After the recent furore over Google not paying their fare share of tax, you can imagine the outcry as it now emerges that Google has paid for Gideon and his son to go on a jolly to the US.
Google has agreed to pay £130M in tax to cover the last 10 years, this is around a 3% tax rate. So it appears Google would rather pay bribes in order to get its tax rate down.
The Tories are getting rid of maintenance grants, that have helped poorer people historically go to universtity. And they're doing it in a very undemocratic way. With tuition fees now £9k a year at most universities, this is hitting poorer students again, so it is beginning to feel like higher education is something only for the well-off as the poor cannot afford it. So much for giving everyone equal opportunities.
The regulator, recently set up by the government, has scrapped plans to further investigate the industry. You may remember a bit of a hoo-ha about this as the economy went into the biggest recession ever due largely to bankers trying to make money out of thin air.
Back in 2012, David Cameron said lessons would be learned about the crisis. Well we've learned nothing as the investigation has been stopped before it's done anything of any real use. Once again we have a toothless regulator, not given enough power to punish the banks and bring them to account. It is now just a matter of time before the next bubble, caused by the banks, bursts and we go into another recession. Remember this well, the Tories have caused the next recession by their inaction.
George Osborne has hamstrung the regulator the FCA, rather than supporting them in their work, for example he recently forced the head of the FCA to resign.
The FCA is now rudderless as Martin Wheatley, who was heading up the regulator, has still not been replaced despite resigning in mid July 2015. What a shambles.
George Osborne's plans to tackle to national debt are failing and this months borrowing figures are another nail in the coffin of his failing plans. Figures for November show that the economy had to borrow £14.2Bn to stay afloat, that's up by £1,3Bn on the same period for last year.
The simple fact is you cannot expect the economy to grow under austerity and that means tax receipts will fall, or at best stagnate, you need increased taxes to help pay off the deficit. Simples stupid!
If George was a Premiership manager he would have been given his marching orders some time ago, but if you're mates with Dave then you can carry on performing abysmally and keep your cushy little job. Must try harder.
So, George will no doubt be looking for more cuts in future, perhaps he might be able to manage his own toe-nails. Perhaps giving the rich all those tax breaks wasn't such a bright idea?
Oh and finally a bit of a laugh, remember, Osborne said the deficit would be eliminated by 2019-2020. No chance. Will the electorate be able to forgive (and pay for) such a monumental cock-up, the economy is safe with the Conservatives!
The Telegraph reports that the NHS is being overcharged for “private” nurses to the tune of around 20%. These nurses are required due to lack of funding as hospitals are lacking the staff they need to deal with their workload.
The private companies supplying them know they can overcharge due to lack of transparency and they have a captive market.
Jeremy Hunt said it was “unacceptable” for agencies to be making “big profits” from the NHS.
Another example of “Austerity” not working, the cuts imposed on the NHS mean they cannot afford the correct levels of staff so they end up paying even more in the long run due to the short-sightedness of the government. This is also perpetuating the de-facto privatisation by stealth of the NHS as more and more nurses are now privately employed.
Interestingly enough, last year it was announced that the NHS own in-house recruiting agency for nursing staff was to be privatised. Hunt was warned at the time that this would lead to increased costs for nursing staff.
The agency has not as yet been privatised due to the huge furore it would cause but it is still on the government’s agenda to privatise it.
On a related note, Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi is paid £3,300 a month for seven hours work as non-executive director of recruitment firm SThree - a firm staffing new Clinical Commissioning Groups. Conflict of interest anyone?
I thought it might be interesting to see how membership of the main political parties stands in the wake of the recent election and the upsurge in popularity that Labour has enjoyed under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.
As you can see Labour are clearly the most well supported party with 371k members, an increase of around 80k since April.
The Greens are almost overtaking the Lib Dems with UKIP in last place.
It isn't always easy to find this information as some parties are not very forthcoming with the figures but most of the data is from the websites for the parties themselves. Figures are as up to date as possible, rounded to the nearest thousand.
George Osborne, amongst other Conservatives, has been very busy trying to "get the deficit down" by judicious aplication of austerity, trying to save every penny without worrying too much about who it might hurt.
For example, his colleague Ian Dunkin' Smith has been criticised following the deaths of thousands of disabled people due to his policy of changing the rules around so-called "fit to work tests".
Another unpopular policy, the Bedroom Tax, that has caused serious problems to some of the most vulnerably people in our society, has saved an estimated £1Bn despite the turmoil that ensued.
So you'd think that the government would love to find another billion pound saving that would be politically popular wouldn't you?
The "Mayfair Loophole" is one such wheeze. It's a tax arrangement that wealthy bankers in the City can use to avoid paying around £700M per annum. It's been reported for quite a while now with the pressure group 34 Degrees, campaigning long and hard to get it abolished without success so far.
It's just another example of how the rich Conservative party looks after its own kind, a nice gift to those who fund the party to the tune of £7M. Money that is then used to brainwash the electorate and buy the media to ensure they stay on in power year after year.
Why should some of these millionaire fund managers pay a lower percentage of tax than people who are on less than the average wage? Well, someone has to fund the Tories.
You may remember how we had a bit of trouble with the economy a few years back, largely caused by the banks bad business policies that let to them being bailed out by the tax payer to the tune of some £500 Bn.
There were lots of sound-bites from the government of the time and the newly elected Conservative government about how this would not be allowed to happen again and what measures would be put in place to prevent this. Back in 2009 (when he was trying to get into the public's good books for the upcoming election) Dave Cameron was quoted as saying reckless bankers who caused credit crunch should be prosecuted. Well, it's another U-Turn by the Tory leader and he's helping out the bankers who fund the party so lavishly. Money is power.
Today Conservative led amendments to this law, which soften the rules on bankers, have made it through the Lords. What a difference an election makes. Bankers can now rest a little safer knowing that they won't go to prison if they muck it all up again with their gress, which they will of course do - it's a matter of when not if.
Today The Independent reported that the UK Government could be prosecuted for supplying arms to the Saudi Arabian government.
British Companies have long profited by selling arms to the oil-rich kingdom, the terrible reputation that the country has for civil-rights abuses not seeming to have an effect. The hypocrisy of this government could not be clearer to see, whilst we are boming DAESH in Syria this government continues to bless the sale of weapons to a country that is in some ways no better than a terrorist state as they bomb The Yemen, killing around 6,000 civilians to date.
Indeed only last month the UK hosted an arms fair in London that was attended by Saudi officials.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a terrible record on human rights even within its own borders as the dictators in control try desperately to cling on to power. Even today, The Independent reported that a 15-year-old boy is going to be beheaded for attending a protest against the government. We should not be selling weapons and helping to support such barbaric regimes. But money talks doesn't it Dave?
Today The Guardian published details of a pay rise that George "Mr Bean" Osborne has awarded to his main image advisor as she takes on the Herculean task of making him appeal to voters, akin to polishing a turd. A nice 42% pay rise in times of austerity cannot be bad.
While those in the Public Sector must make do with no pay rise, genius Thea Rogers now commands a salary of close to £100,000 for telling her boss to smile, get a hair cut and go on a diet. Nice work if you can get it, even if your boss is a charmless cretin.
We're all in it together!£98,000 worth of charm shines through
The DWP today slipped out a damning report into the so-called 'bedroom tax'. As we reported earlier, it found the policy is forcing those affected to cut back on food and other essential items, while forcing many into taking on unsustainable debts. Importantly it also found that the chief selling point of the bedroom tax, that it would free up social housing, hasn't been borne out in reality. Charities today slammed the government for slipping out the report on the last day of the parliamentary term.
On Wednesday 2nd December, the UK voted to commence air-strikes in Syria against ISIS/Deash, showing a breathtaking lack of understanding by many MPs. This wasn't a well thought out and considered decision, despite the 10 hours or so of debate. This was a knee-jerk and reactionary decision in the aftermath of the Paris attrocities - the urge for bloody revenge was just too great for those in power to resist.
I thought one very telling speech involved a quote that in effect said that they (IS) think they are better than us - ironic indeed, it is the MPs in Westminster that think they are better - and above, everyone.
In the end it was a comfortable win for Cameron, despite a dozen or so Conservative rebels, the Labour "rebels" more than compensated for this and in the end the ayes had it with 390 to 211 against.
Cameron has used emotion to get this vote through as quickly as possible after Paris, people are still angry after the death toll there but debate isn't best done with such emotions running high, sober heads are required to make the decision to go to war. Public opinion has already shifted against air strikes after it had been firmly for them in the days after the terrorist killings and it is likely this will continue so the government will look more and more out of touch with the wishes of the electorate.
Hopefully we won't regret the decision to bomb Syria in the cold light of day, thankfully the early strikes at least have been token ones against oil fields that should hopefully be well clear of civilians, even if IS/Daesh are using human shields. Whilst IS may not value human life, we certainly should.
Having said that, whenever we have bombed a country in the Middle East, it has never turned out well. Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya spring to mind.
Just to set the record straight, I am not totally against military action and even air-strikes against IS, but I believe that any such action should be a last resort and only undertaken once we know exactly what we are getting into. I do not believe that currently all options have been explored with regards to Syria/IS and we certainly don't understand the political situation inside Syria.
The main concerns by getting involved are the very real possibility of civilian casualties and also that our actions will radicalise more extremists to target the UK. The cost is also going to escalate when we are supposed to be in austere times, for what benefit? Will it really keep us safe? Only time will tell.
So far the US have killed around 700 civilians and the Russians 400 in their actions, it is generally accepted that you will kill at least 5% civilians by launching this type of action. This will also encourage more Syrians to be displaced and add to the already long lines of refugees leaving the country and looking to enter Europe and the relative safety there.
So for every 100 IS rebels we kill, 5 civilians must die. Is that a price worth paying? Or is it a price worth paying as the civilians are not British?
Cameron labelled anyone who voted against the air-strikes as "terrorist sympathisers" - this is not only undemocratic but it will also come back to haunt him later in his career.
Time will tell.