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Bonfire of the Quangos
- Dec.23.2018: George Osborne denies his austerity caused homelessness crisis: ‘It’s not a lack of money’. Former Tory chancellor dismisses link between severe spending cuts he introduced and explosion in rough-sleeping, saying: 'I entirely reject that'. “It’s not a lack of money. That’s not a consequence of austerity – that’s just a consequence of bad policy,” Mr Osborne insisted. Rob Merrick, The Independent.
- Dec.14.2018: Nine-jobs George has no idea about the poverty many British workers face. Still the government repeats the claim that “the best way out of poverty is to get a job”. But given the rates of pay on offer in so many parts of the country, this simply isn’t true either. More than half a million British workers have fallen into poverty in the last 5 years. The £650,000 a year from Blackrock and the reported £200,000 for editing the Evening Standard are apparently not quite enough. The serious point is that the failure of David Cameron and Osborne to recognise the realities of life in the economy they presided over has delivered us the fractured, unhappy country we are today. Stefan Stern, The Guardian. See also George Osborne lands ninth job with Californian venture capitalists
- Oct.31.2018: Thanks for the mea culpa, George Osborne. As ever, you’re way too late. The former chancellor admitted on Newsnight that the case for the EU was belatedly, and badly, made. What good is that now? Rafael Behr, The Guardian.
- Jun.29.2018: In the red again: George Osborne leads Evening Standard to £10m loss. The Evening Standard has reported a loss of £10m for last year to the end of September, as the cost of “strategic investment” under new editor George Osborne pushed the London free daily newspaper deep into the red. Parent company ESI Media, which is controlled by Russian oligarch Evgeny Lebedev, also reported that stablemate the Independent has almost doubled profits to £3.26m in its first full year as a digital-only publication. The company said the Evening Standard's swing to a major loss was because it has embarked on a strategic investment programme to develop the brand, editorial product and advertising proposition. It made a £2.2m operating profit in 2016. In 2015, it made £3.3m. On Friday, Reach, the parent company of the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People, reported that print ad revenue fell by 10% in the first half of the year. “We’re investing significantly in the Evening Standard,” said Manish Malhotra, group managing director at ESI Media. The Standard also took on costs as a result of the closure in 2016 of the print edition of stablemates the Independent and Independent on Sunday. Mark Sweney, The Guardian. See also the articles at the botom of the page.
- Apr.10.2018: No need for Commons vote before Syria action. If Mrs May follows recent precedent, and recalls Parliament and seeks its consent before committing British forces, she may well lose the vote. That’s what happened to the Coalition govt in almost identical circumstances in 2013. Mrs May does not need to hold a parliamentary vote. There is no law that requires the govt to seek the consent of the House of Commons before taking part in air strikes. Our constitutional arrangements are clear: the Prime Minister, using the powers delegated by the Queen as our commander-in-chief, can alone authorise the deployment of military forces. The question, therefore, is not a legal one but a political one. Could she get away with ordering overt military action without a vote? Britain should take part in air strikes against Assad’s forces without holding a parliamentary vote — and the House of Commons should be free to question the Prime Minister about it. But only after the event. George Osborne, The Evening Standard.
- May.31.2018: George Osborne is too compromised to edit the Evening Standard. All journalism features bias, but the former Tory minister has too many business interests for his newspaper to be trusted. ... The salary he earns from editing London’s free newspaper is supplemented with at least 8 other roles. Most recently, he was appointed chair of a group of high-profile business leaders who will oversee Exor, the holding company of the Agnelli family, which owns Juventus football club, Fiat, Ferrari and myriad other businesses, including The Economist magazine. He is also a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, a dean’s fellow at Stanford business school, chairman of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership and an adviser to BlackRock, the US asset manager, for which he is paid an eye-watering £650,000 a year for working one day a week. ... It’s crucial that readers trust what they are reading. It has been claimed this week that Osborne’s latest wheeze is to offer special clients “money-can’t-buy” positive news and “favourable” comment coverage in return for paid advertising. ... Journalists have always displayed a bias in story selection that has not been made clear to readers in many ways, yet never to the same degree as editor Osborne. His overenthusiasm in the Evening Standard towards companies such as Uber – a significant BlackRock client – is just one of the most notable examples. Yet BlackRock has assets worth more than $2bn (£1.5bn) in pretty much every single major business you can think of. So how can the editor of a newspaper disassociate himself from the fair reporting of a company or individual who is in some way associated with those who pay him extraordinarily generous annual stipends? Of course they can still show bias – Osborne’s almost daily vendetta against Theresa May is evidence of that. It’s petty, nasty and over the top, but not against the spirit of editorship. Everyone has favourites they shower with praise and enemies they seek to destroy. As an industry, journalism has never been more vital to society. Yet because of the scourge of fake news it is also one of the least trusted. Osborne’s editorship can only dent that level of trust further. The Guardian.
- Jan.18.2018: It's obvious why The Evening Standard took Carillion off its front page yesterday. Not only did the The Standard's editor, George Osborne, support Carillion's takeover of Britain's public services during his time as chancellor; he also earns £650,000 a year from BlackRock Investment Institute, which profited from Carillion's collapse. Between 2010 and 2015, Osborne oversaw a doubling in outsourced public contracts. In 2010, there were 526 outsourcing contracts, worth £56bn. After Osborne had been chancellor for five years, there were 1,185, worth £120bn. In Oct.2014, Osborne enthusiastically announced a new deal with Carillion, which he said was a key part of Britain’s "long-term economic plan". The Canary, Bex Sumner
- Oct.02.2017: Iain Dale’s 100 most influential people on the Right 2017. Former Chancellor of the Exchequer; Editor, London Evening Standard. George Osborne has been very successful in maintaining a high media profile, and his first 6 months as editor of the Standard have been a success. He has pitched the paper as the chief opposition to Theresa May, losing no opportunity to criticise her, often in a very personal way. If he ever wants to return to frontline politics, he will have quite a lot of bridges to build. Iain Dale, Conservative Home.
- Aug.31.2017: Osborne's Macabre May Metaphors. George Osborne is very keen on using morbid imagery to describe Theresa May. In June he said she was a “dead woman walking” and asked how long she would “remain on death row”. In July he wondered who would "wield the knife". Today he says she is "like the living dead". He's also said she is "like King Charles I" (who was beheaded). If you didn't get the point, he adds that she has "staved off an immediate execution". Paul Staines, Guido Fawkes.
- Jun.29.2017: George Osborne appointed as Honorary Professor of Economics. The University of Manchester has appointed chairman of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership and former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, as Honorary Professor of Economics. Manchester University News.
- Mar.26.2017: Cameron aide's Uber 'cover up': Downing Street accused of withholding emails about its secret campaign to help online taxi firm and stop Boris regulating it in London. Opposition MPs pointed out that Rachel Whetstone, a senior vice-president at Uber, is a personal friend of both David Cameron and Mr Osborne. Linkback: Daniel Korski. Larisa Brown, Guy Adams, Daily Mail.
- Mar.08.2017: George Osborne to make £650,000 working four days a month at BlackRock. George Osborne is set to earn £650,000 a year working just four days a month at global investment group BlackRock Investment Institute, the research branch of the US group – more than ten times the amount he makes as an MP, once share awards are included. The MP has seen his personal fortunes soar since he was unceremoniously sacked from Theresa May's cabinet on the back of last year's Brexit vote. The registry shows he made £786,450 last year from giving 15 speeches – chiefly to financial institutions – after being signed to an elite public speaking agency. His most lucrative pay days for after-dinner speeches netted him £81,174 and £60,578 for two engagements at JP Morgan’s New York headquarters lasting a total of seven hours last October. He also earned £15,081 for a speech at Lloyds Bank – which is part-owned by the govt – last February when he was still Chancellor, but he gave this to a charity in his Cheshire constituency of Tatton. more... Rachel Roberts, The Independent. DDG search
- Jan.26.2017: Your new job stinks, George! Worrying questions over links between Treasury and US finance giant that’s hired Osborne on huge salary. Osborne met with asset management firm BlackRock during time as Chancellor. His final meeting came just days before he was sacked by Theresa May last year. He now has part-time role as senior advisor at BlackRock, earning a hefty salary. The ACOBA committee wrote to the ex-Chancellor saying it had ‘no concerns’ about him taking the post because he had made no policy decisions relating the bank’s interests. But it emerged that the committee had to admit that Mr Osborne did make decisions affecting the asset-management industry. Media reports from two years ago showed how BlackRock had gleefully greeted the ex-Chancellor’s landmark pension reforms, which gave savers control over their pension pots. At the time, the bank said that it was ‘uniquely positioned’ to take advantage. The ex-Chancellor said that he was taking the one-day-a-week role with the firm, which he will take up on top of being an MP, netting him at least £200,000 a year. Mr Osborne had met BlackRock on 5 occasions since Oct.2014. Last night Douglas Carswell, Ukip MP for Clacton, said: ‘This embarrassing bungle exposes Acoba for the Whitehall farce that it is". John Mann, Labour MP and member of the Treasury Select Committee, said: "George Osborne is trading on his ministerial contacts book". Yesterday it emerged that the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Kathryn Hudson, is to consider curbs on outside employment for MPs. List of meetings, dates + what he discussed. Sajid Javid met them 7 times between Jan.2013-Apr.2014, when he was Financial Secretary to the Treasury in charge of City issues. Other junior ministers met senior BlackRock figures, including David Gauke (now Chief Secretary to the Treasury) and Andrea Leadsom (now Environment Secretary). Last week Mr Osborne was flown to the World Economic Forum at the Swiss resort of Davos by HSBC for a fee ‘in the high five figures’, where he spoke at an event for 20 of the bank’s important clients. His new role, which he will take up on Feb.01.2017, will reunite him with his former chief of staff, Rupert Harrison, who became a senior strategist at BlackRock last year. John Stevens, Daniel Martin, The Mail Online.
- Jan.30.2016: Google crosses borders. The tax collectors should too. The tech giant’s tiny tax payment shows how feeble governments have become in the face of corporate might. Only global action can tame the beast. Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian.
- Jan.30.2016: Osborne under fire over Google tax deal as minister claims 'a five-year-old could have done a better job'. Google tax shambles: Chancellor criticised for calling UK tax deal with Google a 'major success'. Deal could dent Osborne's PM hopes as Tory ministers turn against him. Company set to pay £130m to UK government to cover decade of back tax. Both Google and HM Revenue and Customs set to face inquiries into deal. Alexander Robertson, Mail Online.
- Jan.28.2016: George Osborne insists Google's UK tax deal is 'major success'. Chancellor brushes off widespread criticism of deal by arguing that internet giant had previously paid no tax in UK. Rowena Mason, Matthew Weaver, Stephanie Kirchgaessner, The Guardian.
- Jan.27.2018: Top Tories met Google chiefs 25 times in run-up to 'sweetheart' tax deal. Mates Rates: Mr Osborne, policy chief Oliver Letwin and ex-Tory chairman Grant Shapps are among 17 different Tory ministers to have held face-to-face talks. List is here. The private talks held every 3-4 weeks over such a long period raise fresh questions about the Tory/Google close links. The Tories lavished an eye-watering £312,000 on Google adverts in the run-up to the May election. By contrast, Labour spent just £371. Google chairman Eric Schmidt spent 5 years as a business adviser to the Prime Minister between 2009-2015, and previously gave the keynote speech at the Tory Party conference - where he was introduced by a beaming Mr Osborne. Mr Osborne and Mr Schmidt have penned several joint articles for British newspapers, and the pair both attended the secretive Bilderberg conference for the elite super-rich last year. ... A survey ... found 84% of Brits want ...a public register showing whether multinational firms are paying UK taxes. ... The Diverted Profits Tax (or “Google Tax”) which came in last year will mean when you sell web adverts in Britain, you can’t book the sale in Dublin, Amsterdam or the British Virgin Islands. much more... Jack Blanchard, The Mirror. Funny Martin Rowson cartoon here.
- Jan.23.2016: Google agrees to pay British authorities £130m in back taxes Firm will pay back a decade’s worth of taxes and bear greater tax burden in future to compensate for underpayment of UK taxes. Kevin Rawlinson, The Guardian.
- Oct.31.2018: George Osborne: Chancellor has five times the usual number of special advisers. George Osborne, the Chancellor, has been accused of building a power base at the Treasury to support his ambition to succeed David Cameron as Prime Minister. The annual list of special advisers, to be published this month, is expected to confirm that he employs 10 special advisers – political appointees paid from public funds. The normal limit for a cabinet minister is 2, but Osborne has been given permission by Cameron to hire an extra 8. The Treasury press office refused to say who they are, or how many there are, or who is on the Chancellor’s Council of Economic Advisers. The council, made up of additional special advisers, was invented by Gordon Brown in 1997 as a way to bring politically committed economists into the Treasury. The Cabinet Office spokeswoman said: “The list of special advisers is published annually and it will be published in due course.” However, The Independent on Sunday has established that the Treasury special advisers are: Thea Rogers, formerly Nick Robinson’s producer at the BBC, who is the Chancellor’s chief of staff; James Chapman, the ex-political editor of the Daily Mail, director of communications; Sue Beeby, political press officer; Simon Glasson, who handles party matters; Matt Cook, events organiser; and Lisa Buckland. In addition, 3 special advisers are members of the Council of Economic Advisers: Richard Davies, former economics editor of The Economist, who is Mr Osborne’s main economic adviser and chairs the council; Jennifer Donnellan, formerly of the Conservative Research Department; and Neil O'Brien, formerly of the Policy Exchange think-tank, who is credited with the Northern Powerhouse policy. In opposition, Mr Cameron promised to “cut the cost of politics” by reducing the number of special advisers; in 2009 he promised that in govt he would limit each cabinet minister to 1 special adviser. Special advisers, invented by Harold Wilson in 1964, are temporary civil servants paid from public funds to provide political advice. They are personal appointments of cabinet ministers (subject to prime ministerial approval) and are not bound by civil service rules on impartiality. As their numbers grew, their activities have been regulated by a Code of Practice, which includes the requirement that their salaries should be published annually. Last year, the total salary bill for the Chancellor's special advisers was about £500,000. ... he had recently lost his main economic adviser, Rupert Harrison, who left in June to take a job at BlackRock, the US fund manager. But Mr Osborne still has fewer special advisers than Gordon Brown. Just before Brown became Prime Minister, he had 11 special advisers: 5 regular advisers (some of them notionally assigned to Stephen Timms, his Chief Secretary to the Treasury) and 6 members of the Council of Economic Advisers. John Rentoul, The Independent. See also Special adviser (UK)
- Jun.28.2015: Fracking: Energy Secretary's advisor received £5,000 election donation from company set to benefit from controversial technique. Addison Projects, part of a £25m engineering company based in Lancashire which has said it wants to play an "active role" in supporting fracking, made the donation to the constituency party of Conservative MP Paul Maynard in March. Mr Maynard was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Amber Rudd after last month’s General Election, a role which requires him to be the Cabinet minister’s "eyes and ears" in Parliament. Addison Projects made its £5,000 donation on Mar.23. Daisy Sands, head of UK energy at Greenpeace, said: "The appointment of an MP with close ties to the fracking lobby as a key adviser to the department in charge of this controversial industry is deeply worrying. This move will only reinforce the impression that this Government is now acting like the political arm of the shale lobby". Ms Rudd used her first interview following her appointment to the Department of Energy and Climate Change to pledge that she would "deliver shale" and change the law to permit drilling under national parks. Addison Projects also hosted 4 visits from senior Cabinet ministers, including 2 by Chancellor George Osborne, in recent months. Cahal Milmo, Andy McSmith, The Independent.
- Jul.19.2013: George Osborne unveils 'most generous tax breaks in world' for fracking. Environmental groups furious as chancellor sets 30% rate for shale gas producers - that compares with a top rate of 62% on new North Sea oil operations and up to 81% for older offshore fields. It also comes after a survey showed that nearly 80% of those who were polled believed that the UK should reduce its reliance on fossil fuels. "Experts from energy regulator OfGem to Deutsche Bank and the company in receipt of this tax break, Cuadrilla, admit that it won't reduce energy prices for consumers." Tory MP Peter Lilley, a climate sceptic who is an adviser on foreign policy in No.10, also does not believe the industry needs govt help. A recent poll by researchers at Cardiff University and funded by the UK Energy Research Centre showed 79% of the 2,500 people surveyed across England, Scotland and Wales in Aug.2012 were against reliance on fossil fuels – but keeping energy prices low was the most important priority for 40% of respondents. The coalition has often appeared split in the debate, with Tories arguing in favour of fracking and against more onshore wind power, while LibDems, including energy secretary Ed Davey, are supportive of green power and insist shale is unlikely to bring down household bills, now averaging almost £1,300 per year. Terry Macalister, Fiona Harvey, The Guardian.
- Feb.23.2013: UK loses top AAA credit rating for first time since 1978. The ratings agency Moody's became the first to cut the UK from its highest rating. Moody's said the govt's debt reduction programme faced significant "challenges" ahead. Chancellor George Osborne said the decision was "a stark reminder of the debt problems facing our country". The UK has had a top AAA credit rating since 1978 from both Moody's and S&P. BBC News.
- Dec.06.2012: OBR head rebukes Osborne: the UK was never at risk of bankruptcy. In the weeks after he took office, George Osborne justified his austerity programme by claiming that Britain was on "the brink of bankruptcy". He told the Conservative conference in Oct.2010: "The good news is that we are in govt after 13 years of a disastrous Labour administration that brought our country to the brink of bankruptcy". It was, of course, nonsense. With its own currency, its own monetary policy and the ability to borrow at historically low rates, the UK was never at risk of bankruptcy. The New Statesman, George Eaton
- Jan.11.2012: George Osborne tells banks to cut bonuses. Chancellor George Osborne today issued a sharp warning to the banks against making big bonus payouts. Giving evidence to the Commons Treasury Committee, he said he would be taking a "keen interest" in the bonuses paid by the part state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland. "Of course my hands are tied on the bonus arrangements agreed by the previous govt but when it comes to the new bonus arrangements you can be sure that this Chancellor will be taking a keen interest." He said the taxpayer was still sitting on large losses as a result of the 2008 bail-out. (Cartoon) The Independent, Gavin Cordon
- George Osborne was in Opposition. He said "PFI contracts have become totally discredited". But in 2011, he created 61 new PFI contracts. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tq-5BKLD9sY