Thatcher, Leadsom, tax scandals and the EU neoliberal juggernaut losing its wheels

5th July 2016 / EU, United Kingdom

Andrea Leadsom is laying claim to the mantle of Baroness Thatcher as she launches her campaign to become the second woman to serve as Britain’s Prime Minister says The Telegraph. Andrea Leadsom woos Tories with promise to be the ‘heir’ to Thatcher says the Daily Mail.

The irony is lost somewhere. It was Margaret Thatcher who instigated a new neoliberal economic model based around the Americanisation of Britain in concert with ‘Reagonomics’ (the economic policies of the former US president Ronald Reagan, associated especially with the reduction of taxes and the promotion of unrestricted free-market activity and privatisation) that has led us to where we are right now. That is to say, an imploding and completely divided political environment amid the backdrop of emerging social unrest and an uncertain economic future. That is what this neoliberal ideology has culminated in.

As the Tories in-fight for some sort of ‘leadership’ figure to emerge the arrogance and egomania of their party has still not dawned upon them, demonstrating that these are clearly the dying days of a particular brand of failed right-wing dogma. If the Brexit vote said anything it was that the current system is not working for the masses. Rightly or wrongly, the majority of people in Britain voted to end the status quo.

And as Andrea Leadsom throws her hat into the ring – This from her own website dated 25th May 2009 “I was selected as the candidate for the Conservatives in South Northants in June 2006. As a candidate, there is no such thing as ‘allowances’ (and certainly no salary…), but there have been plenty of expenses over the past three years! I have carried on working in order to pay for the huge privilege of being the candidate – lots of petrol, the cost of newsletters, postage, stationery, fundraising events, etc, plus the major cost of childcare. All my own choice, and I continue to feel honoured to have been chosen to be the candidate here. I only mention this because I’ve had plenty of local residents vent their own rage at me in the last few weeks, as I’ve been canvassing for the County and European elections. Believe me, I share their anger at the system that has allowed – even encouraged – MPs to boost their income with expenses paid for by us taxpayers, and I am as disgusted as any other taxpayer at the antics of some MPs who have now been caught out abusing their generous allowances.

If I am elected as the Member of Parliament for South Northamptonshire, I will: i) publish my expenses on the internet each month. ii) minimise my use of taxpayer funded allowances. iii) never claim for groceries or other expenses that are not justifiably incurred in doing my job.

These pledges are not the result of the scandal that has engulfed politics in the last few weeks – they are just common sense, and are no different to how I viewed my expenses during my 25 years working in business and in the charity sector.”

Fast forward to The Independent April 2014 – “Andrea Leadsom, the new City minister, used controversial trusts to reduce her potential tax bill and took advantage of offshore banking arrangements for her buy-to-let property company – in an apparent contradiction to George Osborne’s attempts to crack down on tax avoidance.” And “The move indicates Ms Leadsom obtained loans from the Jersey-based (tax haven) wealth-management operation, secured against the buy-to-let properties.”

Isn’t this just one of the reasons for an angry electorate to vote against a political elite in Westminster and brussels?

Leadsom was then put in charge of the governments Help-to-Buy scheme (having named her 18 year-old student son as director of her property company)  which in the end just created another strand to the house-price boom, pushed property ownership out of the reach of lower-income families and now the bubble is already showing signs of bursting. This is nothing to do with Brexit as London prices have been falling for months.

Isn’t this one of the reasons for an angry electorate to vote against a political elite in Westminster and Brussels?

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In a speech in the same article George Osborne said: “A very important part of our economic plan is that everyone makes a fair contribution. The message is very simple – if you’re hiding your money offshore, we are coming to get you.

Isn’t this one of the reasons for an angry electorate to vote against a political elite in Westminster and Brussels? (see LuxLeaks and Panama Papers).

Just yesterday The Daily Mail said that “Stephen Crabb became the second Tory leadership contender to reveal his tax records last night, heaping fresh pressure on Andrea Leadsom to do the same” and went with the headline “Ex-banker Andrea Leadsom ‘won’t be bullied’ into making her tax return public.”

The electorate don’t want an ‘ex-bankers’ with dodgy offshore property companies avoiding taxes. They’ve had all that.

This from Leadsom’s website on European Reform;

“That is why in September 2011, I set up the Fresh Start Project (FSP). With the support of over hundred Conservative MPs, and much of the front-bench, the FSP set out to research and build support for realistic and far-reaching proposals for reforming the EU. The FSP looked into a broad range of areas where the EU significantly impacts the UK, assessed the pros and cons of the current situation, and proposed reforms to get a better deal for the UK and Europe.”

She and the Conservative 100 failed to negotiate anything tangible and failed to convince the majority that anything had changed for them.

Leadsom goes on “Reform is desperately needed in the EU. We must become more economically competitive, more flexible, and more democratically accountable. And crucially, we must give the British people the choice about whether they want to remain in a reformed EU, or whether they want to leave. Only a Conservative government can give the people this choice.”

And so they did – and here we are. A huge gamble that went wrong. The Brexit vote was not just about immigration, refugees or sovereignty – it was about all these things plus a growing hatred for the system of politics that works only for the few, not the many.

As for May. She has proven herself to be an incompetent Home Secretary in so many ways it’s hard to list everything, from a failure to deport foreign crooks and criminals to the widely despised ‘Snoopers Charter’, illegal surveillance and letting numerous rapists and murderers vanish into Britain’s communities.

And whilst she is leading the charge in the Conservative party she is as equally despised by many of her own colleagues – hardly a unifying voice across the party. May also took a nondescript position on the EU so she could cynically decide which camp to make the most personal capital out of. She will not invoke Article 50 any time soon in defiance of democracy, a principle she does not share with the majority anyway – and never has.

The Tory model is going full circle, back to the days of Thatcher who so divided Britain in the 1980’s. Thatcher never believed in society or community. George Osborne, another Thatcherite is already promoting more breaks for corporations to turn the UK into one gigantic tax haven. Under Leadsom and May, political suicide awaits the Tory party in the medium term as an invigorated and more confident working class start to show early signs of making a stand against a truly ‘broken Britain’.

So concerned are the leaders of the EU of the poor, the destitute, the marginalised, disenfranchised, disengaged and austerity drenched that a massive trade deal being fast-tracked between the EU and Canada (CETA) has just been abandoned in favour of a ‘mixed-agreement. It was negative public opinion and the fact that the political elite of Britain and the EU refused to listen to public interest groups and mass protests in every major city across the European Union that caused this deal to fail all of a sudden. This is also the model for the biggest trade deal in history of humanity under the secretive and highly controversial TTIP agreement between the EU and USA that is just about to be abandoned for the same reasons. The president of EU Jean-Claude Juncker, himself embroiled in the epic Luxembourg tax scandal will be dismissed within a year for his arrogance and snooty attitude towards public opinion.

There are strong signs of an emerging and hardening mood being mirrored across the European Union that the Brexit vote has demonstrated so vividly and dramatically. And that mood might not change things for the good if the political leaders of the western world don’t modify their direction – the Conservative party included.

Leadsom, May, Gove and Crabb are all the same thing in the eyes of this more defiant electorate.

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