Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Simon Jenkins: Double Standards

Here's Simon Jenkins' latest piece of work.
For the Tories it is sex, for Labour it is money. Financial scandal sticks to the latter like political napalm. From formula one to ministerial mortgages, privatisation contracts and cash-for-honours, the sign of a £50 note waving in the wind sends Labour politicians weak at the knees. Their only moral is don't get caught, yet they get caught all the time.
Subtext: Tories are honest, really; all that stuff in the 90s was made up. No-one really cares how many women Alan Clark had, now, do they? Let me tell you how the world works, son..

Unfortunately, there's a two billion quid a year probby in there; and for some strange reason, Simon Jenkins has forgotten all about it.

Labour's third biggest donor of the year has turned out to be a David Abrahams, known to Durham planning officers as David Martin. He was selected to fight William Hague in the Yorkshire seat of Richmond but was deselected when his curriculum vitae, including a reference to a non-existent wife and son, proved less than authentic. Yet he was close enough to Blair to attend his farewell in Sedgefield earlier this year....

Guy Hands, late-90s head of Nomura Securities' principal finance unit and the man who brought today's fancydan finance (securitisation? CDOs? nifty mezzanine subprime strangelet entities? Yes.) to London, was close enough to none other than William Hague - having been a friend at Oxford and a colleague at McKinsey - to advise him to "forget about the leadership and spend the next five years fucking your brains out with Ffyon".

...In Brown's Britain there is no longer a public service ethos, only a business ethos applied to public services. No longer do Presbyterians render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's. Everything goes to Caesar under a private finance initiative.

Them, eh? Let's see a take.
"Forty per cent of the £5bn set aside to improve military housing will be spent on renting the buildings from a private landlord, the BBC has learned. The Ministry of Defence has said the money would be spent on upgrading accommodation over the next 10 years.

But figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show £2bn will be spent renting back premises sold off by the state in 1996....In July, Defence Secretary Des Browne said the MoD planned to spend the £5bn on "upgrading and maintaining" accommodation. But the BBC freedom of information (FOI) request has revealed that property developer Annington Homes will receive almost £2bn of that sum.

The Conservative government sold most of the defence housing stock to Annington in 1996 for £1.6bn...In January, BBC News published photographs sent in by soldiers of their accommodation, depicting blocked urinals, uncollected rubbish and peeling floors. Recently a committee of MPs reported that although there had been some improvements, much accommodation was still unacceptable and this was having an effect on morale.

In April 2006, the MoD also signed an £8bn Private Finance Initiative deal to upgrade accommodation for single soldiers.
Annington Homes, eh? Back in '96 - those strange days when the Labour Party was an alternative and William Hague was actually in charge of something - that was, well, another word for Nomura Principal Finance. Let's join the dots, shall we? Treasury (Kenneth "Cancer Stick" Clarke) went to MOD looking for a tax cut for the election giveaway. MOD - Michael "Magic Lips" Portillo - somehow came up with the idea of flogging the MOD housing and renting it back. MOD went to Cabinet, a Cabinet including William "Save the Pound" Hague, and got approval to flog it to William Hague's best friend.

William saved so many pounds through this deal that the Government received no less than £1.6 billion of them for an estate that they have been renting for £2 billion this year, and very probably more in all the 10 intervening years. Why so probably? Well, the original contract specified a number of things. First, the MOD Defence Housing Executive would pay rent for all the buildings in use. Second, DHE would pay for their upkeep - something of a departure from the normal law of landlord and tenant. Third, Annington - William Hague's best mate - would have the right to sell a chunk of the property every year. Fourth, DHE would pay for improvements to them before sale.

You read all right - the total supply is guaranteed to always go down, Annington's costs are guaranteed to be zero, the spectacular capital gain in property was reserved to William Hague's best mate alone, and the Government subsidises the sale process while still having an obligation to house soldiers on the open market. Soldiers have returned from Iraq to queue for their own homes. One might think such a PFI would be somewhat noticeable; but it's radio silence from the Conservatives, and from the hairy truthscreamer Jenkins. You'll just have to read blogs.


Anonymous said...

Can't argue with your post, and nothing wrong with pointing out hypocrisy at most levels in life, but particularly those in public 'service'.

I am however finding it difficult to argue with SJ's assertions in the quotes you mention.

Anonymous said...

For those that say this is not a conspiracy. truly liars. Politics is about conspiracy, that is how it works. Brown will be remembered as a Brown turd, as the Blairite donors and the media back Cameron.

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