The giant Carillion group has gone bust, owing £1.6billion. 20,000 UK jobs may go. Numerous public sector projects are in limbo. Creditors may get back as little as 0.8p in the pound. This much the corporate media is admitting. It has said the disaster is down to the board. It has even expressed concern that the Tories kept giving the contracts to Carillion even after there were three profit warnings and City hedge funds were betting on its collapse.
There has been less attention to the nexus of close contacts between the company and the Conservative Party. Two of the companies that would constitute the new Carillion group, Tarmac and McAlpine, were big and consistent Tory donors. Baron McAlpine was Tory treasurer and said to have raised a cool hundred million pounds for Margaret Thatcher’s Tories. They were close collaborators. In 2015 Carillion had to admit in the High Court to illegal blacklisting of trade union activists and was forced to make an unreserved apology.
Carillion’s chairman until recently, Philip Green has been previously found in breach of trust by the Pensions Ombudsman. He was one of three to be censured by the body back in 1994 over their handling of wallpaper and home furnishings group Coloroll. Green is also chairman of Williams & Glyn Bank. The 1994 censure did not stop him being appointed as an adviser to Number 10 on, ahem, corporate responsibility by David Cameron in 2011. This was the same year he joined Carillion. George ‘I do love a hard hat and a hi-vis jacket’ Osborne was often seen on photo opportunities at Carillion site.
Even as Carillion was collapsing, Transport Minister Chris ‘Do you know the way to Doha’ Grayling was expressing confidence in the company leading to a rise in share value of 8p.
Oh, and if there is any of this you didn’t know, you must have been reading the corporate media and watching the BBC.
There once was a fronted adverbial,
Her existence was purely proverbial.
She was so good at grammar,
She picked up a hammer
And whacked the Ofsted inspectorial.
Are you proud that Carillion chairman Philip Green (no, not that one) donated to your party and what did he get in return.
Carillion chairman Philip Green was an advisor to David Cameron on corporate social responsibility. How responsible do you think he is now?
Why were government contracts worth about £1.6bn handed to Carillion in even after it started issuing profit warnings 6 months ago
How come Carillion won a £1.34bn contract to build rail tunnels for HS2 week AFTER the firm had issued a profit warning that saw its market value plummet by £600m?
Is Chris Grayling still happy about his statements stressing Carillion’s safety, provoking a share rise of 8%.
Were any of the hedge funds who reportedly made £80m short selling stock because they knew the Carillion crash was coming donors to the Tory Party?
Do you think Carillion failed so badly because you kept it going for so long with plum contracts, even after profit warnings?
Did the Tory Party like donor Philip Green so much because Carillion was infamous as an anti-union employer, using an illegal blacklist (‘unreserved apology’ in the High Court in 2015?
When the hedge funds, many of them Tory donors, starting betting on a Carillion crash in 2015, what actions did the Conservative government take?
Ah, a Scott English classic about the new Tory chair:
Oh, Brandon, well, you came
And you fibbed without sha-ame
But I sent you away
Oh, Brandon, well, you’re lame
And I couldn’t stop laughing
And I’ll ignore you today
Well, well, I actually agree with something Andrew Rawnsley has written. It is this, from this morning’s Observer:
“Remainers take note: Remain supporters just becoming passionately Remainy is not what matters. What is required to force a rethink among the political decision-makers is clear evidence of second thoughts among a substantial wedge of Leave voters.”
Like many Labour supporters who voted remain, but accepted the EU referendum and agreed with Corbyn and his team that a pragmatic course in negotiating departure was wise, I don’t think banging on about a second referendum so soon after a vote of 33 million people is sensible or particularly democratic.
What matters is two things, both dependent on the progress or lack of it of the EU negotiations: is a deal emerging that protects the interests of the majority of the people; is the public mood shifting?
There is a lot of excitement among some remain supporters generated- irony of irony- by Nigel Farage. Some think, now that the current UKIP leader’s girlfriend is suspended for rank racism, that we could have the third coming of Saint Nige. My position, and I speak for nobody but myself, is that Labour is right to concentrate on a pragmatic course on Europe, defending working class interests, fighting on the NHS, jobs, public ownership, housing and so on. It is also that we exclude nothing. We are not in office, the Tories are. We hold them to account. We do not obsess in the here and now about membership of the single market. We focus on the benefits of a relationship to it.
In the medium term, in spring 2019, if the Commons and the country thinks the Tory deal is inadequate, could there be a second referendum? Possibly. All of this, in the final analysis, is froth. The EU leave vote is not the only political show in town. The political and economic crisis goes back to at least 2008. Understanding the present crisis demands a longer view than post-2016 Brexittery. It is the Tories that have given us the slowest recovery since the 1920s, poor productivity, the lowest wage growth of similar economies, the worst level of economic activity of similar economies, the growth of homelessness and food banks, the crisis in the NHS and housing and so on. These issues are part of the reason so many working people voted leave in fury at their circumstances.
The condition of the mass of the people is the main issue, Europe is part of it and an issue that illuminates the political faultlines. The cutting edge is the attack on austerity. That is what made the 2017 Manifesto so effective in forging a coalition that included leaver and remained. That is what took Labour from twelve points behind to a position where we could deny May a majority. Possibly sixty Labour MPs see Europe as the lever to weaken Corbyn. Their recklessness and obsession with premature red lines over Europe is not principle. It is daft politics. It risks alienating many Labour supporters who are deeply suspicious of an uncritical attitude to the EU.
The Corbyn project has made Labour electable. It must be deepened and broadened, strengthening the community arm launched recently, firming up the alliance with the unions in the workplaces. Single-minded unity behind an increasingly confident leadership can deliver good council results in May and a General Election victory thereafter. That means remaining focussed on the day-to-day needs of the people, not remaining remain-obsessed to the exclusion of everything else.
Just thinking out loud here in response to Justine Greening’s literacy hubs. We could establish these book hubs in the community and schools with book hub experts who oversaw physical books, digital books, ICT, research facilities and other materials. These hub experts could have qualifications and training. They could talk to children and experts in the hubs and develop relationships. We could fund them from the public purse by statute. Maybe hub expert is a bit clumsy so what about a name from the classical word for book libris? We could call them librarians and the building a library.
Jeremy Hunt updates Shaggy’s It Wasn’t Me:
“The waiting list figures caught me out lying (It wasn’t me)
Saw the trolleys in the hallway (It wasn’t me)
I even stopped the operations happening (It wasn’t me)
They even caught it all on camera (It wasn’t me)
Public saw the lies in my statements (It wasn’t me)
Heard the lies that I told them (It wasn’t me)
Heard the screams getting louder (It wasn’t me)
Don’t kick me out, I need the money.
The Chris Grayling song
Apologies to Manfred Mann
There he was just a-flyin’ down the Gulf, singin’
‘Doha diddy diddy dum diddy do”
Wastin’ our money and avoidin’ the press, singin’
“Doha diddy diddy dum diddy do”
He looked bad (looked bad), he looked bald (looked bald)
He looked bad, he looked bald and I nearly spat my tea
Before I knew it he was lyin’ on TV, singin’
“Doha diddy diddy dum diddy do”
Tellin’ his fibs just as natural as can be, singin’
‘”Doha diddy diddy dum diddy do”
He flew on (flew on) a real bore (real bore)
He flew on a real bore, then I barfed a little more
Whoa-oh, I knew we was fibbing like ma-a-ad
Yes I did, and so I shouted all the swear words I’d been dreamin’ of
Now I’m backin’ Labour every single day, singin’
“Doha diddy diddy dum diddy do”
Ah’m so lefty and that’s how I’m gonna stay, singin’
‘”Doha diddy diddy dum diddy do”
Well I’m Left (I’m Left), he’s Right (he’s Right)
His government’s a load of (sorry no rhyme).
Doha Diddy Diddy dum Diddy do.
A few days ago, I read the generally clueless John Rentoul being characteristically clueless as he tried to deliver reasons -or is that excuses- for failing to see the Corbyn surge coming. There is a little psephological squirming in his article and some whining that, well, some Corbynistas didn’t expect it, but he fails to grasp the key issue, he failed to see the Corbyn surge coming because he didn’t want it to happen. That goes for every commentator and every political opponent of Labour’s left wing leadership.
The gallery of cognoscenti would like to have us believe that they sagaciously investigate all the evidence before coming to a balanced, informed and unbiased conclusion. This, I’m afraid, is so much hogwash. They find, ahem ‘evidence’ for their political preconceptions.
Just as Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters wanted him to succeed and sometimes overlooked or sidestepped uncomfortable evidence such as the council elections that preceded the General Election, so his opponents wanted him to fail and similarly ignored any evidence that might contradict their prejudice. They opposed the Corbyn-McDonnell leadership from day one; briefed against it; raced to the TV studios to condemn it; organised a no-confidence vote against it; sat in the Commons dead-eyed to denigrate it. There was no independent study or dispassionate investigation. There was the instinctive prejudice that Corbynism was a very bad thing. It was a political stance, a political choice.
When Jeremy Corbyn got the airtime to dispel the public’s false, corporate media view of him, the anti-Corbynistas continued to wail from their columns of sackcloth and ashes. When an army of volunteers appeared in the election, changing people’s views on the doorstep, the anti-Corbynistas continued to sneer. When mass rallies and the Glastonbury and Tranmere rock events changed the atmosphere around the election, they covered their ears and eyes, but not, of course, their mouths.
So who got the electoral year right? Well, it was the Labour members who flooded ‘unwindable’ constituencies and won them, as we did in Wirral West, Canterbury and Kensington. In terms of high-profile individuals, it was Dianne Abbot. That’s right, the Dianne Abbot who was subjected to more abuse than any other politician; the Dianne Abbot who was ridiculed when she had a bad interview at the end of a long day, partly influenced by her health; that Dianne Abbot. She said the polls would close within a year. They closed in six months. She said Labour was in the electoral game. It prevented a Tory majority. On Newsnight yesterday, Dianne was in magisterial form setting out why she thought Labour was well-placed to win the next General Election.
So will I trust the likes of Mr Rentoul who are now peddling a new line, that OK, Labour is electable, but should be much further ahead or will I trust Ms Abbot who got things right when they got things so wrong?
I agree with Dianne.
Nick Cohen has penned an article in the Observer which is bizarre even by his extraordinary standards. Essentially, Nick seems upset that the Labour Party has made itself electable and that Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have successfully, after two years of irresponsible and anti-democratic behaviour by some in the PLP, imposed a measure of discipline and responsibility upon the more fractious of his ranks, even establishing a measure of pragmatic unity over Europe.
He certainly hits the ground running when he says that: “Labour’s new leaders and Labour’s new members appear incompatible” when in fact, the picture is that they are more compatible than at any time in living memory, the whole point surely about the events of the last two years, but why let the truth get in the way of a good aphorism? He then seems to accuse the very people most opposed to Saudi Arabia and most active demanding it be held to account over Yemen (we were on protests about it last week, Nick, were you?) of being apologists for the country whose actions we so vociferously condemn.
He then meanders through mentions of Nazism (the refuge of the evidence-free scoundrel), Britain First and the Ku Klux Klan, the Communist Party and the Socialist Workers Party in a gloriously nonsensical multi-smear, inflating one man’s plea for George Galloway to be readmitted to the party into a thunderous condemnation of all things Left.
Then it is on to the ‘Brezhnevian regime’ in Cuba, Iran and Saddam Hussein’s ‘national socialism’ in Iraq.
The problem with all this is that it ignores real politicians’ true records. It was politicians of the Left such as Corbyn who supported protests against Saddam Hussein prior to the Iraq War. I am afraid right wingers were nowhere to be seen when socialists were protesting about the bombing of Halabjah. That terrible Mr Corbyn then had the temerity to be absolutely right that the West should not rush at breakneck pace into the most damaging foreign intervention since World War Two.
Nick then wants us to act as if every country in the world is a developed capitalist democracy, but what if it isn’t? Do you ignore them until they are? Politicians engage with all kinds of regimes that are not capitalist democracies and all kinds of movements that are quite dissimilar to Hamstead and District Green Party. On rare occasions you boycott regimes over specific issues (South Africa over apartheid for example). More commonly, you engage with them. Heaven forfend, you might call them ‘friends’ as Mrs Thatcher did when she harboured that nice Mr Pinochet or when Mrs May popped over to hobnob with Saudi princes just as they reduced Yemen to rubble.
Then there is the greatest of the Left’s crimes, its ‘Leninism.’ Now some of my old friends on the outside left might want more Leninism, but Mr Corbyn is a long-standing parliamentarian. He keeps getting elected by his constituents, his party grassroots and soon his country. His speeches are not peppered by references to democratic centralism or the renegade Kautsky. I don’t remember him arriving at the Finland station to change his party’s approach or organising the taking of the Winter Palace. All of this was done constitutionally through the monitored use of various ballot boxes and not those at the Stalybridge Soviet either. Still, facts don’t slow Nick in his intemperate, multi-faceted ranting. You see- and he says this endlessly in his incoherent essay- we socialists don’t understand. Oh, I see, it is our incomprehension that is our most damning flaw. Of course. The scales are tumbling from my eyes. Our political strategy is impractical. The country can’t afford it. It is dreaming, fantastical, quite incredible. The only trouble, he says, in his peroration, it might just put Corbyn in charge of the UK.
At this point my brows are entirely beetled. If our political approach is impractical and fantastical, why Nick are you so worried it might just get us elected?