The Beecroft Report: foxes and chicken coops (again)

Lots in the press today about the now-infamous Beecroft Report – and lots of conflicting information from coalition politicians. Vince Cable claims to have blocked the recommendations while his Tory supposed-underling claimed in Parliament that 17 of the 23 recommendations were already in the process of being implemented with the rest under consideration/discussion.

The Tories are trying to spin these measures as good for growth, in order to justify putting a set of nasty, grasping, self-serving policies into law that will do the opposite of what they claim while lining the pockets of the rich. Measures written, moreover, by a man who clearly stands to gain personally and professionally from their implementation. I’ve spent most of my evening reading through the full report, which was leaked to the Telegraph (you can read it here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9278348/Parents-should-be-stopped-from-requesting-additional-work-leave-until-2017-leaked-report-advises.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter) and reading up on its author.

As the media are all reporting on most of the key points, I’m not going to analyse them all individually here. But much less is being said about the clear conflict of interest in the Tories’ selection of the man to make the recommendations, so I’m going to concentrate on that.

From the whole debacle of Jeremy Hunt being given responsibility for the supposedly unbiased decision about Rupert Murdoch’s takeover of BSkyB, when in fact he and his office were feeding confidential information to Murdoch and his team, we know the Tories have ‘form’ for putting foxes in charge of the chicken coop. Giving responsibility for employment reforms to a man like Beecroft is just as blatant a case, though from what I’ve read in the media so far, this key point hasn’t been emphasised as much as it should be.

Adrian Beecroft is a venture-capitalist. One of the main ways in which venture-capitalists enrich themselves further is by buying companies, closing the parts they don’t want, ‘streamlining’ (read job cuts) the rest, and then selling – usually within quite a short timeframe – the company for more than they paid for it. As such, Beecroft has a clear and massive conflict of interest: the more cheaply he can get rid of staff, the better his profits will be on each bought-slashed-resold company.

What’s more, as chairman of Dawn Capital, the company that owns Wonga.com, Beecroft stands to gain even more from the legislation he has proposed. Wonga.com – a company which even on its own website admits to charging APR on its loans of over 4,000% – specialises in short-term loans to people who find themselves in sudden need and who can’t get the much cheaper credit that banks can offer. A person put out of work at short notice and needing a loan to offset the sudden crisis makes a classic Wonga.com customer. Beecroft’s reforms, which allow employers to fire people without reason and at minimal notice, and to make even mass redundancies with 1/3 of of the current 90-day statutory notice period, mean more people thrust into unemployment without adequate time to plan and prepare. Which means more customers for Wonga.com and companies like it, and fatter profits, salaries and bonuses for Adrian Beecroft and his ilk.

Beecroft was asked to write the report by David Cameron’s (now former) ‘policy guru’, Steve Hilton – a man who also recommended another 25 billion £ of cuts to public spending at a time when economic growth was already in decline. Combine this with the obvious fact that reducing consumer confidence (people scared about their job security tend not to buy that new car, TV, sofa or whatever!) and taking money out of the pockets of the public are – DUH! – going to depress an already sick economy even further, and it’s very obvious that these measures, like so much of the bilge that the Tory component of the government has been spouting lately, has absolutely nothing to do with growth. These measures – just like ‘market-facing pay’, cuts in public spending and services, attacks on pensions etc etc ad nauseam – are ideologically-motivated and being opportunistically pushed through by a government that sees in the current world situation its big chance to turn the clock back, to keep down the ordinary person and make him/her easier to exploit and less able to stand up for the dwindling remnants of his/her rights when those too begin to be eaten up by the insatiable ‘elite’.

Now, I know I said I wasn’t going to look in detail at the specific measures in this post, but there is one that doesn’t seem to be getting too much mention, and yet which so perfectly encapsulates the idiocy and/or shameless hypocrisy of this report and the people behind it, that I can’t resist drawing your attention to it. Beecroft writes:

“Potential employees would be told which regulations the employer had opted out of and would be free not to take the job if they did not wish to. If employers found that they could not recruit because they had opted out of certain regulations then they would generally choose to opt in to them.” And yet, as reported variously in the press (here’s one example: http://www.metro.co.uk/news/82576-tories-get-tough-over-benefits), the Tories are also planning to strip anyone of benefits if they are offered jobs and do not take them. I don’t think I need to tell you how odious this is, so I won’t say more about it just now.

Bring down this government – increase the pressure on them so that they don’t get to cruise up to 2015 wreaking havoc with our country, doing damage that will take years, if ever, to put right. Sign this petition for a no-confidence motion – and get all your friends, Tweeps etc to do the same:



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