Friday, July 27, 2007

All The Talents?

I'm in ranting mood this morning. You'll have doubtless read in much more esteemed publications than this opinionated nonsense about Gordon-the-Moron's "cabinet of all the talents"; all the talents, my arse. One set of talents and ideals only I would say. If matey-boy Broon wants all the talents advising him and governing with him, how come the single biggest name to be ennobled (ennobled for chrissake) in order to become a cabinet member is Digby Jones?

How come Shami Chakrabarti (director of Liberty), Bob Crow (RMT General Secretary) or their ilk are not included at all?

Could it possibly be because Mr B is actually not remotely interested in "all the talents", but in sucking up to fat cat businesses and ensuring that the wealth gap becomes ever wider? Sadly it would appear, and I'm sure you're all ahead of me here, that we are still being governed by the Tories in disguise. I agree that spreading the net and gathering non-career politicians into government is a good idea, but take a look at who Gordy is eating his dinners with and see if you can spot "all the talents" or if you, like me, can only see greed and extreme wealth built on the backs of the working person:

On the left (cue sardonic laughter) - the newly ennobled Lord Digby Jones, former chairman of ICI. Leading light of the employers' association the CBI and multi-millionaire. This man argued publicly and loudly against the introduction of the minimum wage, i.e. he wanted to retain the right to keep his workers on the kind of salary that no-one could actually live on. He argued publicly and loudly very recently against the minimum wage being increased to above £5 per hour; any guesses how much per hour he earns? Lord Jones was very angry recently that the government agreed to bring in legislation requiring employers to insure against loss of pensions for their workers in the event of bankruptcy, i.e. he wanted to retain the right to keep any left over scraps from a failed business for the top bods and leave those who'd paid into a pension scheme high and dry without a penny. A pension is deferred wages, Lord Jones, it is a right if you've paid into it, not a privilege.
Diggers believes unions are "...increasingly irrelevant...". Why would he want to see unions pushed to the sidelines? Now let me see - could it be so that his business interests wouldn't be properly scrutinised at a local level for health and safety problems thus saving lots of money and only maiming the occasional employee? Could it be that without union representation he would get away with sacking people who don't have any protection from a trained representative, much cheaper than any (arguably) necessary redundancies?
I won't argue that Diggers is stupid or untalented - clearly he is not, but I do wonder who is the balancing figure in Gordon's cabinet of all the talents?
Let's take a brief look at some of GB's other advisors, people he has appointed to a new council specifically to advise the government. I've taken some of the information from a recent Private Eye piece, so if you think it looks familiar then it probably is, but I reckon the bits I've repeated are worth repeating, again and again and again and again....
This is Sir Terry Leahy. He's the man at the top of Tesco. He's a serial tax avoider. His current pay package works out at around £11million per year.
He authorised Tesco to avoid paying VAT on DVDs and other stock from various tax havens; clever dodge - but not really in the national interest is it?
His company usually manages to avoid paying any stamp duty on its innumerable land deals. His company has a market share of over 25% - well done them, but how did that happen without the destruction of local businesses and the clear exploitation of producers both here in the UK and in the developing world?
Sir Terry is obviously a man who considers failing to pay into the country's exchequer whenever possible (and the legality is sometimes quite dubious) is in some way helpful to the economy and will make the country better run.
And here we have Damon Buffini. Private equity personified. Job slasher extraordinaire. Buy up a company, avoid any taxation through loopholes and "special allowances", export the work abroad leaving thousands of UK workers redundant, sell off any assets worth more than thruppence ha'penny, sell the company and pay no tax on the profits thereof because of having used a "leveraged" buy-out in the first place. That is how this man makes his millions. Can anyone tell me how that's in the public interest, and therefore how this man or his ilk can possibly view the national interest as being of any importance whatsoever?

This is Stephen Green, chief executive of HSBC. He recently threatened to take HSBC overseas if the "tax burden" wasn't eased. Just so's you know, HSBC realised £11 billion profit last year, but apparently it can't afford to pay very much for the good of the country at all.

A local branch of HSBC recently started refusing banking facilities unless a potential customer had a relatively high income, an income that could be interpreted as making its earner "well-heeled"; rumour would have it that this was a "toe-in-the-water" to see if the bank could get away with such noninclusive practices nationally. So Mr Green is very concerned about the ordinary person as well. Obviously an ideal candidate to advise our "inclusive" government.

What can be said about Jean-Paul Garnier? CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, he's so inclusive that he's the first FTSE 100 boss to have his pay package voted down by shareholders. You have to be really greedy to manage that.

And lastly Arun Sarin, CEO of Vodafone. He's just failed to recoup billions from the government (whom he is now advising - anyone spot a conflict of interest?) through the courts after making a ridiculous claim for repayment of VAT on the 3G licence fee. The Inland Revenue is currently attempting to get a payment from Vodafone on massive profits that have been stashed away in Luxembourg in an effort to avoid paying into the UK economy. So that's another government advisor who doesn't actually want to contribute properly to the country which he is now helping to run.
Congratulations to any blog readers who've made it this far down the posting. I realise I will have lost a lot of you halfway through as it can be a boring subject, but we need to watch who's in charge. Mr Brown is not some sort of left field answer to Blairism, he is simply Blairism continued with a dour Scottish accent. The rich are going to get richer, the poor are going be left out to dry and those of us floating around the middle will carry on floating around and fighting to keep whatever hard won rights we've got.

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