This was a facebook post that I felt I had to repost here from someone/profile called Ad Sinistram. This is precisely the scenario that gets me riled, and why I have complained that the US political landscape, with its overt lobbying, constitutes legalised corruption. The UK, it appears (unsurprisingly), is little different.
You’d be forgiven for wondering how in hell Johnson gets such an easy ride from most of the British media. It’s no mystery, it mostly revolves around shared interests, cronyism, nepotism and greed, but let’s have a look anyway…
Our unelected PM, Alexander ‘Boris’ de Pfeffel Johnson, was a columnist for the Telegraph. He was paid £275,000 a year (just under £23,000 a month) for writing his weekly column, according to the register of MPs’ interests:
Before working at the Telegraph Johnson had a job at the Times working for the non tax paying Rupert Murdoch. A role also filled by Michael Gove, see:
The Telegraph is owned by the Barclay brothers.
They like to avoid paying tax too, so much so that they upped sticks and moved to the Channel Islands just to avoid it.
It was the Barclay brothers in their Ritz that hosted Nigel Farage’s Brexit victory party where;
“Press barons, journalists, Conservative MPs, and UKIP politicians got together on Wednesday evening at the Ritz in London to celebrate Nigel Farage’s Brexit success.
The party was organised by the Barclay brothers, who own The Telegraph and The Spectator as well as the Ritz, and Arron Banks, who donated over £7 million to the pro-Brexit Leave.EU campaign during the referendum campaign.”
Since acquiring the Telegraph in 2004 the paper has gone rapidly downhill as they are unduly influenced by advertisers, especially HSBC, which caused Peter Oborne to quit out of principle over the unscrupulous practices being employed.
Sarah Sands is the ex-deputy editor of the Daily Telegraph and ex-editor of the Sunday Telegraph, as well as being a former consultant editor for the Daily Mail and a former editor of the London Evening Standard.
In 2012 Johnson personally lobbied for Sarah Sands to get the job of Editor at the Evening Standard.
Sands is now the editor of BBC Radio 4’s flagship news show, the Today programme.
Some have been left mystified by the Today programmes coverage of Brexit, the lack of rigour in interviews with prominent Brexiters, the soft-balling of the questions and the lack of coverage of transgressions and lies in campaigns. You will also rarely hear HSBC mentioned. You will, however, hear a lot from the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) and the TaxPayers Alliance (TPA), two shady and opaque lobby groups that frequently are given unchallenged airtime on our public broadcast platforms. More about them later.
The BBC has always been a guard dog against democracy, actively working on behalf of established power and actively working to prevent a genuine left wing government. You can see the details and take an in-depth look at the BBC and how the operate here:
Let’s not forget…”The Vote Leave campaign, fronted by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove [set up by Matthew Elliot of the TPA], was found by the Electoral Commission to have funnelled £675,315 through pro-Brexit youth group BeLeave, days before the referendum in 2016.”
Something Vote Leave strenuously denied, only to quietly drop their appeal under the cover of Theresa May’s withdrawal deal vote.
Which brings us to Sarah Sands son, Henry Sands, who set up a ‘strategy’ firm in March of 2015, called the SABI Group.
The SABI Group managed to get a contract with Johnson and Matthew Elliot’s Vote Leave campaign prior to the referendum.
Part of his remit was;
“The challenge was to draw up a schedule that coordinated the activities of high profile supporters, covered as much ground as possible, and supported intensive efforts to turnout voters in key constituencies of support, as well as designing an engaging schedule to maintain momentum and generate excitement.”
Public accounts show the business to be doing very well indeed (as is the real estate management company that Henry runs from the same address).
Talking of real estate, the little half-brother of Boris Johnson (who formerly worked for Goldman Sachs) says investors should make use of the sterling’s weakness to snap up assets in the UK…
“Boris Johnson’s “do-or-die” strategy to take Britain out of the European Union could work, said his youngest half-brother Max, who plans to launch a £1 billion (US$1.2 billion) real estate fund targeting Asian investors.”
Then there is Sarah Sands husband, Kim Fletcher (also a former Telegraph employee), who is a partner at Brunswick Group, an international PR and lobbying group working to change government policy and to advise on crisis management. Brexit is good for the crisis management business, especially a ‘No Deal’ Brexit.
The Brunswick Group states;
“Government regulations and scrutiny can directly impact a company’s bottom line. Lobbying remains essential, but alone it is no longer sufficient. Effective advocacy, consistent engagement, and the ability to shape conversations and outcomes require a campaign-style approach.”
Which brings us to lobbying…
There are several more interesting (and frightening) overlaps and recurrences when you start looking into Johnson’s government…
“The lobbyists are taking control. The firms which ensure that the rich and powerful have more of a say in our politics than the typical British citizen are now at the heart of the cabinet. Do the representatives of these firms leave their personal interests at the door as they become ministers and senior advisers? That ideal is looking ever more laughable.
Let’s just take a look at the details.
Boris Johnson’s campaign manager was the former Tory MP James Wharton. Wharton is an employee of the lobbying giant Hume Brophy, a firm which has talked up its ability to shape Brexit on behalf of big business, and whose clients have included the hedge fund industry, sugar giant Tate and Lyle, and Meat and Livestock Australia: all industries that have much to gain from the deregulation that Brexit will permit.
C|T Group is the company which ran Johnson’s campaign. Most famously associated with its co-founder, the Australian public relations guru Lynton Crosby, the firm was until recently working for coal mining giant Glencore to undermine renewable energy and environmental activists.
Days after the Brexit vote, C|T Group set up an office in Washington DC – with a website bragging about its access to British politicians and ability to shape Brexit for US corporations … Now that Johnson has appointed his cabinet, we can see it’s not just the prime minister who has close connections to those who lobby for the rich and powerful: from the new home secretary to the secretary of state for housing, this is now a government of all the lobbyists. People who used to work for some of the most significant firms that sell our democracy to the highest bidder now have their hands on the steering wheel of state.
Esther McVey, the new secretary of state for housing, lost her seat in 2015 before winning another in 2017. During her two years out of Parliament she worked as a senior consultant at lobbying firm Hume Brophy, which now employs James Wharton, and as a special advisor to the company Floreat Group.
Floreat Group, meanwhile, describes itself as an “independent and privately held investment group, serving institutions and a select group of ultra-high-net-worth clients”.
The new home secretary, Priti Patel, used to be a lobbyist for the firm Weber Shandwick, where her clients included British American Tobacco.
When Dominic Raab, the new foreign secretary, was appointed Brexit minister, we at openDemocracy asked if he was “the IEA’s man in government”. The Institute for Economic Affairs, perhaps Britain’s most influential think tank, refuses to reveal its funding, but is known to have taken cash from British American Tobacco and BP, and to have been funded by a conservative foundation in the US to promote the privatisation of the NHS.
When Raab wrote a book in 2009, it was launched in the IEA’s offices. In 2012, when he was an MP, the think tank published another book by Raab and a number of his colleagues in which they proposed a string of radical, pro-corporate ideas, like for-profit schools and abolishing a whole collection of workers’ rights, including rights to time off work, and rights for agency workers.
Matt Hancock, who stays on as secretary of state for health and social care, also has close links to the IEA, which openly advocates privatisation of the NHS: he accepted a £4,000 donation in 2016 from Neil Record, a board member of the IEA.
Record is a fund manager who is chairman of the board of the Global Warming Policy Forum, a think tank often described as climate change denying.
Johnson has announced that his social media team will be led by Chloe Westley. Westley’s previous employer was the TaxPayers’ Alliance, a right-wing campaign group that refuses to disclose the source of its funding but which, The Guardian revealed last year, has taken $100,000 from “a billionaire-founded religious trust incorporated in the Bahamas”.”
That our secretary of state for health and social care, Matt Hancock is complicit with the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) should be of particular concern.
“The strongest theme in IEA literature and policy is support for the destruction of the NHS. The tone of the IEA literature is part pseudo-academic claptrap, part “alt-right” blog. It is lazy verbal trickery that pretends to analyse an issue and, remarkably, always concludes that less public funding and/or gross reductions in employees’ rights are the solution…”
“While the links between Brexit interests and big business are extensive, much of this money and influence seems to pour through Matthew Elliott, the former Vote Leave chief exec who now finds himself holding the government’s purse strings. The Elliott example illustrates how power often stretches far out of public view.
Desmog has detailed how several of the new Johnson cabinet are now being advised by ex-staff from what’s known as the Tufton Street network – a group of organisations linked through their use of the same building in Westminster, and ideologically aligned through their lobbying on behalf of business interests.
One notable member of the Tufton Street network is the Taxpayers’ Alliance, a low-tax, anti-regulation pressure group whose campaigning work has provided a training ground for many of those now in government.
The Taxpayer’s Alliance was founded in 2004 by Matthew Elliot, a man who was Cummings’ ex-boss on the Vote Leave campaign and has played a part in a slew of right-wing projects over the past decade, and who is now Sajid Javid’s advisor at the Treasury.”
You can see everything about the TaxPayers Alliance here:
Allister Heath (formerly of the TaxPayers Alliance and now the current editor of the Telegraph) authored a book in 2007 advocating for the end of national insurance, inheritance tax, corporation tax whilst implementing a flat tax rate for all.
Allister’s sister…”Florence Heath is a co-founder of the Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA) with her former husband Matthew Elliott. Her father Alexander Heath is also a director of the TPA. Heath works for Shell as an oil industry geologist and is a former Conservative Party activist.”
“Rees-Mogg’s career in finance started at Rothschild’s. In 2007 he co-founded Somerset Capital Management, which initially operated under the wing of Odey Asset Management, the hedge fund set up by Bad Boy Crispin Odey (Odey also part-funded Rees-Mogg’s election campaign).
Somerset Capital Management is managed via subsidiaries in the tax havens of the Cayman Islands and Singapore.
Perhaps Rees-Mogg sees Brexit as an essential way of avoiding planned new EU regulations aimed at governing the behaviour of companies such as his own. He has also enthused about the potential to slash environmental and safety laws after Britain leaves the EU. Regulations that were “good enough for India” could be good enough for Britain, he has argued, saying that the UK could go “a very long way” to cutting EU standards.”
Boris Johnson is also taking cash from Crispin Odey…
Odey was married to Rupert Murdoch’s oldest daughter Prudence, is a former business partner of Jacob Rees-Mogg and is a close ally of Nigel Farage.
Odey is also a disaster capitalist who has a habit of making millions from betting against Britain…but I’m sure there is nothing to worry about…
“According to fresh data obtained by IHS Markit and Short Tracker, Odey Asset Management has “short” positions on 16 UK listed firms — and has increased its “short” position on six of them since Theresa May announced her resignation in May.
On the day Johnson was elected leader of the Tory party, Odey’s firm increased its “short” position in the high street lender Metro Bank. It currently has a £17.6m bet against the company.
Marshall Wace, co-founded by Sir Paul Marshall, who gave £100,000 to the Vote Leave campaign, has also made bets against UK firms. The firm has taken “short” positions on 47 companies worth £1.14bn, including the outsourcing giant Kier Group, the budget airline easyJet and Severn Trent.
Marshall Wace announced plans in December to move some of its operations to Dublin to ensure it can serve EU clients after Brexit, and is ultimately owned by an entity based in the Cayman Islands.
Odey, who gave £10,000 to Johnson in June, made £220m betting that a leave result would cause the pound to crash, boasting the following day that “the morning has gold in its mouth”.
The hedge fund boss has previously given more than £800,000 to pro-Brexit campaigns, as well as £32,000 to Ukip under Nigel Farage’s leadership. It makes him the second former Ukip backer to support Johnson after the Mayfair club owner Robin Birley, who donated £20,000 to his leadership campaign. Details of the donation were revealed in the register of MPs’ interests.”
We have had 30years of neoliberalism in this country that has reduced our democracy, decimated our public institutions, increased the inequality gap and weakened our rights and protections.
It was neoliberalism that caused the conditions that led to Brexit and it was the right wing press that compounded the vote with their rhetoric of blaming the EU for our own successive governments greed, corruption and incompetence.
We now have the most Neoliberal government you could imagine, if you think that this is the government to make all our lives better, then I’ve got a bridge to sell you. There is only a small group of people whose lives will be enriched and it will be the people outlined above…
And this is capped off by the following observation:
He has now lost his first 6 votes, which is totally unprecedented. All this happened and the right-wing press, as referenced above, led with these:
Which was and is a disgrace. This spot on phone call was along these lines:
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