Socialist Worker

THE TROUBLEMAKER: Vultures circle to cash in on vulture capital’s failures

Issue No. 2574

All monarch flights were cancelled

All monarch flights were cancelled (Pic: Jonathan Palombo/Wikimedia commons)

Up to 3,000 pilots, cabin crew, engineers and others woke up out of a job on Monday after Monarch airline entered insolvency.

The airline’s owner, investment fund Greybull Capital, said it was “deeply saddened”. But Greybull has been here before.

It took over Monarch in 2014 on the back of its success in “rescuing” electrical goods chain Comet.

Comet collapsed in 2012 soon after a consortium led by Greybull bought it in 2011. Almost 7,000 workers lost their jobs.

The government paid £49 million in redundancy payments and £26 million in unpaid tax. But Greybull made sure investors got almost £120 million out of the raid.

Its first move after buying Monarch was to bring in new boss Andrew Swaffield to start making cuts.

The pension scheme collapsed. Staff unions Unite and Balpa agreed to 30 percent pay cuts and 700 job losses in the hope this would save the company.That was music to axeman Swaffield’s ears.

“When they voted in large numbers to take a pay reduction to save the business, I knew this was a pretty unique company,” he later gloated.Greybull can console itself by making plans for the British Steel plants it bought for £1 last year.

And the collapse is good news for other airlines circling the carcass to snap up its assets and its customers.

Easyjet’s shares leapt up more than 5 percent on Monday morning, Ryanair’s almost 3 percent with those of Wizz Air, Flybe and the owner of British Airways up too.

A drop in tourism to Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey after terror attacks and repression and the weak pound after last year’s Brexit vote both squeezed Monarch’s profits.

But the real problem is bosses who push operations to the limit knowing that customers, workers and the taxpayer will bear the brunt if it goes too far.

The Sun newspaper has collaborated with counter-terrorism cops on a safety campaign for teenagers telling them what to do in the event of a terror attack. Run, hide and tell apparently is the guide.

It’s nice to see the cops back on friendly terms with the Murdoch rag again.

So bribe, hack and lie might be a better slogan.

Ain’t nothing going on but the rent increases

The total amount of rent paid to private landlords in Britain has increased. It is now more than double the amount of mortgage interest paid to banks by homeowners.

Renters paid about £54 billion to buy-to-let investors across the country over the 12 months June.

In the last five years the amount paid to landlords has risen by £14 billion. In the same period the number of homes in the private rented sector has grown by just over a fifth. In London, the total amount of rent paid is about four times the amount paid in interest to banks by owner-occupiers.

The total amount of rent paid collectively in London was around £20 billion in the 12 months to the end of June. This has risen by 42 percent over five years.

Younger people are responsible for about half of Britain’s total rent bill, paying around £24 billion to landlords over the past year.

The average share of income that Britain’s families spend on housing has trebled over the past 50 years.

Lord Ashcroft has published a book on why the Tories lost the election. The Lost Majority saw 20,000 people asked for one word to sum up the Tories following the election in June.

The most common words were “rich”, “liars” and “nasty”.

Money no object for estate agent basement

Everything comes to he who waits although it helps to be a billionaire.

After a ten-year battle, Jon Hunt, the founder of Foxtons estate agency, has got the go-ahead to build a superbasement in his home in Kensington, west London.

He has seen off objections from the council and from neighbours including the French and Japanese embassies and the Indian High Commission.

He is free to turn his house into an “iceberg” home, with underground space that will include a museum to house his car collection.

The Planning Inspectorate said Hunt had “committed considerable resources in the formulation and pursuit of schemes for a basement development through the planning and legal systems. Finance does not appear to be an obstacle to Hunt’s desire to construct a very sizeable basement development.”

Indeed. Hunt’s personal wealth is put at £1.36 billion.

Tories stopped from having gin

Defenders of the Tories were outraged at the temerity of people to protest against them in Manchester last Sunday.

Daily Mail columnist Dominic Lawson denounced the “vile language” of protesters in a page devoted to the protest on Monday.

He whined that “threats” had led to “at least one scheduled event—nothing more than an innocent ‘gin-tasting’ Conservative social evening—being cancelled”.

On your bike sexist Tory

A Tory MP said unemployed young people should be prepared to “get on their bikes”.

Craig Mackinlay told a fringe meeting at the Conservative conference “I was struggling to think why wouldn’t a youngster from Glasgow without a job come down to the south to work for a farm for the summer with loads of gorgeous EU women working there?

“What’s not to like? Get on your bike and find a job.”

Anti-gay Ukip conference?

A leaflet available at Ukip’s conference has compared the “alternative lifestyle” of gay people to that of Hitler and the Yorkshire Ripper.

The leaflet, titled Homosexuality—the Real Alternative, was available on a stand for the Support 4 the Family group.

The group opposes gay marriage and transgender rights.

The leaflet said, “You may call it an ‘alternative lifestyle’, but this term is meaningless.

“Everyone from Hitler to the Yorkshire Ripper could claim an alternative lifestyle that, to themselves, no doubt seemed quite natural.”

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The Troublemaker
Tue 3 Oct 2017, 13:58 BST
Issue No. 2574
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