Monday, February 22, 2016

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Cameron Googling The Tax

Mick Hall @ Organized Rage writes:

Downing Street could not say whether Cameron ever discussed tax affairs with Google executives. We can take that as a yes then


"Don't forget George bullshit and bluster and blame last Labour government."


One of the most rancid things about neoliberal economics is the way the banks and multinationals like Apple and Google have sunk their greedy claws into the heart of British Democracy; and not only here but also in the USA and Europe. There is what can only be called a revolving door between the executives of the banks and multinationals and the heart of government.

These days it is not just a question of prime ministers and government ministers being at their beck and call. Right across Whitehall the banks and multinationals have embedded their own people within government departments. The most crass example of this was when News International embedded Andy Coulson in the heart of 10 Downing Street as Cameron's communications director. However, most seamlessly slip into the senior ranks of government department without the MSM raising even a murmur.

Governments ministers up to and including the British prime minister go out of their way to appear at their events and pay homage to their CEOs. Google is a prime example of this collusion. It surprised no one when it recently signed a sweetheart deal with George Osborne which left the company paying just 2.8% in corporation tax when the going rate is currently 20%.

Whereas Tony Blair once traveled around the world to attend one of Murdoch's jamborees in Australia, today that is old hat. No wonder the old rogue posted angry tweets criticizing George Osborne's latest largess to his new best friend Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet Inc. (formerly named Google) News Corp is so last decade, the latest neoliberal wheeze is schmoozing the new media.

In May 2010 after Cameron first became PM, Nikesh Arora Google’s global sales boss, introduces London mayor Boris Johnson at Google Zeitgeist, saying: “Boris has proven himself to be different, inspiring and one of the most capable leaders in getting things done.”

Not so capable if you wish to buy or rent a home in London at an affordable price. But such trivialities will never bother Google’s global sales boss, nor his ever so pliable friend for hire Boris.

July of the same year took Cameron to India where he participated in a Google 'Hackday' in Bangalore saying it was the “key event” of his trip. Which must have gone down like a bomb with the Indian PM.

In January 2011 Jeremy Hunt found the time to tweet: “Looking forward 2 mtg Eric Schmidt later, wonder if like Mark Zuckerberg a Downing St visit means he’ll break habit of lifetime & wear a tie”

Read that and weep. This is the intellectual level of the man who now runs the NHS. It's the language of a groupie waiting to see their favorite pop star. One cannot help thinking James Naughtie got it right when he called this shallow fellow Jeremy Cunt.

I suppose his trousers were sent to the cleaners when in early 2011 Hunt, then culture secretary, had dinner with Eric Schmidt at Google’s Mountain View headquarters in Silicon Valley, securing funds for a London technology hub in Old Street.

In March 2012 with the British economy in free fall Chancellor George Osborne found the time to speaks at the launch of Google Campus in east London:

“Back in 2010, some members of my team travelled to Silicon Valley and met with Eric Schmidt, now executive chairman of Google,” Osborne waxed lyrically. “And from that initial conversation has grown this incredible new facility.”

Presumable they also agreed this Google campus would reduce their tax bill, when they finally start paying UK corporation tax.

May 2013 Schmidt attends Cameron’s business advisory forum at Downing Street. He is allegedly tackled by the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, also present, who later tells the press, Google will continue to come under huge pressure to “pay their fair share of tax." Being Clegg, no one believed him, still it gave the hacks a good laugh.

In November 2015 London mayor Boris Johnson, on yet another taxpayer freebie overseas, rides a scooter and tries on virtual reality goggles during a visit to Google Campus in Tel Aviv. The company is happy to provide photo opportunities for Johnson as he attempts to boost his international profile and, possibly, his chances of becoming yet another Conservative party leader who gives Google a free ride.

Since the 2015 election, official records show Google has met with at least six Tory ministers.

In June 2015 Joanna Shields holds an introductory meeting with the company, weeks after taking up her post as minister for internet safety and security. Why she needed an introductory meeting when she is a former Google employee only she knows.

July 2015 Google’s lobbying effort with the new government goes up a gear. In a single month the company meets with five ministers:

The home secretary, Theresa May, holds bilateral talks.

Francis Maude, the minister of state for trade and investment, joins Google at a Tech City event.

Lucy Neville-Rolfe, the intellectual property minister, discusses copyright.

The international development minister, Grant Shapps, meets with Google Foundation, the firm’s charitable arm, to talk about “innovation in the not-for-profit sector.”

Justin Tomlinson, minister for disabled people, agrees to an introductory meeting.

I suppose the real question is this; is their a Tory government minister who has not met a Google executive or attended one of their jamborees?

The revolving door between Google, Westminster and Whitehall

2005 Rachel Whetstone, fresh from her role as Conservative leader Michael Howard’s chief of staff, joins Google as European communications and public affairs director, based in London. Part of Cameron’s Notting Hill set, along with George Osborne and Michael Gove, she had previously worked at the television company Carlton Communications, where Cameron was head of corporate affairs. Whetstone is married to Steve Hilton, who was Cameron’s director of strategy from 2005 until 2012.

2006 Former trade union and government spokesman David John “DJ” Collins, who is a close friend of David Miliband and advised on his failed bid to lead the Labour party, joins Google as its UK and Ireland PR boss. Collins was head of news at the Department for Education and Skills when Miliband was schools secretary.

2006 Google hires the PR agency Portland. Run by Tim Allan, an adviser at No 10 during the early years of the Blair government, Portland’s role is to handle Google’s dispute with publishers over its book scanning project.

2008 Whetstone moves to California to become Google’s global communications chief. She is replaced by Collins.

2011 Cameron’s head of strategic communications, Tim Chatwin, leaves to become senior director of communications at Google. In 2015, he is appointed as the company’s director of communications for the Asia-Pacific region.

2012 Naomi Gummer, an adviser to Hunt while he was in charge of internet policy as culture secretary, emerges as Google’s UK policy adviser. She grabbed headlines after telling a conference about online child safety that it was the responsibility of parents, rather than the law, to protect children from online pornography. Gummer’s Tory pedigree is of the highest rank: her father Peter, the PR boss better known as Lord Chadlington, is president of Cameron’s Witney Conservative association. Her uncle John Gummer was a minister under Margaret Thatcher and John Major. As far as we know Naomi's uncle did not force feed her any burgers during 1990 mad cow disease crisis.

2013 Jill Hazelbaker, a former adviser to Republican senator John McCain and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, takes over as Google’s European PR boss.

2013 Verity Harding, a friend and political adviser to Nick Clegg while he was deputy prime minister, takes a policy role at Google in London. Which puts a different light on Clegg's claim he had raised the issue of Google’s tax affairs with its chairman Eric Schmidt.

2015 Amy Fisher, formerly responsible for Google’s policy communications across Europe before becoming a special adviser to Chris Grayling at the ministry of justice, becomes head of press at Conservative Central Office.

2015 The working peer Joanna Shields, formerly Google’s managing director for Europe, Russia, Middle East and Africa, is appointed UK minister for internet safety and security.

2 comments :

AM said...

Jeremy Cunt - he got that in one. LOL

I suppose it is a name that most politicians should have. There must be about 600 at least in Westminster who it would fit quite well.

Glen Shane-Pass said...

"One of the most rancid things about neoliberal economics is the way the banks and multinationals like Apple and Google have sunk their greedy claws into the heart of British Democracy ..."

So what does this article have to do with Apple? There is no mention of Apple anywhere in this piece other than this first paragraph. The withering criticism of Google/Alphabet is totally justified - whatever happened to "Don't be evil"? I'm sure Apple are not unblemished, but suggesting they are as bad as Google and then producing not a shred of evidence is rather careless, to say the least.

One of the first principles of journalism is that the lede (as journalists call the first sentence) should contain the main points of the story, with the rest of the article explaining them in detail.

In which case where is the rest of the story?