On Friday 11th September, David Cameron intended to launch Project Islington: a series of dirty-bomb attacks on Jeremy Corbyn based on weeks of research over the summer as the Tories realised to their horror that the backbench Labour MP from Islington North with all those dreary left-wing ideasmight actually win.
Recently, there was a kerfuffle in the Better Together / Yes Scotland camps about would prices rise at Tesco in the event of Scottish independence. Better Together had published a leaflet saying they would: Tesco’s bounced in to say prices would stay the same: Yes Scotland publicised this triumphantly.
How do prices stay cheap in the big supermarkets while maximising their profits? Continue reading →
Tough one. The history of witch persecution is fraught with the very foundations of modern capitalist and patriarchal oppression, as anybody who’s read Silvia Federici knows. But there are so few songs you can sing joyfully about the death of somebody thoroughly deserving.
You want a proper argument in defence? Give me a minute. Continue reading →
Costing £125,000 for four people, or £31,250 per person, the menu for what will be the world’s most expensive Christmas dinner menu has been devised by London chef Ben Spalding, who has completed residencies at restaurants including The Fat Duck in Bray, Gordon Ramsay’s Royal Hospital Road and Per Se in New York.
In 2011, analysts at Credit Suisse found that 29,000 people globally – nearly all of them men – own net assets worth more than $100m. As Chrystia Freeland, author of Plutocrats and former editor of the Financial Times, discovered in researching her book about the global super-rich, they are different and they are almost all men, and if they are married
these women are managing the households of their wealthy husbands – often a complex task – and pursuing philanthropic ventures. Not many are doing a job of their own despite being highly-educated themselves. In 2005, according to the book, just over a quarter of taxpayers in the top 0.1pc had a working spouse. Continue reading →
Much of the mainstream press is awash with very public horror at the thought that the government might legislate regulation on the national press if that’s what Lord Leveson recommends.
Last week, Lord McAlpine’s lawyers met with the Metropolitan Police to begin what Scotland Yard calls a “scoping exercise” to discover if the police can treat the tweeting and retweeting of the allegations that McAlpine abused children as a criminal offence. I saw no mainstream press expressing horror that this might lead to legal curbs on a free press. Scotland Yard said:
“We have not received an allegation of crime at this time, however, we can confirm we will be meeting with interested parties to start the process of scoping whether any offence has taken place. It is far too early to say whether any criminal investigation will follow.”
Lawyers for McAlpine said they had identified up to 10,000 allegedly defamatory tweets about the former Tory party treasurer.
They announced plans to sue Twitter users and broadcasters, including the BBC and ITV, for libel following the inaccurate Newsnight report into child sex abuse on 2 November.
You might ask – as Tom Pride does – why a man who opts to live in Italy rather than pay his taxes in the UK, is getting this kind of special treatment from the Metropolitan Police. Let him call upon the Italian police to investigate Twitter, since he chooses to live there.
Tomorrow, Lord Leveson will publish his recommendations from the Leveson enquiry. Continue reading →
He intends to sue about 10,000 people, unless they come forward and offer him an apology and a settlement. Maybe more.
Their crime is either to have tweeted or to have retweeted an allegation that Lord McAlpine was one of the men who raped Steven Messham. Lord McAlpine was not the “McAlpine” apparently identified by the police to Steven Messham: it seems that was probably Alastair McAlpine’s cousin Jimmie McAlpine, who died in 1991.
Keith Gregory said he thought a different member of the McAlpine family who lived locally may have been mistaken for Lord McAlpine.
A man who children at the care home believed to be a McAlpine would arrive there in an expensive car, he said. Continue reading →
I find there are 10 Starbucks coffee shops within an energetic walk of where I live. That’s quite a lot, since apparently they make not a jot out of having so many shops across the UK. Starbucks has been operating in the UK for 13 years, but apparently we’re a sadly unprofitable country, according to their CEO Howard Schultz, who says
“We don’t pay income tax because we are not making money there.”
Four men, two women. All white. All wealthy. All but two went to private schools: all but two got a degree at Oxford.
On the left, more or less:
The Labour: Harriet Harman. Privately educated at St Paul’s Girls’ School and at the University of York back when tuition fees weren’t a consideration and maintenance grants were even enough to live on. Became a lawyer and then a Labour MP in 1982, and has been a Minister either in the Shadow Cabinet or in government since 1992. (And tried to exempt MP expenses from the Freedom of Information Act.)
The Comedian Steven Coogan. Born and brought up in Rochdale. The only person on the panel who neither went to a private school nor to Oxford University. Now reputed to have earned personal wealth of £5 million.
On the right, besides David Dimbleby:
The Conservative: Jacob Rees-Mogg. His wife Helena de Chair is the only living grandchild of Peter Wentworth-Fitzwilliam, Viscount Milton (1910 – 1948), only son of the 7th Earl Fitzwilliam: Helena’s mother inherited approximately £45m from her father on his death. Besides his wife’s wealth (they were married in 2007) Jacob Rees-Mogg is a hedge-fund manager and the son of Baron Rees-Mogg, former editor of The Times and life peer: the Baron Rees-Mogg was educated at Godalming and Balliol College, Oxford, the Hon. Jacob was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Oxford. Were either of them members of the Bullingdon Club? They’re not listed as such anywhere. His sons of course could be: the de Chair money would put them into the qualifying category if they weren’t already there.
to reduce the environmental impacts of livestock production in the UK. It would also amend the way agricultural subsidies are used to make them more environmentally friendly. It includes a duty to give consideration to supporting sustainable practices and consumption through public procurement of livestock produce.
The Bill also aims to reduce rainforest deforestation by reducing the use of soya meal in animal feed in the UK. It would do this by placing a duty on the Secretary of State to ensure the sustainability of livestock, and to give consideration to issues such as public procurement and agricultural subsidy reform.
The LibDem: Danny Alexander. Educated at Scottish state schools in the Highlands, and at St Anne’s College, Oxford – back in the days before tuition fees: he may even remember when students still got grants. (I wonder if he’d honestly admit that £27,000 would have been an intimidating debt for him in 1990?) Talked a good deal on Question Time about how they were making rich people pay more taxes. Slightly forgot to mention that by telling the House of Commons his London flat was his second home, he got to claim the mortgage interest and furnishings and repairs on MP expenses: then when he sold the flat in June 2007 for £300,000, he didn’t pay capital gains tax because he told the Inland Revenue that flat was his main home. Enthusiastic about cutting more and more away from supporting the poorest and most vulnerable.
[Danny Alexander] bought a flat in London in 1999. After being elected an MP in 2005, he declared the property as his second home to the parliamentary authorities and claimed expenses. He claimed more than £37,000 in expenses for the flat – and carried out some work to the property at taxpayers’ expense shortly before selling it in June 2007 for £300,000.
He did not break any rules, but used a tax loophole that allows the continued designation of a property as the main home for three years even after the purchase of another house – in Alexander’s case in Scotland – which has become the principal residence. It did not stop him from telling Commons authorities that the London property was his second home, for which he claimed not only for the mortgage but also for minor capital improvements, the Telegraph reported.
Her parents lent her £30,000 to buy her first property in Battersea, but she lays claim to an upbringing devoid of too many frills. Both sets of grandparents managed to spend “quite considerable fortunes” before they died, so Allsopp’s parents “didn’t inherit anything and had to earn their living. They certainly didn’t have enough money to give any to us; although they helped all four of us buy flats. You put a roof over your child’s head if you can possibly afford to do so, but that is where it all stops.”
The first Baron Hindlip was a 1886 creation for Sir Henry Allsopp, head of the brewing firm of Samuel Allsopp & Sons in Staffordshire, and Tory MP. Sir Henry’s son (portrait of his wife) also became a Tory MP: his grandson was a Unionist Whip in the House of Lords: and his great-grandson, Kirstie Allsopp’s grandfather, the fifth Baron, was a Deputy Lieutenant of Wiltshire. Kirstie Allsopp is very much part of the web of privilege.
[Update: Commenter Stubben says “@Gareth Snell, that is a picture of Hindlip Hall which has been West Mercia Police HQ since 1967, 4 years before Kirstie Allsopp was born.” Swift check through Google Images says Stubben is right about this at least.]
So that’s the BBC’s idea of “balance”. Two more or less on the left – one wealthy man, one powerful woman. Three on the right: two inheritors of privilege, one grabber of privilege.
No trade union representatives: no one with even close to an average income: the only person with a working-class background was Steve Coogan, who hasn’t had to worry about the price of a pint of milk in years.
When are we going to see Mark Serwotka back on Question Time? Why not have a trade union representative every time? What do you reckon the chances are of Kelvin MacKenzie being invited back before any trade union leader?
As they say, football isn’t Scotland’s national sport, it’s much more important than that. Today as Scottish Football League clubs gather at Hampden for a vote on whether New Rangers should play First Division or Third next season, Brian Smith (@Einveldi on Twitter), a Glaswegian now living in Edinburgh, blogs here about the pay, taxes, and corruption off the pitch.
Taken at face value, the business case for a successful Rangers F.C. is compelling. 46,000 punters paying between £23 and £42 for a ticket 20 or more times a season. The lion’s share of a £16m-per-year television contract. A place in the lucrative Champions League almost guaranteed due to lack of domestic competitiveness. Sponsorship deals. Manufacturing deals. Replica kit sales. Lunchboxes, bedspreads and alarm clocks bearing the Rangers logo.
All of these figures seem impressive but all pale in comparison to the expansion of finances in the English Premier League.
Against a vastly more successful set-up down south (complete with oligarchs and sheikhs propping them up) Rangers tried and struggled to keep up. In order to keep their most talented players, Rangers resorted to paying them English Premiership-type wages.
The finer details of footballers’ contracts are tricky to obtain or decipher but the notoriously detailed fan-researched Football Manager games by Sports Interactive (SI) suggest that even in 2009, when Rangers’ financial situation was becoming increasingly precarious, it was paying at least three members of its playing squad in excess of £25,000 a week.
You have to stop and think about just how much money that is. £25,000 a week is £1.3 million per year, pre-tax. Continue reading →