inequalitySince you went away, I’ve been hanging around 
I’ve been wondering why I’m feeling down 

The first scandal is that, we, the taxpayers are now having to cover a bill of C. £1.7bn of pandemic business loans flagged for fraud, an increase of 43% over the estimated £1.1bn only 3-months ago. 
The vast majority of these fraudulent loans are from the £47bn bounce back loan scheme, which allowed small businesses to borrow up to £50,000 apiece during the Covid crisis in order to keep them afloat amid rolling lockdowns. 

While the government credits the programme with having saved 500,000 businesses and 2.9m jobs during the pandemic, the former Cabinet Office minister Theodore Agnew resigned in protest at the handling of the scheme in January last year, citing the government’s ‘woeful‘ efforts to control potential fraud. 

Next up depleting the public coffers is the Met, who have apologised and agreed to pay a six-figure settlement to a man who needed emergency brain surgery after being hit by an officer’s baton during the 2010 university tuition fees protests. 

‘a six-figure settlement to a man who needed emergency brain surgery after being hit by an officer’s baton’

Obviously there was  more than excessive force used, as undue Alfie Meadows, then a 20-year-old philosophy student at Middlesex University, sustained a brain injury after the officer attacked him. He needed more than 100 staples in his head and was left with a large scar. 

After the protest, Meadows was arrested and prosecuted three times for violent disorder. He was unanimously acquitted in 2013. 

In response to the Met’s apology, Meadows said: ‘In 2010, the coalition government turned to the police to violently crush resistance to its austerity programme. I came close to joining Kevin Gately, Blair Peach, Ian Tomlinson and others who have been killed on protests by riot police and in police custody, including Brian Douglas who died after a police officer struck him on the head with a baton. 

‘After I was seriously injured by a police officer, the entire institution closed ranks, attempting to blame and criminalise me, defend its officer, and delay and deny accountability. 

‘In the light of recent reports confirming that the Met is institutionally racist, misogynist, homophobic and corrupt, it beggars belief that they continue to receive public money to abuse the public. But the current government’s response has been to provide them with even more draconian powers to crack down on protest. Without fundamental change we will see no end to injustice at the hands of the police.’ 

Pictures of Meadows injuries are shocking. Had a protestor done similar to plod they would have moved heaven and high water to identify someone to blame. Not to mention interviews with their partner blabbering on how they would never be the same again!  

The Met, Britain’s biggest force, has 201 officers suspended and 860 on restricted duties. A total equivalent to the size of Warwickshire or Wiltshire police forces.  

To date an overhaul of culture and standards within the Met, prompted by the crimes of David Carrick and Wayne Couzens, has led to 100 dismissals for gross misconduct in the last 12-months, a 66% increase on historical averages. 

Lastly, I read that British television channels agreed to let Buckingham Palace censor television coverage of King Charles’s coronation, according to the former boss of Sky News, John Ryley,  

Ryley said, ‘The royal spin doctors had the opportunity to censor any pictures from the coronation before they could be replayed on the day … And the royal spin doctors dictated which clips of the footage could be shown in future broadcasts in what they called with an Orwellian phrase: ‘a perpetuity edit’.’ 

Ryley told the audience in London the royal family regularly escaped real scrutiny by broadcasters. 

He said he regretted that Sky News made the ‘bad decision‘ to provide Prince Charles with a full list of questions before an interview with the future king in 2017: ‘If a viewer had interrogated us about whether that was entirely in keeping with our core values of being honest with our audiences it would have been hard to mount a robust defence. Imagine submitting a list of questions to a top politician or business leader. Maybe in a puppet state.’ 

Why we continue to pander to the royals mystifies me. They are over-paid and over-indulged. Charles needs to get some better advisers, much more of this and he will be Charles the Last! 

Last week saw Labour announce their policy is illegal immigration. When asked on Good Morning Britain if his plan to strike a deal with the EU in order to stop the small boats crossing the Channel meant he was weakening his stance on EU withdrawal, Starmer said ‘There’s no case for going back to the EU, ‘no case for going into the single market or customs union, and no freedom of movement.’ 

There’s no case for going back to the EU, ‘no case for going into the single market or customs union, and no freedom of movement.’ 

To succeed in any forthcoming election, Starmer needs to win back those former Labour supporters in the ‘red wall seats’ who voted for Brexit on the promise that, outside the EU, Britain could ‘take back control’ of its borders. He needs to appear tough on both Brexit and immigration – the two go together.  

Actually, the increased problem of illegal migration was triggered by Brexit, and sealed in Johnson’s oven-ready exit treaty, which made no provision for us to return unauthorised migrants to the first safe EU country they had entered. 

Prior to Brexit there was just such an arrangement, however once we left people traffickers spotted the opportunity almost immediately, offering to take people to a country, Britain, from where they could no longer be sent back. This is why the number of people making those journeys grew in number, from the low hundreds in 2018 to tens of thousands in 2023. 

This is yet another Tory mess that Starmer will have to fix. In this case a new deal with the EU that would destroy the trafficking gangs’ business model. In return, Britain would take its share of people approved for asylum in the EU. In reality the hard-right, who are always quick to insist they welcome ‘genuine’ refugees should support Starmer’s proposal, instead they have condemned it. The vacuous gob that masquerades as the home secretary, Suella Braverman, said it would make the UK a ‘dumping ground‘ for Europe’s migrants. 

‘The vacuous gob that masquerades as the home secretary, Suella Braverman, said it would make the UK a ‘dumping ground‘ for Europe’s migrants’

Fixing and, or, reversing Brexit’s mistakes is becoming common practise, to date we have rejoined the Horizon Europe research programme, scrapped the plan to introduce a UK-only product safety mark, and quietly dropped plans for checks on imports of EU food. 

As Prof Chris Grey said, ‘Brexit works best when it’s not implemented.’ 

Finally, we end with the first anniversary of Liz Truss’s attempt to sink the UK economy. 

The most fitting tribute comes from the former Bank of England governor Mark Carney, who said Truss created ‘Argentina on the Channel‘ not ‘Singapore on Thames‘. A reference to Argentina’s history of being unable to services its debts and Truss’s mini-budget of unfunded tax cuts. 

Of course, none of this was her fault, she was ahead of her time, even the markets misunderstood her. Blah, blah, blah… 

According to Liz, Sunak, rather than reintroducing austerity has spent £35bn more than she would have as PM. 

According to the Telegraph, Truss will point out that under her plans £18.4bn would have been saved in 2023-24, with another £17.1bn in 2024-25. 

What I sought to do was change the trajectory of spending by holding spending down and not allowing any new spending to take place over the coming spending review period. Not reopening the spending review represented a tough approach on spending, given the levels of inflation.’ 

Plans to increase benefits in line with wages, not inflation, would also have saved £9.6bn over two years. 

She will add: ‘Even those modest savings did not command the support of the parliamentary party. It is a very serious issue for those of us who want to see smaller government that currently making significant changes to spending simply doesn’t have enough political support.’ 

The above were exerpts released ahead of her speech last night at the Institute for Government. Which amounted to little more than a series of delusional excuses. 

Our debt levels were the highest they had ever been. Of course they are, her 7-weeks in office increased our debt by £45bn. 

‘her 7-weeks in office increased our debt by £45bn’

72% of people agreed the UK was now poorer than it had been. Yes, but the few people have done so much to bankrupt the country in such a short space of time. 

The tax cuts had only ever been fiscal restraint in disguise. So well were they disguised that no one, markets, economist, the OBR understood them. 

At times she appeared to suggest that ‘the entire political and economic establishment had been kidnapped by a socialist cabal sometime in the last 30 years and the UK had effectively been run by Moscow station for decades.’ Presumably, she included the Tory party within this Moscow-inspired plot. 

She hadn’t consulted the OBR before the mini-budget as she knew they would give her the wrong information. Clearly, another example of how only she could understood the reality. 

The reality is somewhat darker; a year on from her mess, inflation remains uncomfortably high and the economy skirts the brink of recession. 

As I and numerous other more competent commentators have conceded, her diagnosis that we needed to stimulate growth wasn’t wrong, it was her treatment that was. 

Thirteen years of Conservative government has achieved precious little; the economy has missed out on billions of pounds in growth, while average real wages are still no higher today than in 2007. 

When measured against the Tories’ traditional mantra of sound public finances, low taxes and free enterprise, there is only failure. The national debt is at the highest level since the 1960s, taxes as a share of the economy are higher than at any time since Clement Attlee’s postwar Labour government and Brexit has tied businesses in cumbersome red tape. 

‘measured against the Tories’ traditional mantra of sound public finances, low taxes and free enterprise, there is only failure’

Whilst most economists reckon her plans would have had a minimal impact on growth, they would have further exacerbated economic inequality.  

Not even the Tories beloved free markets bought her supposedly free market message. The tax cuts for the rich were a gross insult to the many suffering the worst hit to average living standards in half a century. 

In response to the madness, Sunak and his chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, smoothed over the chaos by reversing most of her reckless agenda and restoring tighter budget settlements. Unfortunately, their focus is not on doing things, but on blocking them. 

Continuing high inflation has meant that the brief aberration of high mortgage costs during Truss’ tenure, has continued as the BoE pursues its mandated 2% inflation target. 

Revisions to the UK’s economic performance since the Covid pandemic show the country is now in the middle of the pack for growth, rather than an international outlier. Yet inflation remains higher than in many comparable nations. 

Faced with this stagflationary environment the Bank is refusing to blink and continues to hold rates at restrictively high levels stoking the chances of recession and maintaining pressure on businesses and households. 

Even if the requisite 2-quarters of negative growth are avoided, the economy will remain moribund. The Bank forecasts an annual growth rate of just 0.5% for 2023, the same again in 2024 and just 0.25% in 2025;1 a tenth of the average rate in the decade leading up to the 2008 financial crisis. 

With the BoE choosing to stick, fiscal policy is one-way to reboot economic growth and raise living standards. However, after the Truss debacle will any party be brave or foolish enough to pull these levers? 

For the Tories Sunak is safety-first avoiding any bold action. Instead he is scrambling to identify cost savings before November’s autumn statement, with measures such as real-terms cuts to pensions and benefits and possible downgrading of HS2 under consideration. Improving living standards doesn’t seem to register with him. 

Labour, fearing a repeat of the 2019 election when voters rejected Jeremy Corbyn’s spending plans as fantasy, is taking a safety first approach under Keir Starmer, betting that the public want competence far more than radical change. 

Perhaps, at the risk of repetition, ‘light-blue’ Kier should look across the Atlantic, they have both; competence and radical change. 

‘Everything must change 
Nothing remains the same 
Everyone must change 
No one and nothing remains the same’ 

Pretty gloomy stuff from Philip, and sadly little sign that things could possibly improve any time soon.
In the hours since Philip penned it, a leak suggests that Mr Sunak is ready to row back on many of the pledges that were made to target net zero in 2050; that would  one of the most regressive moves in recent memory, and firmly put the UK on the off-slip on the global super highway. It really is all about the optics.
So what’s Philip thinking?

At first glance this might appear to be a somewhat rambling piece, but there are themes. The first being scandal…

Whenever the government talks about spending, its our money they are referring to. What they do with it is based on their priorities that we have supposedly given them a mandate when voting for them. Perhaps, our problem is that all UK governments are voted for by a minority, therefore they prioritise for the minority!

Nonetheless we are short the thick-end of £2bn for fraudulent “bounce-back” loans.

Then there is plod, primarily the Met, who pay compo on a seemingly ongoing basis. I suppose this should be no surprise, if you employ racist, misogynistic thugs, and commissioners that see no wrong in their actions. Hopefully this new fella might be the new broom that was long needed.

Turning to the royal’s and their power over most things, it feels to be that Charles is firstly badly advised, and secondly, not the reformer he pretends to be.

Brexit is, like Liz Truss, a gift that keeps on giving.

The revelations that the Brexit treaty encouraged illegal immigration is hilarious. Imagine all those red-faced Brexiter racists realising that they were duped on immigration, too. It’s just too perfect!

Ahhhh, yes Liz! To be so misunderstood, and such a genius, it’s just so unfair. Besides, it wasn’t her money, and she gave it a go!

I was amused to read that in the audience for her whinge speech last evening offering their support was Nigel Farage and David Frost. A sort of menage a trois of the dangerous and deluded. One can imagine them reaching the heights of passion and shouting “lower taxes”, or “oh baby, small government”.

We finish with the news that a retired social worker who held up a placard about the rights of jurors outside a trial of climate protesters is being prosecuted for contempt of court by the solicitor general.

The decision to prosecute Trudi Warner, 68, came as it emerged the police were separately investigating at least 12 people on suspicion of attempting to pervert the course of justice for holding up similar signs outside a London court.

Warner, who held up a sign outside Inner London crown court earlier this year on the rights of jurors, has been told in a letter she is to be prosecuted for contempt of court by Michael Tomlinson KC, the solicitor general – a government minister and the Conservative MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole – lawyers confirmed. The case will take place in the high court.

Change isn’t something we can even spell let alone embrace. We are stuck in a rut of our making, there is no other explanation for putting up with the royals or plod. As for Truss, well she’s good for a laugh.

Lyrically, we start with the Pet Shop Boys Ft Dusty Springfield and “What Have I Done to Deserve This”? We finish with Nina Simone and “Everything Must Change”, worth it just for the video. 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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