‘There are no tomorrows for this heart of minebrexit
Surely time will lose these bitter memories..’


By rights I should have written this piece 6-months ago, but the influences and realities of decades rarely coincide with their true calendar ending. I have chosen this time as it feels like we are approaching the end of ‘teenies’, the pandemic, Brexit reaching its conclusion, and America ablaze with years of racist oppression fuelled by a nonsensical leader, all signalling the need for a change.

A new approach in a new decade.

Try as I might it impossible to view the past decade solely from a UK perspective. The beginning saw a newly elected Tory government, which, fuelled by Messrs Cameron and Osborne, wanted to make amends for what they viewed as Labour’s mismanagement of the economy, which included saving the UKs banking system, by aiming to balance the budget. The tool was austerity, the result was all-round failure:


  • The budget deficit got worse, the rich (mainly Cameron and Osborne mates) got richer, whilst the majority took until 2019 to re-reach the levels of prosperity, they enjoyed in 2008
  • QE and ultra-low interest rates created an asset bubble which inflated away the value of pensioners savings. This continues but, at some point, all bubbles burst
  • Councils and social services were starved of funds, and, where possible, social care was farmed out to the private sector
  • The rise of UKIP and the loonies in his own party bought our EU membership to the fore, and so put the fear of god into Cameron that he promised a referendum


In summary the net result of Messrs Cameron and Osborne’s folly’s was inequality, this finally vested itself into Leave winning the referendum, and a ‘populist’ PM, Boris Johnson, wining a resounding 80-seat majority in 2019.

‘the net result of Messrs Cameron and Osborne’s folly’s was inequality’

One the other side of the pond, the US, whose banks caused all the economic chaos that led to austerity, recovered quickly as they eschewed austerity.

Their reward in 2016 was the election of Donald Trump as president, a misogynistic, egotistical racist, utterly unfit to hold any sort of office, let alone being the most powerful man in the world.


Both the US and UK have great income inequality, and it is getting worse, in the UK:


  • Britain’s total wealth grew by 13% in the two years to 2018 to reach a record £14.6tn
  • wealth among the richest 10% of households increasing almost four times faster than those of the poorest 10%.
  • A study by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also found that the poorest 10% of households had debts three times greater than their assets compared with the richest 10% who amassed a wealth pile 35 times larger than their total debts.
  • The Resolution Foundation thinktank said the wealth gap had opened up between 2016 and 2018 after the top 10%’s wealth increased by 11% in contrast to an increase in wealth for the bottom 10th of just 3%.
  • The different rates of growth documented by the ONS Wealth and Assets survey meant the top 10% finished 2018 with 45% of national wealth, while the poorest 10th held just 2%.
  • The survey also found that regional wealth gaps have grown, with the fastest pace of growth found in the south-east. Typical household wealth in the south-east is £445,900, more than twice as high as the north-east at £172,900.
  • The foundation said despite the UK’s record level of wealth, typical wealth in the north-east and east Midlands in 2016-18 was still below its pre-crisis level.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/dec/05/gap-between-rich-and-poor-grows-alongside-rise-in-uks-total-wealth


Data for the US shows a similar picture:


  • In 2018, the richest 10% held 70% of total household wealth, up from 60% in 1989.
  • The share of the top 1%’ jumped to 32% last year from 23% in 1989.
  • The increase in the wealth share of the top 10% came at the expense of households in the 50th to 90th percentiles of the wealth distribution, their share dropped to 29% from over the same period.
  • The bottom 50% saw essentially zero net gains in wealth over those 30 years, driving their share of total wealth down to just 1% from 4%.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/pedrodacosta/2019/05/29/americas-humungous-wealth-gap-is-widening-further/#48c9f1e242ee


This inequality has a genuine effect on living standards for many families in the UK, the following data should see people in government hanging their heads in shame (3):


  • There were 4.2 million children living in poverty in the UK in 2018-19. That’s 30% of children, or nine in a classroom of 30.
  • There are expected to be 5.2 million children living in poverty in the UK by 2022.
  • 47% of children living in lone-parent families are in poverty.
  • Children from Black and minority ethnic groups are more likely to be in poverty: 45% are now in poverty, compared with 26% of children in White British families.
  • London has the highest rate of child poverty in the country.
  • Child poverty reduced dramatically between 1998 and 2012 when 800,000 children were lifted out of poverty.
  • Work does not provide a guaranteed route out of poverty in the UK. 72% of children growing up in poverty live in a household where at least one person works.


Despite all this inequality, one of the saying of the pandemic has been, ‘we are all in this together’.

Whilst fundamentally true, it is factually incorrect. Last week it was reported that supermarkets have seen a surge of up to 50% in sales, whilst being gifted millions in a business rates holiday windfall.

Now the unnecessary rates holiday is bad enough but the bosses couldn’t resist rewarding themselves; unfortunately the staff, the ones in the front line, threatened with catching the virus as they go about their job of work were, at best, an afterthought:


  • David Potts, the CEO of Morrisons, and Trevor Strain, its chief operating officer, are set to take a 24% pension contribution, in direct opposition to a corporate governance code that says their rates should be aligned with those of their workers. The staff only get 5%.
  • Tesco is expected to announce £300m extra profits thanks to Covid-19. Its CEO is taking an extra 25% cash payment on his £1.25m salary, holding out for a performance-related bonus, while Tesco frontline staff get just a 7% contribution to their workplace scheme.
  • Tesco recently paid out £635m in dividends to shareholders while receiving a similar sized tax-break from the government’s emergency coronavirus support package.
  • At Ocado the pay ratio from boardroom to average staff wage is 2,605%.


‘I don’t wanna know
Greedy awful people
Throw ’em in a hole..’


In addition, to creating a wealth gap, the UK focussed on smaller government, taking social care budgets away from local government and, where possible, using private contractors.

Up the 23rd May, the pandemic has seen the death of C.20,000 (1) care homes because of the virus, a lack of testing and PPE are among the exacerbating factors.

Many of the homes are run by large businesses such as Four Seasons, which runs 300 homes, and are expected to make profits, staff are paid close to the minimum wage and everything is run on a shoe string as a result.

Now, with the focus on PPE the owners are having to spend money, to avoid this people who fund their own care home fees are being forced to pay a steep and unexpected coronavirus bill of more than £100 a week on top of their usual care home fees.

‘people who fund their own care home fees are being forced to pay a steep and unexpected coronavirus bill’

Another form of inequality, racism, is again raising its ugly head. In 2019 the number of hate crimes reported to the police in the UK has over-doubled since 2013, there were 78,991 reported offences recorded by police forces in England and Wales, the majority of which were racially motivated (2).

This increase can be partly explained by Brexit emboldening people in their actions to racial minorities

However, whatever issues we may have with racism pale into insignificance with the US, where the murder of George Floyd by a US policeman might yet prove to the straw that breaks the camels back.

Floyd is the last in a long line of victims; 99% of killings by police from 2013-19 have not resulted in officers being charged with a crime.

African American are 3x more likely than white people to be ‘killed’ by the police, despite the fact that they are 1.3x LESS likely to be carrying a gun (4).

These are same the police officers that are encouraged by Trump – see https://www.diyinvestor.net/hp-source-man-is-born-free-but-he-is-everywhere-in-chains/


‘People, don’t you understand
The child needs a helping hand
Or he’ll grow to be an angry young man some day..’


Not that this seems to concern Trumps admirers in the Tory party, who have previously compared him to Eisenhower and Washington!

Those who found Trump’s appeals to white nationalism dangerous his behind the office of president is bigger than the occupant.

The German chancellor was more measured in her praise of Trump’s election victory, offering co-operation based on ‘the ethical foundations of partnership between democracies, the rule of law and the dignity of each and every person, regardless of their origin, skin colour, creed, gender, sexual orientation, or political views’.

If his threats of violence against protesters undermine the office of president, worst still is the violence toward journalists.

Last week a black CNN reporter was arrested live on-air last week while covering the protests in Minneapolis, as the Washington Post commented it was ‘a sign of American disintegration’.

You can add to this peaceful protesters being teargassed, and the president threatening to unleash troops on those protesting against killing and oppression.

‘peaceful protesters being teargassed, and the president threatening to unleash troops’

For African Americans nothing changed after the civil war, the country has always been the America of an immune police force, white supremacy and a legal system that protects only those who can afford it.

Far better coverage of this fact can be found of Netflix, the excellent documentary, ‘The 13th’, shows how deep routed racism is in large parts of American society. Trump has exploited racial hostility, but, in his words his supporters are not racists but those ‘left behind’.

Hopefully, this latest ‘killing’ by the police is the final straw, Trump’s rhetoric, supported by some Republicans spoiling for a fight, police with orders and appetite to stifle protest, and emboldened white supremacists, will prove to be the fuse that lights the tinderbox created by 3-years of Trump. Bring on Joe Biden.

The forthcoming US election brings me onto the final part in this review of the teenies, Brexit and trade

Johnson, like Trump, is a populist, mercifully that is where the similarities stop.

He isn’t evil or a racist but is prone to gaffs and stupid remarks that make him sound like one. He swept to power with simple messages, such ‘getting it done’, and is at his ‘best’ making one-liners such as ‘inverted pyramid of piffle’.  Unfortunately, he also proves that wanting to be PM isn’t enough, you also require the ability to be PM, too.

‘He isn’t evil or a racist but is prone to gaffs and stupid remarks’

The job requires responsibility and attention to detail if you are to deliver on the promises you make, which is why he refused to sack Dominic Cummings.

Johnson understands his importance, Cummings is a man who sees things through, bulldozing obstacles rather than negotiating around them. Hard-line Brexiters realise this too, Cummings is needed to deliver the purest Brexit. He ‘keeps the PM honest’ on Brexit.

Of course, we must remember that ‘honesty’ means something different to the hard-liners; it means loyalty to a Brexit that permits dishonesty.

Dodgy claims about Turkey joining the EU and £350m weekly budget contributions are part of the truth of national liberation in which the end justifies the means.

‘‘honesty’ means something different to the hard-liners’

The pandemic is well-timed for them, public attention has been deflected elsewhere, and the time for negotiation has been minimised allowing them to sneak a hard-Brexit in under the radar.

They claim that the cost of no deal is lower during a pandemic because trade volumes are depressed anyway; a shiny new economy driven by ‘industries of the future’ will have to be built anyway, so Britain should not waste time on relations with rusty old Europe. The worse thing is that they believe it!

The government wants a free hand to facilitate this change, without the constrains of the EU’s demanding that we remain tied to its labour and environmental standards and state aid rules.

The truth is that the government believes that the pandemic will allow it to bury the loss of growth from no trade deal under the cover of the much more dramatic drop in GDP caused by coronavirus.

No deal also facilitates a trade deal with the US, and the symbolism of ‘Global Britain’.

The Conservative manifesto made a clear promise that in the government’s trade talks, ‘we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards’.

Just six months after the election, the promise has been ditched, and we can look forward to chlorinated chicken and other sundry delights being allowed into the country if higher trade tariffs are applied to them.

The trade secretary, Liz Truss, has stated that any such tariffs would be removed within 10 years but she’s a fool if she even thinks American trade negotiators will even consider them.

Not only will we be compromising the standards we enjoy with our food rules, laid down by the EU, a trade deal of this nature would allow US firms to import food whose production is banned here, to the disadvantage of our farmers and food processors.

‘allow US firms to import food whose production is banned here’

An attempt by Conservative MPs to insert an amendment into the agriculture bill last month to uphold the manifesto promise was slapped down by government loyalists. The bill returns to the House of Commons on Wednesday.

The US government argues that these matters should be left to consumers to decide whether we buy cheap vegetables containing residues of pesticides that are banned here. After 10-years of austerity it might be all many can afford.

And, if the governments food pledges were worthless what of the NHS? Can we honestly believe that the venalest people on earth can ignore such a juicy morsel?

Without doubt the most devious part of the trade bill is that there is no provision for parliamentary scrutiny of any deal. Parliament has no legal right under this bill to debate or vote on a trade deal, or even to know what it contains.

The governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are granted no formal role in negotiating or approving trade treaties. As I have said before we don’t live in a democracy, we elect a dictator.

If we are so in thrall of the US and a trade deal, how then do we deal with China? If Johnson favours the US it could mean excluding Huawei from 5G.

Will then China make good on threats that HSBC and Standard Chartered could be ‘replaced by banks from China overnight.’

Here ends my review of the teenies, a decade that started with a tory government forcing austerity onto the masses to the benefit of the few and ends with the masses voting for self-immolation and a hard-Brexit.

The Tories now join the sycophants and courtiers seeking favours from King Trump leaving us as the sidekick of a rogue superpower.

As for the US, whilst over the years their economy has proven it is more resilient than any other, now is the time for them to end inequality and realise that black and white are equal and  should be treated as such

If this is the end of the decade, why does it sometimes feel like the end of the world?


‘The end of our elaborate plans
The end of ev’rything that stands..’



  1. Source: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)31199-5/fulltext
  2. Source: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/oct/15/hate-crimes-double-england-wales
  3. Source: https://cpag.org.uk/child-poverty/child-poverty-facts-and-figures
  4. Source: https://www.itv.com/news/2020-06-09/george-floyd-history-of-police-brutality-against-black-people-in-america/


A powerful piece this week from Philip and one that comes straight from the heart – backed up with plenty of stats and corroboration; viewed in this context, what a decade the Tweenies was, and what damage has been done as we hurtle towards a no-deal Brexit, face rebuilding the global economy and healing the wounds created by austerity and racial division.

The inequality and division created by austerity has been a recurring theme, and here Philip traces its roots back to Cameron and Osborne; the stats he presents are quite shocking, but can in some way explain why many were drawn to the sunlit uplands promised by Brexiteers.

The statistics regarding child poverty are nothing short of scandalous; as is the creation of haves and have-nots by the pandemic.

Trump’s behaviour is often appalling, but Philip paints a picture of  a hapless Boris being forced into the demonic clutches of the populist president through his bumbling incompetence and lack of a negotiated Brexit; you sense that chlorinated chicken will be the least of our worries.

A really broad church for lyric spotters this week; 18 points on offer – those with sixteen and up should mail the usual address with Claim in the subject line, and request a read receipt.

First up, ‘brilliant pop music, superb production, and a voice to die for’ – I’d all but given up, but the ‘voice’ finally yielded me 3 pts for The Carpenters (uh huh) and three for ‘Goodbye to Love’.

Next – ‘One of the ultimate performers’ three apiece if you got The Stooges and the totally apt ‘Greedy Awful People’; a lump in the throat and then two for the artist and one for the song – Elvis and ‘In the Ghetto’.

Last but not least ‘wasn’t my initial choice, but it just fitted my conclusion’; Philip thought I’d get 1 pt for The Doors and 2 pts for ‘The End’. We were both wrong.

Let’s hope he’s wrong in sensing the ‘end of the world’ but what a momentous few months lie ahead; stay safe and 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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