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Archive for July, 2012

As suspected in my previous blog about the so called evils of cash  Insulting The Cash Payers it wasn’t long before politicians coughed up on doing the same – A report from This Week.co.uk reprinted in full below..

Embarrassment for coalition after Treasury minister  calls cash payments ‘morally wrong’

LAST UPDATED AT 08:43  ON Wed 25 Jul 2012

THE COALITION appears to have scored another own goal after senior Cabinet  figures including David Cameron, Nick Clegg, George Osborne and London Mayor  Boris Johnson all admitted paying tradesmen in cash, a day after Treasury  minister David Gauke described the practice as “morally wrong” and said it aided  law breaking. Even more damning were claims from The Daily Telegraph, which said that its analysis of  expenses claims showed that Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Sir George Young,  Leader of the House, had “paid suppliers hundreds of pounds in cash, and claimed  back the money from the taxpayer”. In 2006 Hunt paid a neighbour £310 to paint his taxpayer-funded second home and then submitted an invoice for £310 with ‘tax rate’ section left blank. A year later Young paid cash to a  plumber for work at his London residence. Gauke made the comments  about cash-in-hand payments yesterday as he launched a crackdown on tax evasion.  But his apparent assertion that making small cash payments was as bad as  large-scale tax avoidance led to outrage in some quarters and a flurry of questions to senior  politicians, who were forced to admit they had handed over notes in return for  services. “The Prime Minister has never paid cash in order to avoid  tax. But has he paid in cash before? Of course he has,” said a spokesman for  Cameron. “Cabinet ministers were asked yesterday to clarify when  paying in cash was and was not acceptable,” said The Times. “But their explanations did not stop some  tradesmen from reacting angrily to what they perceived as a slight on their  morality.” Gauke later tried to scale back his comments, and during  an appearance on Newsnight said it was only wrong to pay in cash if it was an  attempt to avoid tax. Labour leader Ed Miliband also admitted to  having paid tradesmen in cash. As the Daily Mail reports, he accused Gauke of “shooting from the  hip” with “ill-judged, off-hand comments about plumbers”. ·

Read more: http://www.theweek.co.uk/politics/48146/cameron-clegg-and-boris-all-admit-paying-cash-hand#ixzz21ojLrR9h

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So it’s finally come down to a politician (David Gauke) saying that cash is bad, paying people in cash is bad, and in fact paying people in cash is actually immoral. What a load of pathetic rubbish. Cash is an honest man’s way of dealing with each other. It’s what people like us on the lower level of the social scale use and have to have with us at all times. No doubt MP’s do not carry cash but use their Debit Cards for everything. Well NatWest and RBS have shown that to be a big mistake. When a government with all its powers and ability to set laws on taxation cannot control the tax collection system it ceases to govern.

Its cowardly attack on anyone who has the audacity to value using things like pound notes is a disgrace. Days after admitting to the trillions of pounds hived off from tax systems by the big offshore corporations the Government turns on the man in the street. And this following the biggest parliamentary scandal of modern times in which MP’s robbed the taxpayer through their selfish expenses fiasco.

It beggars belief that threatening letters have to be sent to certain sections of industry who comprise sole traders, basically implying “we know what you’re up to, we’ve got our eyes and ears on you, you set of fiddling rascals”! You have to prove an offence before condemning people Mr Gauke, that is a principal we ordinary people still cling to.

Just deal with it, it’s what you are paid for Mr Gauke, but don’t besmirch the people who put you in your big salary job, and let’s stop all the tax avoidance shall we from the big earners. Is it impossible to devise a tax system that people like Jimmy Carr cannot circumvent, earn millions and pay practically no tax at all? But that might put some of the Tax Avoidance Accountants out of a job, so we better mull over that one! A good place to begin would be the UK’s own crown dependencies such as Jersey; Jimmy Carr’s infamous K2 tax avoidance scheme was based in Jersey. Let’s have your plans for that in the media shall we instead of this off the cuff rubbish.

I am just waiting for the first sole trader to appear in a newspaper article and claim that an MP offered him cash for a plumbing job if he could “knock a bit off the price”. Don’t tell me that has never happened. It won’t happen on second homes though because the tax payer coughs up for those.

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It was well worth the trip down to Brive to see the end of stage 18. Mark Cavendish clearly the best sprinter in the world put in an awesome piece of sprinting after a punishing 220 km’s. He had his team mates Edvald Boasson Hagen and Bradley Wiggins to thank for getting him in a good position, but Cavendish still had lots to do and left other high-class sprinters for dead.

All the sponsors put on a wonderful show for the crowd with the floats getting more elaborate and hurling giveaways into the crowds leaving the kids with a day to remember. The Gendarmes risking life and limb to pick up anything which bounced off the onlookers and handing them back to the kids.

No changes in the yellow jersey position. Wiggins now has the 53km time trial tomorrow and then the run in to Paris on Sunday. He should add to his lead on Saturday; so fingers crossed there are no accidents or slip ups.

The Union Flags were waving proudly today (bumped into lots of Brits) and so was my slightly battered Wembley Flag displaying “Hull City the Pride of England”. UTT.

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Olympic Fatigue

What a gift the Security fiasco has been to the media in spanning the two weeks up to the Olympics opening ceremony. Olympic fatigue was setting in  and many people posting stuff on social sites had indicated boredom already. This is of course a British thing and hard on the heals of the success of actually building and organising the Olympic Park we somehow needed to bring things back to normal. We got that in a massive dose with G4S debacle which has thankfully overshadowed listening to athletes on the Radio/Telly (as expected) complaining about not being picked.

We are talking about real threats of course and all the recent Olympics have required large numbers from the armed forces to counter them;  we are no different and because of the UK’s stance and intervention on many issues around the world we are a prime target. It is such a pity that this piece of the planning/execution jigsaw was not given as big a priority as it deserved.

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LieBore

Of course the Libor rate isn’t a true calculation. The clue is in the first two letters of the word. To think these puffed up people thought they could get away with misleading the world is a sign of the sort of corrupting disintegration that is said to have started the slow collapse of the Roman Empire! No I wonder if this was hinted at by The BOE who then turned a blind eye as it helped the City at that time, just a thought and it will all come out in the wash anyway so to speak. This topic will run and run, especially in the US where law suits are building up and the lawyers are rubbing their hands with glee.

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Olympic Security

There’s a lot of fuss at the moment over the security arrangements at the 2012 Olympics, ranging from the G4S Contract to the siting of missiles on people’s homes.

The G4S debacle is interesting and without seeing the Terms of Contract no-one can judge just how many people are to blame. One thing is certain panic has set in and a lot of blame is flying around.

Terms of contract rule all in this and the G4S failure to deliver LOCOG’s demands seems to be breach of contract. But I wonder how reasonable some of the demands are. It would seem the original requirement was for 2000 security staff, but by December 2011 this had grown to a demand of 10000 security staff. We should ask why and how this continual increase in numbers was tabled and who was responsible for specifying the original and ever-changing requirement. Was G4S just a recruiting/training tool for LOCOG and did they enter into an open number contract that had no reasonable limit in either numbers of security staff or time scales to provide them. Surely G4S tabled recruitment and training figures at every regular meeting set against an agreed schedule and Risk Register and any lag in this would have caused alarm bells to ring much earlier than a few weeks to the game’s opening. Every contract I have managed has included tabling a “numbers tracker” schedule with progress to date highlighting any slippage. Don’t tell me this wasn’t being done. G4S boast employing 650,00 people world-wide so I can see how they were able to talk up their capacity for this contract. I wonder though if there was any recruitment restraints. Did contract terms dictate that UK residents and unemployed be given 1st chance etc? I would expect this to be the case, but if it was how much did this contribute to the problem?

A G4S spokesman told Channel 4 News that due to the large number of applications to work at the Olympics, there were occasions where the company had “lost contact”.

LOCOG originally contracted G4S to provide 2,000 security guards, but the London organisers then re-estimated the total number needed, and G4S agreed in December to supply 10,000 trained personnel out of the 23,700 now considered necessary. The new contract is worth an estimated £284m. G4S said they had 110,000 applications for 10,000 jobs, and undertook 50,000 interviews.

Former Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur , who headed security planning for the Olympics, said today the problems were “predictable”. “I just couldn’t understand, when I was planning for it, how you could give such a contract to one company. Venues like Wembley already have their own security, and it’s just logical to give it to those who are doing it day in and day out.” He said he also fought against the responsibility for operational planning going to the Home Office. “I was pushing for it to be kept in the Met. They already plan 3,000 to 4,000 events a year.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmpubacc/1716/171606.htm    Throws some more light on the numbers (extract)

2  Operational delivery of the Games

5. As planning for the operational delivery of the Games has progressed, significant cost pressures and delivery risks have emerged, particularly with venue security. LOCOG initially estimated that it would need 10,000 security guards to secure the Olympic venues during the Games, based largely on information from the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester with some information from the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin. The Home Office described this as an initial “finger in the air” estimate. The Department and the Home Office told us that detailed planning could not begin until plans for the Games, including the competition schedule and venues, had been completed in early 2011. However, LOCOG did contract with G4S in December 2010 for the provision of 2,000 guards with the remainder expected to come from volunteers and a government funded programme through colleges of further education. By the end of 2011, when the Home Office and LOCOG had completed detailed planning, the estimated number of security guards required had more than doubled to a maximum of 23,700 on peak days.

6. LOCOG has now renegotiated its contract with G4S to recruit and train the increased number of security guards, and to deploy and manage the security staff during the Games. To help meet the recruitment challenge, the Ministry of Defence has agreed to provide 7,500 military personnel to work as security guards during the Games; this is in addition to around 3,300 civilian volunteers. The remaining requirement for around 13,000 will be supplied by G4S. LOCOG and the Home Office told us that they are confident that G4S will be able to provide all the required private sector security guards.

It looks like another enquiry is on the way so we will discover all this. I think a few more people/organisations will be in hot water before all is put to bed.

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I am reprinting in full an article I found on-line a few minutes ago because what it tells us make me very angry. I fully admire this article and the sentiments in the final paragraph. It makes me feel ill to realise what the modern world has come to and how the British people have been duped by LOCOG and all similar organisations whose disdain for the man in the street, small trader and society must end. Will I get sued? I don’t know, I only have my pension, so here goes.

I hope The Spectator forgives me.

The Spectator – The Battle with the Olympic Sensors

By Fraser Nelson 12th July 2012

At 7am this morning, The Spectator’s managing director emailed me to say the new magazine is on sales at WH Smiths at Victoria station – a good sign, he said. But why shouldn’t it be? Because this week, we’re running a cover story by Nick Cohen lambasting the thuggish Olympic censors, the people who are stopping chip shops selling chips because the Olympics is sponsored by McDonald’s. And it’s still not quite clear, this morning, if that means we’ll be taken off the shelves. A few weeks ago, I was emailed advice – not from our lawyers, but from someone else in the magazine world – that The Spectator should not refer to the Olympics for the duration of the Games otherwise we ‘could be taken off newsstands (and also liable to prosecution)’. It’s worth reprinting the rest of the advice:

Here’s the list of no-gos: Not only are many of the international logos, symbols and text (including, but not limited to, the words ‘Olympics’, ‘Paralympics’, the rings symbol) protected under the Olympic Symbol etc. (Protection) Act 1995 (OSPA), but the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 (referred to as ‘LOCOG 2006’) prohibits the use of the words ‘LOCOG’, ‘London 2012’, ‘Team GB’ or any images, logos or graphics relating to them, amongst many others… As well as these terms prohibited from use by anyone other than official partners, but also companies that produce unauthorised products bearing similar words (plurals, translations, deliberately misspelled etc.) are liable to be fined, with directors of the firms liable to prosecution…LOCOG also prohibits the use of certain terms together, especially those which if feels could create the appearance of ‘associations’ with the Games. The rules of ‘Listed Expressions’ mean that any use of two of the words in list A or any word in list A with one or more of the words in list B, could result in legal action being taken against the offending company. List A:  Games, Two Thousand and Twelve, 2012, Twenty-Twelve List B: London, Medals, Sponsor, Gold, Silver, Bronze.

I’d be surprised if The Spectator was the only magazine that received such blood-curdling advice. It is, of course, appalling: could we really be prosecuted if we used the word ‘games’ and ‘bronze’ in a way that offended the authorities? We responded in the only way The Specator knows how: by publishing a cover involving the Olympic rings and mocking the censors, in a brilliant piece by Nick Cohen. We did this, of course, after seeking alternative advice – from a lawyer who is pretty sure that the media can plead exemption because it is granted freedoms which are (outrageously) not conferred on ordinary citizens. But even then, we may not be safe. ‘We know of instances where LOCOG have written to businesses to complain about asserted infringements which in our view are relatively weak,’ our lawyers warned. The real risk, in my view is not so much from the letter of the law. It is from the chilling effect on free speech, created by the rules and their gung-ho implementation. Consider the following:

  • Sally Gunnell photoshoot promoting easyJet’s new London Southend service in July 2011. Locog executive stopped photoshoot of her raising a Union flag above her shoulders. Union flag was removed & she had to change from a white tracksuit to an orange T-shirt.
  • Butcher in Weymouth. Was told to remove his display of sausages in the shape of the Olympic rings.
  • Olympicnic. A small village in Surrey has been stopped from running an “Olympicnic” on its village green.
  • ‘Flaming torch breakfast baguette’ offered at a café in Plymouth to celebrate the arrival of the Olympic torch was outlawed by Locog.
  • ‘Cafe Lympic’ & ‘Lympic Food Store & Off License’. Both had to drop the ‘O’ at the start of their names. But Alex Kelham, a brand protection lawyer at Locog, says: ‘The legislation actually catches anything similar to the word ‘Olympic’ as well. It’s not a fool-proof get-around.’
  • Florist in Stoke-on-Trent. Was ordered to take down a tissue paper Olympic rings display from the shop window.
  • Oxford Olympic Torch stalls. Traders will have to cover up their logos, and can only sell soft drinks from the Coca-Cola product range (inc. bottled water)
  • Webbers Estate Agents in North Devon. Threatened with legal action for displaying makeshift Olympic rings in its windows.

The word soon gets around: if you upset the Olympic censors, they will come for you. And what shopkeeper wants to get landed with a massive lawsuit? You’d sooner not take the risk. If a newsagent has been told (as we were, originally) that it’s illegal to be rude about the Olympics then to stock this week’s Spectator – which is defiantly rude about the Olympics – would be a risk you’d understandably not take. We value freedom of speech far too little in this country. The British taxpayer has forked out a fortune to host the Olympics – but they should come here on our terms, respect our freedoms and respect the right of British people to do and say what they please. We badly need the equivalent of America’s 1st amendment protection: a clear right guaranteeing freedom of speech as paramount. Our failure to do this has created what Nick Cohen rightly calls a ‘corporatist dystopia’ during the Olympic games. As he says, Britain has not won the Olympics. The Olympics has won Britain. And we should have never allowed this to happen.

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