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Staunton

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  1. Staunton

    British steel facing administration

    Here's Daily Mail reporter Rachel Millard, writing in December 2017 under the headline Monarch owner now making millions from British Steel: Tycoons charging sky high interest for loans to Scunthorpe plant The former owners of failed Monarch Airlines are set to extract millions from British Steel after loading it with debt, accounts reveal. Brothers Marc and Nathaniel Meyohas and business partners Richard Perlhagen and Daniel Goldstein are charging interest of 9.6 per cent on a £154million loan. Their private equity firm Greybull Capital snapped up British Steel, which employs 4,400 people in the UK, largely in Scunthorpe, for a nominal £1 to stop it going under in 2016. Employees took a pay cut to try to turn around the firm. But the French brothers are now set to rake in cash from the loan pumped in via a company in tax-haven Jersey as part of a £400million rescue package. They have already charged fees of £3million, and accounts reveal that a further £16million in interest was due last year. It comes as Greybull is under fire for its ownership of collapsed airline Monarch. Nearly 1,900 workers were made redundant when Monarch went bust in October, forcing authorities [that's the taxpayer - you and me] to step in and help more than 100,000 holidaymakers get home. Greybull is believed to have reduced its exposure to losses through a complex deal with financing from airplane maker Boeing, and the private equity firm will get first say on any of the travel operator's assets. Meanwhile, Monarch customers and business partners are expected to lose out from the demise. Last night, Greybull defended its loan to British Steel. It said: 'Greybull's investment structure is market standard and in line with the way many financial institutions provide capital to higher risk companies in the midst of a turnaround.' Greybull has not yet received any interest payments, as it has let British Steel defer them until it makes more money. The total debt has climbed to £167million. Greybull created British Steel out of Tata Steel's long products division, which it bought just as it was almost wiped out by a major downturn in the industry. Tata has since sold further assets and closed its heavily indebted inherited pension scheme, threatening workers' pensions and triggering a frenzy among financial advisers. Greybull then rebranded the division as British Steel and staff agreed a 3 per cent salary cut. British Steel has returned to profit for the first time since the industry collapsed, making £39million last year compared to a £65million loss the year before, on revenue of more than £1billion. Chairman Roland Junck, 62, said he was targeting around 10pc profit. Staff have been rewarded with a 5pc stake in the business. Greybull said: 'We are delighted with the progress that British Steel has made since mid-2016. 'We are proud that the employees will share in the success of British Steel through the profit and share ownership schemes that we have put in place.' British Steel said: 'We have had nothing but strong support and help from Greybull since they rescued the business.' In the annual accounts yesterday, British Steel directors said: 'We have made great progress under our new ownership.' https://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/markets/article-5153241/Monarch-owner-making-millions-British-Steel.html Greybull employ routine venture capital techniques to extract value from an ailing enterprise: purchase the company at bargain basement price, load the company with debt, cut staff pay, strip the assets, then leg it to the nearest tax haven, leaving the taxpayer to clear up the mess.
  2. Staunton

    British steel facing administration

    Thank you lobster for drawing attention to this neoliberal sleeze. Here's what Jonty Bloom, Business Correspondent for BBC News had to say yesterday on Radio 4's The World at One, on the subject of Greybull private equity: '... if you sell a company of 5000 people for a pound, presumably because you're trying to get it off your hands because you think it's a lost cause, and it was certainly a loss-making plant, and it's far from clear if they ever could manage to turn it round successfully. Also there's a fair amount of controversy about this because Greybull is one of these private equity firms, they basically invest the money of two very wealthy European families through Greybull, and it charges, for instance, British Steel plant management fees for running it. It also lends it money at above market rates, so it makes money on the interest it lends to its own companies. And many people will say there's been a long tradition opf these private equity companies coming in, buying distressed firms, basically making a profit while they go bust, and then walking away from them when they go into administration. And this isn't the first one for Greybull. Monarch Airlines went bust when they owned it. and the taxpayer had to spend £60million flying its customers home from abroad.' https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000570v I wonder how much Greybull made out of this little episode? There are all the usual signals of tax abuse in Greybull's strategy. A nice little earner for some, while five thousand ordinary people stare at a bleak future and another town loses its economic base?
  3. Karl Marx himself is on record as assuming that the Rhineland had of necessity to develop through capitalist bourgeoisment towards the radical discontinuity represented by communism. Whilst wishing to avoid any claim that Marx was prey to utopian thinking, the same cannot be said for the proponents of neoliberalism, a form of utopian ideology that has proved anything but durable. The project of globalisation has sawed through the very branch the neoliberals gathered upon. Even their patron Saint Adam Smith sought to discredit the 'beggar my neighbour' logic of unfettered capitalism. But his warnings were subtly suppressed and written out of the neoliberal narrative. Neoliberalism constituted a violent rupture of the capitalist social contract, and its aggressive process of deregulation delivered vast inequality which we can now see created a wake of mass poverty, humiliation and rage. There was nothing aleatory in this process. As the freemarketeers structured their vision, they deliberately sabotaged traditional conservatism, and with it any hope that capitalism might serve a progressive politics. We now see neo-reactionary forces clamouring for the opportunity to wrest power, but to what end? If ever there was a chance for some form of benign capitalism to emerge, that chance was dependent upon robust democratic principles. That hope has rotted. My own concerns and anxieties are immaterial. The question is now one if survival. That billionaires can trumpet their discontents in the columns of luxury lifestyle magazines and that we cannot see through this nonsense demonstrates that we became indifferent to our own condition, and have been rendered powerless to structure any solidarity in a narrative that was triumphantly inscribed by the authors of neoliberalism.
  4. Even the most intelligent among the sheffieldforum community, such as Cyclone, are just as vulnerable as the rest of us to the conventions that have rendered any alternative to aggressive capitalism unthinkable. But social justice, redistribution of wealth, equality and neighbourliness are possibilities that we should not give up on. The neoliberal project actively exercised its governance in order to elevate the few to billionaire status whilst simultaneously proliferating the lie of austerity in order to wither the state. None of this was inevitable or incidental, it was all carefully planned and executed with ruthless vigour. And sadly we have been too exhausted by the desperate struggle to survive amid the crumbling public infrastructure, too distracted and soothed by the venal operatives of the mainstream media, to hold onto and defend our political interests.
  5. We are weary, our sensibilities have been cauterised, we hardly even notice when ten or twenty people die in a Florida spree-killing. Such events are no longer headline news. Similarly, another sneering billionaire bleating about the unfairness of the world is so commonplace that we no longer discern the violent injustice of a useless capitalist amassing over a thousand million pounds even, as Mister M points out with admirable lucidity, people in the most desperate need are losing their basic support services.
  6. Staunton

    Climate change protests

    Baron99 identifies a fault line in post- democratic politics, a disparity between the ageing indigenous white populations of Europe and the USA and the turbulent demographics of the global South. During the era of globalised capital we were witness to planetary upheavals as the legacy of Western colonialism and the recent Bush/Blair adventures of death and plunder coalesced to deliver a legacy of rage and provoked the logic of migratory imperative. Our institutions proved vulnerable to dissolution by the corrosive of free-market doctrine, and the ensuing failure of Western democracy has allowed neo-reactionary dogma to exploit the natural fears of European and US citizens as we struggle to comprehend contemporary population redefinition. These are troubled times and our exhausted and anxious intellect craves the stability that strong leaders love to promise. It is a savage irony that we must simultaneously suffer the shocks that the environment is delivering. As Baron99 also notes, the Extinction Rebellion comprises a broad spectrum of activists, from lefties to the privileged, from media stars to wealthy individuals. It seems like an impossible mix of trends, personalities and theories, but the unexpected is always friend to action. And no one can deny that action on an unprecedented scale has been mobilised in London over the last few days.
  7. Staunton

    Climate change protests

    One of the reasons that Occupy features large in my current thinking is that it is now possible to see a feature of that movement unknowable at the time - that it represented the last opportunity for democracy. My own lack of foresight, my inability to imagine that, should neoliberalism fail, it might give way to something yet more destructive in the form of the neo-reactionary demagogue, haunts my analysis of Extinction Rebellion activism. The current struggle for environmental responsibility seems likely to be our very final chance. These are, as hackney lad rightly discerns, themes of biblical proportion. I make a plea that we might all look beyond the tactics and the character of those engaged in the current street protest, and allow ourselves to acknowledge and embrace the urgent need for radical change that they seek to communicate.
  8. Staunton

    Climate change protests

    What do we do when it seems that nothing can be done? If we accept that ethical action is pointless then we are left with cynicism. We sign off from any hope and simply retreat. This is precisely what the corporations desire - that we should just leave them alone. I am hopeful. That is why I suggest that Extinction Rebellion is the last chance we have. But maybe my hope is misplaced? Maybe it is already too late? So, I recommend and honour Anna B's admonition.
  9. Staunton

    Climate change protests

    We have been exhausted by a thousand cuts. Our places of work have become sites of exploitation and abuse, our positions precarised. Anxiety has replaced confidence, branded products have eclipsed community in our hearts. No wonder we find it hard to focus on our interests when we have been repeatedly disciplined to accept that we must embrace the privations and displacements of austerity in order to achieve some sunlit upland somewhere, some day, only to find that promise empty. Thus the future has gone. We no longer see a future, so the notion of a tomorrow being menaced by such catastrophe as that represented by global warming and climate disaster paralyses our exhausted collective intellect. No wonder we are fearful, it is not surprising that we ridicule those who try to stimulate our sluggish imaginations and alert us to the horrors that are already hidden in the future. They remind us of our humiliation.
  10. Staunton

    Climate change protests

    The defeat of Hilary Clinton represented the dying gasp of the neoliberal project. She, along with that basket of deplorables that included but was by no means limited to Thatcher and Major, Reagan, her husband Bill, Blair, Milliband, Osborne and Cameron, have vacated the stage to the neo-reactionaries. However, the cultural infrastructure of neoliberalism was buried deep and is still in situ, decayed but active, remaining toxic, an infected carcass. There is no cause for complacency. The monsters now clamouring for our love, from Johnson to Francois, Orbán to Erdogan, Modi to Trump, are as indifferent to our human needs as their globalist predecessors. As Ilkley Moor blazes in this April heatwave, we must allow the emergency of our situation to prompt our better selves to action, to embrace the message that Extinction Rebellion has inscribed in our imaginations, and seek a way forward for human and bio survival. Nothing less shall be sufficient.
  11. Staunton

    Climate change protests

    They became exhausted by the enormity of the task, their energies depleted by attrition, beset by strategic legal obstacle. It happens to all political experiment, as the tory party have just discovered. We have been witnessing their death throes as they collapse into a cess of discharged puss and hawked bile, abuse and disgrace. Unfortunately, the political parameters look in auspicious as the neo-reactionaries seek opportunity to assert their own brand of misery on us in the political space vacated by the collapse of neoliberalism. I don't imagine for one moment that they shall be sensitive to the pressing environmental concerns that Extinction Rebellion are so bravely articulating.
  12. Staunton

    Climate change protests

    Again, as I have related elsewhere on the forum, in 2011 Occupy represented the last chance for us to listen and act as finance capital rotted the core of democracy. Too late - we did not take any notice. We preferred to mock and sneer, and now we face the neo-reactionary forces that have infested the body politic. Similarly, we cannot allow the business-as-usual adepts of political distraction and corporate propaganda to prevail. Extinction Rebellion are offering us this very last chance to engage meaningfully with the existential crisis that is facing us all as the planet begins to boil and rage beyond habitability. And too late this time really shall mean too late for everythying, for everyone. We might be exhausted and humiliated, our critical faculties diminished as collective intellect gives way to confusion and anxiety, but unless we summon the energy to halt the forces of petro-brutality and calculated political inaction, we shall face true devastation. Extinction Rebellion are asking us to recognise our common plight and understand the urgency of the task.
  13. Staunton

    Climate change protests

    Perhaps you could explain precisely who these targets are, and outline an effective means of challenging their practice and policy in such a manner that further global warming is averted? And please do give us some indication of who shall be tasked with this challenge.
  14. Staunton

    Climate change protests

    I believe that the Extinction Rebellion symbol is intended to represent that sinister and terror-inducing item, the egg timer.
  15. Staunton

    Climate change protests

    During the years in which neoliberalism prevailed, our capacity for reason was under constant assault. The market was installed in our schools, competition became received wisdom in the classroom via league tables and a narrow inspection regime that stripped out the humanities. Our children were denied the opportunity to learn anything other than the basic skills required by the low-wage economy. Families were exhausted by the ongoing increase in work-place demands and dwindling income, depleted of energy as they struggled to manage and cynically served a diet of high definition TV drivel and distress. The press became adept at provoking an emotional response that bypassed our critical faculties. That exhaustion and emotional overload has left us struggling to make sense of the increasing complexities of life. We now face a political crisis as discredited politicians go frothing and spitting into oblivion. But they have set a trap for us all - environmental devastation. As moorland fires rage here in Yorkshire and in Scotland, in April (!), we must seek to appreciate the message that Extinction Rebellion attempt to articulate, no matter their personality or their tactics.
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