The Tories Will Knit Back Together Quicker than Joe Ledley’s Leg 200


The purpose of the Conservative Party is simply to be in power. The object of power for them is to make sure that nobody else can use the power of the state to counteract the power of the wealthy and curb their excesses.

You will therefore be amazed by how, whatever the result today, the Tory cabinet will next week be smiling together in a show of unity. Because unity is needed for power. That they were calling each other liars, abusers of government funds, racists, unpatriotic or inciters to murder will be heartily brushed off as the rough and tumble of politics. Cameron will sleep soundly in his bed in Number 10.

Here is a thought. In 2005 Philip Green was paid a £1.2 billion pound dividend. The shareholder was, “officially”, his wife Mrs Tina Green, a resident of Monaco, so no tax was paid.

But the company only made profit of one quarter of the dividend payout. The dividend was paid not from profits, but from the company taking out a loan. How can that be legal? The answer is, in our deregulated society, if a casino banker can be found to make the loan, a company can borrow money to pay massive dividends provided that an accountant certifies that the loan can be repaid by future profits.

That is ludicrously improvident. That you can take over a billion against profit your company has not yet made, landing the company with crippling debt and endangering the livelihood of thousands of employees, is wrong on every level.

It also needs corrupt accountants. The devastating effect of taking a 1.2 billion advance out of cashflow had knock on consequences including the starving of the BHS pension fund. Profits came in large part from asset stripping through leverage on the properties, not from retail sales, and those property deals were one off windfalls.

The £1.2 billion pound dividend was paid with earnings from Arcadia Group, a company Green had bought for just £850 million only three years earlier. That is a fair indication of how out of order it was.

I have been looking through Green’s accounts. The £1.2 billion was paid to Green’s wife, Tina by Taveta Investments ltd, his holding company. The Inland Revenue might have acted on the fact that Ms Tina Green is not even listed as a shareholder or director. Her shares are listed under Mr Philip Green “and immediate family members”. Her “ownership” could not be a more blatant tax avoidance fraud.

Two of Philip Green’s companies owned by Taveta Investments were Arcadia Group Ltd and Arcadia Group Brands Ltd. Arcadia Group owned the shops. Arcadia Group Brands operated the shops and paid rents to Arcadia Group. Total revenue of Taveta’s subsidiaries therefore involved double counting as it was the same money transferred internally between group companies. But the real money actually coming in on the high street in 2005 was £1.2 billion. That is sales income, not profit. To take a dividend equal to your total sales income is ludicrous, no matter how cleverly you leverage internal transfers and bank loans.

In short, the auditors who signed off for Green’s £1.2 billion dividend were corrupt. They were Price Waterhouse Coopers.

Every single financial scandal you can think of – Royal Bank of Scotland, HBOS, Lehmann Bros, BCCI, Bernie Madoff, Robert Maxwell, Enron, Polly Peck, the list goes on an on – had a major accountancy firm signing off as auditor on their immoral and illegal moves right up to the moment they went bust, impacting the livelihoods of in total many millions of decent people. The fundamental feature of the capitalist system whereby the company chooses and pays for its own auditor urgently needs revolutionary reform.

Public anger at bankers is richly deserved. But they could not operate without the institutionally corrupt accountants who support them.

The system needs a fundamental reform. Auditors should be appointed not by the company, but by the government. Auditors already have an obligation to flag up unsafe financial practices, it is just they never exercise it as their mouths are stopped with gold. If their pay does not depend on their dishonesty, the ethics of the profession might change. Finally, there should be a direct link between the amount of tax a company pays and the remuneration of its auditors.

I highly recommend this 2005 paper, Taming the Corporations, by Austin Mitchell and Prem Sikka, which gives a very similar analysis of the problem. Mitchell of course was despised by Blair and Brown, who adore Philip Green. But Mitchell was an MP, and the chance does exist that one day a parliament will seek seriously to check the rampant greed of the bankers and asset strippers.

The purpose of the Conservative Party to make sure that nothing like this ever happens, that there is no bar to the most extreme greed of the super-rich. They need to be able to block serious curbs on banker bonuses, to block genuine curbs on Tina Green style tax-dodging, to block transaction taxes that would calm derivative trading, to block rent controls, or anything else that might tend to social justice. The Conservatives will re-form, they have interests to defend. They will reunite to fight for the one thing they truly love. Their money.

There has been a tactical division between them about how best to defend their money. The Boris Johnson wing remember the EU’s heritage of social and economic regulation and wish to escape its residual effect and the potential for future EU social democratic activism. The Cameron wing believe the EU is now fully committed to neo-liberalism and can itself be used to further the laissez-faire agenda. But both come from a judgement call on how the EU is trending, which is why both Cameron and Johnson can and do change their minds on the EU from time to time. It is not a fundamental division.

The unexpected prominence of the SNP, Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and numerous movements throughout Europe are merely reflections of a popular mood of discontent with the increasingly remote and increasingly wealthy elite. UKIP is in its way a reflection of the same thing, with the discontent cleverly misdirected at foreigners.

These are, from a Tory point of view, not calm times. The plebs seem a bit restless. They will very quickly come together to put us in our place.


200 thoughts on “The Tories Will Knit Back Together Quicker than Joe Ledley’s Leg

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  • bevin

    Jonathan Cook’s blog on the vote is republished at the invaluable OffGuardian website:

    “……Unlike the MPs campaigning for remain today, politicians like [Tony] Benn understood that the lack of democracy at the heart of the EU was not an oversight on the part of its founders, but an essential component of a project which sought to supplant national governments with a supranational authority divorced from the concerns of ordinary people. So long as power was vested in national assemblies, these institutions, however imperfect, were at least answerable to their voters, but once power over economic policy was ceded to bureaucrats then the business elites which effectively governed Europe were easily able to overcome popular resistance to their policies by dispensing with the need for elections……”
    It is no accident that this merging of corporate and state government was adopted by Mussolini as the fascist ideology. The EU was founded by a generation of collaborators who switched their allegiance from the Occupation authorities in 1944 to those of 1945, for whom their successors, unashamedly, work today.

    • shatnersrug

      Bevin,

      I’m sorry I love cook, but he’s wrong here, the problem with the EU is neoliberal corporate hijack – the same problem with just about every government in the western world. The is big and unwieldily and turning it around is going to require a massive movement, but it’s just fatuous to say that it’s just fascism in disguise – it disregards the last 40 years and the huge successes that ought to be celebrated and developed further.

      As for Tony Benn, frankly he was full of shit. He was a terrible minister who liked the sound of his own voice, who talked the talk but rarely walked the walk. This reinvention of him was beautifully managed by his management and PR when he went in to public speaking after retiring from the House. it stuns me how many people suffer from cognitive dissonance just because Benn said the stuff they wanted to here when he was no longer able to do anything about it.

      • Macky

        “who talked the talk but rarely walked the walk.”

        Are you serious ! A man who turn away from his privilege background, and took the unprofitable & ostracising/demonising role to fight for the betterment of everybody ?!! What makes you say that he was a terrible minister ? He’s the only minister, and probably the only mp that I can think off, who openly admitted that he got something wrong, and that was in his original championing of nuclear energy.

        • Shatnersrug

          Now calm down macky – he was a career politician, it’s the only life he knew, he didn’t want to be a fuddy duddy in the House of Lords so he gave up his title so he could carry on working.

          You know, he pressured Wilson to keep Britain out of Vietnam which he did *partially* and that’s to be commended. However Benn’s crowning achievement was banning Radio Caroline.

          This Benn the great man business is a PR line.

          I’m not really trying to do the man down – he was a good egg really and became an excellent speaker,- although even he admitted in later years that his narcissism was his massive stumbling block.

          I’m just not prepared to accept as law his unquestioned deification.

          • Macky

            I don’t really want to go into this right now, but at least your reply is a bit different to your original “As for Tony Benn, frankly he was full of shit.” !! 😀

      • lysias

        Whether or not Benn was a bad minister, why was he incapable of recognizing whether or not the EU (or the EEC) was undemocratic?

      • Habbabkuk (la vita e' bella)

        I have to agree with you – Anthony Wedgwood Benn was a lousy minister whose every decision turned out to be rubbish (remember all those “workers cooperatives”?) And not only a lousy minister but also a traitor to his own govt in that he regularly went behind cabinet’s back to oppose actions and policies which had been collectively agreed by the cabinet. Also very fond of his ministerial office as he never considered resigning despite that opposition.

        Definitely a rubbish politician posing as a man of the people. Preferring mugs of tea to cocktails , changing your name from Anthony Wedgwood Benn to Tony Benn and deleting your entry from Who’s Who were pathetic attempts ti buy street cred.

        • Macky

          Stop trying to damn Shatnersrug by agreeing with him, he will never live it down ! 😀

      • bevin

        I disagree with you, a little about Benn, Cook’s use of his words is just a quotation, notable only because it sums up the situation pithily, of course his opinion was worth no more than…it was worth. Nor is anybody else’s.
        As for the reference to fascism that isn’t Cook’s but mine. I see fascism as having been, historically, a liberal hijack. Now it is a neo-liberal one.
        As to celebrating the “the last 40 years and the huge successes that ought to be celebrated and developed further….” whether there was anything to celebrate is moot, the important thing is that there are no more to come: the EU is what it is and it can’t be changed except by massive popular action-strikes, occupations etc- which is likely to be fiercely resisted by a ruling class which has shown, in Greece, that it isn’t interested in popularity, merely power.

      • honey G lyon

        “As for Tony Benn, frankly he was full of shit”. are you talking abut the same person…do you not mean HIlary..

  • lysias

    I got two Chinese fortune cookies with the takeout lunch that I just finished eating. One of my fortunes read: “You are not paranoid enough.” The other was: “Things will never change.”

  • nevermind

    The electoral commission is just about able to thwart a French entente croissant battle, but it can do jack shit about the electoral law breakers who, and this is ridiculous, had to be forced by a judge to reveal their accounts. Just the refusal to release your accounts will land you in deep dodo should you be a Green party candidate or, god forbid, the rare species of a real Independent.

    The electoral system is too complicated and even PR would be nothing but a target to these party politicians who regard themselves and nobody else to be perfect for power.
    I’d rather favour a random selection on the basis of your NI number, a system that would dispense with expensive elections, cut through corruption like a hot knife through butter, at every level and which empowers ‘normal’ people, rather than waves/hordes of lawyers and solicitors. Another small point is gender balance. You select these representatives and the next time its even easier, you have to search only for a man or a woman, depending of what gender was selected first time round.
    Sadly a lottocracy would cut through all this traditional establishment rubbish and going by the grudgingly agreed last referendum, sorry, ultimatum, offering the worst possible option, we could not possibly choose ourself, these toe rags would rather poke their sons eye out than give us a fair, or random choice.

    • Rose

      What a good idea NV – and I say do the same for a Head of State, so we all get a chance to live in a big house, open things, attend banquets and travel around shaking hands and asking nosey questions about where people come from. That would be alright for a year or two and hopefully nobody would

      What a good idea NV – and why not have a lottery for the job of Head of State too? That way we’d all get a chance to open things, attend banquets, travel around shaking hands and asking people nosey questions about where they come from – and nobody would get too big for their boots either as it would be all change every couple of years.

  • RobG

    Those defending the lack of an exit poll are quick to point out that the likes of me are ‘conspiracy theorists’, because of course we don’t need exit polls in this ‘modern age’.

    I would counter by saying that an exit poll does give some veracity to whether it’s bent or not. which is precisely why ‘they’ don’t want exit polls.

    On another level, this is all so corrupt it’s unbelievable.

    • lysias

      Two things happened with respect to exit polls in 2004. The first was that the U.S. and other Western powers so pressed the discrepancy between the exit polls and the reported results in the election in Ukraine that year as evidence of fraud that the election had to be reheld, with the pro-Western party winning the second time. The other was that media and even the opposition Democratic party ignored the conspicuous discrepancy between the exit polls and the reported results in the U.S. presidential election held that year.

  • Anon1

    I conducted my own little survey today, based on people I met while out and about.

    Property developer – Leave (husband Leave)
    Decorator – Leave
    Builder – Remain (but won’t vote)
    Digger driver – Leave
    Business manager – Leave (wife Remain)
    Fuel station till attendant 1 – Remain
    Fuel station till attendant 2 – Leave
    Fish & chip shop owner – Leave
    Gamekeeper – Leave (wife Leave)
    Random passerby 1 – Leave
    Random passerby 2 – Leave
    Pub landlord – Leave (wife Leave)
    Newsagent – Leave
    Teacher – Remain

    So 14 – 3 Leave to Remain here in my not very representative rural constituency. The hateful little Englanders.

    • RobG

      Anon1, in this completely wacko EU referendum I think many of us find ourselves with some unlikely bedfellows, on both sides of the debate.

      Although I live in France, my own experience of what’s going on back in the UK is at least 60 to 70% Leave.

      The only allowable result is Remain, and please don’t blame the immigrants if this happens, because it has diddly squat to do with them.

  • Anon1

    Some of the most amusing moments on this blog in the run-up to the EU referendum have involved Nevermind (who looks down on this country) pretending to worship Churchill (who he hates anyway – see posts passim) on the basis that Churchill was apparently for Remain (which he never would have been had he lived to see what it has become) in a last-ditch attempt to appeal to the patriotism of voters whom he despises as “Little Englanders” and racists anyway (presumably because they failed to elect him)!

  • Habbabkuk (la vita e' bella)

    Craig

    Clever of you to present us with a sandwich : the two slices of bread being an anti-Conservative party diatribe and the meat in the middle being Philip Green’s shenanigans.

    You offer us a thought :” Here is a thought. In 2005 Philip Green was paid a £1.2 billion pound dividend. The shareholder was, “officially”, his wife Mrs Tina Green, a resident of Monaco, so no tax was paid.”

    Here is, in turn, a question : which party was in power in 2005?

    And here’s another : which party was in power when Philip Green bought BHS?

  • RobG

    Just a reminder, this is live right now and is well worth a watch…

    http://brexitclub.eu/

    “In a first-of-its-kind, live broadcast from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange and an exciting panel of special guests will discuss the Brexit referendum, its context and its repercussions over the course of six hours on the evening of this historic vote.”

    One of those guests is our host, Mr Murray.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita e' bella)

    It is amusing to note that some of the Brexiteers on here are already claiming that a Remain win would be the result of electoral fraud.

    • lysias

      I guess he wanted to get in with his spin on the result before other people could have their say. Also while people are still awake.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    While experiencing a last-minute surge of desire to kick the Camerons, Bransons and Blairs in the bollocks, and voting leave despite the equally ugly bastards who wanted me to*, I noticed that the turnout at the polling station was about ten times what it had been at general or council elections. People actually queuing to vote, and all ages. Something’s changed, at any rate.

    *AKA going with the gut feeling

    • RobG

      Ba’al, huge turnout. Wrong result for the huge turnout (what you’re saying corresponds to what I’m hearing from the UK).

      We live in totally mad times.

      Pax Americana, and don’t forget to give the Nazi salute.

      • Ba'al Zevul

        I see it more as a vote for independence, fuelled by long and sustained frustration. You might understand that.

  • RobG

    They haven’t deleted it yet, Habba.

    Perhaps because unlike you I don’t support mass genocide and I’m not a psychopath.

    The lunatics have got their Remain vote, all on total lies, so run-away little boys and play with it in fascist fields.

    But never forget, what goes around comes around.

    (I get bored with threatening the likes of, whatever – all of whom will be brought to justice)

  • lysias

    Newcastle result in. Was expected to be an easy victory for Remain. Turns out Remain barely won.

  • lysias

    FT reports pound has given up most of its earlier gains against the dollar on account of the Newcastle result.

  • lysias

    Big leave victory in Sunderland.

    Leave 82,394
    Remain 51,930
    Turnout was 67.2%

    This is the sort of result they were telling us to expect if Leave were going to win. It’s not over yet.

  • Hieroglyph

    Being in Oz, I’ve missed the campaign. It has been described as ‘bitter’, but I’d doubt it was any such thing. Bitter is what happened in Ireland. Bitter is the good old fascist vs communist battles in pre-war Germany. No, Brexit has been a bit of hand bags between two different sets of self-interested goobers. I wish both could lose, but I suppose it doesn’t work like that.

    The fix is in anyway, Remain will win easily, not that it was ever really in doubt. Managed Democracy. They should teach us about such things in school, but they don’t.

      • Hieroglyph

        It appears I should stay away from confident predictions. I would be very surprised indeed if Brexit won, but that’s the way it’s looking.

        Clearly the security state has fixed it for Brexit instead. Ahem. :).

  • lysias

    It’s looking more and more as if Brexit is pulling out a narrow win. If it does win, I don’t see Cameron/ retaining office. Can the Tories stick together?

  • CafeDesArtistes

    Robert Ehringer, whose credentials are, well, strange, once posted a letter from the Monagasque authorities that referred to Philip Green as a citizen of Monaco. I think that one went down the memory hole.

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