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Fat cats are the acceptable face of capitalism for May

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Issue 2569
Theresa May at the G20 summit in Germany last month
Theresa May at the G20 summit in Germany last month (Pic: Number 10/Flickr)

Theresa May attacked greedy bosses to mask a U-turn on plans to curb fat cat pay this week.

She accused some business leaders of having “abhorrent” wage packets. But plans to name and shame corporate chiefs were watered down by the government.

Original proposals for workers on boards and shareholder votes on bosses’ pay are replaced by promising staff a “louder voice”—whatever that is.

May denounced business chiefs who award themselves huge pay hikes and flout corporate rules as “the unacceptable face of capitalism”.

May said, “A minority of firms are falling short of the high standards we expect of them. Some have deliberately broken rules that are designed to protect their workers.

“Others have ignored the concerns of their shareholders by awarding pay rises to bosses that far outstrip the company’s performance.”

She added, “When big businesses are brought into disrepute, public trust in an open, free enterprise economy is weakened. It damages the social fabric of our country.”

One Tory MP George Freeman accused May of “flirting with anti-capitalism”

But it’s unsurprisingly anything but.

May has pledged to produce a register of companies facing shareholder revolts to make sure they are held to account.

Last year she was proposing to make shareholder votes on pay binding, rather than advisory as they are now.

A public register would simply formalise information that is already public.

Firms can now assign a non-executive director to represent employees, create an employee advisery council, or nominate a director from the workforce.

The changes are as meaningless as the rhetoric.

Spy cops demand that victim cover legal costs

Helen Steel is one of eight women who was a victim of the spy cop scandal in which police spies infiltrated campaign groups and trade unions.

She has been ordered to pay £7,000 to cover the Met Police’s legal bill for the 2015 court case relating to the scandal.

Steel took to Twitter to express her dismay, “Morally bankrupt Met Police sent spycop John Dines to invade my life and privacy. Now demand I pay them £7,000 for seeking to expose that!”

In 2014, a court ruling allowed the police to maintain that they would “neither confirm nor deny” whether cops were spies and Helen launched an appeal, which she lost.

The letter, from Weightmans LLP, demands that Helen pay the five-figure sum and informs her that she was sent reminders in August and September 2015.

Only by tracking down Dines did she receive an apology and admission that he had been a spy.

An ongoing inquiry into the spy cops is yet to take evidence from witnesses.

Airline invents a strike to save money

Easyjet is helping to keep the strike figures up. The airline has been accused of inventing an air traffic control strike to avoid paying out thousands of pounds in compensation for a cancelled flight.

EasyJet blamed the cancellation of its Gatwick to Belfast flight on industrial action, and turned down claims for compensation.

Airlines have to pay compensation of £230 per passenger for a cancelled flight unless it is caused by factors outside their control, such as strikes or bad weather.

However, no air traffic control strikes took place on the day of the flight.

Passengers waiting to board the aircraft saw an engineer attend the plane and overheard him tell ground staff it was not fit to fly.

If a cancellation is due to technical problems with an aircraft, airlines must pay compensation in full.

Easyjet said the initial response was an admin error, and has agreed to compensate all passengers on the flight.

Government papers – so transparent, they’re invisible

Nearly half the papers the government was supposed to release for public scrutiny have been held back. Departments are expected to publish details of spending as well as information on the gifts, hospitality, meetings and travel of ministers and officials.

But 92 out of the 202 “transparency” publications are either late or missing.

Some nine out of 22 departments are late publishing lists of civil service staff moving to business appointments or have never published them.

Nineteen out of 22 are late to publish lists of civil servants who are in “off payroll arrangements”, often used to reduce tax.

Cops start to investigate Tory callers

Police have launched a “significant” investigation into allegations that the Tory party’s use of a call centre for canvassing could have broken electoral law.

Footage obtained by Channel 4 News alleged that the party employed a telecoms company in Neath, south Wales, to directly canvass voters in marginal seats with cold calls.

Staff at the call centre are said to have contacted voters to promote Tory candidates in at least ten marginal seats on election day.

Hedge funds back the Tories

A fifth of all donations during the election, or £4.4million, to the Tories came from the hedge fund industry. Just 60 individuals gave £5.9 million between them. They pay £50,000 a year to be in the Tories’ Leaders Group donor club. This buys them dinners with Theresa May.

A dark legacy for the rich?

“Ten years on, the crisis leaves a dark legacy,” a Financial Times newspaper editorial lamented while marking the tenth anniversary of the global financial crisis. On the very same day the “Money” section of the paper launched “Rich People’s Problems” column. The debut piece addressed the pressing issue of titanium credit cards.

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