Lord Browne – Bringing Cuts BP Style

I’ve avoided blogging too much over the past few weeks…mainly because of how depressing this whole saga has been thus far.  Let’s face it, there ain’t much difference between the three of them but a ConDem[n] partnership was not what I expected (despite how far to the right the Libs have moved in recent years).   Given the way Clegg is running things, I’ll be surprised if there is still a Lib Dem party come 2015….And so the cuts will come….the cuts that the Lib Dems originally wanted to postpone….ah the sniff of power eh chaps?

Of course, these cuts are obviously necessary.  And of course the government aren’t exaggerating the situation so that they can hand the keys over the private sector…..of course they say they are giving power to the people, but it’s not really the same when you give the power to a few rich people.  What say will we really have in anything? Let’s face it, little at best.  And the names that are being bandied about to help the government push through these cuts are interesting to say the least.  Let’s take Lord Browne for example…..

According to The Times:

Ministers are attempting to woo business figures such as Lord Browne of Madingley, the former head of BP, to help civil servants to manage the difficult task ahead.

So what of this Lord Browne, what’s his story?  A fairly interesting one and, quite timely considering recent events in the States.

The BBC reported back in 2007 that Browne was stepping down as chief executive at BP due to personal issues.  As the BBC reports:

The chief executive of oil giant BP, Lord Browne of Madingley, has resigned from his post with immediate effect.

Lord Browne said he had stepped down to save BP from embarrassment after a newspaper won a court battle to print details of his private life.

He also apologised that statements he had made in legal documents about a four-year relationship with Jeff Chevalier had been “untruthful”.

So far, so sleazy.  But this isn’t why he is of interest (unless you read a red top of course).  The real interest is buried later on in the report:

Lord Browne had been at the helm of the company for more than a decade, however in recent months he had come under fire over the company’s safety culture and his huge retirement package.

Yep, he made what I guess you could call “efficiency savings” in relation to their safety procedures.  This, in turn, led to the incident at the Texas City refinery that resulted in 15 deaths and injured 170 others.  If this is the result of his savings in the private sector, who knows what the end result will be for us this time.  This man’s “efficiency savings” resulted in the deaths of at least fifteen of his employees.  Not exactly a track record to be proud of….and certainly one to fear.  Still, at least BP’s safety record improved greatly after 2005 and there were no further major disasters that stemmed from cutting corners on safety procedures.  Oh, hang on a minute.


Conor Burns – Conservative MP, Bournemouth West

Before the election, there was a lot of talk from Cameron that his new batch of Tory MPs were different to the old ones. They represented a “new politics”, a break from the past. Certainly the election of openly gay Conor Burns, on the surface at least, suggests that a new broom has swept through the Tory rank and file. But scratch a little deeper and it appears that very little has changed. At a gathering of young right-wingers in 2003, shortly after the death of Denis Thatcher, Burns gave a short speech including a ‘funny’ (hmm) story about the old boy:

“I was proud to have known Sir Denis and I will never forget the story about him attending a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, or CHOGM as it was shortened to, in the company of his wife in the Eighties. Winding down with a few drinks after a lond day of formal ceremonies and receptions, he turned to one of the government officials present and complained: ‘Of course, you know what CHOGM really stands for, don’t you? Coons holidaying on government money!'” [Private Eye1262]

I can’t decide what the real tragedy is behind this story. The fact that so many people bought the lie that the Tories had changed, or the sheer willingness of the Liberals to jump into bed with a party that appears to hold the same unpalatable right-wing views it has always had. Still, maybe they’ll keep the far-right in check yeah?

Logorama – A World of Capitalism


Logorama from Marc Altshuler – Human Music on Vimeo.

“Charity” Linked To Tories Referred to IRS

From Third Sector:

The US arm of a UK charity under investigation by the Charity Commission for links to the Conservative Party has been referred to the US Internal Revenue Service after its chief executive appeared to back David Cameron’s election campaign.

Atlantic Bridge exists to promote close relations between the US and the UK and was founded by shadow defence secretary Liam Fox. It has branches on both sides of the Atlantic.

Amanda Bowman, chief executive of Atlantic Bridge Inc, the US-based organisation, wrote an article last week for Washington DC newspaper The Examiner, in which she said that Tory leader Cameron would be “much more amenable to shared US-UK foreign interests than Gordon Brown”, and that the Conservative leader would be “good for America and better for the special relationship”.

After Stephen Newton, a blogger on politics and culture, complained about Bowman’s article, the Charity Commission told him it had notified the IRS, which determines the tax-exempt status of non-profits in the US.

Neither the IRS nor the Charity Commission would comment on the move.

The possble abuse of charity status by the Tories is just one more reason not to trust them with running the country.  It’s about time both Liam Fox and David Cameron were questioned on the Atlantic Bridge.  I won’t be holding my breath.

More on the Atlantic Bridge.

Hope Not Hate – Campaign Update

Incompetent Cameron and the New Conservatives

It looks increasingly likely that the air-brushed automaton David Cameron is going to be the next Prime Minister.   Yes, a man who was a professional liar in a previous job could well have fooled enough people with his marketing campaign to ensure that his campaign to become the next Blair is well on course.  What a depressing thought made all the more depressing by the utter incompetence of his cabal of Cameronistas.

Take their guff over the “death tax” for example.  Whilst the two other main parties were willing to discuss all the options (as you would expect of any political party faced with such a major issue), the Tories were more interested in cheap political point scoring and trying to scare the electorate than dealing with a complex and vital issue.  How’s that for positive campaigning?  As far as I am concerned (and I have no truck with either of the other main parties), I expect, no demand, all elected officials to discuss every single aspect of this issue across party lines, not using it as some opportunity for a few pathetic cheap shots (and is there anything more pathetic looking than Andrew Lansley?).  Even a variety of charities at the heart of the issue condemned the attempt to “rule out future proposals to score a political point“.

And then we have the nonsensical “free schools” policy.  Apparently it’s great to have schools free from the control of central government and free to ostensibly operate according to the needs of the parents and the children.  Except they won’t really be “free” as they will have to continue to abide by the national curriculum.  So “free schools” that aren’t really free then.  Like much of Tory policy, it’s all in the marketing (what a shock from a PR man).  And that’s before we even get onto the fact that even the Swedes (from where this idea was borrowed) have admitted that this system does not work.  Not to mention the fact that this could lead to your local school being sponsored by McDonalds ffs.  No doubt gold stars will be replaced with vouchers for one of their grim little boxes of misery for kids.

Worse is sure to come after the election.  A new 20% VAT rate is bound to be established as part of their laughable “we’re all in this together” bollocks (all in this together as in we will all pay the same amount of money whether we are a rich banker or a single parent family….perish the thought that the bankers should pay more….).  Of all the taxes, VAT is the most regressive.  Vote Tory and you can virtually guarantee that the poorest in society would get a good kicking, no matter what the blank faced cyborg is bleating about right now.  And don’t think it will stop there.  Those that think that a Tory government would suddenly result in better equipment for the troops will be in for a shock.  They have already talked of massive cuts to the defence budget.  You think a lot of poor, working-class boys are being brought home in body bags now? Wait until the Tories start cutting back the defence budget.  Kicking the poor when they are down, lowering educational standards and screwing over the elderly?  Did someone say these Conservatives are new?

Officials Call on Security Forces to Shoot Demonstrators in Egypt

While volcanic ash and the rise of Clegg dominates the news, it’s getting rather nasty over in Egypt:

Protesters gathered in central Cairo on Tuesday, condemning calls by politicians and officials loyal to President Hosni Mubarak for security forces to open fire on pro-democracy demonstrations.

About 70 people joined the protest, the third in two weeks calling for more political freedoms and an end to an emergency law that allows indefinite detentions.

The protest came two days after a lawmaker loyal to Mubarak said demonstrators should be shot at.

“I would have questioned the Interior Ministry for being soft on these outlaws … Do not use water hoses to disperse these outlaws, shoot at them directly,” NDP member Nashaat al-Qasas told Egypt’s parliament.

Nice.  And lest we forget, the ‘Great Hope’ that is Barack Obama seems to be really rather fond of the despotic regime in Cairo:

President Barack Obama has dramatically cut funds to promote democracy in Egypt, a shift that could affect everything from anti-corruption programs to the monitoring of elections.

Washington’s cuts over the past year — amounting to around 50 percent — have drawn accusations that the Obama administration is easing off reform pressure on the autocratic government of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to ensure its support on Mideast policy, including the peace process with Israel.

“Obama wants change that won’t make the Egyptian government angry,” said Ahmed Samih, head of a Cairo-based organization that in 2005 used U.S. funds to monitor parliament elections. “And in the Egyptian context, that means there will be no change.”

And you thought change is what Obama promised?  It’s just more of the same with a more polished sheen.

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