Archive for the ‘Government Sleaze’ Category

Thames Water

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

Thames Water

Nice to see some honesty from these guys… 😉

Canadian Cuties

Sunday, February 11th, 2007

According to the Observer today, "Canada" has attacked Britain's 'moral' decision to support a boycott of all seal products, made from the imminent culling of 300,000 baby seals. The Canadian High Commissioner in London, James Wright, is apparently speaking for every Canadian by objecting to this "unfounded and unhelpful" decision to boycott an industry that annually clubs in £22m worth of seal skins. (Ok, they've maintained the ban on 'whitecoats' – seals under 12 days old – but everything else they consider fair game). Well Mr Wright, if you can speak for your country, I can speak for mine, so listen up buddy: we are all totally shocked by the fact that this government appears to have made a decision based on morality. We are flobbergasted, overwhelmed and reeling in gushing waves of penitent gratitude. So please allow us to indulge and savour this wondrous moment, and for once be proud of this government. Just when we thought that they were morally bankrupt and ethically exhausted, it appears someone somewhere in the depths of Whitehall has actually made a decision not based on price, taxation or revenue but on good old fashioned ethics, morality and common sense. Please allow us to wallow in this collective righteousness.

So, it would take a cynic to suggest that it was a deliberate PR ploy that has calculated that £22m is not going to do too much damage to the economy of the world's 2nd largest country, not to mention that Brits tend to baulk at the idea of killing of anything cute. I bet they don't take a similar stance towards Japan.

The greatest gamble

Saturday, February 3rd, 2007

Congratulations to the city of Manchester, who this week won the first license to build a Vegas-style super-casino in the UK. The Gambling Act 2005 at first proposed the creation of up to 40 of these super-casinos. This number was cut to eight and then to one – after heavy opposition from pretty much everyone except fellow treasury ministers and, naturally, the businesses wanting (and lobbying) to build them. This kind of begs the question: who really wants them? I must have been out of the country when people were marching on Downing Street enraged at the current gambling restrictions. Not that public opinion has ever troubled government policy in the past, so I guess it won't start now.

The fact that they are building one at all is troubling as the door will now be prised (ahem) open for future exploitation. They have signalled their intentions with the remaining 39 steps to ruin waiting in the wings.

This is the government, incidentally, who has plundered the coffers of the National Lottery to fund the Olympic games (£1.5b) and the National Health Service. I must have also been out of the country when the NHS was reclassified from "public service" to a "good cause".

Now I'm not an economist and admittedly the only gambling I experience is the Boxing Day ritual at Wetherby Races, where I usually spend the afternoon throwing £1 bets on all horses with daft names. As I fully intend to loose all £7 in the afternoon I'm not contacting Gamblers Anonymous just yet. But I do know one thing: people who take your bets are doing so to make themselves lots of money. It's kind of fundamental part of business, you have to take more than you spend, or you're out of the game. Who will they be taking from? The people who need the money most – the bewitched working classes goaded into winning their way out of poverty.

The politicians claim that the casinos will "regenerate the region" with jobs and prospects. Huh? Call me old fashioned, but I always thought that regeneration meant providing a stable micro-economy using things like factories that actually make something, not some top down imposition that siphons off the honey-pot to fund the boardroom bonuses or plug the black tax holes. It just doesn't make sense to me.

Mark Oaten on last week's Question Time was the only panel member who attempted to defend these super-casinos by claiming that the state shouldn't interfere with people lives, which is tactical fence-sitting of insidious proportions. It's also a load of crap. This is precisely why we have a state – to protect the vulnerable from financial exploitation. I'd usually be the first to cry nanny-state, but with some things the state has a clear mandate to intervene. For the same reason that we legislate against hand guns, discrimination, violence and smoking (finally!), the state needs to recognise that its society must sometimes be persuaded to make the right choice. Do Labour have any moral values anymore or does everything now have a price tag?

Sir Ken defends Congestion Charge increase

Thursday, July 6th, 2006

Reuters August 2016

Recently knighted president of London, Sir Ken Livingston, today defended plans to increase the Congestion Charge for London pedestrians as being "realistic, fair and good for the new global economy". Ever since the controversial charge was introduced 4 years ago in 2012 in a bid to reduce pavement congestion, Sir Ken has been under sustained pressure to make pedestrians exempt from the charge. When asked to justify the proposed 25% increase to €65 per pedestrian per day, Sir Ken told reporters outside his Dorney Wood residence that "the costs involved in deploying the charge must not outweigh the revenue generated". The congestion charge has still only operated at a profit during 2009, the year when private cars were banned from the central London zone altogether, but the president was still defiant, "we still need to find ways of reducing the dangerous levels of pavement population during peak times, and increasing the charge will encourage many people to consider whether they really need to make the daily commute into town". When he was asked if there were any plans to resurrect the Tube network, he replied "no". The Underground network was closed in 2008 following the Livingstonegate scandal which revealed the misappropriation of investment funds, which saw 98% of the total revenue being directed towards private security and decoration companies, leaving 2% for track and train maintenance. Sir Ken was cleared in the subsequent investigation that looked into his relationship with these companies. Despite being on the board of directors for 46 out of 48 of the private companies, his position was not considered to be a "conflict of interest". Mark Trottalot from the London Ramblers Association said today "what we are seeing on the pavements is Livingstonegate all over again. He wasted all that public money on paint and CCTVs at the same time as watching the Underground network grind to a halt. He hasn't become the 3rd richest man in the UK by chance, and the fact that he now owns a company that will bring face recognition technology to our pavements is very worrying indeed".