Mark Carney demolishes Brexit and Liz Truss’ economic policies

Spread the love
Image of Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng
Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng. “Some people said we were in too much of a rush – and it is certainly true that I didn’t just try to fatten the pig on market day, I tried to rear the pig and slaughter it as well. I confess to that.”

The former governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has taken apart the arguments of Brexiteers as well as the economic policies of Liz Truss during a speech at the Global Progress Action Summit in Montreal, where he praised “progressive” policies while attacking “far-right populists”.

Carney, who was governor between 2013 to 2020, accused those who backed quitting the European Union of wanting to “tear down the future” and also launched a scathing attack on the disastrous economic policies of Liz Truss.

Turning his attention to Truss, Carney said that when Brexiteers tried to create Singapore on the Thames, the Truss government instead delivered Argentina on the Channel – and that was a year ago.

“Those with little experience in the private sector – lifelong politicians masquerading as free marketeers – grossly under-value the importance of mission, of institutions, and of discipline to a strong economy.

“And the bad news is that while these tactics never work economically, they can work politically. Brexit happened, Donald Trump was elected. So we can’t dismiss the impact of anger, but we must resist its power.”

Continue ReadingMark Carney demolishes Brexit and Liz Truss’ economic policies

Tories have taken £291,000 in gifts from airports as Sunak eyes runway U-turn

Spread the love

Original article by Adam Bychawski republished from Open Democracy under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence.

Donations raise eyebrows with Rishi Sunak expected to reject Climate Change Committee advice on banning expansions

Image of a dirty jet passenger aircraft
A dirty jet passenger aircraft

Airport operators have lavished Britain’s last three prime ministers with VIP services worth more than £200,000 since the 2019 election, analysis by openDemocracy has found.

Liz Truss, Boris Johnson and Theresa May are among the Conservative MPs who have accepted more than £275,000 in donations-in-kind from airport operators, while Conservative Party HQ has also taken more than £13,500 in donations from airport operators.

It comes as the government signals its backing for airport expansions, in contrast with advice from its own climate advisers that adding runways to Heathrow and Gatwick would be incompatible with the UK’s net zero goals. The Department of Transport told openDemocracy it was “supportive of airport expansion where it can be delivered in a sustainable way”.

Peter Barclay, the chair of Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, said gifts to the Conservative Party were “all part of the industry’s efforts to oil the government machine in their favour”.

“It makes you very suspicious of politicians,” he said.

Sarah Clayton, coordinator of climate campaign group AirportWatch said: “Rishi Sunak has no interest in the environment, his only interest is keeping the Conservative Party going.

“The airports will use every little trick in the book in order to make sure that the law isn’t changed so they can get their expansion plans through.”

Truss, Johnson and May have accepted tens of thousands of pounds in donations in kind from Heathrow Airport Ltd and Gatwick Airport Ltd in the last four years. Both airports are hoping to open additional runways.

Theresa May alone accepted donations in kind worth more than £183,000 for the use of the VIP Windsor suite at Heathrow Airport a staggering 44 times, according to declarations made on the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.

Heathrow advertises the private suite as a “unique and luxurious service” that includes a chauffeur and dinner prepared by a Michelin starred chef “served by your own personal butler”.

Boris Johnson also used the suite at least 34 times, accepting stays worth £58,000 from the airport, four of them while still in office. In addition, he made use of a VIP suite at Gatwick Airport for him and his family on three occasions after leaving office, a donation in kind worth more than £4,000.

His short-lived successor Liz Truss also made use of VIP suites at Heathrow and Gatwick, accepting 14 stays worth more than £24,000 after resigning as prime minister.

Theresa May accepted donations in kind worth more than £183,000 for the use of the VIP Windsor suite at Heathrow Airport a staggering 44 times

Tory Party HQ also accepted a £12,500 cash donation from London City Airport Ltd just days after it won the 2019 election, according to the Electoral Commission’s records, while Heathrow Airport Ltd made a “non-cash” donation worth the equivalent of £1,680.00 to the party in October 2022. It did not respond to questions about what the donation actually was.

A further six Conservative MPs have accepted gifts worth almost £7,000 in total from London City Airport Ltd since 2019. Orpington MP Gareth Bacon declared in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests that he received tickets to sporting fixtures worth £1,849 from the airport last year, which is the closest to his constituency.

Tory MPs Nigel Evans, Robert Neill, Paul Scully, Kevin Hollinrake and Gagan Mohindra also declared that they had accepted tickets to sporting events from the airport.

London City had an application to increase the size of its terminal refused by Newham Council in July, but has appealed the decision.

Operators of British airports including Heathrow and Gatwick, as well as the Airport Operators Association (AOA), also sponsor the Future of Aviation All-Party Parliamentary Group of MPs by donating £10,000 a year to pay for its secretariat.

Karen Dee, the chief executive of AOA, recently wrote that she had been “working with MPs on the Future of Aviation All Party Parliamentary Group to lobby the prime minister and chancellor to allow airports to establish arrivals duty-free stores and to restore VAT-free shopping for international tourists”.

Original article by Adam Bychawski republished from Open Democracy under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence.

Continue ReadingTories have taken £291,000 in gifts from airports as Sunak eyes runway U-turn

The political and economic consequences of Liz Truss

Spread the love

12 months after her shambolic premiership commenced, we look at the lasting impact of our shortest-serving PM’s disastrous attempt to remould Britain into a low tax, deregulated economy.

Lettuce complains about being compared to Liz Truss. The lettuce says "It's bd enough getting compared to a Tory, never mind an imbecile"
Lettuce complains about being compared to Liz Truss.

Liz Truss. A political figure you are probably trying to forget, but a reminder that the short-term actions of politicians can have long-term outcomes. She was the prime minister who started her No 10. tenure on September 6, 2022, and oversaw a catastrophically unfunded, tax-cutting ‘mini’ budget, which cost the country a staggering £30bn. She then set about making a series of screeching U-turns and abandoned her entire policy programme, as she battled to settle the market meltdown and save her own skin.

One year on after Truss took office and mortgage rates have hit a 15-year high, inflation remains uncomfortably high, and the growth the UK’s shortest-serving PM promised is nowhere to be seen, as millions fret about how they will afford their bills when winter comes.

After criticism that the Tory government was ‘rudderless’ in the face of soaring inflation, Liz Truss promised to make tackling the cost-of-living crisis her number one priority if she became PM. Recession is ‘not inevitable’ she had said as she pushed to stand out in the crowd of hopefuls during last summer’s Tory leadership campaign.

Instead of helping Britons tackle soaring living costs, Truss, together with her chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, managed to do the exact opposite.

The sweeping tax cuts announced by Kwarteng triggered investor panic over the future health of the UK economy. The mini-budget (called ‘mini’ instead of just ‘budget’ to avoid scrutiny by the Office for Budget Responsibility) prompted a sharp fall in the value of the pound and drove up government borrowing costs.

Continue ReadingThe political and economic consequences of Liz Truss

US climate deniers pump millions into Tory-linked think tanks

Spread the love

Original article by Adam Bychawski republished from Open Democracy under under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence. This article was published 16 June 2022 while Boris Johnson was UK Prime Minister. Boris Johnson was followed by Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak as prime ministers.

Image: Boris Johnson confirms his thumbs up from Rupert Murdoch
Boris Johnson confirms his thumbs up from Rupert Murdoch

Our investigation reveals secretive funding sources for think tanks that boast of influencing the government

Influential right-wing UK think tanks with close access to ministers have received millions in ‘dark money’ donations from the US, openDemocracy can reveal.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance, the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), Policy Exchange, the Adam Smith Institute and the Legatum Institute have raised $9m from American donors since 2012. Of this, at least $6m has been channelled to the UK, according to tax returns filed with US authorities – representing 11% of the think tanks’ total UK receipts, with the figure reaching 23% for the Adam Smith Institute.

In that time, all five have steadily increased their connections in the heart of government. Between them, they have secured more than 100 meetings with ministers and more than a dozen of their former staff have joined Boris Johnson’s government as special advisers.

Representatives from right-wing think tanks – many of whom are headquartered at 55 Tufton Street in central London – frequently appear in British media and have been credited with pushing the Tories further to the right on Brexit and the economy.

As openDemocracy revealed yesterday, ExxonMobil gave Policy Exchange $30,000 in 2017. The think tank went on to recommend the creation of a new anti-protest law targeting the likes of Extinction Rebellion, which became the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022.

None of these think tanks disclose their UK donors. With the exception of the Adam Smith Institute, none provide any information about the identity of donors to their US fundraising arms. 

But an investigation by openDemocracy has identified dozens of the groups’ US funders by analysing more than 100 publicly available tax filings.

The Scottish National Party MP Alyn Smith said that the findings showed that the UK’s lobbying laws were not tough enough.

“He who pays the piper calls the tune,” he told openDemocracy. “We urgently need to rewrite the laws governing this sort of sock puppet funding so that we can see who speaks for who.”

Last month, Smith asked an IEA representative who funded the think tank on BBC’s flagship question time show.

Among the US-organisations who have donated to UK think tanks are oil companies and several of the top funders of climate change denial in the US. 

The think tanks’ US arms received $5.4m from 18 donors who have also separately donated a combined $584m towards a vast network of organisations promoting climate denial in the US between 2003 to 2018, according to research from climate scientists.

  • The John Templeton Foundation, founded by the late billionaire American-British investor, has donated almost $2m to the US arms of the Adam Smith Institute and the IEA. Researchers claim that the John Templeton Foundation has a “history of funding what could be seen as anti-science activities and groups (particularly concerning climate-change and stem-cell research)”.
  • The National Philanthropic Trust, a multi-billion-dollar fund that does not disclose its own donors, has given almost $2m to the IEA, Policy Exchange, TaxPayers’ Alliance and the Legatum Institute’s US fundraisers. The trust has donated $22m to climate denial organisations, one of which described it as a “vehicle” for funnelling anonymous donations from the fossil fuel industry.   
  • The Sarah Scaife Foundation, founded by the billionaire heir to an oil and banking fortune, has given $350,000 to the Adam Smith Institute and the Legatum Institute. The foundation is one of the biggest funders of climate denial in the US, contributing more than $120m to 50 organisations promoting climate denial since 2012. Last month, openDemocracy revealed that the foundation, which has $30m in shares in fossil fuel companies, gave $210,525 to a UK climate sceptic group.

Policy Exchange, the influential conservative think tank, published a report in 2019 – two years after taking money from ExxonMobil – claiming that Extinction Rebellion were “extremists” and calling for the government to introduce new laws to crack down on the climate protest group.

New anti-protest laws passed under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act last month appear to have been directly inspired by the report. The Home Office did not deny that it considered the recommendations when approached for comment. 

The American Friends of the IEA also received a $50,000 donation from ExxonMobil in 2004, while the main UK branch of the IEA has received donations from BP every year since 1967.

The Legatum Institute has received $154,000 from the Charles Koch Foundation in 2018 and 2019. The foundation was set up by the American billionaire co-owner of Koch Industries, one the biggest fossil fuel companies in the US. 

Andy Rowell, co-author of “A Quiet Word: Lobbying, Crony Capitalism and Broken Politics in Britain”, told openDemocracy: “For years, there have been calls for think tanks, who are so often joined at the hip with government, to be transparent and disclose who funds them.

“The fact that so much dark money is behind these groups, and much of it is linked to climate denial groups, is a political scandal that can’t be allowed to continue, especially given our climate emergency.”

In all, US donors account for more than a tenth of the overall income of the IEA, Policy Exchange, Adam Smith Institute and TaxPayers’ Alliance. 

Anti-green lobbying

While all the think tanks say they do not dispute the science on climate change, many are campaigning to increase the UK’s dependency on fossil fuels and deregulate energy markets in response to the cost of living crisis.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance, Adam Smith Institute and the IEA have all called for the UK’s ban on fracking to be overturned. In April, the government agreed to review the moratorium it had imposed in 2019, when scientists deemed fracking unsafe. The U-turn came after concerted pressure from anti-net zero Tory MPs and lobby groups.

The IEA has also called for the government to approve the opening of a new coal mine in Cumbria, while the TaxPayers’ Alliance has called for the government to scrap green energy bill levies. Tory MP Ben Bradley has cited the TaxPayers’ Alliance in Parliament while claiming that levies will exacerbate the cost of living crisis.

Environmental groups say cutting the levies, which are used to invest in energy efficiency measures and renewable energy, would be self-defeating and merely delay the UK’s longer-term transition away from fossil fuels.

Johnson’s think tank cabinet

Right-wing think tanks like the IEA have come to play an increasingly influential role in shaping British politics, despite the lack of transparency around their funding.

The IEA has boasted that 14 members of Boris Johnson’s cabinet – including the home secretary Priti Patel, the foreign secretary Liz Truss and the business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, are “alumni of IEA initiatives”.

Ministers have recorded 26 meetings with the think tank since 2012, but there may be additional, undeclared private meetings. In 2020, Truss, who was then the secretary of state for trade, failed to declare two meetings with the IEA, arguing that they were made in a personal capacity. 

Mark Littlewood, the director of the IEA, has boasted of securing access to ministers and MPs for his corporate clients, including BP, telling an undercover reporter in 2018 that he was in “the Brexit influencing game”.

Others like Policy Exchange, which was co-founded by the ‘levelling up’ secretary Michael Gove, can claim to have had some of their policy ideas taken up by the government. 

Gove’s recently announced plan to allow residents to vote on whether to allow developments on their street was first proposed by Policy Exchange last year. Campaigners said the plan will not help increase the supply of affordable housing.

Several of the think tanks were accused by a whistleblower of coordinating with one another to advocate for a hard break from the European Union following the referendum vote.

Shamir Sanni, a former pro-Brexit campaigner who worked for TaxPayers’ Alliance before going public with his claims, alleged that the organisation regularly met with the IEA, the Adam Smith Institute to agree on a common line on issues relating to Brexit. 

Sanni subsequently won an unfair dismissal case against the TaxPayers’ Alliance. The organisations he identified have all denied they act as lobbyists or coordinate.  

The IEA referred openDemocracy to a statement about its funding posted on its website when approached for comment.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance, Adam Smith Institute, Policy Exchange and the Legatum Institute did not respond to requests for comment.

Original article by Adam Bychawski republished from Open Democracy under under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence. This article was published 16 June 2022 while Boris Johnson was UK Prime Minister. Boris Johnson was followed by Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak as prime ministers.

Continue ReadingUS climate deniers pump millions into Tory-linked think tanks

Coming soon

Spread the love

I’m trying to get a handle on the Heritage Foundation and whether it has influence over UK Tory politicians e.g. through the Institute of Economic Affairs. Liz Truss and Krazy Kwarteng were strongly influenced by the IEA.

It’s clear that the Heritage Foundation has had huge influence in US politics since the Regan administration, with huge influence during Trump’s presidency. It’s part of the mechanism of plutocracy whereby the rich and powerful dominate politics instead of representative democracy. I’m chasing this mostly because of Heritage Foundation’s climate-destroying policies and whether this is what Rishi Sunak is following.

16/8 This is taking some time, plenty of info available, on the case. X

Continue ReadingComing soon