensive to the British taxpayer, in terms of tax money lost to the government, the burden of which is then passed on to the rest of us. And it also suggests that as businesses, they are also vulnerable and likely to collapse at the merest drop in profits. And then, no doubt, the fat cat bankers behind them will be squealing for the British taxpayer to bail them out.