Theresa May today told ministers they need to be more transparent – but was herself accused of keeping the public in the dark over a cash-for-access dinner with super-rich donors.

The Prime Minister’s office has published a letter that May sent to all her Cabinet ministers about the need for government transparency. She writes:

“Online transparency is crucial to delivering value for money, to cutting waste and inefficiency, and to ensuring every pound of taxpayers’ money is spent in the best possible way…

“…The sunlight of transparency also acts in itself as an important check and balance, and helps ensure the highest standards of public life among senior government representatives.”

Very admirable. Sadly though, these principles seem go out the window when it comes to the Conservative party.

Because, in other news today, May has been accused of “hiding her links to billionaires after secretly dining with super-rich donors.”

A source has told the Daily Mirror that May attended a “lavish meal” with a host of super-rich Tory donors, which took place hours after the Government had frozen benefits.

The meal is likely to have been part of the Tory party’s Leaders’ Group, which allows the rich to buy access to the PM and Cabinet ministers for a minimum donation of £50,000.

The Tories promised to release a list of people attending these meals with ministers once every three months – but they have failed to provide any details of events that have taken place this year.

If May really wants to improve transparency in politics she only needs to walk across the hall to have a word with Patrick McLoughlin, a minister in her department who also happens to be the Chairman of the Conservative party.

Surely she wouldn’t let her party fall below the standards she’s setting her government?”


Naughty Persimmon

“A national housebuilder has been ordered to stop construction on one of its developments.

Plymouth City Council has issued a 28-day “temporary stop notice” to Persimmon Homes because it’s breached weekend working hours at its Saltram Meadow development on the former Plymstock Quarry site. …”


“World Inequality Report: Fight wealth inequality with taxes”

Further to the article already posted today:

“Income inequality can lead to “catastrophes,” but there are ways to fight it, according to the World Inequality Report. “Everything depends on the choices that will be made,” says renowned economist Thomas Piketty. …

… Government still have tools to fight inequality, such as boosting access to education, improving health policies, environmental protection, setting up “healthy” minimum wage rates, and adopting better representation of workers in corporate governance bodies.

Perhaps most notably, the authorities should establish so-called “progressive” tax systems, that demand people to pay proportionately more tax with accumulation of wealth. The experts also urged called for a new global register of ownership of financial assets to combat tax evasion and money laundering. …”


People with less than £50,000 savings told they are “too poor” for financial advice

“Customers with investments of less than £50,000 are increasingly being turned away by their financial advisers. In 2014 just under a quarter of financial advisers showed customers with this level of assets the door, whereas in 2017 this figure rose to one in two advisers, according to new research by Schroders.

In total, one in four financial advisers asked clients to leave their practice in 2017 for not having enough money.

The research, based on a survey of 250 financial advisers, showed that the number of customers that advisers are no longer choosing to service has steadily grown over the past few years, with some customers being asked to leave if they have less than £100,000 or £200,000. …”


“World’s richest 0.1% have boosted their wealth by as much as [all the] poorest half

“The richest 0.1% of the world’s population have increased their combined wealth by as much as the poorest 50% – or 3.8 billion people – since 1980, according to a report detailing the widening gap between the very rich and poor.

The World Inequality Report, published on Thursday by French economist Thomas Piketty, warned that inequality had ballooned to “extreme levels” in some countries and said the problem would only get worse unless governments took coordinated action to increase taxes and prevent tax avoidance. …”


More construction worries for new Hinkley C nuclear reactor

“A French-designed nuclear reactor ordered by Britain is facing further scrutiny after the disclosure that defects were detected in one of the same models under construction in China.

The revelation adds to the string of setbacks that have hit the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) designed by Areva, the French nuclear group.

Britain has ordered two of those reactors for Hinkley Point C in Somerset, the first new nuclear power station to be built in the UK for a generation. They are being built by EDF, the French state energy giant, and China General Nuclear Power Corporation at a cost of £19.5 billion.

China General Nuclear Power Corporation, which is building two reactors in a joint venture with EDF near Macau in southern China, said it had found “local defects” in the Taishan 1 reactor.

It said that welding in the deaerator, which is used to remove oxygen from water circuits, was defective. The parts had been replaced, it said.

Taishan 1 is due to come on stream this month to become the world’s first functioning example of the European reactor. The second Chinese reactor, Taishan 2, is due to come online next year. The $8.7 billion project was initially due to be completed last year, but was delayed by safety concerns.

The problems in China pale by comparison with those affecting other projects. Work on a similar reactor at Olkiluoto in Finland began in 2005 and was supposed to finish in 2009. It is now expected to be in action from 2019.

EDF is also building a reactor at Flamanville in Normandy which was due to begin operating in 2012. Jean-Bernard Lévy, EDF’s chief executive, said yesterday that the reactor would be working by the end of next year.

The reactors at Hinkley Point were originally due to be operational in 2025 but EDF said this summer that they were likely to be 15 months late.”

Source: The Times (pay wall)

Would you entrust YOUR animals to these people?

Illustration from an article by Molly Scott-Cato on animal sentience and whether to trust Gove on the environment (no). Just another topic that the Tory party in general, and Michael Gove in particular, manages to confuse and contradict itself about.

Gove looks terrified to touch it, the woman in the middle has no idea how to hold it and the other woman looks like she would rather be anywhere else than next to the dog (or maybe Michael Gove, or maybe Michael Gove AND the dog).

Frankly, the dog looks to be the most sentient animal in the picture! And the one with the most personality!

No wonder it’s sticking out its tongue – perhaps it is a Corbynista but no-one thought to ask…