Tag Archives: Tory Party

Beyond sexism and #MeToo, why the #PresidentsClub dinner reeks


I have so much that I want to say about the #PresidentsClub. Obviously on the level of sexism, and effectively procurement of young women, who had NO duty of care shown to them by either the charity or #Artista, the agency, it is proof-positive of how sexism exists, and thrives in those places, those secret clubs that men with money and power keep. Let it never be said that men can’t close ranks when they need to – this club/charity/whatever you want to call it was around for 20 years, an open display of how skewed the sexual dynamics are in our society.

By and large, while I have encountered sexism while working in the Third Sector, what tends to exist more are cultures of highly intelligent, highly dissatisfied people. In the charity side of the sector, there are quite healthy gender ratios – one of the few industries to have this. Bullying sometimes thrives, from what I’ve heard from others working directly for charities themselves – where intelligence and boredom meet, this is a logical outcome. They are the type of people who have all the requisite intelligence (probably too much) to thrive in a corporate environment, but lack the confidence/drive. Whether it’s more or less than in the corporate world is debatable.

And/or maybe (in some, though not all cases) some feel that they can make a difference. Sometimes flaws in the industry are overlooked for a perceived greater good. It’s a high-pressure environment, one where people change jobs frequently. And, in my opinion: Not all charities are equal. Some there is more need of than others.

This is not intended as a slight upon charities – the people that work there at mid-level do work incredibly hard, at a fraction of the wages they could get in similar jobs in the corporate world. However, let me also say that, while of course one can take what the charity representatives have said at face value, having worked in this sector on and off for almost 8 years – I find it incredible that no one from these charities attended the #PresidentsClub dinners over a 20 year period. It may be so, but for not even a board member or a trustee to attend – that’s quite extraordinary.

But the point that I think everyone is missing about this: these CEOs, heads of business and the links between tax avoidance and charitable giving: these ‘Titans’ of industry are raising money for charities that, if they paid their tax, would probably (a) not be necessary and (b) wouldn’t be filling the gaps caused by austerity. A logical aim of anyone working in the charity sector should be to put themselves out of a job – to end poverty, to end the need for charitable giving. If we lived in a fair and functional society, where everyone paid according to their means, there would be no need for charities, for the ‘despised’ chuggers, and for tax ‘incentives’ for tax avoiders.

Another layer, of course, are politicians, and their collusion in this merry dance of tax avoidance. Scratch the surface of this story, and I’m sure that there are a number of politicians (most likely Tory) whose backs are having a consensual scratch from big business. Let’s put it this way: the amounts being avoided to pay in tax are so huge that City law firms and the amount they charge to help aid this avoidance are comparatively small change in terms of the amounts saved. Let that sink in for a minute.

The collusion in the usage of young women by lecherous older men and avaricious older women as bait is disgraceful. It’s laughable that these men, men like Philip Green, who avoided £160m in tax personally in 2016 should need ‘incentives’ to be able to give, and it is absolutely repugnant that they are allowed to feel ‘good’ about themselves when just one of them (clearly) could pay what was raised 8 times over.

More than that, it highlights that the UK does not need to be an unequal society, if the current and previous governments had the political will to end this putrid gravy train, and end the need for charity. The fact that there are completely the resources to do this, but no political will to enforce it, even in times of deep national crisis shows that this patriarchal, man-made model of doing business and politics needs to be ripped asunder and structured for the brave new world of equality for which there is clearly public appetite. The Empire is dead; long live the New Utopia.

It really irks me that these men are passing themselves off as ‘doing good’ when they head up corporations that tax avoid. If they paid their taxes into the public purse, there would be less need for charities, some of whom are literally stopping institutions from collapsing – the British Red Cross last winter is a good example of this regarding the NHS. The aim of a civilised society should always be to reduce the need for charitable giving, not increase it. The government’s actions and their close association with the world of finance – even to the extent of one of their own, David Meller, organising this bacchanalian grope-fest – shows there is a whole circle of back-slapping that in itself needs to be scrutinised into non-existence.The demise of the #PresidentsClub is not enough, because some other secret sexist conclave, where politics and big business collude in the exploitation of women is still out there. What’s needed now is to take this story to the next level and press forward with it. In the wake of #MeToo, there is nowhere to hide. Beyond that, if I had one message for these ‘sad old men’ it would be this:

Pay. Your. Goddamn. Taxes.


PS. (And stop leeching and freeloading on the poverty and inequality in British society. As my Grandpa would say, the world (literally) doesn’t owe you a living.


Britain – it’s time to talk


Pull up a chair, Britain and sit down. We need to have a long overdue chat. And we need to be honest, so shudDUP and let us talk. Yup, pun absolutely intended. Never let it be said that we Irish don’t try and inject a bit of humour into every situation.

But after Friday, and yet another kick to the proverbial nuts, and yet another betrayal, and yet another situation where serious risks could be posed to Ireland as a result of English foolhardiness, the niceties are over. It’s time for the truth bombs. I think many Irish friends living in England feel the same. Hell, even our Taoiseach, Enda-ThirdWay-Kenny, has issued a little slapdown to the British government. So in the interests of inter-island dialogue and a baseline of understanding, and having been asked questions by so many English friends on Friday (which I’m always glad to answer) ranging from ‘Why don’t Sinn Féin do a solid for Corbyn and take up their seats’ to ‘What’s so bad about the DUP’, let me take you through a potted history of Ireland, and in particular recent history, and why this recent move on the part of the Tory party is beyond the Pale (that’s a little joke for Irish readers – British readers, you may have to do a little Googling).

Ok. 800 years of British rule, which was barbaric, unjust and brutal. I’ll skip through most of this section except to say that even dating back to Tudor times, the English have a nasty habit of believing and cultivating xenophobic divide and conquer tactics. The Paul Dacre of his day, Sir Edmund Spenser, described the Irish as savages; a description that stuck while they were being stripped of their lands, their languages, their culture, and even their crops (which caused the ‘potato famine’ of the mid-19th century – the lie is that it was a famine, it was more genocide for profit. No foodbanks at the time, so the native Irish either starved to death or left. The population was halved to 4 million. Some ate stones and grass in a bid to stay alive). Being hung, drawn and quartered was a punishment remembered in Irish songs like Robert Emmett. You get the picture. Being occupied is not fun. Hopefully it explains why we support anyone but the English in football matches.

So we then enter the 20th century, and let’s speed through the 1916 Rising. The Black and Tan lads added to the general jolly japes of the history of the British in Ireland with mass burnings of properties, scalpings, rapes and so forth. We come to the Anglo-Irish Treaty, whereupon the deal was made to leave most of Ulster in the UK and the other 26 counties as the newly-formed Republic of Ireland.

Let’s shoot forward to the 1960s. It was clear that there were civil rights abuses by the mainly Unionist political class against nationalists by this time, which lead to civil rights marches inspired by those in the US at that time. These culminated in Bloody Sunday, whereupon British soldiers shot 28 unarmed civilians in the Bogside in Derry who were involved in a peaceful protest against internment. This led to a cover-up by law-enforcement institutions across Northern Ireland and by the British government. It also led to a huge recruitment drive to the IRA.

British readers will know all about the bombings on their mainland. I’m not condoning the bombings or the killing of innocent lives. They do have to be placed in the context of loss of life on both sides, however. Loyalist terrorists were no slouches in that department either, which is why it is important to understand the DUP, the ‘confidence and supply’ partner of the Tories and their ties to them. So here are some interesting #DUPfacts  that the general British public may not be aware of:

1. Many of their politicians have roots in paramilitary activities – not unusual in Northern Ireland, but after all the Tories’ smear campaign against Corbyn for merely talking to Sinn Féin, this is a bit much.

2. They opposed the Good Friday Agreement.

3. They are the biggest anti-choice, pro-forced pregnancy party in the UK.

4.They are against equal marriage and fought hard against LGBTQ rights. Even David Cameron disagreed with their stance on this. Though he also toyed with the idea of aligning with them in 2015, had he not won a small majority. ‘Compassionate Conservatism’, eh?

5. Jeffrey Donaldson MP, worked with Enoch Powell,  when he was expelled from Tories, and claimed he was one of the ‘great voices of unionism’

6. They are climate change deniers who raked money off biofuels in a ‘cash for ash’ green energy scandal.

7. Accepted a £435k donation from Scottish Tory Richard Cook, from the shady Constitutional Research Council (links with Saudis), and ran pro-Brexit adverts in the Metro free-sheet in the UK.

The Good Friday Agreement, voted for in a referendum in good faith by Irish people both North and South of the border, has been the cause of almost 20 years of peace. The process broke down in March this year over the green energy scandal, in which Arlene Foster was deeply implicated, and which Theresa May would have known about. They’ve lost two of the major poster boys of the GFA, the late Rev. Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness.

Given the history of the British government in Northern Ireland, their support of the interests of the Protestant political class over that of the nationalist community, to have been courting the DUPs since last summer for their support and then to enter into an ad hoc partnership with them beggars belief. It throws any pretence of the stance of neutrality on the part of the British government regarding Northern Ireland out the  window, and contravenes the tenet of neutrality on the parts of the British and Irish governments within the GFA. And it is a major security risk; not just for the people of Britain and Ireland, but most especially for the nationalist community of Northern Ireland. Unionists do not have a history, much like their English ancestors, of wielding power graciously.

The frustration on the part of Irish people like myself is that yet again, the interests of Ireland have been placed as secondary to those of the English, and in particular recently to the internal wranglings of the Tory party. Ireland took a massive hit in 2008 for the British and German bondholders. The pain was certainly not shared on that occasion. There was then the fallout from Brexit, where the impact on exports and the border between Ireland and the North wasn’t even considered. And now this. The most apt description I have come across about the DUP is from George Monbiot, as an organisation that are like ‘UKIP, supercharged by religious fundamentalism’.

The only very small silver lining from this is that it may inadvertently cause more of an understanding of Irish politics, and the politics and history of Ulster in particular. If the peace process doesn’t get shafted completely, we will all be very lucky. Suffice it to say, you have been warned. You think the Tory Party is the ‘Nasty Party?’ You ain’t seen nothing yet.