Oxfam was reported to the Charity Commission by the Tory Party in 2014, for publishing a faux film poster, headed “Lifting the lid on austerity, Britain reveals a perfect storm and it’s forcing more and more people into poverty.”
Showing a broiling sea under clouds titled: The Perfect Storm. Added were the words ‘starring zero hours contracts, high prices, benefit cuts, unemployment, childcare costs’.
And a post on Twitter which invited readers to hear how Oxfam “investigated the reasons why so many people were turning to food banks in Britain 2014.”
Worthy of consideration is that the late Jo Cox, who was head of policy at Oxfam, was previously an advisor to Gordon Brown’s wife Sarah and also worked for Baroness Kinnock, whose husband Neil was leader of the Labour party between 1983 and 1992.
It is also worth noting that David Pitt-Watson, Oxfam’s honorary treasurer, was also a special advisor (SPAD) for over 20 years and was Assistant General Secretary of the Labour Party from 1997 to 1999.
This is how the Oxfam scandal unfolded.
Oxfam was accused of covering up an investigation into the hiring of sex workers for orgies by staff working in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, which killed thousands.
After the investigation the charity allowed three men, including the country director, Roland van Hauwermeiren, to resign, and sacked four for gross misconduct, according to an internal 2011 report.
The UK government International Development Secretary threatened to cut off all funding to Oxfam unless the charity handed over all information on its workers’ use of sex workers in Haiti.
Meanwhile, Oxfam was hit with allegations that employees used sex workers in Chad in 2006, when Van Hauwermeiren was running operations there.
The Charity Commission launched a statutory inquiry into Oxfam amid concerns it might not have “fully and frankly disclosed” all details about the Haiti allegations.
Oxfam’s deputy chief executive, Penny Lawrence, resigned saying she was “desperately sorry”, as Haiti demanded the prosecutions of aid workers identified as using sex workers.
Comment: The UK Charity sector is largely given over to Left-wing Labour Party political polemicist appointee’s with little, if any experience in Charity work.
Massive amounts of financial donations are inappropriately used and tens of thousands of poor and under privileged people are abused and women and young girls blackmailed into providing sexual services for highly paid charity employees. And yet it goes on and on and no one seems to give a toss!!!!
The latest scandal. Only reported. today
Apr 2021: More than 50 Congolese women have alleged that they have been sexually abused or exploited by aid workers from some of the world’s top humanitarian organisations, including Oxfam. The investigation, which took almost a year to complete, will send shockwaves through the humanitarian sector.
The allegations come two years after charities pledged to clean up their act when it was revealed that Oxfam had covered up an investigation into the hiring of prostitutes, some allegedly under age, by staff working in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Other organisations, including Save the Children and Plan International, were also embroiled in the scandal and reported cases of sexual harassment by staff members.
This is the mantra that inspires the Scottish Government management of big projects, even when they are supposed to be major public infrastructure developments.
Some weeks ago we looked at the question of CalMac after information circulated about an impending privatisation plan.
The First Minister denied the story, but closer inspection informs us that the proposed redesign has already been influenced by the corporate lobby:
“Ernst and Young were asked by Ministers to conduct an in-depth examination of the government structure which runs Scotland’s ferry service under a brief titled “Project Neptune”.
The government agreed contracts worth £560,000 with Ernst and Young to carry out the work.
That’s over half a million from the public purse into the bank account of a private firm with an ideological and economic preference towards privatisation.”
Recent days have been fraught with controversy around the failure to deliver two new ferries to serve island communities. It shouldn’t need to be said, but maybe it is worth re-emphasising that such infrastructure is not an optional extra. It is a vital necessity.
The ferries are four years late, and vastly over budget. The failure to deliver these ferries has some obvious knock-on effects. Existing ferries are unable to meet demand effectively, and because of their age, unable to deal with the variable conditions of the sea on a sustained basis. This leads to an increase in cancelled sailings.
Bill Calderwood, secretary of the Isle of Arran Ferries Committee, puts it in stark terms:
“The situation is deteriorating. It’s unsustainable for the island, for our businesses and for our quality of life.”
It should be a benchmark task of the Scottish Government to deliver essential connectivity, and to build up Scottish manufacturing. Instead we have failure to deliver on the one hand, and on the other, we have Turkish yards building new ferries to serve the Islay routes. As reported recently:
“Cemre Marin Endustri has been announced as the preferred bidder for the order against three other yards which will increase vehicle and freight capacity by nearly 40 per cent.”
We might also look at the failure to deliver other vital infrastructure projects, such as the failed high speed broadband roll out, which is running six years late without an end in sight. Something is not working.
In 2020 alone, hundreds of meetings between multinational corporations and wealthy individuals took place with Scottish Government ministers. In a wide-ranging investigation the following was reported:
“Analysis of Scottish Government ministers’ engagements in 2020 shows that meetings, potentially of key public interest, were not in the register, including those between ministers and companies awarded multi-million pound UK and Scottish contracts to supply the NHS in the run-up to Covid-19.
“As these meetings took place by phone they did not fall under regulated lobbying rules, an exemption which means they don’t need to appear on the lobbying register.
Others in this category included meetings between ministers and the billionaire steel tycoon behind GFG Alliance, Sanjeev Gupta.”
Sanjeev Gupta, as it happens, has paid just £5 (five pounds) towards the acquisition of a Highlands smelting plant – with taxpayers financing the rest of the £330 million deal. The research also found that:
“…engagements with big business, including energy companies and renewables chasing Scotland’s booming renewables sector, dominated the diaries of several ministers.”
Let’s just think about this. The First Minister announces a National Energy Company in 2017.
Nothing happens. Then, in 2021, SNP members want to raise the issue again to add some urgency to the plan.
They vote overwhelmingly for the policy at their conference.
Again, nothing happens.
At the same time government ministers were having meetings, outside of the public record, with big businesses seeking to cash in on Scotland’s renewables industry.
Before we know it, the Scottish Government launches a “green investment portfolio” worth £3 Billion of Scottish green assets.
This package, a substantial component of Scotland’s economic future, is to be bought up by private and foreign capital.
As we know, ScotWind has already seen large tracts of renewable wind energy sold, cheaply, to the likes of British Petroleum.
Meanwhile, Scotland’s six offshore wind farms have paid a derisory £150,000 to nearby communities in the last 12 months.
Sturgeon’s National Investment Bank for the common good of Scotland’s people has morphed into a tool for corporate business to capitalise on.
The “bank for the people” set up to make strategic investments for the common good, has morphed into yet another avenue for corporate Scotland to capitalise on.
For instance, tourism technology business Travelnest Ltd has received an initial £3 million in funding from the SNIB.
The company specialises in providing infrastructure for holiday home owners to list and manage their properties.
It turns out that the bank, rather than acting as a countermeasure to the failures of the market, is nothing of the sort.
Take a look at some of the corporate networks involved:
The Chair of SNIB is Willie Watt. Watt is an Advisory Board Member of Scottish Equity Partners, a private sector Glasgow-based investment consortia which is already investing in projects into which SNIB is investing.
Carolyn Jamieson is a Non Executive Director of the Scottish National Investment Bank and is also an Advisory Board Member of Scottish Equity Partners.
She is formerly Chief Legal Officer at Skyscanner.
Interestingly the new “Chief Entrepreneur” is also formerly a top executive at Skyscanner. Small world.
All of this fits neatly into the system of patronage set up around the leadership of the Scottish Government sprawling beyond the corporate sector and into wider parts of public life.
Thus, the Chair of the Economic Recovery Group, is also the Chair of Buccleuch Estates and is also Chair of the National Galleries of Scotland board, alongside Andrew Wilson of Charlotte Street Partners who is also the author of the Growth Commission, alongside Willie Watt who is also the inaugural chair of the Scottish National Investment bank.
While the corporate lobby exercises a hundred times more power and influence than the SNP membership, the party hierarchy also comes down hard whenever the working class start to mobilise in their own interests.
They have shown they are willing to utilise Tory anti-trade union laws against striking cleansing workers in Glasgow.
Indeed, Susan Aitken, who wins the award for reintroducing the word “ned” into public discourse, is driving an agenda in Scotland’s largest “Yes” city based on a programme of massive privatisation.
If Swinney really did cut and paste Osborne’s business rate proposals for his conference speech in 2015, then Susan Aitken is a dead ringer for David Cameron.
In true “Big Society” fashion, the citizens of Glasgow are asked to do their own community cleaning in an initiative co-sponsored by McDonalds, who were given the green light for a new drive through in Toryglen despite concerns raised by local residents who fear the impact it will have on children’s health and traffic.
At the same time, the SNP led City Council has spent £10 million on private cleansing contractors in recent years.
“It beggars belief they are lining the pockets of private contractors with millions of pounds of public money while the city’s waste crisis keeps growing.
It would be far better if these monies were redistributed properly by investing in more full-time staff and better resources to help make our communities cleaner and greener.”
These processes, local and national, are furnished with a “quango class” composed of “influential bankers, retired senior civil servants, well-connected industry insiders, powerful chief executives and former politicians.”
As the cost of living crisis takes hold, Sturgeon is putting the focus on Westminster. But there is a hypocrisy here.
Because the SNP are gearing up to take on the public sector unions as their own Spending Review commits to a plan that will cut around 30,000 jobs.
At the same time, their strategy for independence amounts to box ticking.
In the end, the votes, money, activism and support for the SNP, drawn primarily from Scotland’s working class, has been funnelled directly into sustaining the architecture of the Scottish establishment.
That is the real crime the SNP leadership perpetuated against the people.
The disastrous Growth Commission, the Westminster government’s variant of “independence,” was brought together by Scotland’s premier corporate lobbying firm, Charlotte Street Partners, while the trade unions were excluded.
Jonathon Shafi maps the influence of the corporate lobby in the governance of Scotland. The whole elaborate picture makes for a disturbing read.
The “Economic Recovery Group” set up during the pandemic, was led by the former CEO of Tesco bank, Benny Higgins, who is now Chairman of the estate of Scotland’s largest feudal landowner, the Duke of Buccleuch.
The council to advise on a ten year plan for Scotland to “unleash entrepreneurial potential and grow Scotland’s competitive business base,” included Sir Nick Macpherson, a former Treasury permanent secretary who advised George Osborne to reject a currency union during the 2014 referendum campaign.
The hotchpotch of word salad this apparently chaotic group arrived at, known as “Scotland’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation” has so far produced a couple of events which the press were excluded from, and the formation of a new post known as Scotland’s “Chief Entrepreneur” who is to be paid a salary of £192,000 for working just 8 days a month.
16 July 2016: Tommy Sheppard MP announced his candidacy for the Deputy Leader of the SNP
The experienced political activist and one of the hundred thousand new members said:
“We need to facilitate and lead a movement bigger than ourselves. There are arguments still to be won and they will be won by continually building alliances beyond the SNP. We need to involve as many people as possible encouraging them to play an active role in campaigning. We need to abandon our top-down party organisation and refocus our efforts on strengthening our basic units – the party branch – to include much more political discussion and action.”
His bid for the Deputy Leadership created a genuine, and long overdue debate about strategy for a second independence referendum.
Here’s his full statement:
“Over the past weeks I have been approached by a wide range of SNP members asking me to stand for the position of Depute Leader of our Party. After much thought I have decided to do so. Here’s why.
At this critical time in our nation’s history we have a window of opportunity, yet we still have much work to do in a short time. To be successful we need to use all of the talents of our party. I believe the job of Depute Leader is key to our success.
To achieve our goal of Independence our party needs to be even better at everything it does.
We’ve had some great election successes recently, but frankly our opponents have made it easy for us. We need to prepare for the challenges ahead, including IndyRef2 when it comes. That will be a far tougher test, and we need to be ready.
We need to revise how we do things, building on the massive increase in membership since 2014. Members are our biggest asset and we need structures that allow them to get more involved. They are central to our continuing success as a party and a movement.
We need to revise how we do things, building on the massive increase in membership since 2014. Members are our biggest asset and we need structures that allow them to get more involved. They are central to our continuing success as a party and a movement.
We need to prepare as many people as possible to play an active role in campaigns. I believe we need to refocus our basic unit – the party branch – to include much more political discussion and action. We need to spend money on professional organisers – at HQ and in a regional network – to support branch activities and members’ training. We need to bring together all our elected representatives – MPs, MSPs and Councillors – in coherent teams providing political leadership to our communities. We need to rethink how we make policy – involving as many members as possible in a continuous process.
To work, change must come from the bottom up via a swift but inclusive and comprehensive review. Working with other party officers and the NEC I’d like to lead that process, starting as soon as possible.
We have a superb leadership team in the SNP, each with a different role to play and collectively embodying a wealth of talent and experience. And the team is being tested at this crucial time, with so much going on around us, not least in providing the real opposition to the Tories at Westminster and protecting Scotland’s position in Europe. As Depute Leader I would complement and bolster an already strong team.
The Depute Leader needs to have a primary focus on swiftly and effectively developing our capability as a campaigning organisation, to better prepare the grassroots for the demands of politics in the digital era of the 21st century, allowing others the time to focus on the key jobs they are asked to do.
Finally, to win Independence we need to speak to all of our potential supporters. Those who have been working on this cause for decades, those like me who joined the party in the aftermath of the independence referendum, and those who are still to make the journey to Yes.
We need to facilitate and lead a movement bigger than ourselves. We still have arguments to win. And they will be won by continually building alliances beyond the SNP.
I still have a lot to learn: although active in Scottish politics for nearly 40 years, I’ve only been in the SNP since 2014. This means I can bring a new perspective to our leadership team. I don’t claim to represent new members, but I am fairly typical of those who have made a political journey in recent years, particularly from the Labour movement. I spent several years working in the Yes campaign building alliances with people across all parties and none. That’s a role we may need to revive, sooner rather than later, and as Depute Leader I would drive that forward.
I can bring a new perspective to our leadership team. I don’t claim to represent new members, but I am fairly typical of those who have made a political journey in recent years, particularly from the Labour movement. I spent several years working in the Yes campaign building alliances with people across all parties and none. That’s a role we may need to revive, sooner rather than later, and as Depute Leader I would drive that forward.
The discussion we will have on these key issues during this election will only strengthen the party, offering an exemplar of a healthy internal democracy in Scotland’s largest political organisation. And whoever wins will benefit from having the authority of the mandate an election offers.
I want to stress that I have every confidence in all the members of the current leadership of the party in their respective roles, and will continue to fully support all of the team no matter what the outcome of this election. That’s how we do things in the SNP.
My thanks to everyone who has encouraged me to stand. Your support is humbling and I confess I’m just a little daunted at the challenge. But I believe I am up to it. No person can achieve things by themselves. Winning independence for our country will need all our efforts. I hope that I can bring my skills and experience to the job and play a role inspiring and motivating our mass membership in the months and years ahead.”
Comment from aformer Branch member
“I believe we need to refocus our basic unit – the party branch – to include much more political discussion and action. We need to spend money on professional organisers – at HQ and in a regional network – to support branch activities and members’ training. We need to bring together all our elected representatives – MPs, MSPs and Councillors – in coherent teams providing political leadership to our communities. We need to rethink how we make policy – involving as many members as possible in a continuous process”.
This is the SNP achilles heal,the crux of the SNP’s inability to retain politically minded members who have either left the party or have become dormant members frustrated that their branch activity fails to engage in the political process failing to debate issues and consequently failing to prepare a stream of well informed future talent.
My own Branch experience is that cliques of well meaning individuals have often prevented or discouraged newer members from office bearer roles these new members being perceived as a threat to the Branch, rather than being accepted as a positive result of YES activity and warmly welcomed their new post Indy 1 ideas are not reflected in branch meetings or agendas. Active when electioneering yet stagnant in between.
I believe Tommy recognises this serious flaw and knows that it impedes progress nationally to win wider support for the Independence cause. The SNP structures of old failed to win in 2014 there needs to be change and reform if Indy2 is to be won.
But Sturgeon chose another path
Her preferred candidate and acolyte Angus Robertson’s favoured “modus operandi” centralised control was at odds with the membership campaigning organisation envisaged by Sheppard and he voiced concern that empowering the membership would breed disloyalty and create problems for the leadership. His views prevailed and he was appointed to the post of Deputy leader. From then on all Party activities would be managed by headquarters and information drip fed to the plebs.
Sturgeon sold Scotland to the Corporate lobby
The SNP leadership’s ruthless disciplining of the Party membership was instrumental in the unfettered transfer of influence and reach of the corporate lobby over government. A change accelerated under the leadership of Nicola Sturgeon like no other government .
Standing on chairs in Parliament’s Sports and Social bar, a band of portly gentlemen are bellowing out Scottish folk songs.
A young barmaid, only in her early twenties yet a seasoned veteran when it comes to turfing out unruly Westminster soaks, approaches a new SNP MP and politely asks him to pack it in.
Words are exchanged.
Multiple witnesses allege a drunken ‘f— you’ is uttered.
Defeated, the barmaid retreats behind the bar to mocking male laughter.
So upset is she by the incident, she will leave her job a few weeks later.
A Labour wag reaches for his coat and sighs “They’re only just getting started.”
The conquering horde of Scots Nats have come to town and they are making themselves heard.
SW1 certainly expected the worst from the new SNP cohort.
As the Glasgow East MP Natalie McGarry puts it, “They thought we would come down waving flags, with our faces painted blue and white.”
Yet those preconceptions were not without substance.
An extraordinary, never-before-seen document written by disgruntled SNP aides reveals that even the party’s own employees have been horrified by their MPs’ behaviour for a while.
In their own staff’s words, this new Westminster group are described as “complete arseholes”
To find out whether the new intake are living up to their reputation, Westminster’s watering holes are the only place to begin.
The Sports and Social is traditionally a Labour haunt, earning it the nickname ‘Sports and Socialist’.
Just two weeks after polling day, to quote one Blairite boozehound, it had been ‘colonised’ by the Scots.
Such are their imperial ambitions, SNP MPs confirm with almost embarrassed smiles their plans to have it officially renamed the ‘Rabbie Burns Bar’.
At kicking-out time, it’s over to the infamous Strangers’ Bar.
A taxpayer-subsidised tot of Scotch here is just £2.55, yet despite the SNP’s arrival, the managers have not had cause to double their orders.
The man at the bar claims half jokingly “‘Most of them only drink champagne.”
His theory is that the £67,000-a-year MP’s salary is a considerable pay rise for many of his new punters, and that they are enjoying their newfound riches in style.
This is an allegation heartily rebuffed by ‘real ale man’ and Midlothian MP Owen Thompson, who is having beer from his local Stewart brewery shipped in and put on tap.
Bubbly or ale in hand, the terrace is a place where MPs forget the adversarial nature of the chamber and, their inhibitions loosened, have a good gossip with politicians from other tribes.
Not so the Nats, of whom one rival party hand complains they, “all stand together in a huddle by themselves, not talking to anyone else.”
A case of dour Scots?
Natalie McGarry insists she has had “a good bit of conversation” with “amenable” Labour colleagues, but that while, “some Tory MPs are unfailingly polite, some of them are stuck up their own bahookies.”
I barely have time to ask how one might spell that, before she is telling me what happens when the SNP stick to non-alcoholic beverages.
McGarry recalls, “a cabinet minister came up to us and said fruit juice? I would have thought you Scots would have been on the booze.”
In an example of Westminster Jockophobia, she claims the minister’s aide then turned to her boss and sneered, “Now they’re here we’ll have to start nailing things down.”
There are eight new SNP MPs under 30, and the younger generation have quickly taken over Westminster’s premier 3 a.m. dive, the Players Bar in the Charing Cross Theatre.
When 20-year-old Mhairi Black is not wowing the House with her eloquence, she is impressing revellers on the dance floor.
A fellow clubber reports, “She was a bit reserved early on, but that’s understandable.
She was dancing away with the rest of us by the end of the night.”
Black’s colleague Stuart Donaldson, the 23-year old MP for West Aberdeenshire, has meanwhile undergone something of a transformation.
An admiring colleague laughs and says, “He was the most socially awkward person here when he first turned up.
Now you never see him without his harem of attractive blonde girls.”
He would not be the first Honourable Member to find the trappings of power have improved his success with women, but he might be one of the youngest.
And after a night out, where do the SNP regiment go to lay their weary heads?
The highly rated Argyll and Bute MP Brendan O’Hara warns, with a hint of irony, “the last thing you want is folk swanning around Belgravia on the taxpayer.
O’Hara himself is taking advantage of gentrification, “I’m down in Elephant and Castle. I lived in London in the 1990s and it had an awful reputation. Someone said to me, “Look at Elephant and Castle,” and I thought, “Oh I don’t think so.” But what a transformation! What you could get in Glasgow for your IPSA [expenses] allowance here, well you could get anything you want. It’s remarkable.”
Ginger-bearded Owen Thompson is a Midlothian man at the weekend, but during the week he lives in Kensington.
He tells me of his initial shock at being quoted a price of £350 a week for a high-end property in west London, but was chuffed to haggle £25 off the final price: “Doing my bit for the taxpayer.”
Early hopes for flat shares between laddish MPs petered out, leaving much of the new contingent dotted around Vauxhall and Kennington.
O’hara explains, “almost everyone I know lives within walking distance of Parliament.”
A Tory source recounts recently bumping into Stuart Hosie, the SNP deputy leader and Westminster veteran outside the Scot’s ultra-luxury apartment at Great Minster House, where a flat can fetch up to £6 million. “Even I can’t afford to live here,” exclaimed the envious Tory, to which Hosie protested: “It’s a shoebox!”
Other than the cosy living arrangements, what has been the biggest surprise?
Gavin Newlands, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North gushes about the ‘good value’ of the subsidised Commons cafeteria.
Outside of the Parliamentary estate, the Nats have been a little more adventurous.
Natalie McGarry is outed by colleagues as the organiser of an SNP team dinner at the upmarket Cinnamon Kitchen in the heart of the City.
The sister restaurant of Westminster’s opulent Cinnamon Club, the Kitchen’s extensive menu offers spiced red deer for £29 and Pinot Noir at £100 a bottle.
Forty-five out of the 56 SNP MPs attended.
O’hara admits,”this isn’t a change of job, it’s a change of life,” and for him the most difficult adjustment has been the Palace of Westminster itself. He says. “Labyrinth doesn’t begin to describe it I find myself running up staircases and wandering around for hours thinking, How do I get back? I’d love to get into the mind of the architect.”
For McGarry, the change in climate has caused more serious concerns, “I woke up one morning and I had massive lumps all over me! I went into a tailspin thinking I had bed bugs, so I went to the nurse. She just scoffed at me.”
Had moving 400 miles nearer to the equator left her susceptible to tropical diseases? The Nats were expecting plenty of bite south of the border, but they had not bargained for mosquitoes.
Watching them sip champagne on the Commons terrace and hearing about their fine dining and luxurious flats, one cannot help but feel the SNP’s new intake are already becoming the very metropolitan elite they claim to despise.
Owen Thomson admits, “there is a real danger with that. It is absolutely in your face all the time. I hope we’re not showing we’re all getting caught up in the establishment.”
McGarry cautions, “You could get into bad habits. I think people could get swept into the Westminster state of mind. It is “not healthy” to ‘socialise too much.”
O’Hara disagrees, insisting, “it’s really important that we don’t go around as a tribe and that we get to know a lot of people down here.”