inequality‘Well, some of the crowd are on the pitch 
They think it’s all over 
Well, it is now’ 

As we know it takes very little to reduce right-wing politicians into a foaming at the mouth rage. Last week this was demonstrated by a new design football shirt. But, this isn’t any old football shirt, it’s the Engerrrrlaaaannd shirt! 

The problem was the colours used in the cross of St George. Rather than the traditional red cross on white, we now have a woke / LBGT colour scheme of purple, blue and pink. 

At this point cue outrage, you can visualise them now; our flag desecrated to favour ‘bum-boys in tank tops’ as a former PM would have said. 

No laws have been broken here, instead we have something that celebrates freedom. Isn’t that what democracy does? Gives people the right to their opinions. 

Clearly not. The usual rent a mob rushed to man the trenches;  Nigel Farage, Joey Barton commenting  on X, although he seemed too timid to actually quote the great replacement theory, which was also a key propaganda tool of the Nazi party. Rishi Sunak has come up with some fudged mess that sums up a data-cruncher being asked to have coherent opinions. 

‘our flag desecrated to favour ‘bum-boys in tank tops’ as a former PM would have said’

And, then, the big surprise. In wades the Labour leader, the PM in waiting, Sir Keir Starmer himself. His sorry comments were nothing more that calculated politics. I suspect that he doesn’t really care about the shirt. At best, all he achieved was to amplify people’s unhappiness over it for political gain. 

What his intervention clearly endorsed was that Labour doesn’t want to be Labour anymore, because, deep down, it doesn’t believe the electorate want it to be Labour.  Therefore, the best way to be elected is to be Labour in name only. 

What he should be complaining about is cost; the cheapest kids shirt costs £65, and the true replica £120. This will be redesigned in less than 2-yrs, and worn by the team a handful of times. 

Whilst the furore over a badge is something and nothing to many, it serves to highlight a bigger issue, that of diversity. 

I have long been fascinated by the diversity of Sunak’s front bench. Aside from the PM himself, there is James Cleverley as Home Secretary, Kemi Badenoch, the business secretary, and former front-benchers such as Priti Patel, and Suella Braverman.  

All are shining examples of diversity, of what immigrants can bring to, and achieve in this county. But, they are anti-diversity, and anti-immigration. 

In Kemi Badenoch’s case this is useful as anti-everything seems appears to be the Tories’ only hope of salvaging anything from the next election. 

‘shining examples of diversity, of what immigrants can bring to, and achieve in this county. But, they are anti-diversity, and anti-immigration’

Without wishing to be racist she is black, and also female. With this in mind her response to Frank Hester’s clearly racist comments about Diane Abbott, which she dismissed as ‘trivia’ makes no sense. 

Indeed she has gone further and has criticised diversity. Last week, via the front page of the Daily Telegraph, a report on workplace diversity titled Inclusion at Work, the headline was, ‘Britain’s diversity drive has backfired,’. 

Most spending on equality, diversity and inclusion (‘EDI’) is simply wasted, the report says, to which Badenoch adds: ‘No group should ever be worse off because of companies’ diversity policies – whether that be black women, or white men … Performative gestures such as compulsory pronouns and rainbow lanyards are often a sign that organisations are struggling to demonstrate how they are being inclusive.’ 

It’s been a terrible waste of time and money, she says. ‘EDI jobs in our public services are costing the taxpayer at least half a billion pounds a year’,  and offers ‘little to no tangible impact in increasing diversity or reducing prejudice.’ 

Politically, this is just what right-wing Tories want to hear, and a message their media are happy to repeat . She is effectively saying that the ideas of white privilege and unconscious bias are ‘outmoded’.  

The report says Britain has more diversity officers than anywhere else but, there is a reason for that, it’s the old story of little Britain. This anti-everything attitude, our polite bigotry and bias is ingrained in many, which makes changing it so very difficult.  

EDI jobs in our public services are costing the taxpayer at least half a billion pounds a year’

However, as each generation become more tolerant, regressive reactionaries become increasingly dated and on the fringes of the main political discourse. Where there is a real issue is the dissatisfaction of a percentage of ‘left behind’ voters who are happy to lap up anything that appears anti-establishment. If a mainstream party such as the Tories embrace this discourse it gains credibility. 

The report, commissioned by her, tells us that: ‘The government is considering introducing a presumption against external EDI spending and increasing ministerial scrutiny of EDI spending, whilst streamlining EDI training and HR processes, with a view to getting value for the taxpayer.’  

Whilst all of this benefits the trajectory of Badenoch’s career, especially with right-wing Tories, it is riddled with inaccuracies.  

Research published last summer by Savanta found that >20%  of UK employees said they have faced discrimination in the workplace because of their identity but the figure was lower than in the US and other European countries. 

People from black and Asian backgrounds, as well as those belonging to the LGBTQ+ community were more likely to have experienced such issues, the survey suggested. 

But the findings for people in the UK among under-represented groups suggested more experiences of discrimination, with a figure of 45% for black people, 41% for people from an Asian background, and 33% of people from the LGBTQ+ community said they have experienced discrimination in the workplace. 

Some 42 per cent of UK employees surveyed agreed there were inequalities in pay and promotion within their organisation – just below the 45 per cent average across all countries. 

More than 80% of the 1,523 UK respondents who worked for firms that took formal steps to enhance diversity said those initiatives resulted in improvement. Of that group, 70% felt the training they received was beneficial. 

The danger here is that by bringing the subject into the mainstream we run the risk taking the whole ideal of equality back to pre-the 1960s when it truly became a political force. 

Now, in the second half we will consider local council funding and their housing provisions.  

Despite clear and substantial evidence to the contrary, PM Sunak when asked if there was a crisis in local government finances responded, saying; ‘I wouldn’t characterise it that way. 

Of course there are challenges, particularly with inflation, which is why … the overriding economic priority of the government was to bring inflation down because that will help local councils with their finances too, as well as helping families up and down the country. 

‘And if you look at what’s happened from central government to local government over this parliament, since 2019, the grant in cash terms has more than doubled.’ However, Clive Betts, the chair of the levelling up, housing and communities committee pointed out this was in the context of a 30% cut in councils’ spending power since 2010. 

The Local Government Association has calculated that English town halls need an extra £4bn over 2-years just to maintain services at current levels, or risk a financial crisis, against a backdrop of significant spending cuts since the Conservatives came to power 14-years ago. 

One area that councils are struggling progressively more with is housing. 

The genesis of this can be traced back to Thatcher’s right-to-buy (‘RTB’), which forced councils to sell off public housing at huge discounts. In the 40-yrs since its inception 66% of British council homes privatised 

For the lucky few, the policy has meant colossal windfalls and the chance to buy some of the best properties in the country on the cheap. For the rest, RTB has meant rising homelessness, spiralling rents and local authorities facing bankruptcy as the social housing stock dwindles, year by year, and they are saddled with the burden of having to provide temporary accommodation. 

‘RTB has meant rising homelessness, spiralling rents and local authorities facing bankruptcy as the social housing stock dwindles’

Perhaps naively, I thought RTB was in the past, but, in fact the ‘right’ lives on. Today we are seeing brand new developments be sold off, for example: Seven of Norwich’s newest council homes are already in the process of being sold off, fewer than 5-years after they were completed. 

Despite RTB being so destructive to public finances that it has been abolished in Scotland and Wales, Labour has announced it will keep Thatcher’s policy if it wins the next general election.  

Leo Pollak, a Labour councillor in Southwark, south London, said. ‘Ask anyone in social housing and they’ll tell you it’s ridiculous,’ he says. ‘Right to buy constantly depletes the country’s social housing stock with each sale. While a perfectly rational choice for the buyer, it makes our housing system even more dysfunctional.’ 

The shadow housing minister, Matthew Pennycook, has pledged his party will build more social housing to compensate for the homes lost. This begs two questions: 

  • The few local authorities that have been building significant amounts of new social housing in recent years have been forced by right to buy to sell off more homes than they can build. 
  • Why build them when they obliged to sell them? Would you spend hundreds of thousands of pounds building a new house to rent out if your tenants could force you to flog it to them for less than it cost to construct, just 3-years later?  

Research from UCL confirms this, RTB ‘remains the major disincentive to local authorities building more social rent homes’. 

This has forced local authorities to launch schemes, such as grants to incentivise council tenants to buy on the open market instead of via right to buy, or setting-up subsidiary companies which can be used to rent out homes while remaining exempt from RTB, to cling on to as much of their remaining stock as possible.

‘RTB is enabling private investors to cash-in at the expense of local authorities’

Basically, RTB is enabling private investors to cash-in at the expense of local authorities. Often it isn’t being utilised to help tenants become homeowners, instead properties are being bought by private landlords who rent them out for more than if they’d remained in public ownership.  

This has become just another example of rentiers enriching themselves at the expense of the majority. The councils funding shortfalls has to be filled from somewhere, and that somewhere is us, through our ever more expensive council tax. 

Labour’s lack of understanding, or perhaps care is aging being shown for all to see. It just another example of Labour being Labour in name only, in their desperation to be elected….. 

‘We’re gonna win this one, take the country by storm, 
We’re gonna be elected, 


‘The more I look at this current version of the Labour party the more it fills me with despair.

They appear to be so cowed, so needy, that they will give up any, and all of the principles to win a majority at the next election. They are now such closet Tories that there seems little point bothering. All they lack is a few loonies on the right.

His attitude over the LBGT+ friendly football shirt was just hopeless vote catching.

His lack of understanding of the damage that RTB does to councils budgets and the overall housing problem is, at best, disappointing.

They appear to see the problems, but appear unable to prescribe the right medicine, preferring to ape failed Tory policies.

Water is an ongoing scandal in this country. I read today that the Thames is so polluted with E-Coli that boat race participants are in danger”

Thames aside, recent data shows that water companies in England discharged raw sewage for more than 3.6m hours into rivers and seas last year in a 105% increase on the previous 12-months.

Total discharges from the 14,000 storm overflows owned by English water companies that release untreated sewage into rivers and coastal waters increased by 54% to 464,056, according to data submitted to the Environment Agency by the industry.

Senior industry figures highlighted the heavy rainfall over the autumn and winter that put huge pressure on the sewerage system. But storm overflows are supposed to cope with heavy rainfall and only be used in exceptional circumstances, like major storm events. Climate change has long been predicted to bring higher rainfall levels.

One senior executive told the Guardian: “We have wasted 15 years, we have not been investing enough.”

I won’t bother to list all the examples, but they can be found here:

Really, it sums us up…swimming in s*** and no one is going to change anything

Lyrics, we start with New Order’s “World in Motion” from 1990 when people enjoyed football and it wasn’t a political football! We finish with Alice Cooper’s “Elected”, which is dedicated to Sir Keir Starmer who is desperate to be. Is there any point in him being elected? Time will tell! Enjoy!

Happy Easter to all, Philip.




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

Leave a Reply