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Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade

6 Jun

Liam Fox, one of three ministers responsible for Brexit is, by public record, the most corrupt politician in Britain. In March 2010 he over claimed for mortgage interest payments of £22,476.

Fox claimed expenses of more than £19,000 for his mobile phone for the four years between 2005 and 2009. Fox claimed the high bill was due to regular trips overseas. He tried to excuse this by saying that he was looking for a cheaper tariff.

In October 2012, the Commons Speaker blocked the release of data showing which MPs were renting their homes to other MPs for financial gain. However, a study of parliamentary records was published in The Daily Telegraph showed that Liam Fox receives rental income from his London home while simultaneously claiming rental income from the taxpayer to live at another residence.

In October 2013, amongst other claims, Fox  claimed 3p for a 100 metre car trip a year earlier. He also made an additional 15 claims of under £1 for car travel approved in 2012–13, two of which were for 24p and 44p. 

Fox has been found guilty of breaking Parliamentary rules, most spectacularly by accepting five paid trips to Sri Lanka paid for by the Sri Lankan government or the Sri Lankan Development Trust. Fox failed to declare his interest when asking ministers how much UK aid had been given to Sri Lanka.

Then there is his relationship with Adam Werrity, a relationship which was exposed in the media and led to Fox’s resignation. Werrity is 17 years younger than Fox and was best man at his wedding. Werrity lived rent-free in Fox’s flat, and been involved with him in business and in the UK/US ultra conservative think-tank The Atlantic Bridge. While Fox was Defence Minister, Werrity was a regular visitor at the Ministry of Defence and accompanied Fox on numerous official trips, including meetings with foreign dignitaries. Werrity used official-looking business cards which said he was an “advisor” to Fox despite having no government post or security clearance. The media is unclear as to  the source of Werrity’s income. Between 20 May 2010 to 8 October 2011 Werrity was present at 40 of Fox’s 70 engagements as Minister of Defense. In 2005–6, Fox used public money, from his expense claims as an MP, to pay Adam Werritty.

Fox is anti abortion, against gay marriage, (strangely), and wants to fully privatise the NHS. Apart from that I am assured that he is quite charming.

The question is, should he be in government at all, let alone be one of the chief architects of Brexit?

if you have any doubts about the veracity of this blog, look up this article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liam_Fox

The dog that didn’t bark

19 May

What was interesting about the Conservative manifesto announced yesterday was what it did not say rather than what it said. I was expecting just some tiny thing to make some peoples lives better, some little bribe to vote Conservative, and it wasn’t there. The dog didn’t bark.

  • There is no promise not to raise income tax
  • There is no promise not to raise VAT
  • There is no promise not to raise National Insurance

On the thorny subject of immigration there was an intention to reduce immigration to tens of thousands, but no date to achieve this was given and no costings were made. And a Tory minister was on Today this morning saying that the benefits of immigration had not been measured.

The triple lock on pensions is being unlocked. Pensioners beware.

Cash-strapped councils are to be encouraged to build social housing, but no cash is being provided and these houses have to be sold off after after ten years, thus removing the collateral of the councils if they wish to build more.

Carers will be able to take up to a year off work to take care of sick relatives. Only this is unpaid and the employers don’t have to take them back afterwards AND, they do not appear as unemployed and so cannot obtain any benefits whatsoever.

If you get dementia your house will be old after you die to pay for your care.

The only positive aspects were in the words of the speech. The details seem to be entirely negative.

This is an election manifesto meant to help them win the General Election of June 8th. Was it brave to be so realistic about the prospects for the country? Unfortunately ‘brave’ in politics equates to suicidal. The best that can be said of the package is that it will give us more of the same, and that is not good.

Parliament was informed a month ago by Brexit Minister David Davis that the promise that things would be as good after Brexit as before was not really a promise but an aspiration. This suggests to me that the prospects of a ‘successful’ Brexit are just about zero, and he knows it. That is the direction in which we are headed.

To have a manifesto which leaves out all the promises normally expected shows a certain degree of pragmatism which is welcome in this febrile atmosphere. But it also points out that the costs of leaving the EU will impact the UK very hard. Tax rises are to be expected. Pensions and benefits are in greater doubt. The NHS is decidedly unsafe in Conservative hands. That is only being realistic.

Talkin’ ’bout a revolution

18 May

You can tell who is the Establishment by who the mainstream media publicise and support In this General Election the mainstream media offer support and succour overwhelmingly to the Theresa May and the Conservative Party.

Conversely they demonise or ignore Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party.

The Conservative Party are the definition of who the establishment is. It was said during the referendum that UKIP were the anti-establishment party. This is a damned bloody lie. The Leave campaign was much better funded than Remain. There was huge investment in profiling on social media and other tactics devised by Cambridge Analytics, who also helped to elect Donald Trump. One of the major donors to both campaigns was Robert Mercer, an American billionaire who used the obscure rules of Northern Ireland political funding to break the rules about how much money can be spent on a campaign. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/feb/26/us-billionaire-mercer-helped-back-brexit, Brexit was bought by such people.

The Leave campaign was supported very strenuously by  the majority of the popular press, which is owned by billionaire tax-dodgers and a US resident , Australian born global media tycoon. These people have no interest in the welfare of the vast majority of the British population, but only their own heavily protected wealth.

The enemy of these people is Jeremy Corbyn, and that is why he is the anti-establishment candidate in this election. If you want change, you have to vote for him, or vote intelligently in constituencies for the candidate most likely to able to defeat the Conservative candidate. I’m talkin’ ’bout a revolution.

Signs and signals

24 Apr

Last Friday Phillip Hammond, our esteemed Chancellor of the Exchequer, indicated that after June 8th he would be free to raise both income tax and VAT. Theresa May declared that she would be ending the triple lock which secures the value of state pensions. She also said that the foreign aid budget would remain at the current level.

Now the possibility of raising taxes is in marked contrast with the manifesto promises of George Osbourne, and I genuinely salute him for his honesty. We can presume that taxes will be raised because he wouldn’t have said such a potentially damaging thing without making plans.

Theresa May’s statement about pensions could possibly alienate a fair number of Tory voters. The commitment to foreign aid spending is a little more curious. This spending is a favourite target of the right wing press and Mrs May normally pays close attention to their agenda. So the question that needs to be asked is why this is being maintained.

In order to do quick trade deals with countries once we exit the EU we need to offer sweeteners. It seems fairly clear that Mrs May offered access to the NHS for US health insurance companies as just this kind of sweetener. Her problem is that he areas remaining unprivatised are few and far between. The family silver has already been sold off to speculators.

It would not be too difficult to arrange part of the foreign aid budget to be used for developments which would help to sweeten trade deals. Such help is normally of the brown envelope kind. And this is necessary because the reality of doing trade deals is that they are not fair and even, in no way a level playing field.

BrownEnvelope

I was told that I was cynical for thinking this, but will I be proved right?

Vote 48%

19 Apr

Theresa May is set to call a General Election for 8th June. This despite repeatedly saying that she would not call a snap election and in contradiction of the rules of the fixed-term parliaments that came in with the first Cameron government.

This election is, according to Mrs May, all about giving her the backing she needs to negotiate Brexit from a position of strength. She also said that she would by-pass parliamentary scrutiny, but let that pass for the moment.

If the election is all about Brexit, then it is, in effect a second referendum, only held under the rules of a parliamentary elections. If it is a referendum, let the 48% of people in the UK who voted Remain treat it as such, and vote accordingly.

With a simple sum it is possible to show how this election can be turned around. If two-thirds of those who voted Remain vote for whichever candidate in the constituency opposes leaving the Single Market and has the best chance of winning, then that candidate is almost certain to win.

This is very little to do with party politics. There are Tories who are still strongly opposed to the May hard Brexit plans. If your MP falls into this category, and does a reasonable job as an MP, by all means vote for them, if you wish. If your Labour MP is pro-Brexit, vote for the most best candidate from amongst the others.

What is at stake here is the future of our country. Any form of Brexit is going to impoverish us to some extent. A hard Brexit will be disastrous to the economy and will hit the poor hardest. a hard Brexit will mean changing the nature of British society.  If it happens you can kiss goodbye to employment protection, environmental rules, and the NHS as we know it. And it will also impact on jobs and opportunities for decades to come.

Every promise that was made by the Leave campaigns has been broken. All the promises about the wealth of the country after Brexit have been demoted to aspirations, as David Davis and his cabal of Brextremists know, these promises cannot be fulfilled.

In effect, Theresa May is saying, ‘Trust me,’. If a politician ever asks you to trust them, then it is time to vote for someone else. If Theresa May is returned with an increased majority, then I fear for parliamentary democracy in this country. You voted with your head at the referendum. It is time to do so again on June 8th. Be clever, vote 48%.

The Alternative

6 Feb

I believe that most people are altruistic rather than selfish. But the majority of people are persuaded that there is no alternative to a completely free market economy where the weak are allowed to sink into deeper and deeper poverty. And the majority of this influence comes from the drip fed poison of the popular press. What is needed is an alternative source of news, one that reflects reality.

Why?

The British press is almost universally not just dire but largely owned and operated in order to promote the interests of the owners. News has become a commodity to include within the propaganda and the bread and circuses, not the reason the newspaper exists. When the killer of Jo Cox was convicted The Daily Mail mentioned this on Page 28. The entire tone is to say that there is no alternative to the current neo-liberal economics, (and the Alt-con political agenda). And pity anyone known to the public who dares to poke their head above the parapet and tell these mighty organs of the press that there is an alternative. They will be demonised y the press. Politicians are in the pockets of Murdoch, Desmond, and Rothermere. They jump when they are told to. Politics has become a revolving door that allows the greasiest and least principled to move seamlessly from government to lucrative but almost non-existent jobs for major companies whose interests they are supposed to foster. Lobbying has become a billion pound industry. The very rich get ever richer and the rest of us are lucky to be treading water.

There are many problems to be solved, but none of them can be solved unless we can persuade the majority that there is a genuine alternative. The only way to do this is to provide real information together with incisive comment and genuinely entertaining content.

Format

The Alternative is to be an online newspaper, a sort of journalistic Wikipedia. To get into print is expensive and probably ineffective in either the short or long term. The world has moved into social media and the Internet. There are already many sites offering good information about a variety of topics, but the information is scattered among a sea of shit. On these specialist topics, such as science or economics it is possible to find properly written and peer reviewed pieces. What is lacking is an overall umbrella organisation, or brand, in which these can be viewed, somewhere internet readers can dip into find out about one issue and then click on a link to some other topic that interests them, but which has the same values and adherence to truth. This brand needs to provide an overall style sheet for all of these pages and an identifiable loo and feel. The way to drive visitors to the site is initially by way of entertainment or infotainment.

Target Audience

This should be as wide as possible, anyone who is altruistic and inquisitive. The largest audience might be the under thirties, but pensioners should be able to find just as much of interest as everyone else. It should also be international and liberally minded. It should be for people who have curiosity and are open minded.

Organization

This needs to be a cooperative, but with a guiding committee. Anyone who shows Stalinist tendencies is to be instantly ejected from the committee. Members should be gathered from all ‘departments’, such as journalism, factual information, technical and financial. It is not to be run by accountants, but with their advice.

People

Invitations to be sent to people who already have a web presence on their particular subject. The incentive is to drive traffic to their own sites. If these contributors can agree with the Statement of Intent and follow the guidelines on legality (and, to a very limited degree, taste), then they can contribute. The initial push is to find entertaining peices to grab attention. The primary drive is for numbers. The agreements to link to specialist areas need to be in place, but building an audience needs to be done through those in the public eye. Comedians who also have some journalistic experience, such as Mark Steele and Mark Thomas would be especially welcome, but visual impact is also vital, so artists and film makers need to have their place at the top table, as are music makers. There should be puzzles, not just crosswords and sudoku but those especially suited to playing online. There is no shortages of writers, artists, comedians and other creative types who are much more liberal than conservative. There are right-wing comedians, such as Jim Davidson, but if anyone thinks they are funny, then  that person is probably not within the target audience.

Finance

If sufficient traffic can be driven to the site then advertising revenue will follow as sure as eggs is eggs. Money from this advertising to be distributed according to page hits. A proportion of the money made to be invested in community based projects and international aid – the proportion negotiable by the contributer.

Statement of Intent

To tell the truth or as near o the truth as can be inferred from the best and latest evidence. To be entertaining. To build bridges rather than walls. To provide an alternative to the neo-liberal / Alt-Con establishment and the press they own. To provide an umbrella organisation to allow creative and liberal thinkers to shift perception about what issues are important so that these real issues can be discussed, addressed and solved instead of being ignored in favour of non-stories. (This is up for grabs, and suggestions for a better statement in the fewest words is not only welcome but vital).

Here are some statements which you may or may not agree with. Please ad to the list, and I will try to distil it down to a few phrases.

Be plain spoken

Avoid timidity – speak out

Campaign for justice

Be outward looking and open

Be intolerant of intolerance

Avoid the leftist trap of power struggles, splitting and vitriol.

Avoid dogma and knee-jerk reactions

Work for the best for the majority without assuming that you always know better.

Above all, be well-intentioned

If you have any suggestions as to who should be invited to joind

The biggest story of the year

23 Nov

That is quite a claim to make, considering the other stories. But I stand by the claim. Now, ask yourselves, why haven’t you heard about it?

I have no idea why the British newspapers, largely owned by tax-avoiding billionaires, made so little of the Panama Papers story. I mean, what possible interest could they have in the actions of corrupt politicians and drug cartels?

Just because they hardly mentioned the story, it can’t mean that the owners of these papers benefitted from dirty deals in tax havens. I mean, perish the thought!

Just a reminder, as you might not have noticed, the story broke in April this year, in the biggest leak of data in history. The records of the 4th largest Offshore Tax Law firm, Mossack Fonseca, were leaked to a German newspaper, and from them to the BBC, the Guardian and various other institutions who actually engage in journalism. The next part is from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). https://panamapapers.icij.org/

“This investigation shows how secretly owned companies, many of them based in the UK’s tax havens, can act as getaway cars for terrorists, dictators, money launderers and tax evaders all over the world. The time has clearly come to take away the keys, by requiring the collection and publication of information on who really owns and controls these companies. This would make it much harder to launder dirty money and leave the rest of us safer as a result,” said Robert Palmer, campaign leader at Global Witness.

Among other facts revealed, it turns out that Vladimir Putin’s friend, a cellist, has secreted $2 Bn in one of these schemes. Now, not a lot of cellists make that kind of dosh, so I think that the money really comes from V Putin, as a little nest egg, in case things go a bit Pete Tong. But there are many other leaders of countries involved in such schemes.

Anyhow, to stop this getting too long, have a look at the initial Guardian guide to what is going on. https://www.theguardian.com/news/2016/apr/03/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-panama-papers

Just to point out that the largest and most important such tax havens are on British controlled territories, and can be controlled by British legislation. David Cameron, (bless!) said he wanted to do something to make the system more transparent. Then he resigned. No such qualms for Theresa May. Her government is resisting calls by the EU to do something about it.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/07/treasury-tries-to-thwart-eu-plans-for-tax-haven-blacklist

Now, it would be unfair to infer that members of this government, or more likely the large corporate donors to the Conservative Party, had anything to do with such delaying tactics, so I will just leave that to you to decide.