The BBC recently broadcast the controversial movie-of-the-play, King Charles III, and by doing so entered the once treasonous realm of speculation concerning the death of a monarch and the succession. Although it seems like QE2 will live forever, she will eventually (most likely) be succeeded by her eldest son, Charles, Prince of Wales.
We already know Charles to be a man with ideas about how society can be improved for the many, through his charity work with the Prince’s Foundation, and his often unwelcome forays into architecture and the built environment.
In my futuristic novel set in 2026, Devil Gate Dawn, I have King Charles III as an aged but still exuberant ruler of the nation, painting his vision for a better Britain on a broad canvas that brings him into conflict with the capitalist exploiters who have already subverted our fragile democracy. Charles heads a Government of National Unity and runs the country along socialist lines through his Privy Council.
I’m fascinated by ‘what ifs’ and the idea that the only person who could break us out of our imprisonment at the hands of the international capitalist elite (or Establishment), who have a vice-like grip on our feeble democratic systems, is the good old Benign Dictator.
I see Charles as that person, and although I play it for laughs, there is a serious underlying message to all this, as we now face the prospect of a Conservative majority in our forthcoming general election – the politics of divide and rule bring my dystopian vision a step closer. Yes, Charles is a member of the ruling elite and through birth one of the country’s largest landowners. But he also stands outside the corrupt political landscape, and as such is a maverick to the Establishment. God Save the King!
Aside from King Charles, who else can save us from our seemingly inevitable fate?
Recent media reports highlighted the worrying hold China has over the UK, after our government allowed it to become the North Sea’s top oil operator. The communist-controlled China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) now runs two of our biggest oil fields, producing over 200,000 barrels of oil a day.
This hold gives China leverage in negotiations with the UK Government, significantly weakening our control over our own energy sector. Imagine what would happen if the Chinese were permitted to build and run a nuclear power plant in the UK, as is currently proposed? Meanwhile, new Foreign Secretary, comedian Boris Johnson, has flow to Beijing to confound the Chinese with his buffoonery and buy time whilst the new post-Brexit administration works out what to do next.
For the British people, robbed of national assets through privatisation, the future looks bleak, as foreign governments, often hiding behind state-owned corporations, buy into our manufacturing, energy, transport and other key economic sectors. Globalisation has done for us. We have been asset-stripped and left powerless in negotiations with foreign governments, whilst our ruling elite have salted away fortunes in offshore bank accounts. Is this really the country we want for our children?
Despite having a democratic system of governance, we seem powerless to make our political leaders turn away from the dark forces of global capitalism and prioritise citizen-focused issues. Witness the London property market – locals have been priced out as it has been turned into a money haven for foreign ‘investors’. We seem doomed to be patronised by the Westminster elite, doing the bidding of the super rich – hypocrites who are busy selling our country to feather their own nests. They believe everyone is like them – obsessed with position and personal wealth accumulation.
Well, I have news for you. Other nationalities have different perspectives and priorities, and in the case of the Chinese Government, it is to obtain ownership (through State-owned companies) of as much of the World’s mineral assets as possible. To them, cash and barter of goods and services is a way to secure mining rights around the world, starting with developing countries. This gives them both raw materials for their industry and political leverage that increases their power and influence. They now have their eyes on Europe.
I’m sure the Chinese hierarchy look with amusement at the behaviour of BoJo the Clown and our other hypocritical political leaders who are self-obsessed and care little for the ‘good of the people’. At least this last part chimes with the Chinese who see labour as a resource to be exploited. Understanding this makes it easier for them to flatter and deceive our callow politicians into doing their bidding.
A report published in the mirror.co.uk on 24/08/16 talks about the Chinese using the positioning of oil rigs as ‘strategic weapons’, their rigs in a disputed area of the South China Sea described as ‘mobile national territory’. For this reason the USA has moved to protect itself from Chinese ambition by blocking the sale of oil wells over security fears. Paranoid or justified? Meanwhile, the UK Government handed £2 billion in tax breaks to the CNOOC in 2015. Oh, and by-the-way, General Nuclear Power, the Chinese state-owned corporation and the proposed partner in the UK’s £18 billion Hinckley Point project, is facing industrial espionage charges in the US.
The ‘investment’ of foreign governments, through state-owned corporations (including France’s EDF) must surely be a concern for the country. In China’s case, it is a calculated bid to control energy generation in Britain to give them a power base – a toe-hold in negotiations with a weakened British Government. Why would an elected British Government even contemplate such a deal? Surely they have been put there by the British people to represent their collective interest?
Not a bit of it. Global business interest thinly disguised as investment dictates our political agenda, and what is in the best interests of the country is relegated to a minor concern, tersely dismissed by our high-handed moralising politicians. Will the British people really see the benefits of fracking for shale gas? I think not – the gas extracted by private companies will be sold to the highest bidder on the global energy market. We will have our countryside torn up to simply create wealth for a small elite, and still be paying through the nose for our gas supply. That’s how it works.
All was going well for the Establishment until the unexpected Brexit vote. The British electorate took umbrage at being patronised and instructed to Vote Remain. They exercised the one bit of freedom they had left – the choice to vote against the hated money-obsessed Establishment and their Westminster-based toady politicians. It was an embarrassing setback for the forces of Globalisation, but they have quickly re-grouped under a new Conservative Prime Minister, one with worrying similarities to Margaret Thatcher, who set the ball rolling on selling off our national assets some thirty years ago.
Has new Prime Minister, Theresa May, been given her instructions to return the country to a Victorian era voting system by removing those who are not property owners from the electoral register? This would ensure no more disturbances from a peeved electorate to their capitalist agenda, and match nicely their plans to remove the Welfare State and its prize jewel, The National Health Service, tossing the welfare of the poor, sick and disabled into the arms of the charity sector. It’s not as crazy an idea as you might think. The soon-to-be-debated repeal of the Human Rights Act is just another attempt to strip us of our rights and return the country to an authoritarian system based on patronage.
At least we should be able to see the Chinese coming and veer away from their proposed ‘investments’. However, our biggest danger remains the behaviour of our own Government. How can we escape them?
Sir Greed banged his fist on the round table, “Bring me truffles!” he thundered, as the serving staff in BHS livery went scurrying. “’Tis treachery! The May Queen talks softly of helping the poor, yet it is the avowed intent of this fair kingdom to crush their will and keep them in grinding poverty, lest they get ideas and organise resistance!”
He rode out of Castle Green at the head of his personal escort and made his way to the commission of poor men to give evidence for his alleged misdeeds. His squire, a mean and indolent fellow called Chappell, rode beside him.
“Chappell, heed my words. These villains will ask why I favoured thee with half my lands, to which you must reply, ‘My Lord put me in charge of the upkeep of the serfs in good faith, but I lacked the knowledge of my wise master to manage the estates and provide for their welfare’. Got it?”
“Yes, my Lord. And I shall remain in your favour by not mentioning that you stripped the silver and gold from all the holy places to pay for your new royal yacht.” Sir Greed glared at his snivelling underling, knowing full well that his deviousness and avarice had bound him to the villain.
“Look, my Lord! The May Queen awaits you before the humble parliament shed.”
“Good day, my Queen, to what do I owe this pleasure?” The portly knight said, quivering in his saddle as he attempted an ungainly bow.
“It is no pleasure of mine, Sir Greed! I have come to warn you not to mock my councillors and give truthful evidence, for I intend to reform this kingdom and reverse the culture of theft and oppression that has become your hallmark.”
“My Queen, I will doff my cap and tell them what they want to hear, but we both know your kingdom is based on a wealthy elite exploiting the serfs for personal gain, aggrandisement and displays of riches. For every rich man, there must be hundreds of serfs to support him, working his fields for a pittance, fighting his battles, and being grateful for a rat-infested hovel to live in and a handful of grain to feed his lice-ridden family.”
The May Queen eyed him with a cold, well-practiced withering look, and answered in a low and threatening voice. “That may be how we want it, Sir Greed, but we must at least make a show of appearing to care for the welfare of the legions of poor, for without their labour, our kingdom would falter and we would not be able to continue our lavish lifestyles… beware the dangers of arrogance and cruelty! They have been the undoing of many Lords, and I will move swiftly to strip you of your titles if you do not play along with our mocking game of deception and false hope for our minions!”
Sir Greed, suitably chastised, went before the commission, and smiled like a devious crook as he rebuffed charges of dishonesty, avarice, and cruelty to his people. For in truth, the commission had no powers to strip away his lands or titles, merely the power to chastise and humbly request some coins for the alms box.
Sir Greed and Squire Chappell rode away, laughing at the powerless rage and frustration of the councillors, and dismissing the paltry amount paid into the alms box.
“We shall recover our outlay with higher taxes, my Lord,” the heartless squire quipped.
As they rode through a dark, foreboding forest, making their way slowly under overhanging trees, their path was suddenly blocked by a band of outlaws.
“Out of our way, vermin,” Sir Greed demanded.
The leader of the group, an ageing man with a grey scaggy beard, approached on a mangy nag. “My Lord, I am The Corbineer, leader of, well, one of a number of bands of outlaws in this forest, having been duly elected by my peers, and I must now ask you for your purse, as we have many mouths to feed.” He waved a short, bent sword, and encouraged his men to laugh at his boldness.
“Out of my way, scum!” Sir Greed replied, spurring his horse forward and brushing aside the dandy bandit. He rode away on his black charger, closely followed by his whimpering squire. They soon cleared the forest and turned back to see their entourage beaten and stripped of their clothing.
“Shall we ride back to aid our followers, my lord?” the panting Chappell enquired, feigning bravery.
“No need,” Sir Greed replied, “There are plenty more where they came from. I shall send a group of knights from the Order of The Exploiters to deal with this troublesome Corbineer. The poor are too divided with their village rivalries to come to his aid. We will not kill him but instead capture him and keep him in our Palace of Westminster as an example to others of how hope of advancement is in vain and they must accept their subservient position in our kingdom. As my Uncle Avarice once said, ‘It’s their hope that kills ‘em’.”
They laughed as they rode to Castle Green, oblivious to the cries and screams of their abandoned followers, safe in the knowledge that order had been upheld in the Kingdom of Fear.
To find out about the future of the Kingdom of Fear…
A headline in this morning’s Mirror newspaper (11/04/16) caught my eye – Tories’ London ‘Now a Capital for Laundering’. Candidate for Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has finally come out and said what many have been thinking for some time: “We have people from around the world laundering money through London’s property market leading to hyper-inflation in property.”
It’s almost as if he has broken a taboo by speaking out about our run-away property market, particularly in London and the South-East that actively seeks foreign investment, at the expense of the ability of citizens to buy a roof over their heads. The insanely greedy buy-to-let spin off is causing much suffering amongst families and workers battling to survive in a divided city with a growing multicultural underclass of people forced into poverty by unaffordable mortgages and rents. Homelessness is rising, and residents are being forced out by social cleansing.
The piece is accompanied by a colourful graphic showing how money laundering works:
Placement. A criminal wants to hide sum of illegally obtained money, concealing the origin and ownership. The money is placed in an offshore account, usually in a British Overseas Territory.
Layering. A complex network of transactions is created through several offshore company names making the money difficult to trace back to its origin.
Enabling. UK professional services, such as lawyers, accountants and banks facilitate the transfer of the money into the UK.
Integrating. The criminal uses the funds to buy UK property, luxury goods or art to integrate laundered money into the UK.
Khan goes on to say, “What possible reason could there be to buy a property using an offshore company? What possible reason could there be to buy a property from a tax haven?”
The Mayor of London would not have the powers to force buyers to be named, unlike in New York City, where they are ahead of us in this game of money laundering posing as ‘foreign investment’. Khan has called on the Government, “to ensure transparency.”
Meanwhile, over in the Houses of Parliament today, a cornered Prime Minister, David Cameron, will attempt to explain to the country his hitherto carefully hidden personal finances. He has benefited from his father’s tax-free offshore investments, from inheritance money ‘gifted’ to him in a tax dodge, and conveniently forgotten about a second property his family owns that yields income. His estimated net worth is over £40 million, but we will never know the full truth, or gain a clear insight into his privileged world. Wriggling like a worm on a hook, he has already lost credibility as a trusted leader who can lecture us on what is right and wrong. He is at the centre of a system that encourages the wealthy to hide their money from the taxman, whilst hypocritically lecturing us on the importance of paying taxes and the need for cut backs in public spending. This is sounding more and more like an episode of Gotham, with its comic book characters, who seek to out do each other with their outrageous behaviour, whilst manically laughing all the way to the bank.
We can all understand the desire to pay as little tax as possible, and maximise on income. But here’s the thing. The majority of workers are employees who have tax and national insurance deducted from their earnings at source, and have no chance of wriggling out of payments for the running of the country (including MPs expenses). We are the cash cows of a rotten system. A system that encourages money laundering and welcomes ‘investment’ by murderous leaders of repressed countries with sham democracies; the world’s criminal elite. Picture a meeting of criminal gang leaders around a Gotham City bar room table.
We will all be made to regret the Thatcher legacy of the dismantling of the welfare state, the cheap sale of national assets, deregistration of the finance sector, and the whittling away of our personal rights and freedoms. Welcome to the New Gotham – where money can buy you anything, and no one asks where it came from. It is a society divided between rich and poor, where criminal gangs battle with a shrinking police force and fear is used as a political weapon to keep the citizens in check.
A Pandora’s Box of sleaze has been opened, and the Joker has escaped. Where is Batman when you need him?
“…You won’t be compromised – we’re simply assisting you from our Development Fund.”
“What do you want in return for this support?”
“The President wants you to know this is his personal flagship initiative; he has worked tirelessly to get funding from members and sponsors.”
“So, he’s not asking for my vote?”
“He’ll closely follow your development programme and will personally attend your launch event.”
“You still haven’t answered my question.”
“The President only wants to be seen as a beacon of light, illuminating the dark corners and bringing hope through sport to developing countries. Everyone’s a winner and the Federation of TiddlyWinks will flourish.”
“Well, thank him from me for his support and personal interest in our humble Association. He is indeed a far-sighted and powerful leader.”