Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Assange Makes UK Look Like a Banana Republic

 A veritable Scarlett Pimpernel of our day, the Wikileaks
chief has managed to outwit and outmanoeuvre the British
authorities. All the time he has managed to have more journalistic scoops in the digital age than most journalists
achieve in a lifetime. Surely, that, coupled with his
legendary ego, has rallied the old media (the landed gentry of this medium) to turn against him. Having consulted a junior
lawyer while all the big wigs were on holiday, Hague thought it was wise that Britain should consider storming the Ecuadorian Embassy. It was sobering to hear a former attorney general expose it as a legal gaffe of the highest order and completely in contravention of international law. So Britain was once again left looking like the bad guys with egg on their face. Worse still that we are left to look as if we are carrying out America's bidding against one of our most cherished ideals, The Freedom of Speech. This is not a constitutional amendment or afterthought but a God given right. In America ,The Land of the Hyperbole, politicians have asked for him to be strung up. They are looking for his aextradition via Sweden on what suspiciously reeks of trumped up charges even though he is only wanted for questioning. He has not refused to be interviewed by Swedish police if his security can be guaranteed. The sort of courtesy the home secretary has extended to the likes of Abu Qatada.
The private alleged to be behind the leak is behind bars as he has violated his military oath. The journalist is now standing on a balcony of a Latin American country's embassy espousing the virtues and sanctity of Free Speech. The scene is Kafkaesque, a grand spectacle which Assange has every intention to relish. This small embassy's balcony has been catapulted to the dock of universal justice and the jury overwhelming find him innocent of exposing war crimes. If Britain as a country cannot show itself to champion Free Speech above any other, then it's once prized position in the world will be irreversibly damaged. As Cameron continues to reshuffle everything that is good and decent with the perversity of injustice and inequity no doubt David Laws will find himself in the cabinet later
today. Some Laws that break laws for personal gain it seems are worth protecting!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Olympic Memo to PM: Multiculturism does Work and hands off our NHS

 Who would have thought that it would take Danny Boyle's opening ceremony of the London Olympic games to press home and cement a few facts about British identity and sense of
purpose which has been so up for anguished debate in modern times. As an antidote to the regimented affair in Beijing one of the most impressive aspects was that we'd given fairly free license to an artist to portray a very individualistic take on Britain's past, future and sense of identity
in a post imperial era. As we were enjoying the spectacle who would have thought that issues
surrounding the environment, The NHS, and multiculturalism would linger long after the
ceremony had closed. The British public were immediately won over by the celebration of the
NHS and those who make it work on a daily basis. All of a sudden the Tory assault on the NHS
which Cameron had promised not to embark on pre-election seems politically untenable -now,
more than ever. Despite the musical feel of the ceremony the underlying message to Cameron
with regards to the NHS was deeply political. All the more so because it resonated with the public
at large and any cuts would almost be deemed as an attack on our national identity.
   Furthermore the celebration of the Jamaican influx and Jessica Ennis's prodigious display has
made Cameron's now infamous 'Multiculturism hasn't worked' speech very cringe worthy. The heroic
and paternal figure of Sir Steven Redgrave has brought into sharp focus the often blurred line between patriotism and jingoism.
  The rows of empty seats due to corporate sponsors when demand for tickets from the general public has been so high has also provided an enduring metaphor for this Government in putting the interests of irresponsible corporations and banks above the will of the electorate. Once the elation of the Olympics are over these seemingly intractable problems will be brought to the fore. Cameron's serial misjudgements will force his government to come under pressure especially as the deepening recession is increasingly becoming associated with Tory miscalculations and mismanagement rather than the legacy of the previous Labour government.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Financial Lawlessness Will Lead to Bankruptcy

Dear friends,

As our politicians sleep, bankers are stealing billions without fear of punishment. These are crimes anyone else would go to jail for. Let's wake up G20 leaders and call on them to stop the banking culture of crime with new regulations to clean up this toxic industry and end impunity. Click below to sign.

Sign the petition
Banks are getting away with theft and fraud -- crimes the rest of us would go to jail for. A fresh Barclay's bank scandal has just been exposed with mountains of evidence of wrongdoing -- but not one person has been arrested and Barclay's Bank has been fined just a fraction of its £6 billion profits! An outcry now can toughen up banking laws and bring the banking menace to an end.

G20 leaders have announced that they want to pass real regulation that stops banking crimes, but they have yet to act. Still, the US has made key moves to close loopholes and there is an inquiry right now in the UK. We can ride this momentum and push all G20 leaders to pass tough bank crime laws now.

We have a chance to clean up this rotten industry -- and our jobs and future depend on it. The leaders of the 20 most powerful economies have already said they want tougher banking rules. Let's make those words mean something. Sign the petition below, and when we reach 1 million, we’ll deliver it to G20 leaders with a huge media storm:


Once again, we're seeing bankers commit crimes sheltered from punishment, even though they destroy people's lives by forcing them out of homes and jobs. Four years of scandal after scandal has shown that the industry is perpetuating a toxic culture that puts greed and self-interest before what's good for the people.

Barclays was recently fined $450m, which is nothing compared to the money their questionable activities made them. When drug dealers are arrested, police seize their illegal money and all the possessions bought with it, why do bankers instead get big payouts and massive pensions?

Right now the punishments don't fit the crime and so law breaking is incentivised, but this could end if our politicians act boldly. Years ago they said the banks were too big to fail and poured trillions of our money to bailout the banks. Now they need to stop the criminal culture by making sure that this money is regulated, and that anyone who acts illegally faces the full extent of the law.

The US already introduced tougher measures in 2010 and a parliamentary inquiry is underway in the UK. The banks are feeling the heat, and now if we can use this momentum to hold all G20 leaders to account, we can win and finally clean criminals out of our banks. Sign the petition below:


The reckless, illegal and irresponsible behaviour of banks has caused an economic crisis around the world, leaving hundreds of millions of people affected. Today we can take the first step towards a true recovery by ending the criminal culture which has caused this disaster.

With hope,

Iain, Alex, Antonia, Giulia, Luis, Ricken and the entire Avaaz team

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Open Letter on removing benefits for under 25's and selective shaming of tax avoiders

Congratulations on attacking yet another minority whose benefit you can remove to make the rabid right-wing of your party happy.  I'm reminded of the famous Monty Python sketch in which prospective Upper Class Twits of the Year attempt to shoot rabbits tied to the ground and STILL manage to miss!
You say you will save £2 billion a year.  I doubt it.
However if you stopped aiming your moral outrage at comedians who have been nasty to you in the past and focus on the corporations and ultra-rich individuals who have reduced their tax footprint under your captainship of the RSS Great Britain you might recognise these figures:

1% - Income tax rate reportedly available to members of the legal K2 tax scheme used by Jimmy Carr. source Telegraph
98 – Number of FTSE 100 companies operating out of tax havens. Source:  Action Aid
£25bn – Estimated annual cost of tax avoidance, according to 2008 research. £13billion of this is lost to individuals and £12billion to the 700 largest corporations. Source: Tax Research UK and the TUC
10% - Average rate of tax paid by top earners, according to a confidential HMRC study seen by George Osborne. Source: The Telegraph
If you read THIS, Tax Evasion is costing the UK a staggering £69.9 BILLION a year source: New Statesman

I think you can see where I'm going with this.
The economic collapse wasn't due to welfare scroungers. It was wholly and completely caused by bankers and the politicians who failed to regulate them. In the aftermath, the gap between rich and poor has grown wider and the percentage of wealth held by the super-rich 1% in the US, for example, has INCREASED from 25% to 40% in just the past 25 years. They now take home a full QUARTER of all wages in the US. In 1976 it was just 9%.
In the UK, according to this year’s annual Sunday Times Rich List, the wealth of the super-rich in Britain has grown by 4.7 percent, to reach a new high of more than £414 billion.
If you taxed that £414 Billion at just 20% instead of the 10% they're paying at the moment, you'd raise about £83 billion, oddly enough the cost of your austerity package.
Given I've worked all this out in about 30 minutes, why and what are you paying George Osborne FOR?
yours sincerely, John Mangan

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Why can't an engineer as qualified as Keith Parkin find a job in Cameron's Britain

Reader Keith Parkin who has been asked by The Telegraph to keep a serialised video diary explains
the frustrations with unemployment in Britain today

Friday, 8 June 2012

The Leveson Inquiry - How much worse can it get?

Having seen the co-chair of the conservative party exposed for fiddling expenses one could
forgive the British electorate for thinking that corruption is the sine qua non of involvement
in Tory politics. The word 'Tory' here is used in the broad sense of the word to include New Labour.
There are two very disturbing aspects to Baroness Warsi's case. First she is the anthropomorphic
personification of the odd turban at the Tory party conferences of the '80's which gave a veneer
of inclusivity but was anything but such. Secondly despite being universally reviled by the Muslim community as being wholly unrepresentative of Muslims in this country she is the most senior Muslim
in government. Through an appointment that was a bow to tokenism without any meritocratic justification she was meant to be the acceptable face of Islam. One that has let down an already maligned community and one which the Tory whips would now rather veil and send off to a madrassah.
As it turns out she is part of the Cameron kleptocracy that pays lip service to faith values but wholly
goes against them. In the faith narrative this is as wholly disturbing for Christians as for Muslims.
Cameron applies the same diluted and non-committal attitude to the Christian faith morphing into a flag of convenience rather than a practising faith. In the context of the moral bankruptcy which has characterised his dealings with the banks and the widespread hardships they have caused this is the recipe for further social unrest. As the Leveson enquiry unfolds the deep seated almost semi-masonic layers of corruption are unravelling.
'Love thy neighbour' it seems was reserved for the elite of the Chipping Norton Set. A wholly crooked pact with the devil to obtain power and serve the elite. Even 'Deep Throat' the nebulous source of the Watergate scandal would have problems swallowing some of the revelations that are coming out of the Leveson Inquiry. Were it not a time of national economic crisis Cameron could not survive this series of humiliations. However the two are not unrelated. His corruption allows him to pursue a policy which is driving small and medium size businesses to the wall. How? By leaving them out of the scam that is the bank bailouts. Government is using taxpayer money to bailout banks who in turn are using the money to buy government bonds instead of lending to businesses and foster growth. You see the business of banking has actually done quite well out of the banking collapse as have their Mignons, The Cameroons. It is just the ordinary workers and business people that are being driven deeper into recession.
   Were Cameron to take a lesson from his own reading of St. Paul's letter to the Romans at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in front of the Commonwealth.

' Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.'

 Then perhaps he could drop the rabble rousing 'multiculturalism has failed' shtick and refrain from
lecturing Merkel's Christian democratic party whose work ethic has allowed them to create one of the
most vibrant economies in history. Their manufacturing base means that 1 in 4 cars in China are now Audi's. Merkel's Germany is not beholden to Europe: it runs it. We on the other hand are taking a false pleasure in watching from the sidelines with Cameron  blowing hot air against the German sails. For we are as dependant on the future of Europe given that more than 50% of our exports go there. We are part of the problem, we're just not part of the conversation that will solve it. The schadenfreude over not being in the Euro is also misjudged. The argument goes that we unlike our European partners have not lost our sovereignty. The truth is we have, just not to Frau Merkel and her cohorts but to Goldman Sachs ET AL. by being overly reliant on the financial sector and allowing them to run a racket of a government which stifles the growth we need for diversification.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Cash For Access- Corruption is tearing society apart

Once again we see the sad spectacle of a Tory
treasurer beholden to the money of fund managers. No wonder there has been no prosecutions of any note amongst the banking community. No wonder the moral slant of this government is so heavily biased to special interest groups. It's a fix. Ordinary people are beginning to smell the stench and are turning away from political parties to civil disobedience. It would not be an exaggeration to say that corruption in this country has reached the levels of a second world country. Another sad watermark in the inexorable decline of collective responsibilty that has been fostered by the conservative party and New Labour previously. What Tony Blair championed, David Cameron has emboldened. Namely a political class that wants to get all it can and jump ship before the vessel starts going down. Gone are the promises of checks on  lobbying by a party that has embarassingly ditched the mantra of 'we are all in this together'. Notions of a 'Big Society' will also be best remembered by its more fitting acronym. As riots and strike action begin to take over it is our failure to clean up our politics that will be their catalyst. We've had debt before and we can probably do austerity better than most countries but it is lack of fair play that irks the population into a confrontation between the 99% and the 1%. That 1% includes the political class that has become so out of touch with the public at large that it is  not aware it has become unrepresentative of the interests of any of it.
   What can we do? Say no more to the mockery of a party policing itself. Cameron's latest appointment
of Lord Gold to investigate the Cruddas affair has already been flagged as flawed due to the peer's
special interest links. So we hold them to account using freedom of information requests. Follow the money trail of donations and favours granted and use the magnifying glass of transparency to burn through their varying cloaks of respectability. Oh and sign this e-petition!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

From Democracy To Kleptocracy

As leader of the opposition Cameron used to pull up to Houses of Parliament on his bike, chauffeur in tow, casually exchanging a few words of concern with the peace protesters outside Parliament Square. Now he is straddling the world stage, reduced to an arms salesman and ready to carry out the whimsical demands of foreign kleptocratic monarchs. Those whimsical demands include a total disregard for human rights and a war on Iran as exposed by Wikileaks.
For many the AL-Yamama trial was the day justice died in this country. The day when Saudis showed that they are above British justice by threatening to withdraw an arms contract if all charges against Prince Bandar for receiving bribes weren't dropped. It is Cameron's myopic failure to realise that what has kept the UK strong despite failing economic performance is our perceived adherence to the rule of law that insures capital flow into the UK. An amount of capital up and above any that flows in through arms sales. Our failure to diversify away from this morally perverse trade has made us dependent on it. Furthermore implicit in any arms sale is a security guarantee which Britain given it's reduced military clout can no longer provide. Given that the altruistic arguments hold very little sway with a PM oozing with aristocratic arrogance the economic argument needs to be made more forcefully. Of course Cameron feels entirely at ease with this corrupt milieu. This is after all a man who has been brought to power by Aschroft money and Murdoch's morality in the shape of Andy Coulson. Ashcroft was recently exposed by Panorama to have cheated on his tax and The Murdoch Empire's antics has disgusted even the most ardent supporter of their discredited outlets. It's not just that Murdoch held court with our PM as he had with previous PMs- the 'Chipping Norton Set' meant that the likes of Rebekah Wade were his neighbours and friends.
   Given a very weak Labour leader, most of the opposition has come in the form of popular uprisings
such as the Occupy Movement and Anti-War protesters such as Brian Haw and Barbara Tucker
who tirelessly devote their time to ensure that the voice of democratic sanity is heard. Cameron has been as ruthless as a middle eastern dictator to ensure that these protests are suppressed. Brian Haw sadly passed away after ten years of harassment. Two weeks ago in the freezing cold the tents that belong  to Barbara Tucker were confiscated. We have the bizarre situation whereby the only person who is allowed to legally protest outside the houses of Parliament  is essentially trying to be evicted through illegal police tactics. The law brought in by Blunkett to remove this protest was deemed unlawful by the High Court. We need to focus on this stand and the attempt to crush it as it is emblematic of everything that is going wrong with this country. Peaceful protest outside parliament is not an 'eye-sore' but a sight for sore eyes to all those still look towards parliament for true democracy including the millions of tourists who come from countries where this type of protest is outlawed. While Cameron is doing his best to protect the interests of the 1% that have caused this trillion dollar mess legislation is being passed in Parliament to remove the Parliament Square Peace Protest.
please sign the petition below to oppose this and visit BrianHaw.Tv

Thursday, 5 January 2012

E-Petition Cameron On UK Tax Justice

Our tax chief had secret lunches with Vodafone and Goldman Sachs and then handed them billions in tax breaks – while keeping Parliament in the dark!

MPs are outraged, claiming we are owed over 25 billion pounds in back taxes from these and similar dodgy deals. But the tax agency has blocked an inquiry into the scandal and refuses to release any documents to shed light on why these tax breaks were ordered in the first place.

By acting together now we can ensure full transparency on the Goldman Sachs and Vodafone deals, and get them to pay the tax they owe. Let’s turn up the heat -- sign the tax justice petition to David Cameron -- we’ll deliver it with a splash next week:


The cosy relationship between the public tax authority and major private companies is shocking: the tax agency boss had more than a hundred lunches with big business tax lawyers and advisers, leading to the companies being let off millions in taxes. The agency tried to obstruct a recent Parliamentary inquiry using flimsy confidentiality arguments, and threatened the whistleblower who helped expose the scandal.

The coalition is weak and on the defensive over the economy and several Conservative and Lib Dem MPs are fuming over these tax revelations. But the government has yet to demand full payment. Only public pressure can change Cameron's position and ensure that big businesses pay what they owe rather than manoeuvre and lobby to minimise their tax bills.

We should be able to trust our public tax body to be free of corporate capture and able to recover taxes owed without fear or favour. Join the call for tax justice -- click below to sign the petition:


From Occupy to the G20, citizens across the world are coming together to push back corporate interests, fight against dodgy deals corrupting our governments and bring back transparency -- and the pressure is working. Let's come together now and win tax justice for us all.

With hope,

Alex and the entire Avaaz team