Everybody has problems,
And personally, I don’t care.’


We start this week where we finished last week, with demonstrations and the new bill designed to stop, or at best limit them.

Subsequent demonstrations in Bristol have turned violent, playing to Tory strengths, as Darren Jones, Labour MP for Bristol North West, said: ‘You don’t campaign for the right to peaceful protest by setting police vans on fire or graffitiing buildings. Avon and Somerset police were on duty today to facilitate a peaceful protest not to deal with criminal behaviour.’

Unsurprisingly, the Reichsführer, sorry Home Secretary, Priti Patel, wrote on Twitter: ‘Thuggery and disorder by a minority will never be tolerated. Our police officers put themselves in harm’s way to protect us all.’ She said her thoughts were with the officers who had been injured.

Whilst this will continue to be a priority for the Tories, any public enquiry on their mismanagement of the Covid pandemic doesn’t even qualify.

Neither the disastrous £37bn test and trace project condemned by Nicholas Macpherson, the former permanent secretary to the Treasury: ‘It wins the prize for the most wasteful and inept public spending programme of all time.’ Or, the world-beating 100,000 excess deaths in England and Wales during the pandemic, a higher civilian death toll than Britain suffered during WW2, seem to matter.

‘It wins the prize for the most wasteful and inept public spending programme of all time.’

This is a government which doesn’t care about democracy, openness, and accountability, which could lead to improvements. Instead, they are content with defensive introspection and false claims such as ‘trusting the science’, preferring to rely on their own politicised judgment.

This is a continuation of the policy that led in 2016 to the government avoiding publishing the Operation Cygnus report, which highlighted the risks to social care that would arise as hospitals responded to a pandemic by discharging patients into care homes, as well as identifying the vulnerability of the UK’s PPE supply chain.

This continued during the pandemic with the suppression of the Sage Committee’s evidence.

Perhaps this will be the Teflon Don’s undoing? Last Wednesday lawyers acting for the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group which has over 2,800 members, gave Downing Street 2-weeks’ notice that without a commitment they will go to court to claim ministers are breaking the law by not launching an inquiry now.

‘With many of us approaching the anniversary of our loved one’s passing, believe me we’d rather be with our families than standing in court,’ said Jo Goodman, co-founder of the group and who lost her 72-year-old father, Stuart, to the virus. ‘But if this government won’t listen and act, then that’s where they’ll be seeing us.’

The move adds to mounting pressure on ministers after government scientific advisers, a former head of the civil service and doctors and nurses leaders backed an inquiry.

A Poll for the Guardian found that 47% of the UK population wants a statutory public inquiry which would take evidence under oath, compared with just 18% who oppose the idea.

‘they will go to court to claim ministers are breaking the law by not launching an inquiry now’

Hopefully, the wasteful use of public funds will be included within the scope of any enquiry. This column has written numerous times about the government prioritising their mates’ applications for PPE licences, and a number will have made a tidy profit from this cronyism.

The true scale of this is now becoming known as billionaires including Evgeny Lebedev, Len Blavatnik and Mohamed Al Fayed, and billionaire tax exiles such as Jim Ratcliffe and Guy Hands, the British National party, Saudi royals and oil-rich Gulf states have claimed millions of pounds in taxpayer-funded furlough money.

The shadow chancellor, Anneliese Dodds, said: ‘The mask is slipping with this chancellor. Instead of doing all he can to protect jobs and livelihoods, he’s wasting billions of pounds of public money, cutting pay for our NHS heroes and hitting families across the country with tax hikes and pay freezes.’

Labour MP and tax campaigner Margaret Hodge said: ‘The government are resisting giving free school meals to children and an appropriate pay rise for nurses. In that context, that seems obscene.’

Another intended recipient of the public purse was to be the now bankrupt and disgraced Greensill Capital, which masqueraded as supply chain financier, whereas it was a Ponzi scheme.

Their UK adviser and lobbyist, was the former PM David ‘call me Dave’ Cameron, the arbiter of austerity and £225 Orlebar Brown swim shorts (1). Having seen a picture of him in them I doubt they sold many!

Dave, it should be remembered, predicted that ‘the far-too-cosy relationship between politics and money’ was ‘the next big scandal waiting to happen’. That’s one of the very few things he got right and he is in up to his neck!

Last year an already distressed Greensill tried to access cheap, 100% government-backed loans from Sunak’s lavish Covid corporate financing facility, for which they didn’t qualify for the scheme. To overcome this Cameron reportedly sent multiple texts to Sunak in April 2020 and lobbied senior officials at the Treasury to give Greensill Capital special access to the CCFF.  It is reported today this he may now be the subject of an enquiry.

‘Many of the victims of Cameron’s original austerity programme are now suffering further due to Covid’

Greensill was an intermediary lender for the second-largest scheme, the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme, which had an 80% government guarantee. However, earlier this month that the British Business Bank, which administers the bulk of the emergency Covid loan schemes, revoked Greensill’s government guarantee, leaving the firm, not the UK taxpayer, on the hook for defaults.

Many of the victims of Cameron’s original austerity programme are now suffering further due to Covid.

A survey by the District Councils’ Network (DCN) found that C. 90% of district councils across England, have reported an increase in food bank since Covid.

In Bradford, three times as much food was distributed from 21 sites during the peak of the demand, compared to pre-Covid levels, and 20% of UK schools have set up a food bank since the start, with over a third of teachers saying their school delivered food parcels to pupils’ homes.

In addition, 85% of English councils have seen an increase in claims from homeless households for temporary accommodation, while 93% of councils have seen an increase in demand for help with paying council tax.

There are also concerns that C.500,000 private tenants who pay more than 50% of their income on rent could be at risk of eviction when the ban ends in May, leading to a rise in the number of rough sleepers. Almost 75% of councils anticipate a rise in rough sleeping, with almost 90% of districts expecting an increase in homelessness.

Many of these are likely to be young, as, according to official figures from the Office for National Statistics, the under-25s have accounted for nearly two-thirds of job losses since the pandemic.

‘the under-25s have accounted for nearly two-thirds of job losses since the pandemic’

Tuesday’s figures follow official data in early March showing the sharpest quarterly rise in Neets (2) for almost a decade, with 437,000 fewer 16- to 24-year-olds were in paid employment, a 10% fall in 12 months. In total, more than half of under-25s have been furloughed or lost their jobs.

The figures also highlight widespread regional variations. Unemployment among 16- to 24-year-olds is:

  • 10% in the south-east,
  • 19% in London,
  • 18% in the West Midlands,
  • 17% in the north-east.

The stand-out statistic here is that London has the worst unemployment among the young, which supports what this column has said before, the wealth gap/income inequality isn’t a regional issue, it is ‘haves and have nots’ who can be found in many parts of the country.

London demonstrates this divide better than anywhere. Alongside some of the most expensive housing in the world, we have a situation where 40% of households in the 4-London boroughs of Newham, Haringey, Barnet and Hackney, are having to claim help affording a place to live, according to Conservative thinktank Bright Blue.

Much of the increase in claims for housing support has been within the private rented sector, the research found, with 212 of the 317 local authorities in England seeing at least 60% of new claims coming from private tenants.

The smallest increases in housing claims were seen in rural areas, with the least-affected local authorities including the chancellor’s leafy Richmondshire, where 12% of households claim housing support, up just 1.8% from before the pandemic.

‘Therefore, they aren’t the governments priority; no votes = no support!’

You may remember that, by sleight of hand, Richmondshire was recently placed in the highest tier for applying for the government’s new £4.8bn ‘levelling up fund,’

Whilst this obviously raised questions about how the money will be allocated it is quite simple. City dwellers, the young, and many in rented accommodation vote Labour, and are unlikely to change. Therefore, they aren’t the governments priority; no votes = no support!

London, despite being one of the world’s greatest cities, is scorned by many elsewhere in the UK who see it as too wealthy often at the expense of the rest of the country, and a lucky beneficiary of Britain’s excessive centralisation. Many would like to see it cut down so size.

The real reason is that London hosts a ‘metropolitan liberal elite’ so out of touch that it voted Remain, it even backed Jeremy Corbyn, and is home to the hated BBC.

But London isn’t ‘a lone 9-million-strong island of liberal elitism in an otherwise safe sea of conservatism.’ The same elitism affects most city’s where there is a mass of young people, strong universities, the arts, new business start-ups, and great restaurants. All share the same desire for openness, and progressiveness.

‘City of London has been overtaken by Amsterdam as a share-trading centre for the first time since the 17th century’

This openness, and progressiveness should be our future, we will get nowhere listening to conservative oldies wittering on about the good old days, they are the Tories praetorian guard in the oppression of progression.

Brexit has served none of our cities well; the City of London has been overtaken by Amsterdam as a share-trading centre for the first time since the 17th century.

In addition, many European workers have left leading to a crisis in London’s universities and hospitals. Even Eurostar, reeling from Covid, is on the point of bankruptcy.

Johnson should understand the need for a progressive liberal optimism, he was the beneficiary of it during his two terms as London’s mayor.  Sadly, Johnson no longer needs London’s voters, our use is over, therefore we are no longer his priority.

‘our faltering steps towards a modern voting system are no more’

His priority is to maintain the Tory stranglehold on power which explains their latest desecration of our democracy with the home secretary’s announcement that our faltering steps towards a modern voting system are no more. Mayors, and police and crime commissioners will be elected on the same undemocratic first-past-the-post (FPTP) system as the House of Commons and councils.

Previously, these elections had been run on ‘a supplementary vote system, offering a first and second choice: if no candidate gets over half of first preferences, the top two candidates have a runoff, counting second preferences of the losers, guaranteeing the winner’s approval by over half the electorate’. This system has allowed independents and smaller parties, such as the Greens a voice. The introduction of FPTP is a regressive step, that will result in a duopoly of the two old parties.

A YouGov poll showed 44% of people in Britain want to change to a more proportional system, with only 28% against. An example of how undemocratic the FTTP system is can be found in councils such as Havant (Hampshire) which returns only Conservative councillors, even though 54% voted otherwise.

History shows the benefits of FPTP to the Tories:

  • In 19 of the 20 elections since 1950 a majority has voted for parties to the left of the Tories, however the Conservatives have won two-thirds of the time.
  • Boris Johnson’s 80-seat majority was achieved with only an increase of 1.3% increase of the popular vote than achieved by Theresa May in 2017, when she won no overall majority.

Under FPTP votes are counted by constituency, which helps the more geographically dispersed Tories, whereas Labour votes are more concentrated in urban areas, As result it takes 50,835 votes to elect a Labour MP, but only 38,264 to elect a Tory. Worse still the Liberal Democrat requires 336,038 votes, and the Greens 865,697. (3)

A report from Compass shows that Labour requires at least a 10.52% swing to win an election. This would be greater than they achieved in either in 1945 and 1997. (4)

To conclude Johnson and his cronies have, politically, had a good pandemic as evidenced by their popularity in the polls. Politically that is all that counts, 126,000 deaths are ‘collateral damage’, maybe Matt Hancock could raise a tear, or two.

‘Politically that is all that counts, 126,000 deaths are ‘collateral damage’’

The party’s priority is clear, give the electorate targets, such as the EU and Woke, and keep chipping away at the democratic process. As I have written before this mob are more dangerous than Trump, they are like a creeping progressive cancer eating away inside the country.

We should remember history, even a dictator as evil as Hitler attained power by legal means.

The Tories are safe whilst they have targets such as those mentioned above, and the support of the old ‘it was better in my day’ brigade. Ironically, it is the latter that are helping bleed the country dry with their triple lock pensions, and healthcare that consigns ‘three score and ten’ to history.

Perhaps these diehard Tories need to be reminded that it was the Labour government of 1945-51 that gifted them this.

‘helping bleed the country dry with their triple lock pensions, and healthcare’

These costs are the ticking timebomb of demographics, which is one the most important long-term factors impacting economic growth. There has been an apparent collapse in European birth rates; data from Spain, France and Italy shows births were down 20.4%, 13.5% and 21% respectively in December 2020.

Secondly, historically low interest rates continue to cause increasing difficulties for pension schemes trying to match rising liabilities, which will ultimately mean they are less likely to fund members retirement expectations.

An example of this is the University Superannuation Scheme which, at its last valuation, showed an £18-bn funding shortfall. This is happening on a far larger scale in the public sector where pension benefits are set to consume an ever-growing percentage of government revenues.

We can add to this the impact of C. 1.3 million migrant EU workers, who may have permanently left post-Brexit. Immigration had been a boon for our economic prospects, without it the UK economy looks to be less sustainable and resilient long-term.

The Tories are doing all they can to retain power, we may not yet have reached Putin’s level but, bit-by-bit, our democracy is being eroded.

‘Our freedom of speech is freedom or death
We got to fight the powers that be..’


  2. Not in employment, education or training
  3. Source: The Guardian, 18th March 2021
  4. ‘We divide, they conquer’, by Grace Barnett and Neal Lawson

A number of familiar themes brought bang up to date with Philip’s hard hitting commentary on fast moving events; he starts in Bristol where protestors may have unwittingly played into the hands of Obergruppenfuhrer Patel by proving that peaceful process is indeed not safe in their hands and in the 24hrs since his quill cooled down there are protests in Batley to further witness the simmering tensions that exist in this divided nation.

If predictions of a Summer of Discontent do prove accurate we’d better hope that the thin blue line doesn’t require too much bolstering from the military as Ben Wallace has just announced that troop numbers will be culled yet again, in direct conflict with Boris’ 2019 election promises.

With many of his gloomier predictions coming true as the pincer movement of Covid and government policy starts to really bite, Philip’s sense of optimism seems sorely lacking when he says that he starts with ‘the Covid inquest that will never happen’.

With overwhelming evidence of cronyism, if not the misappropriation of public funds, if it proves possible to spaff £37bn on a Where’s Wally app and pay Deloitte £323m to craft some weasel words to excuse it, there is nothing even remotely as rotten in the state of Denmark.

Philip wonders if the demand for an enquiry from the ‘Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice’ will prove the ‘Teflon Don’s’ undoing, but it feels as though he’s shapeshifted his way out of tighter squeaks.

However well Rishi Sunak may have started the pandemic, he now seems to be more than comfortable in a government so untouchable that it is comfortable ladling money to oligarchs and hedgies whilst allowing children to go hungry and proposing a pay cut for NHS staff; lucky to have a job at all, let alone a pay rise, oh, alright, we’ll give you another clap.

With councils whacking up bills, raids on pensions and the back of every sofa under scrutiny, it would surely be manna from heaven for any Chancellor to unearth an industry that delivers a discretionary, luxury service, pays no fuel duty or VAT, and is a £35bn p.a. drain on the UK economy? Well he’s got it in aviation, but not only is he going nowhere near it, ‘Two Planes’ Shapps has managed to keep the airports open to welcome in a third-wave and rewarded his planet-frying av mates by negotiating to cut APD to make sure Glasgow is nice and warm for when Boris swans into COP26 in his new jet.

Tremendous news if you’re the PM’s father and can now go and visit your second home; less so if you have lost your job, can’t afford the cost of accommodation or are forced to use a food bank – all groups that have recently been massively swollen.

Greensill Capital? Come on Dave.

Philip’s rather forlorn conclusion that there is unlikely to be any concession to electoral reform as this government hunkers down, throws up the interesting statistic that the shift from Mrs May’s lack of an overall majority to the 80 seat cushion that allows Boris free rein, only required a 1.3% swing.

To see Carrie thumbing through the local rag for a removals company would require Sir Kier to achieve a swing of 10.5%; and he’s no Tony Blair. 

Given that so much of what he has predicted in the past has come to pass, Philip’s final thoughts should be a cause of concern, as the issue of inequality, the haves and the have nots, is once again drawn on generational lines.

Sitting on a huge windfall in the value of their properties, with money in the bank, jabbed and waiting for cruises to restart, the wealthiest generation there will ever be may be followed in just two generations by one of the poorest.

Two tracks from across the Pond, for entertainment only; ‘The first is from the ‘third-band in Detroit’ after Stooges and the MC-5, although they found more success in the UK. It’s just a great lyric. The second demonstrates why hip-hop is this generation’s punk’. I hope it’s Alice Cooper (the band?) and ‘Elected’ and Public Enemy with ‘Fight the power’. Enjoy!


Philip Gilbert 2Philip Gilbert is a city-based corporate financier, and former investment banker.

Philip is a great believer in meritocracy, and in the belief that if you want something enough you can make it happen. These beliefs were formed in his formative years, of the late 1970s and 80s

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