The state of UK’s water industry

The Guardian has a series of articles looking at UK’s water industry. Looks like it’s a cash cow for foreign investors with prices to consumers inflated to service debt and excessive payments to shareholders. Well worth a look (and tofu-eating is not mandatory ;) …

England’s water: the world’s piggy bank

England is one of the few countries in the world where water is fully owned by private companies. These companies answer to investors based thousands of miles away from their customers.

“What we have here is just a crazy system,” said Kate Bayliss, from the department of economics at SOAS University of London and author of several papers on England’s privatised water. “We are managing our water in the interests of offshore investors.”

These offshore investors include private and state-owned international funds, banks, multinationals and billionaires headquartered outside the UK, and they control at least 72% of English water, new Guardian research has found.

Here’s how England’s profitable water system has been sold off around the world:

Revealed: more than 70% of English water industry is in foreign ownership

Foreign investment firms, private equity, pension funds and businesses lodged in tax havens own more than 70% of the water industry in England, according to research by the Guardian.

The complex web of ownership is revealed as the public and some politicians increasingly call for the industry to be held to account for sewage dumping, leaks and water shortages. Six water companies are under investigation for potentially illegal activities as pressure grows on the industry to put more money into replacing and restoring crumbling infrastructure to protect both the environment and public health.

More than three decades after the sector was sold off with a promise to the public they would become individual small shareholders or “H2Owners”, control of the water industry has become dominated by overseas investment vehicles, the super-rich, companies in tax havens and pension fund investors. The ownership structure is such that transparency and accountability are limited, according to Dr Kate Bayliss, a research associate with the department of economics at Soas University of London.

Down the drain: how billions of pounds are sucked out of England’s water system

In the 30 years since England’s water was privatised by Margaret Thatcher, water companies have set up a system in which billions of pounds leave the network in an average year.

It’s money that could have gone towards building a more resilient water system, say academics. Among them, Dieter Helm, an Oxford professor of economic policy specialising in utilities, went as far as saying in 2021 that England’s water system was “a scandal of financial engineering”.

So where is the money going?

Continue ReadingThe state of UK’s water industry

The Highway to (Climate) Hell

The Highway to Hell was a short poem published by me to oppose the USUK-Iraq War 2003.

THE HIGHWAY TO HELL

I respect all religions
And belief-systems worldwide

But
I have no time
for those b******s

That claim to be Christians
That claim Divine guidance
On the Highway to Hell

dt

Continue ReadingThe Highway to (Climate) Hell

Does Sunak’s COP27 U-turn mean a Tory change of heart on climate crisis?

Republished from OpenDemocracy under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence.

OPINION: To alter Tory climate policy, Sunak would first have to battle the neoliberal economic worldview

Paul Rogers author pic

Paul Rogers

5 November 2022, 12.00am

Rishi Sunak has reconsidered his decision to stay away from COP27. It is a screeching U-turn, according to Labour. But is his government really changing its attitude to climate breakdown, or it simply making the best of a bad political error?

The global context is clear. UN secretary-general António Guterres has stridently repeated his message that impending climate chaos is the key issue of the age, but under current agreements temperatures will rise by around 2.5°C, well above the level at which tipping points are likely to be reached.

Every day brings more news of what is unfolding, most recently the World Meteorological Organisation’s report that Europe has warmed at twice the global average over the past 30 years. According to one summary of its findings:

The effects of this warming are already being seen, with droughts, wildfires and ice melts taking place across the continent. The European State of the Climate report… warns that as the warming trend continues, exceptional heat, wildfires, floods and other climate breakdown outcomes will affect society, economies and ecosystems.

While global political responses remain far too limited, the crisis comes at a time of impressive developments in rapid decarbonisation as the cost of electricity generated from renewables continues to plummet. As I wrote previously, one of those involved in a study of renewables has said that it even made sense for climate change sceptics to invest in these sources rather than oil and gas.

I wrote before about the potential for Keir Starmer’s Labour Party to focus on climate issues, especially with Ed Miliband’s long-term commitment. Does this still hold if Sunak’s government has really had a change of heart?

The problem for Sunak is the Tory track record on the shift to renewables, shown clearly by the party’s actions after the 2015 general election. After being in coalition with the Lib Dems for the previous five years, the Tories won a comfortable parliamentary majority in 2015, which changed everything. With the opposition in the throes of a bitter leadership election, that summer saw the dismantling of a raft of measures that had been initiated by Labour prior to 2010 and survived during the coalition thanks to Lib Dem influence.

Week after week, news of further cuts seeped out. At the time there was a burgeoning new industry around solar panel installations. The generous feed-in tariff that encouraged installations by paying householders for electricity generated was promptly savaged, and thousands of industry staff were laid off. In a gross double whammy, building onshore wind farms was frowned on and access to a subsidy scheme halted, while the development of North Sea oil was aided by £1bn in additional subsidies.

A scheme to support improved energy-efficient homes was scrapped and, most damning of all, the “zero carbon homes” plan was junked. Under this policy, all new homes built from 2016 were to have been carbon neutral. Apart from the cumulative beneficial effect of 200,000+ zero-carbon homes being built every year, the move would have had economic and psychological impacts. The whole house-building industry would have seen the writing on the wall for traditional energy-inefficient homes, with ripple effects right across the construction business. That change alone would have done much to transform public attitudes to climate change.

In short, then, David Cameron’s government was not interested in green issues, whatever it said in public, and the UK lost its opportunity to be a world leader in generating cheap electricity. Meanwhile, the hugely profitable oil and gas industries have continued to make vast profits while paying little more than lip service to renewables and still supporting climate-sceptic think tanks and campaigners.

Related story

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Governments have failed. We must save ourselves from the climate crisis

4 November 2022 | Margi Prideaux

OPINION: After I lost my home, I realised we can’t rely on politicians. Communities must act to protect their future

Behind all this lies a market fundamentalism rooted in the neoliberal economic worldview. For convinced neoliberals, the COVID pandemic was not easy to handle because the government expenditure involved in countering its dire effects ran deeply counter to a belief system that sought a small state and was confident for month after month that markets alone could cope successfully with a pandemic.

The worry now in right-wing circles is that the government will be bumped yet again into heavy public spending, this time to prevent climate breakdown. To make matters worse in neoliberal eyes, this comes at a time when the whole free market approach is starting to take flak following the utter failure of the Truss regime. The conviction that a wholesale acceleration towards true market fundamentalist politics in Britain would work a treat came spectacularly unstuck in a matter of days.

So, in this regard, what is the chance of Sunak altering course, starting with a spectacular announcement at COP27? Why not play fantasy politics? Now that the £25bn Sizewell C nuclear plant is likely to be junked, Sunak has an easy way of doing it. A 10% wealth task [tax?] on the £750bn owned by Britain’s richest thousand people, imposed over three years so they would scarcely notice it, would raise three times the cost of Sizewell C. This would be more than enough to embark on an accelerated transition to much cheaper renewables, ensuring security of supply and falling prices. It could be combined with an intensive nationwide programme of free home insulation.

Energy security combined with much-reduced fuel poverty would mean that Sunak and his party really had experienced a Damascene conversion. Will this, or anything like it, really happen?

In your dreams. This is, after all, fantasy politics.

Republished from OpenDemocracy under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence.

Continue ReadingDoes Sunak’s COP27 U-turn mean a Tory change of heart on climate crisis?

George Monbiot: I’m part of the ‘anti-growth coalition’ Liz Truss loves to hate – and I’m proud of it

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/oct/12/liz-truss-anti-growth-coalition-class-power

,,,

For many years, a small band of us “voices of decline” and “enemies of enterprise” who “don’t understand aspiration” have been trying to point out that increments in gross domestic product do not equate to increments in happiness. We have argued that no one wins the human race. We have sought to explain that what mainstream economists call progress is what ecologists call planetary ruin. We’ve contended that infinite growth on a finite planet is a recipe for catastrophe. I hope Liz Truss is right to claim that so many people now accept our arguments.

Even if this coalition is not yet as broad as she suggests, she seems determined to widen it. Her plans to rip down planning controls, to cut public services, deregulate business, crush protests, unleash exploitation and destroy economic security, all in the name of boosting the rate of economic growth, could scarcely be better calculated to reveal the difference between GDP and prosperity.

Is our prosperity enhanced by increasing the volume of sewage in our rivers and on our beaches? No. It may boost the profits of the water companies and the remuneration of their directors, very little of which – unlike the effluent they release – will trickle down into our lives. Will a new roadbuilding programme enhance our lives? Not if, as new roads always do, it pushes congestion to the next bottleneck, while increasing noise, pollution and the destruction of landscapes. Will we be happier if the regulations protecting workers and consumers are stripped away? No. We will find that our health, wealth and wellbeing decline, even as the companies exploiting us become richer. Our lives do not grow in these circumstances. They are shrunk by poverty, pollution, poor health and exploitation.

dizzy: As a blogger, I should only quote small excerpts of copyrighted works and as a rule of thumb I tend to go for 3 paragraphs of newspaper articles. I recommend the rest of Monbiot’s article.

Continue ReadingGeorge Monbiot: I’m part of the ‘anti-growth coalition’ Liz Truss loves to hate – and I’m proud of it

Memo to the UK Conservative Party

SUBJECT: Your new leader

HTF did she do PPE? HTF did she present a budget without consulting her cabinet over it?

She’s in the grip of the IEA and other insane Tufton Street think-tanks.

You’re on course for a serious clash. We need climate action immediately, we need no new oil and gas now. We don’t have time to feck about, the World is burning.

We can’t tolerate you having a bonkers, insane totally divorced from reality leader who has the infantile approach that things will happen simply by wishing them to be true. Put reins on her.

Continue ReadingMemo to the UK Conservative Party

Keith Starmer’s alternative Labour Party speech

[Responding to applause] Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

Here we are at the Labour Party conference 2022 - and thanks to the Tory party appointing simple maths misunderstanding incompetents - on the cusp of being elected the UK's government. 

I'll let you into a secret conference. I am the Establishement's man (more on that later). What I want to tell you right now is that I will govern, WE will have a Labour govenment looking after the Capitalists' interests through the hard times ahead until the Conservatives can take over again, after the hard times ahead, with an almost sane leader. 

Yes, I promise to you conference that you can depend on me to look after the rich and powerful just as the Tories do while they take a break and duck out of the total chaos that they've caused. And I say clearly to you conference, that I am proud to do this work for the rich and powerful, to be their servant, to keep them safe while I perform my caretaking role for Capitalism. 

It has been a long road for me to achieve power and I want to thank those that have helped me. I particularly want to thank the Labour officials who were so hostile to and totally undermined the previous leader. And I particularly want to thank the Zionists. 

I know that all of you in this hall, in this party can't say that word Zionist - that ist forbidden - but I can because I'm leader. So thanks to all the Zionists that hounded out the previous Labour leader and his supporters so that I was able to expell them for being opposed to Zionist apartheid, for being Socialists and anti-racist.(2) We can't have any of them in this party, this is a new era, we are at the centre of UK politics, we are New Labour, the New Red Tories.   

We are in a new era conference. You will be aware that I thanked the Zionists by installing a former Israeli spy into the centre of Labour Party activities, actually a member of 8200 Unit, to spy on you members and pursue the interests of Israel.(1)

I am in thrall to Israel - but don't you dare call me a Zionist - dat is forbidden. As I said I am an Establishment man but unfortunately, what I have yet to realise is that the Establishment moves very slowly but ever so occasionally has seismic shifts. I still have yet to realise that the UK establishment may not be too pleased with me being so in thrall to a foreign state and installing a former Israeli spy in my office. 

As I finish this sermon, I ask you all to join me in singing the National Anthem ... 


(1) Also responsible for rapid rebuttal according to the job description. 
(2) This is all well documented by al Jazeera in their 2 investigative reports 'The Lobby' and 'The Labour Files'.



Continue ReadingKeith Starmer’s alternative Labour Party speech

Events and aftermath of July 2005

It was the Neo-cons Bush and Blair era, following the illegal wars of aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq. I had been an activist against the 2003 Iraq war and later against Blair. 

Before the 2005 G7 conference at Gleneagles, Scotland the Privy council passed a motion prohibiting criminal prosecution of G7 atendees.

I was at the demonstrations against the G7 in Scotland. I believe that there were failed attempts to apprehend me by UK authorities on 6 July 2005. Then boss of the Metropolitan Police [17/2/22 ed: Ian Blair] was unashamedly extremely supportive of Tony Blair. Tony Bliar was extremely unpopular at the time.

On the morning of July 7 2005, at the end of the G7 summit, there were explosions on the London underground and the made for television bus event. 

My analysis suggests that the tube explosions were dust explosions and that there were many previous but less serious dust explosions on the London underground. This leaves the bus explosion as fake manufactured terrorism. One country is particularly experienced at fake terrorism bus explosions. Then London mayor [ed: Ken Livingstone] sacked Robert 'Bob' Kiley following the publication of my the danger of dust explosions on the London underground article. 

London's Metropolitan Police followed the script provided by Efraim Halevi (sometimes spelled differently because it's a translation from Hebrew) in the Jerusalem Post on 7 July 2005. The explosion times were presented as simultaneous when they weren't. 

If the London explosions were dust explosions and the bus event was fake manufactured terrorism then there were no bombings or suicide bombers. 

21 July 2005 there were copy-cat unsuccessful bombings on the London underground. 

22 July 2005 Jean Charles de Menezes was murdered at Stockwell tube station. Ian Blair almost immediately stated that the Met Police assumed full responsibility for the death suggesting that it was not the Met that killed him. Official teams of foreign killers were operating in London following the London non-bombings. 

Many lies were promulgated by Met Police immediately after Jean Charles de Menezes murder. Untrue comments such as wearing a coat too warm for the weather, jumping barriers and the later "Houston, we have a problem" were crafted to relate to myself personally, to harass me, to make clear that I had been watched by UK authorities in depth for an extended period. 

One reason for murdering Jean Charles de Menezes was to support the suicide bombers narrative of & [ed: 7] July i.e. there are suicide bombers because, we're looking for them and killed someone by accident. I published an article demonstrating why Jean Charles de Menezes was selected to be killed on Bristol Indymedia on 27 June 2005 [ed: 28 Aug 2014] a few hours before the server was seized by British Transport Police. [ed: that doesn't seem correct][ed: Don't think that date is correct. Was the server seized 3 times - 2005, second time, 2014? The 2005 date is too early.]

Current Met Police boss Cressida Dick was apparently in charge when Jean Charles de Menezes was murdered. My alternative narrative suggests instead that it was foreign agents that murdered de Menezes and that the official narrative was a fabrication.

13.03 This post republished at the original uri / url because it was getting cut & paste messed up 

[17/2/22 7 July 2005, 2 + 5 = 7 ]
Continue ReadingEvents and aftermath of July 2005

Rupert Murdoch’s history of political influence

Murdoch repeatedly meets UK prime ministers in secret. The deal is that Murdoch sets the agenda and provides support to these right-wing politicians in return for favourable treatment. It should be recognised and accepted that Murdoch is a foreign tax evading billionaire so politicians are promoting private foreign interests over those of their country.

4 January 1981 Margaret Thatcher and Rupert Murdoch meet in secret with the meeting repeatedly denied since. Thatcher agrees that Murdoch can aquire the Times and Sunday Times newspapers thereby controlling a huge proportion of UK newspapers without a referral to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.

Murdoch attacks and breaks the power of the UK newspaper unions with the support of Thatcher’s government and UK police.

The News of the World phone hacking scandal damages Rupert Murdoch’s influence. The News of the World hacked the phones of murder victims and thereby damaged police investigations as well as hacking the phones of royalty and celebrities.

Murdoch’s political influence returns following the phone hacking scandal.

Boris Johnson's thumbs up from Rupert Murdoch
Boris Johnson’s thumbs up from Rupert Murdoch

Murdoch owns prominent UK politicians Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Priti Patel. Boris Johnson gets the thumbs-up to be UK prime minister from Murdoch at the London Olympics, Priti Patel and Michael Gove attend Murdoch and Jerry Hall’s wedding celebrations in London. Priti Patel behaves as Rupert Murdoch’s private secretary e.g. here and here.

Continue ReadingRupert Murdoch’s history of political influence

Trump/US’s assassination of Iran’s General Qasem Soleimani: analysis

The US assassinated Iran’s General Qasem Soleimani this morning by drone attack near Baghdad airport. I present my analysis which my be revised or extended.

Trump/US’s assassination of Iran’s General Qasem Soleimani is no doubt an extremely provocative and outrageous act having little or any regard for international laws and customs and – of course – Iraqi sovereignty.

It should be recognised and accepted that US, UK and Australia are dictated to by media mogul Rupert Murdoch. National policies are decided by Neo-Con (and climate-destroyer) Murdoch in pursuit of his own interests. Murdoch exerts a veto on politicians e.g. former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and otherwise controls how senior politicians act through the power of his news empire. It is extremely unlikely that Trump would have taken this action without clearing it with or being directed to do it by Murdoch.

Trump is facing re-election is 2020. This action provides a distraction from impeachment proceedings and presents Trump as a bellicose leader.

The best resolution of this unprecedented situation would be a legal one i.e. Trump/US being held to account legally. It is unfortunate that this is unlikely to happen since US has not ratified or does not recognise such legal treaties.

2.25pm

Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Labour Party, responding to the killing of Qasem Soleimani, said:

“The US assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani is an extremely serious and dangerous escalation of conflict in the Middle East with global significance.

“The UK government should urge restraint on the part of both Iran and the US, and stand up to the belligerent actions and rhetoric coming from the United States.

“All countries in the region and beyond should seek to ratchet down the tensions to avoid deepening conflict, which can only bring further misery to the region, 17 years on from the disastrous invasion of Iraq.”

Continue ReadingTrump/US’s assassination of Iran’s General Qasem Soleimani: analysis

Dizzy Deep’s rough guide to factions in contemporary UK politics

A rough guide to factions in UK politics. Comments are welcome.

This is my own work looking at the influences behind various UK politicians. You are welcome to disagree with any point. It should be recognised and accepted that some politicians will not have any philosophical or ideological basis at all – many people simply unquestionably accept the politics and world-view of their parents. Some of them may also be mad or simply whores to power or financial gain.

Socialists are a diverse bunch often fighting injustice e.g. anti-racism, and campaign for human rights, universal healthcare, democracy, equality, workers’ rights, etc. There are more radical Socialists outside of parliamentary politics fragmented according to adherence to the different historical origins and aspects of Socialist Ideology. The Labour party catchphrase “For the many, not the few” catches the Socialist ethos perfectly. [17/1/22 This article is now dated and was written while Jeremy Corbyn was leader of the UK Labour Party. “For the many, not the few” was a slogan of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party and the title of the 2017 Labour Party manifesto. This ethos has been abandoned by the current UK Labour Party under leader Keir Starmer which should be regarded as a return to Blairism i.e. Tories pretending to be Socialists and no mainstream political representation of Socialism in UK.]

Parliamentary Socialists are not that concerned with historical Socialist ideology. They will recognise and object to the vast inequalities in wealth and control of the media but that’s about it.

Neo-Liberals are Capitalists who believe that “the market will provide”. These are the ones who are keen on deregulation so that businesses are unhindered by “red tape” – actually laws and regulations that protect standards and ordinary people – and the privatisation of everything. Brexit is all to do with deregulation so Brexiteers are mostly Neo-Liberals.

Neo-Conservatives are Neo-Liberals with the added aspect that they are Zionists – supporters of the state of Israel. Theresa May and many of the Conservative party are Neo-Cons.

Rabid Zionists are extreme supporters of the state of Israel. These are the ones that make accusations of anti-Semitism within the Labour party. The Al Jazzera series ‘the Lobby’ shows that Israel is directing accusations of anti-Semitism and the Israeli embassy may deserve its own entry in this guide.

Appeasers to Zionism. Since Zionists are attempting to apply a veto on UK politicians there are those that appease them to gain advantage. Strangely, these are often found to be trombonists.

The DUP (Democratic Unionist Party). Theresa May’s minority government is supported by the DUP. In any abusive relationship, the party that needs the relationship least is in the position of power.

Simples

6/3/19 Apologies that I neglected the nationalists. I did intend to but was on a roll.

The Scottish Nationalist Party and Plaid Cymru (the party of Wales) are both opposed to Brexit since they recognise the damage that it will cause their communities. Assembly and Scottish Parliament in joint no-deal Brexit warning.

Sinn Fein campaigns for a united Ireland. They have 7 MPs which refuse to participate in the UK assembly at Westminster. Sinn Fein regard Brexit as an opportunity to achieve an united Ireland.

17/3/19 Revealed: How dark money split the Tories’ ruling elite by Adam Ramsay

17/1/22 This article is dated. Theresa May was replaced by haphazard alcoholic Boris Johnson as leader of the Conservative Party and UK Prime Minister.

Continue ReadingDizzy Deep’s rough guide to factions in contemporary UK politics