As we sorted out the hens this morning there was much speculation about tonight’s England v France encounter at the Euro 2012. By my reckoning about one third of the codgers desperately want England to triumph, one third hope they will lose so that they can bang on about the overlooking of ‘Arry Redknapp and one third, being rugby addicts, don’t give a hoot. The seemingly endless guff about John Terry by the former wore somewhat thin after a time and, by way of a diversion, I asked who would like to have an immediate rise of 50% on their pensions.
Howls of derision. Yet that is exactly the amount proposed by the giant advertising group WPP for their chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell. There is likely to quite a backlash from shareholders at the company’s annual meeting in Dublin on Wednesday. A defeat for the comapny would take the tally of FTSE 100 pay revolts to unprecedented levels. As is par for the course the company chairman, Philip Lader, has told reporters that he will redouble efforts to engage with shareholders. Equally predictably they have replied that it is not engagement they seek, but a realisation that times are hard and consumers are sick to the backteeth of fat-cats on the make.
Your response may well be that the government has announced its intention to put an end to what Nick Clegg called ” a culture from the planet Zog”. The plan, we were told, was to empower shareholders by giving them in law the right to binding annual votes on remuneration. Indeed, no less a star than our dear leader made the announcement. But, surprise, surprise, there is now to be U-turn number 36.
Uncle Vince Cable has let it be known that he is likely to “row back” on the idea. No explanation but the usual mysterious ‘sources close to the Business Secretary’ let it be known that he is “unable to carry his Conservative colleagues with him”. Apparently Uncle is seeking a face-saving compromise whereby pay deals should be reviewed by investors every three years. Long grass would be a simpler explanation.
In reality the prime minister, having read the popular mood, has said that he wants to empower shareholders but has failed yet again to stand up to vested interests, who include in their number many donors to his political party. Far from driving change he has fallen at the first hurdle.
Of course the real issue here is not confined to shareholders. We are constantly told that austerity is the only solution to our economic woes, yet fat-cats continue to pay themselves obscene amounts, irrespective of performance. Cynics will respond by saying that they would expect nothing less from the rich boys in government. But what about the Lib Dems, who continue to keep our dear leader in Downing Street.
One suspects that behind the scenes Cable has been muzzled. He is no coward but is undoubtedly aware that a general election would lead to the loss of almost all Lib Dem seats. But the party has to exit soon and some leading Lib Dem figures believe that the time has come. Not least amongst them is Lord Oakeshott. Yesterday he fired his first public shot.
He chose to speak publicly about the Murdoch affair. He accused David Cameron of poor judgement, and said that senior Tories had engaged in a “Faustian pact” with the Murdochs. He went on to demand that Jeremy Hunt resign and said that “he should have resigned some time ago, no self-respecting minister would have carried on”. It will be interesting to see Nick Clegg in action at the Leveson Inquiry. Will he take the same line?
And so the coalition continues to perform U-turns with the dexterity of a bus driver on the famous London Transport skid pad. Thanks to the latest one the fat-cats can breath again and continue on their merry way, filling their pockets as they go. But they have worries of their own.
Keeping up to date on the art of tax-avoidance is almost a full-time job in itself!
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY;
“There are better things in life than alcohol, but it makes up for not having them”…..Terry Pratchett “Oysters are supposed to enhance sexual performance, but they don’t work for me. Perhaps I put them on too soon.”…..Garry Shandling “A natural death is where you die without the help of a doctor”….Mark Twain