The Plastic Hippo

October 14, 2013

Junk mail

Filed under: Politics,Rights,Society — theplastichippo @ 3:07 am
Cable theft

Cable theft

It would be a mistake to dismiss the sell-off of Royal Mail as the latest shambolic fiasco perpetrated by an inept coalition government; this scam has all the hallmarks of a complex, carefully executed and audacious fraud.

On Tuesday, Vince Cable said that “spivs and speculators” would not be making a “fast buck” from the sell-off. By Friday, after lots of spivs and speculators made lots and lots of bucks very quickly, he dismissed the greed frenzy as “froth and speculation”. Cable, at last, has found something that he is good at. As the Conservative Bow Group pointed out; anyone can sell £10 notes for a fiver and call it a success. If the indecent haste of the sting wasn`t enough to cause suspicion, then the execution of the heist would be comparable to robbing a mail train in 1963. The amount of money, however, is far in excess of the cash plundered by Bruce Reynolds, Buster Edwards, Ronnie Biggs and the rest of their mates; this robbery is far more complex.

Setting aside the ludicrously large sums of money involved, the sell-off does not require a train driver to be clobbered over the head. Instead, more subtle “businessmen” have nobbled the market without recourse to violence or any bothersome reference to trading standards legislation. The National Audit Office is, after all, an instrument of government and so has no jurisdiction over the government that defines its remit. Clever, huh? If the decision to offer 52 per cent of the available shares to “small, private investors” is an inspired piece of popular capitalism spin, then limiting the ceiling for investment at £750 is the work of genius. We need to look at the figures.

Buster Cable set the share price at £3.30 which would produce 227 shares for the outlay of £750. He arrived at this figure by consulting with Lazards investment bank and the government UK Shareholder Executive quango. He also took into consideration the state of the market and the results of previous postal service sell-offs. I, for one, cannot for the life of me remember a previous postal service sell-off but do recall what happened when British Gas and British Rail were floated on the market. That has obviously gone terribly well. He ignored the fact that demand for shares exceeded demand by a factor of 20 and smug, hand-rubbing “city analysts” were saying that the shares were worth at least £5.99. When the share price went to £4.55 within an hour, the hard working people of Britain with 750 quid to spare would make £253.85 profit. That is about enough for a night out at the theatre followed by a nice meal or enough to fund a food bank for a week.

So where did the hard working people of Britain flog their shares? The other 48 per cent of available shares have gone to “long-term investment institutions”. You know, investment banks, sovereign wealth funds, hedge funds and other assorted criminals. Good grief, if the Lehman Brothers were still kicking about they could have made a killing. Details are necessarily scant to protect national security but it is understood that only one of the ten “institutions” is actually based in the UK.

Lansdowne Partners is alleged to have invested more than £50million in Royal Mail. After an hour of trading, the value of shares in Lansdowne Partners had risen by £18million. When the economic crash slapped the planet in the face, Lansdowne Partners made £100million by short selling Northern Rock stock even as law-abiding people were screaming for blood. Peter Davies, the joint head of “developed markets strategy” at Lansdowne Partners was “Best Man” at George Osborne`s wedding and former chief executive Paul Ruddock, presumably with generous share options, became Sir Paul Ruddock after donating £500K to the Conservative party. This is what makes Great Britain great; hard working people putting their money to work to make more money so that they do not have to do any work. If we are to rid the nation once and for all of the “something for nothing” scroungers that affect profit, we need look no further than the relationship between “investment institutions” and government. The £700million under-sell of Royal Mail for the benefit of spivs and speculators would, in a more sensible universe, abolish the Bedroom Tax, reverse sanctions on Disability Living Allowance, allow Surestart centres to remain open and maybe, just maybe, make this nation a better place to live in.

But, I hear you cry, what of the other nine alleged mysterious, non-British corporate profiteers? Well, according to the Daily Telegraph, that well known champion of the free market, the other culprits include sovereign wealth funds in Abu Dhabi and Kuwait. Phew, at least the Royal Mail will remain Royal. These serious long-term investors will surely guarantee a daily delivery of final demands from utility companies, birthday cards, local council consultations and, without any sense of irony, polling cars. With a privatised mail delivery system, “Fat Frankie’s Pizza and Kebab Deliveries within a three mile radius – free coke on orders over £750” will undoubtedly thrive.

But, what will be the fate of Buster Cable and his accomplices? He could leg it to Paris for plastic surgery and then go loco in Acapulco. He could cash in his stash of Scottish 10 shilling notes to buy a flower stall at Waterloo Station and try to forget the eventual fate of a man that a coroner judged to be too drunk to commit suicide. On the other hand, he and his fellow Liberal Democrats might wish to consider how history will judge them.

Given his complicity and duplicity, the best that this business secretary can hope for is that some halfwit makes a movie of his life with Phil Collins in the lead role.

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