GUNS N’ HOUSES

Guns n houses2Two things have caught my attention in last week’s news. The first – British Prime Minister Theresa May bravely battling through a hacking cough, falling signs and an unfunny prankster to sell us the unbelievable notion that her party actually cares about citizen welfare. The second – another appalling, almost apocalyptic, mass shooting in the USA.

In my own quixotic, febrile mind these two events are connected. You see, both the USA and the UK are hostages to their history and socio-cultural development. In the case of the UK, there is an obsession with home ownership that started out as a quite reasonable desire to well, own your own home. This dream has been cynically hijacked by the forces of capitalism who have now gained such a tight control over our lives that we are being slowly rendered powerless vassals to an uncaring system who see us merely as consumers on the one hand and units of labour to be exploited for profit on the other (or replaced if we ask for decent pay and conditions).

Theresa May chose to swerve the impending car crash of Brexit in her party conference speech and instead headed straight for the heart-and-soul of a creaking nation – home ownership. Since her heroine Margaret Thatcher’s ruinous rebalancing of the economy to render it up as a sacrificial lamb to the Wolf of Wall Street, our housing sector has become the Property Market and is now an investment opportunity for international crooks and money-launderers rather than serving its intended function of housing people. Citizens need to be housed, even in an aggressive advanced capitalist system, otherwise, how are they going to work and pay taxes? But there’s too much money invested, too much at stake, to reform this ugly investment beast. So suck it up, Britain.

Mrs May unwisely chose to highlight the fact that today’s younger generation, apart those with millionaire parents, have been priced out of the housing market and will never realize their dream of owning their own home. So are the Tories advocating low-cost rental schemes? No – private renting has become a huge source of investment and wealth-creation in its own right, feeding off the fat carcass of an over-inflated property market. Instead, she made a weak and insincere ‘promise’ to invest in ‘affordable housing’, to the sneers of her watching colleagues. This is from a Party hell-bent on withdrawing from all its responsibilities towards citizen welfare – the slow pulling-back of a parental hand from a dying child. The charities sector will take up the slack in a post-welfare state Britain if this lot continues to be re-elected.

Why did she do it? They certainly don’t intend to intervene to allay our misery at ongoing economic exploitation – just the usual lies and sops that at least let us know they are aware of our distress – like Fritzel feeding his imprisoned daughter and rape-victim with mock shows of kindness that merely reinforce the power relationship between the exploiter and exploited. Will we ever break away from this increasingly totalitarian global capitalist super-state? They have done a brilliant job of subverting our democracy and bamboozling our media with, yes, you’ve guessed it – FAKE NEWS.

Which brings me to part two of my rant. Our capitalist cousin, the USA, is reeling after the latest incident of mass-murder by a gun-toting maniac who had amassed an arsenal of over twenty weapons. Islamic State added a darkly sinister attempt at humour by trying to take the credit for a killing spree carefully planned and executed by a white retired millionaire accountant. The playground of the affluent – Las Vegas – became the killing ground for the insane gunning-down of hundreds of concert-goers in a carnival of pure evil. Why does the USA so proudly cling to its ‘right to bear arms’? Thomas Jefferson is long dead and the British colonisers long-gone, so why the need? Well, one gun shop owner explained to a bemused reporter that an armed citizenry prevents an overbearing state from exploiting them – in a chilling act of defiance bordering on the threat of re-opening the civil war. USA, you are in one helluva mess.

So, in conclusion, we are all living under a global capitalist system whose aim is to squeeze every penny it can out of us with as little investment in our welfare as is possible. A wealthy elite will prosper and we will all pay for it.

The difference between the UK and USA is that US citizens are armed and dangerous…Guns n houses2

King Charles the Benign Dictator

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.

Parliament bombed

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?

http://myBook.to/DevilGateDawn

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Our Increasingly Dystopian Society

We are, perhaps, more familiar with the term ‘Utopian’ that describes a society that’s conceived to be perfect. ‘Dystopian’ is the exact opposite — it describes an imaginary society that is as dehumanising and unpleasant as possible. Dystopian stories are often set in the future and come as warnings for us to reflect on trends in our societies and mend our easy-going ways or else risk falling into the hands of an oppressive regime. Popular literary examples are George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, now finding new readers.

DevilGateDawnModifiedCover_Aug_2016As a writer, I’m also constantly attuned to trends in our governance that might be undermining the personal freedoms and opportunities for advancement we currently enjoy in Western societies. My attention was drawn to a news item this morning (12/02/2017) tucked away in a tiny space in my e-newspaper, The Mirror, that to me screams, ‘Beware of the encroaching Dystopian Society!’

ONE MILLION ON ZERO HOURS CONTRACTS

The report states, quite calmly, that the number of workers on zero hours contracts is set to exceed one million for the first time. Figures for 2016 show over 900,000 on zero hour contracts – workers on hourly rate with no guarantee of working hours, no job security and often on the minimum wage. Employers argue that a flexible labour market where staff are called in at a moment’s notice with a lack of fixed hours boosts employment. But this leaves workers uncertain of how many hours they will work and how much they can earn each week, often leaving them short of ability to pay rents, transport and feed themselves.

The report states that the Trade Union Congress (TUC) believe that as many as three million workers (one in ten workers in Britain) are now in insecure jobs, such as seasonal, temporary or agency work.

Such insecurity of tenure goes against all the efforts by worker’s representatives and trade unions going back over a hundred years to fight for workers rights and to be treated with respect by their employers. Sadly, the current climate we live in of harsh capitalist exploitation, backed up by uncaring governments who see their job as furthering the interests of Big Business ahead of looking after the welfare of citizens is, well, leading us down the rocky road to a dystopian, authoritarian state.

This is coming fast, in my opinion. In Britain we have had thirty years of Thatcherist politics that have seen national infrastructure ruthlessly asset-stripped under the name of Privatisation, to the extent that most of our utility and transport companies are foreign owned and operated at high cost to the consumer. Also, our property market has become a free-for-all investment product for international criminals, Tax-dodgers and foreign governments, pricing our citizens out of being able to afford a roof over their heads.

I have long been suspicious of successive governments feebly apologising for missing net inward migration targets by several hundreds of thousands, foolishly believing their narrative that they’ have no control’. Of course they have control, at point of entry. In reality, I believe they have deliberately created a large, multi-cultural, low-paid labour pool of people desperate enough to work long hours for the minimum wage, and thus drive down wages for our working class citizens. We are already witnessing tensions in our towns and cities as this ‘divide and rule’ politics takes effect.

Our opposition parties have been completely compromised by this, not sure on whether to listen to the complaints of hard-pressed citizens or embrace the diversity of new arrivals. By trying to do both, they end up pleasing no one. They are unable to provide a coherent opposition to the forces of rampant global capitalism as represented by our ruling party, The Conservatives. Sadly, our educated liberal elite in their rush to embrace ‘One-World-ism’ are unwittingly aiding and abetting our sly capitalist leaders in their aim of creating a large, low-paid underclass of workers whose freedoms and rights are slowly being whittled away.

Don’t get me wrong. I bear no ill-will to any people looking for ‘a better life’, and reject all forms of discrimination. I just have a problem with the cynical politics of exploitation for profit that throws people from different backgrounds together, whilst denying them the ability to have a descent standard of living (added to a growing crisis in schools and healthcare) in a race to the bottom of average earnings. Our government is taking us out of the European Union and will use that opportunity to repeal worker’s rights and human rights legislation. Citizens need to wake up and see what is happening…

Boris in ChinaOtherwise we will end up in a 1984-type totalitarian state with ‘Big Boris’ as a pantomime-villain leader. Let’s face it, the States have already got one – Donald Trump!

Check out my tongue-in-cheek novel, Devil Gate Dawn, now described as ‘dystopian’ because I predicted a paranoid Trump America and post-Brexit chaos in Britain leading to mass voter apathy that leaves us with King Charles (not Big Boris) running the country. Don’t laugh too much, it might happen!

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Moral Courage

Those who find themselves in positions of responsibility are morally obliged to make the ‘right’ decisions. That is, decision-making that affects other people must be good and just and in the common interest. Otherwise the moral basis of our society is in question. Are we fundamentally ‘good’ people or just selfish monsters obsessed with wealth accumulation in an age of greed, who de-humanise our fellow beings in the process of getting what we want?

human rights2We see far to many instances reported where people are allowed to suffer the consequences of bad, wrong or just plain evil decisions from leaders they look up to and trust.

The obvious example in British news at the moment is the deeply disturbing child sex abuse scandal in our national sport, football. Club officials have turned a blind eye to the activities of serial child rapists so as to protect ‘the good name of the Club’. Shame on them. Lives have been ruined as a result.

Ordinary people have a right to be protected from abuse and exploitation by those they look up to – managers, politicians, religious leaders – but all too often the abusers and exploiters are the ones in positions of power. Who can they turn to when bullied and threatened by their abuser?

A manager or parent is a first point of contact, but image the victim’s misery being compounded when they are not believed or accused of being complicit in their own abuse. Our police force is there to uphold the Law and protect victims of crime, backed up by civil society – organisations and charity groups. The infrastructure is there, but perhaps needs a higher level of governmental and public backing. Victims must feel confident to speak out and know the correct channels to do so. They must also have confidence in the system.

Distrust in our leaders goes right to the top, with many citizens no longer believing our politicians have the moral courage or sense of community to ‘do the right thing’ when it comes to decision-making. We are now consumers in an age of capitalist exploitation. We are encouraged to be selfish and greedy, to accumulate and hoard things we don’t really need.

It has become obvious to many that our government makes decisions that are in the interest of ‘Big Business’ over citizen welfare, and some point to the Brexit vote (higher in the regions away from the wealthy South-East) as evidence of disenchantment. The politics of shoring-up the interests of a wealthy minority and favouring them over the interests of the majority will surely come back to haunt our current crop of London-centric politicians. Theresa May, be warned.

This is at the heart of our culture of indifference to human suffering and the belief that greed is good. It isn’t. Not in my house. If we cannot treat each other with respect and kindness then we are failing as a society.

I believe it is our collective duty to create an atmosphere of kindness, tolerance and helpfulness and have the courage to speak out and denounce acts of evil. When we elect our political leaders we must hold them to account. They are charged with overseeing a tolerant society where citizens’ rights are protected, where they have opportunities to achieve their goals in life, and are protected from the predatory monsters who lurk amongst us.

 

 

 

Are You a Psycho?

Are you extremely self-confident, egocentric, charming and fearless?  Do you lack empathy for your fellow humans?  Are you employed in one of the following positions or professions?

Trump psychoChief Executive Officer (CEO); Lawyer; Broadcast Media Professional; Salesperson; Surgeon; Journalist; Police Officer; Clergyperson; Chef; Civil Servant.

These are the top ten most likely jobs for people with psychopathic tendencies, according to the ‘Great British Good Psychopath Survey’, run by Kevin Dutton, a psychologist at Oxford University’s Department of Experimental Psychology.

You’ll never look at your vicar/priest/pastor in the same way again, nor that calm, smiling police office.  Okay, we’ve known for years that business leaders, top chefs and TV presenters are psychos, but civil servants, surgeons and religious leaders?

The survey report points out that although people with psychopathic tendencies are drawn to high-paying power jobs such as CEO and lawyer, their difficult personalities may hold them back from succeeding.  Their out of work life may prove problematic, as their ‘difficult’ personality traits will put them at odds with others.

Jacks BackWhy not take the test below (as featured in the mirror.co.uk recently) to see where you are on the psychopath spectrum?  Reporters have been having fun with this, recently declaring that Donald Trump has a higher score on the scale than Adolph Hitler! (how Hitler answered from beyond the grave is not disclosed).

Answer these eleven questions as honestly as you can, count up your points, and post a message below with your score:

For each question award the following points:

0 = Strongly disagree

1 = Disagree

2 = Agree

3= Strongly Agree

 

  1. I rarely plan ahead.  I’m a spur-of-the-moment kind of person.
  2. Cheating on your partner is okay, as long as you don’t get caught.
  3. If something better comes along it’s okay to cancel a long-standing appointment.
  4. Seeing an animal injured or in pain doesn’t both me in the slightest.
  5. Driving fast cars, riding rollercoasters and skydiving appeal to me.
  6. It doesn’t matter to me if I have to step on other people to get what I want.
  7. I’m very persuasive.  I have a talent for getting other people to do what I want.
  8. I’d be good in a dangerous job because I can make my mind up quickly.
  9. I find it easy to keep it together when others are cracking under pressure.
  10. If you’re able to con someone, that’s their problem. They deserve it.
  11. Most of the time when things go wrong it’s somebody else’s fault, not mine.

How did you rate?  0-10 points means you have few psychopathic tendencies, and are a warm, cuddly, empathetic person with a conscience and sense of social responsibility.

11-21  You have a conscience, but have a pragmatic streak and generally aren’t afraid to do your own dirty work.  You’re neither a shrinking violet not a pushover.

22-31  Right or wrong isn’t as important as getting the job done.  You know what you want and go for it, even if it means bending the rules and putting some noses out of joint.  Nothing fazes you.  You are decisive and self-confident.

Hannibal Lecter32-33  You’re at the top of the spectrum, a total psycho.

How did I do?  I came in the 11-21 category – I’m an empathetic pragmatist.  I can get things done, but not by stepping on others…

 

 

Post-Brexit Blues

One week on from the shock of the Leave Vote winning the EU In/Out Referendum, and the country is still reeling in a state of fury, dismay, confusion, denial and regret. There have been marches and protests against the result – one might say, against democracy itself.  Instead of sulking over the drop in the value of their shares and properties, the well-off should spare a thought for the deep seething discontent in the country, and realise that our current political system has created this and continues to fuel it. Brexit Protest1

Our political leadership has been exposed as lightweight and not up to the job of leading us out of this mess. Opportunistic politicians have chosen instead to plunge the knife into rivals with personal ambition uppermost in their minds.  We were not prepared for a Leave Vote because the Conservative Party in government were busy assuring international partners that they would succeed in threatening and bullying the electorate into voting Remain.  They failed, and now stand like rabbits caught in the headlights of a runaway truck, careering madly across the cultural, social and political landscape.

“Rarely if ever in our lifetimes has Britain faced such an uncertain and unpredictable future. Rarely have the main parties at Westminster been, simultaneously, in such chaotic disarray. Who can recall a time when such a large section of the public, and not only the 48% who voted Remain, was in a state of such furious anger, confusion, denial, regret or heartfelt dismay?” The Observer (03/07/16).  We could fight them on the beaches, but who should we fight?  And who are we, anyway?

Personally, I feel the country should accept the outcome of the referendum and get behind a settlement for the nation so we can move forward.  This settlement must include listening to the voices of those who voted Leave, many voices of protest from those who feel a deep rooted resentment against the London-based ruling elite, who carry on their merry way, regardless of which party is in power, with their capitalist agenda, marginalising and patronising those who get in their way.

The Conservative Party has opened Pandora’s Box and must now be ruing their miscalculation in believing they could manipulate the outcome of the referendum to come down on the side of political and economic stability – the side that would allow the preservation of the status quo and the continuation of the damaging policies of divide and rule.  Vote Remain was seen as good for business, despite the fact that many see the EU as an undemocratic organisation in the process of morphing into a Federal Superstate.  Their political objects are not ours, and so a Leave Vote appealed to many in the UK –  52%, in fact.

Brexit Protest2However, as a result of the vote, we find ourselves at a social.political and cultural crossroads, and need to ask ourselves the question, ‘Who are we?’  A national debate on who we are and what society we want to live in should be fired up, to curtail the forces of greed, nationalism, xenophobia and division who lurk in the wings waiting for their moment.

The main problem I foresee is our lack of leadership, as our two main political parties are riven with infighting and hopelessly ill-equipped to address the fundamental divisions in our fractured society.  The Labour Party, having shuffled to the centre ground of British politics, is now disconnected from the core working class, and have become accomplices to the seemingly irresistible forces of ‘free market economics’,  ‘International Capitalism’ or simply, ‘Thatcherism’, take your pick.

The mass influx of cheaper labour to feed the machine has caused widespread discontent, as British citizens have been told to ‘shut up and get on with it’.  Well now they have had their chance to protest, via the In/Out referendum, and have chosen to stick two fingers up to the Establishment, and the sham democracy that leaves them as powerless serfs in an age of greed.

Can the Labour Party shake itself out of its torpor?  What of the Green Party?  They should get together and start a national movement for change. Citizens Against Capitalism. For starters, school leavers should be given clear guidance and training to do the jobs required, and we should focus more on producing what we consume.  Let the business community find new markets through the world wide web – are trade deals even relevant anymore?  Some fresh thinking is required, but can we find the leaders needed to drive the process?

In my near-future novel, Devil Gate Dawn, set just 10 years from now, I predict increasing divisions in British society following Brexit, that leads to a mass General Election boycott, followed by a Government of National Unity headed by King Charles.  It was complete fantasy just two weeks ago, but now has been described as ‘increasingly believable’.  My everyman hero, George, gets dragged into helping the police track down a deadly terror group, as they are forced to flee their homes and hide in the countryside… let’s hope it won’t come to this.

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A Dystopian Brexit

“George picked through the odd assortment of items in his trolley outside the looted supermarket. Life inside the Red Zone had descended into a desperate battle for survival, as the caged-in labour pool waited glumly to find out if they had been chosen for a day’s work in the Green Zone to the east, or the Blue Commercial Zone to the west. A day’s labour for food tokens was as much as the working class could hope for in 2044 Britain….”

Welcome to the Red Zone

Yes folks, the EU In/Out Refendum poll takes place this week, on Thursday 23rd June, with the opinion polls now showing ‘The Remainers’ edging slightly ahead after a fraught period of bitter deadlock where ‘The Leavers’ appeared to have gained the ascendancy.  The violent murder of a Labour MP, by a mentally ill man shouting ‘Britain First!’ has been callously exploited by Remainers as a further threat to your personal safety in the wilderness of a non-EU Britain.  It appears to have tilted the predicted outcome in their favour.  Fear and threats are now standard tactics in British politics.

Resistance is crumbling and an air of resignation has set in amid threats of a collapsing economy and further hardship being piled on the ‘difficult’ white working class if they vote Leave as some kind of protest against the dark forces of Capitalism. They are angry that their ability to earn a descent wage is being eroded, their quality of life and future prospects are being gradually stripped away, as is their right to feel comfortable in their living space, recently invaded by millions of ‘alternative’ workers from poorer countries. But will a Leave scenario really help them?

If the vote really comes down to a question of ‘which right-wing politician do you hate the least?’ then it is a damning indictment of where we are after 30 years of Thatcherism, under which we are witnessing our national assets being privatised and the on-going dismantling of our welfare state, depressingly aided and abetted by the Labour Party. The disenfranchised working class have been backed into a corner, and now plan to vote Leave in a futile two-fingered protest against the Establishment, ignoring the fact that by doing so they are doing the bidding of political leaders who care less for them than the ones currently in charge.

It is a bleak scenario, a world where hope is gradually being strangled, and citizen’s rights are being sacrificed on the altar of capitalist greed. Our property market ignores the basic need for shelter for our people and has become an investment platform for the world’s rich, with no one asking how they got their money. The Establishment are lined up on both sides of the referendum debate, each group calculating their profits should their side win. They threaten, cajole and brow-beat a tired and increasingly powerless population, confused with so much mis-information, to vote for their side, so they may continue with their own brand of oppression.

It really is no choice at all for those at the lower levels of society. ‘What brand of personal hell would you like to vote for, sir?’ Go ahead and protest-vote for Leave, thinking it might slow up the process of replacing you with a cheap and easy to exploit foreign doppelganger. Now it’s immigrants, but in the future it will be robots – whatever is the most efficient and cost-effective way of having basic functions fulfilled in a world becoming polarised between the haves and have-nots.  What has happened to us?  Are we really sleepwalking into losing our rights, welfare and dreams?  It’s the illusion of hope that ultimately kills our souls and destroys our motivation to resist.

As for me, I’ll exercise my democratic right to vote (whilst I still have it) by presenting myself at the polling booth. But I intend to put a big cross through my paper – a NO THANKS vote. A spoilt ballot, but still a democratic statistic. I reject them all, and continue to hope for a sea-change in British politics, a change to a citizen-focussed agenda. I will not be the puppet of right-wing zealots.  That’s my personal protest.  Let the sneering BBC presenters pour cold water on all those who don’t buy into their misguided one-world utopian (but not in my street) hypocrisy.  They are misguided fools who are merely doing the work of those who exploit us for profit.  How about prioritising the needs of British citizens?  An unpopular proposition in this age of greed and short-sighted liberal do-gooding.

A plague on Bojo, Farage, Cameron, Osborne and the Slithy Gove! They are all products of the same private education system that props up the Establishment. They are all power-mad narcissists who only have their own interests at heart, who would rather seek out the company of international murderers and thieves with money to invest or launder in Project Off-Shore Britain than you or I.

Our role in their vision of future Britain is as low paid and powerless serfs.  So I say again, why should I vote for them? It’s like voting for your own internment in a Labour Pool Camp (see above). I have finally decided….I’m registering my protest at the failure of our democratic system to deliver an equitable and fair society, and at the elevation of selfishness and greed to an acceptable mode of behaviour, by SPOILING MY BALLOT!!!

Welcome to the New Gotham

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.”

Canary WharfIt’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:

  1. 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.
  2. Layering. A complex network of transactions is created through several offshore company names making the money difficult to trace back to its origin.
  3. Enabling. UK professional services, such as lawyers, accountants and banks facilitate the transfer of the money into the UK.
  4. 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?

SHOULD WE TRUST THE CHINESE?

Interesting articles have appeared across the media on Chinese investment in the UK, sparked by their offer to build a nuclear power station here. They will almost certainly insist on manning and running it, for that is what they have done in other countries where they’ve invested. So, who are the Chinese and should we trust them?

Xi-Jinping-china chinese people

The Chancellor, George Osborne, is in China to practice his bowing skills and negotiate a deal that will result in Chinese cash part-funding Britain’s newest nuclear power station. Hinkley Point C in Somerset is to be built to the blueprint of an already existing Chinese nuclear power plant.

China is a one-party communist state, and all their nationals who are allowed to travel abroad work for state owned companies and are party members. They swear an oath of allegiance to the state, and that is where their loyalties lie. When they invest in developing countries, most notably in over a dozen African states, they go straight to State House and hold behind closed doors meetings with those in power.

They are not interested in democracy, only in making deals. From Africa they want their minerals, from Europe they want to increase their power and influence. They are not motivated by personal greed, and therefore their values and motives remain hidden to clumsy Western politicians. In developing countries their deals consist of mineral and mining rights in exchange for infrastructure development (as I have witnessed from my time working in Africa). They will build roads, railways, clinics, schools, office and residential buildings, using local materials and labour, but with Chinese foremen, engineers, architects and other professionals. Work permits are usually hurried through in days, whilst other foreign workers are made to wait in frustration. They opened a black-windowed branch of Bank of China in the capital city I worked in, as they have nothing to do with Western finance systems, apart from assiduously collecting US dollars.

How does this system work in the UK? The answer is, we don’t know. What is being offered in exchange? What are they really after to increase their power and influence over us? They have seen our weakness – money. I would hope that personal inducements to our leaders would be politely declined, but who knows? Our politics in the West are supposed to be open to scrutiny from civil society and the media, who report back to the citizens. The Chinese have state-owned media and control access to the internet. They will feel uncomfortable at their deals being made public, and will try to control the information flow, posing a challenge to our journalists.

This is a clash of cultural inducement practices – the secretive but direct; ‘How much do you want?’ approach of the Chinese versus the; ‘We would want contracts for private firms’ gambit favoured by our politicians, with one eye on future directorships. They are patient and will play a long game to get what they really want. Witness the last Governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, threatening to sell off military land in key strategic locations, unless the Chinese agreed to allow democratic elections and a system of self-government in the former colony. They were not happy at being forced into a corner. Now, a few years down the line, witness the democracy protests being crushed and a loyal party member appointed as effective Governor. They get their way in the end.

Practically all UK and US political decisions are based on capitalist values, thinly dressed up as ‘the public good’. This is a cause for concern, because with opening the door to Chinese ‘investment’, we are opening the lid of Pandora’s Box. Their politics are based on growing the power and influence of a one party state, and their citizens are voiceless cogs in the machine. Our power stations, utilities, air and sea ports are seen as key strategic assets, and any foreign ownership should be questioned. We are dealing with a largely secretive communist state that has only recently emerged from being a closed society to calmly taking up its position as a major World power. They have joined our game, but they have their own rules.

Our political leaders are like pioneering spacemen encountering an alien species for the first time, inquisitive and seemingly friendly, but a complete cultural unknown. Smile and say hello… just before it bites your head off.

OTHER CHINESE INVESTMENTS IN TRANSPORT, PROPERTY AND UTILITIES:

 

In October 2013, it was announced that Beijing Construction Engineering Group would be investing £800m into a new area of Manchester Airport called Airport City. The development will provide logistics, manufacturing, office and leisure facilities for Britain’s third busiest airport.

 

In October 2012, 10% of Heathrow Airport was sold to the China Investment Corporation – China’s sovereign wealth fund. The deal took ownership of Britain’s busiest airport to more than 40% controlled by the Chinese, Qatari and Singaporean governments.

 

Britain’s busiest port – Felixstowe in Suffolk – has been wholly owned since 1994 by Hutchisons Port Holdings, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based CK Hutchison, run by Chinese-born magnate and billionaire Li Ka-shing. The port has its own police, fire and ambulance services.

 

In 2012, China Investment Corporation – the state-owned fund responsible for managing the country’s foreign exchange reserves – bought a 9% stake in Thames Water, which provides and manages the water supply for 15 million people in and around London.

 

Northumbrian Water, which provides water and sewerage for 2.7 million people in Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, Durham, parts of North Yorkshire and parts of Essex and Suffolk is wholly owned by a subsidiary of CK Hutchison.

 

Veolia Water, a France-based company that owns a small part of the UK water firm Affinity Water, is itself 10% owned by SAFE-IC, the Hong Kong subsidiary of China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange. Affinity provides water to 3.5 million people in Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Surrey, and six London boroughs.

 

In December 2012, China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE-IC) bought almost half of the Co-operative Group’s future headquarters in Manchester, called One Angel Square. It also bought 40% of UPP Group Holdings, a major provider of student accommodation in Britain and 100% of City of London glass and steel office block Drapers’ Gardens.

 

Until earlier this year, China Investment Corporation (CIC) owned 19% of Songbird Estates, the parent company of London’s Canary Wharf, home to many of the UK’s largest banks including Barclays and HSBC. It eventually sold up after a bid from a Qatari company. CIC still owns 100% of the City of London headquarters of Deutsche Bank, according to Pinsent Masons LLP.