Tag Archives: george osborne

Osborne in Southampton marginal … poses with ad for rival port

George Osborne visits the ultra-marginal of Southampton Itchen to promote the government’s pension reforms and pose with a candidate who sounds like a packet of crisps. All is going according to plan …

… until he decides to pose in front of a sign advertising the city’s bitter maritime rival: the port of Liverpool. Cue outrage from the local paper.

Osborne posing in front of Liverpool port ad ... in Southampton

At least this will boost the Tories’ prospects in those marginal seats near the Liverpool docks. Errrr …

Picture via Southern Daily Echo

Tory donor secures TV coverage with free Osborne helicopter trip

George Osborne at JCB

A conspicuously tight schedule of media rounds after the Autumn Statement last December saw George Osborne pop up at a JCB factory in Staffordshire before miraculously re-appearing back in London. Transparency data released by the Treasury reveals that this set piece was only possible because the heavy machinery manufacturer — who have donated millions of pounds to the Conservative Party — paid for a helicopter.

Osborne helicopter trip

With their iconic yellow machinery and logo positioned for the benefit of the cameras, the trip to backhoe loader factory in Rocester resulted in oodles of positive publicity for JCB. Senior Tories have a track record of bending over backwards for company owner Anthony Bamford: at Conservative conference in 2011 JCB was the only British company in a list of firms namechecked in David Cameron’s speech (DETAILS) and last year Bamford had his knighthood upgraded to a peerage.

The 240-mile round trip will have cost thousands of pounds. Along with cash largesse, JCB has form for donating private plane and helicopter flights to Tory frontbenchers — but as the trip was technically undertaken in Osborne’s capacity as chancellor it no longer has to be declared in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.

Scrapbook can’t help wondering how HMT would broach such an arrangement with a company which isn’t owned by a massive Tory party donor:

“Hi, it’s the Treasury. The chancellor would like to come and visit your factory floor after the Autumn Statement. Would you mind paying for round-trip helicopter flights for his entourage?”

Firm given cut-price Royal Mail shares is £1m Tory donor

  • Under-price sell off could have cost taxpayer billions
  • Government offered certain firms a ‘priority’ deal
  • Fidelity Worldwide gave £975,000 to Conservative Party
  • Hedge fund run by Osborne’s best man also cleaned up

Royal Mail post box

One of the ‘priority investors’ offered cut-price shares in the government’s botched privatisation of Royal Mail are a major donor to the Conservative Party.  Filings with the Electoral Commission reveal that asset management firm Fidelity Worldwide have given nearly £975,000 to the Tories.

Business secretary Vince Cable had promised to secure “a core of high-quality investors” who “would be there in good times and bad” but the Independent revealed today that many of the shares offered through his department’s ‘priority’ route ended up in the hands of speculators.

The news comes after Scrapbook revealed earlier this month that a hedge fund run by George Osborne’s best man had secured profits of £210,000 PER DAY — then totalling £36 million — on the deal.

Before the IPO — and their status as priority investorstors being revealed — Fidelity led the charge on hyping up the stock, with an analyst writing on their own website:

“It has been many years since investors have been so excited about an IPO. Not since lastminute.com in 2000 have so many people been talking about a company joining the stock market.”

Remember: we’re all in this together!

MORE: The donations in full »

50% food bank growth: Osborne introduced benefit delay last year

  • Largest food bank operator report 50% rise in users
  • Government claiming benefit claim processing has improved
  • But Osborne deliberately introduced seven-day delay

Osborne food bank

With the number of people using food banks rising 50% in the last year, the government are indignant at the suggestion that their policies have anything to do with it.

The BBC reports:

“There is no robust evidence that welfare reforms or benefit administration are linked to increased use of food banks,” said a spokeswoman for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

She also maintained that the amount of time taken to process payments had improved.

Some 92% of payments were now made within the target time of 16 days, a 6% improvement on the time taken five years ago, she told the BBC.

So, errr … what about George Osborne’s announcement at the 2013 Spending Review that the newly unemployed would be forced to wait seven days before being elligible to claim benefits?

“We will also introduce a new seven-day wait before people can claim their benefits. Those first few days should be spent looking for work, not looking to sign on.”

And three months before that they scrapped crisis loans for desperate families.

The only people benefiting from these policies are payday lenders.

Osborne best man’s hedge fund made £36m profit on Royal Mail

  • Osborne’s university friend Peter Davies was his best man
  • Davies’ hedge fund bought £50m share now worth nearly £86m
  • Lansdowne Partners made £100m from financial crash
  • Ex-boss given knighthood after £500,000 Tory donation

Royal Mail post box

George Osborne’s best man heads up a hedge fund which has secured profits of £36m from the privatisation of Royal Mail in under six months — £210,000 for each day since the sale in October last year.

The chancellor’s university friend Peter Davies sits on the management committee of Lansdowne Partners, which snapped up shares at the offer price of just 330p. They are now trading at 564p — a whopping 70% higher.

The government has been slammed today by the National Audit Office for an under-priced sale which saw City firms walk off with two-thirds of the public asset while 40,000 ordinary individual investors were excluded:

“The department [of Business and Skills] was very keen to achieve its objective of selling Royal Mail, and was successful in getting the company listed on the FTSE 100″

“Its approach, however, was marked by deep caution, the price of which was borne by the taxpayer.”

With one fund manager telling Radio 4 that the postal service “was significantly underpriced”, business minister Michael Fallon will be hoping we’ve forgotten about this gem from last April:

“I can state categorically that we have no intention of selling off Royal Mail cheaply.

“We will sell shares in Royal Mail at a fair commercial price that represents value for money for the tax payer.”

In other news, Lansdowne’s former chief exec was awarded a knighthood in 2012 after donating £500,000 to the Conservative Party.

Mockney George strikes again!

CLICK THE TOP LEFT AUDIO BUTTON TO LISTEN

George Osborne speaking to a Royal Mint worker on the new pound coin:

“I think it’s gonna be great, innit?”

This is a man knows how to speak to bingo enthusiasts.

Video via: ITV News

Labour spinners complain Miliband never received budget speech

Responding to a budget is always tough, but Ed Miliband was forced to weather flak from hacks (below) for failing to address the new measures announced by George Osborne.

Miliband’s office claim the reason is simple: he wasn’t given an embargoed copy of Osborne’s speech:

So was this dirty tricks from Treasury or spin to save Ed’s blushes?

UPDATE: After 72 re-tweets of his original, Sunny Hundal clarifies he was told it is normal procedure for the leader of the opposition to receive an advance copy of the budget speech …

Budget 2014: Gove caught hiding after ‘Etonians’ intervention

It was perhaps inevitable that Michael Gove’s comments on the “preposterous” number of Old Etonians surrounding David Cameron – interpreted as a barb not only against Cameron but wannabe leader Boris Johnson — would make an appearance during the budget debate.

While Cameron and Gove resort to embarrassed laughter, Osborne — whose leadership hopes were boosted by the intervention — pretends to be ‘reading his own budget’.

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