Sunday, September 11, 2011

...wi nowt taken out

What is it with Tories and loan-sharking? We all know about Francis Maude, the toxic pusher and secret ruler of the world, or at least we all should - he was a director of a company offering dodgy "debt consolidation" deals, and also Spanish sub-prime mortgages that were marketed as an inheritance tax avoidance scheme.

And then there's this purely commercial transaction:
Records lodged with the Electoral Commission reveal that the Funding Corporation Group Ltd (FCGL), based in Warwickshire, donated £105,000 to the Tories on 24 June. The company also gave £25,000 last December.

FCGL owns 99.9% of the Funding Corporation Ltd which sells cars on hire purchase plans to drivers with poor credit ratings through a subsidiary, ACF Car Finance. The Funding Corporation Ltd also owns a debt recovery business, Red2Black Collections.

The companies are ultimately owned by Lord Edmiston, a staunch Tory party supporter and Christian philanthropist, who gave the Conservatives almost £300,000 between 2004 and 2009 under his own name....

One man described in an online forum how he nearly bought a £7,000 car from ACF that would have ended up costing him £325 a month over 60 months, a total cost of £19,500, equivalent to an interest rate of almost 200%. Another bought a car valued at £5,995. But the true cost when interest and PPI was factored in came to £16,445...

Measures that would have forced the lenders to curb some of their practices, were voted down by Lib Dem and Tory MPs on 28 June.

Nice mates you've got there, as they say. Eeeuww. For me it's the Christian stuff that really makes me want to throw up. Yer man had some things to say about the ethical aspects of credit, I think. And there's the surprisingly picayune, penny-ante nature of the whole deal. Did you know you could get control of the Coalition whipping operation for a mere £105k? The Yorkshire Building Society has actually offered to lend me - me! - twice as much. I'm sure I could find an issue worth enough to make the deal wash its face.

But of course some people's money is worth more than others'. The Tories bitch endlessly about the trade unions giving to the Labour Party. But the real point is that UNITE's members can fork over millions collectively and Labour will do bugger all in return. At least the Tories are honestly venal - perhaps they could adopt the motto "Good Honest Corruption". As for the other lot, well... I suspect, though, if I were to put together a syndicate of bloggers to outbid Edmiston they would find some excuse.

Circling back to the beginning, though, they say history doesn't repeat but it rhymes. When it was fashionable to whine about local authorities advertising jobs in the Guardian, I pointed out that the Sun and the News of the World were permanently full of adverts for loans and specifically for debt-consolidation. A question: how much, do you reckon, the Edmiston companies, Prestbury Holdings, and its subsidiaries spent on advertising with News International? Also, what's the betting one of these guys turns out to own Eric Pickles?

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