UK Uncut – transform banks into hospitals

UK Uncut’s latest claims on our attention is due Saturday May 28 – to transform high street banks into NHS hospitals. The action is to highlight that cuts proposed to the National Health Service could be met by removing the annual public subsidy (in the form of free insurance and guarantees) to banks of up to a staggering £100 billion per year. Hospitals it seems are not too big to fail.

UK Uncut’s previous actions have focused on the link between the amount of cuts to public services the Coalition say are required to balance our National budget and the amount lost to our Exchequer from big UK corporations such as Sir Philip Green’s retail empire and Vodaphone offshoring their taxes. A reminder that much of the cuts are ideological as necessity – and that it is largely our tax regime that has seen the gap between the rich and the poor ever widen.

I commend them for bringing important and complex issues to wider attention. They are filling a vacuum left by mainstream political parties who seem ever eager to lean on the poor and show how tough they are on the ‘have nots” whilst at the same time being as accommodating as possible to those “that have”.

I had a knowledge that tax evasion went on in the UK but not the scale of it, not the details of it and not who the biggest culprits are – UK Uncut in their actions have made this common knowledge in a way that an informed and informative article in a newspaper or magazine would likely never have done.

An article in today’s Guardian states a worry that their stunts need to change as otherwise will lose their impact and the interest of the public – becoming like “High Street chanting Hare Krishnas”!

I do not entirely share this view. There is something impactful about an organisation being relentless and repetitious in their actions – like a political signature tune – but I do accept there is a danger that we the public and our media get bored with them for this and shift our attention elsewhere.

Likewise occupying public spaces to inconvenience the organisations they are targeting risks also inconveniencing the customers of those targeted organisations and losing public support they may otherwise have had.

I continue to welcome them though. We live in a parliamentary democracy made more vital and relevant by the role of peaceful protest movements – and now even more so they are needed when Crony Capitalism seems ever more entrenched in our professional political life.

Crony Capitalism – here, there and …

Julia Timoshenko – accuser and accused

A bank under state administration since 2009. Seeking private investors to re-capitalize the ailing financial institution. Tax payers on the hook for most of the bailout.

Another article decrying the beleaguered tax-payer having to subsidize the rich bankers responsible – the current capitalist model of socialism for the rich?

Must be about the UK right? Another European country? The US?

No – The Ukraine. I came across it in the Beyond Brics blog on the Financial Times website in a post by Roman Olearrchyk.

Crony Capitalism stretches as wide as it runs deep.

The bank in question Nadra is to be bought into by Dmitry Firtash a Ukrainian billionaire giving him a 90% controlling stake. That’s where the UK difference ends at least. No billionaires looking to buy such a stake in the Royal Bank of Scotland or Lloyds. Nadra is though mere small-fry compared to the global golliath-type UK banks. It’s assets and more relevantly liabilities are just about covered by a billionaire.

Former Prime Minister of that country Yulia Timoshenko continues to accuse Firtash of murky and untransparent dealings and is now under investigation herself (which itself perhaps another crony capitalist gesture by the current president and political opponent Victor Yanukovich).

That is at least an un-crony like gesture by a former political-leader.

The article also notes that he would be able to use his media empire to improve the bank’s reputation. They mean by the smoke and mirror of advertising and other spin to sell the proverbial pigs-ear as a purse. Never mind improving a bank’s reputation by improving the bank.

Crony Capitalism stumbles on.