Alun Cairns AM – once a banker always a banker?

cairns twat

banker

As allegations of corruption against Welsh MPs grow, perhaps it’s time they took a leaf out of Tory assembly member Alun Cairns’ book?

First it was shadow Welsh secretary Cheryl Gillan’s squalid claim for pet food, then Stephen Crabb’s bill of £9,300 in reclaimed stamp duty, followed closely by Cardiff West MP Kevin Brennan’s claim of £450 for a TV and Paul Murphy’s £1,000 for TV and hi-fi system.

Two other South Wales MPs have since added their names to the list of disgraced, but unrepentant Westminster politicians. Ex-Tory vicar Chris Bryant (below), Labour MP for the Rhondda since 2000, has trousered over £90,000 of taxpayers’ money to spend on properties in London and the Rhondda. Meanwhile, the sale of his West London flat in 2003 netted him a tidy (tax free) profit of £77,000, enabling him to buy another property worth £670,000. Madeleine Moon, Labour MP for Bridgend, has also allegedly had her snout in the trough. Despite strict rules to the contrary, she had furniture costing thousands of pounds delivered to Wales, while designating a London flat as her second home. 

chris bryantReaders of South Wales Anarchists’ blog and sister publication, Gagged!, will certainly be familiar with former banker Alun Cairns, AM for South Wales West. Cairns infamously described Italians as ‘greasy wops’ during a radio programme. He was subsequently forced to resign as chair of trustees of the assembly members’ pension fund when we revealed that the £10 million pension pot is currently invested in some of the world’s worst polluters, while the assembly boasts of pursuing a green agenda.

Nevertheless, even we were pleasantly surprised when Tory boss, Nick ‘iPod’ Bourne, proudly announced that from April this year Alun Cairns wouldn’t be claiming a penny of the £13,000 additional costs allowance to fund his second home in Cardiff Bay. A breath of fresh air amidst the stench of corruption, we wondered?

Not a bit of it.

Why Cairns should ever have been allowed to maintain a second home at taxpayers’ expense beggars belief. He lives in Ewenny in the Vale of Glamorgan, only 22 miles or 30 minutes by car from Cardiff Bay. Welsh assembly rules, however, allowed him to claim tens of thousands of pounds to spend on his Cardiff Bay flat because his home was deemed perversely to be in the Bridgend constituency. That was until 2006 when electoral boundary changes meant that Ewenny, once more, became part of the Vale of Glamorgan and Cairns’ gravy train came to a grinding halt. But rather than accept the change, he ‘lobbied’ members of the assembly house committee to get an exception to the new ruling and, in a secret meeting held in November 2006, the committee duly upheld his request.

Nevertheless, could his decision to ‘sacrifice’ £13,000 be a genuine desire to send a message to the voters that, in stark contrast to the crooks in Westminster, he’s now a reformed politician?

Alas, no sooner had Alun made his noble gesture, he was heading straight for one of Cardiff’s leading letting agencies to put his luxury pad up for rent. And at a going rate of up to £1,300 a month, the Tory twat could pocket £15,600 a year! Reformed politician? Don’t make us laugh…

Just who are the ‘buffoons’ on Welsh labour’s new blog?

buffoon?

buffoon?

Welsh labour’s new blog Aneurin Glyndwr is crap. That’s the consensus among journalists and the wider blogging community in Wales. From the risible duo of MEPs Eluned Morgan and Glenys Kinnock trashing Tom Jones’ hit Delilah – ditched due to copyright infringement – to puerile comments about other politicians, including south Wales anarchists, this blog is certainly not the ‘modern platform for the politics of the progressive left’. You can’t even leave comments which flatly contradicts the authors’ proud boast of creating ‘a positive and constructive debate about the future of Wales’.

So what of labour’s claim that south Wales anarchists are buffoons? We invite readers to consider the issues we’ve raised  and make their own minds up.

buffoon?
buffoon?

Back in January we revealed the hypocrisy of our assembly members (AMs) whose £10 million pension pot (paid for with our money) is being invested in companies which are among the world’s worst polluters and human rights violaters and include Shell, BHP Billiton and Atlas Copco.

Since the last assembly elections we’ve campaigned against the abuse by AMs of the £12,000 per annum additional costs allowance, which permits a number of them to trouser serious amounts of money, buying and selling second homes at the taxpayers’ expense. Welsh labour’s Huw Lewis and Lynne Neagle are among the culprits.

We highlighted the scandalous 10.2% hike in salaries accepted by the majority of AMs in 2008 when public sector workers were being forced to accept increases worth a fraction of their political masters. Let’s see if our hard-pressed AMs take a pay rise this year as thousands of people all over Wales are thrown on the unemployment scrapheap. No prizes for guessing what the answer to that question will be…

We’ve consistently exposed the crass behaviour of south Wales police.

We vigorously opposed the illegal war against Iraq, while welsh labour politicians dithered.

buffoon?

buffoon?

We’ve written extensively about the growing militarisation of Wales, a pet project of Rhodri Morgan. Wales is now home to 180 arms and aerospace companies, a very worrying development in our opinion and one which needs to be stopped. Millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money are being channelled to weapons manufacturers, such as Raytheon and BAE systems, with links to some of the most brutal regimes in the world, including Israel. In the meantime the welsh economy is left to go down the pan.

buffoon?

buffoon?

Perhaps those behind the blog: Peter Hain, found guilty of a ‘serious and substantial’ breach of parliamentary regulations after failing to declare £100,000 of donations to his dismal deputy leadership campaign, MEP Eluned Morgan, ex-Plaid Cymru member, Alun Davies AM, who accepts ‘hospitality’ from US burger chain Macdonald’s – flying in the face of assembly attempts to tackle obesity – free clothes and opera tickets, and ex-liberal democrat Leighton ‘piggy’ Andrews may like to respond to the issues ‘buffoons’ like us have raised?

They’re free, of course, to leave comments on our blog.

Huw ‘gravy train’ Lewis makes the news

Huw Lewis: knight in shining armour?

Huw Lewis: knight in shining armour or hypocrite?

Huw ‘gravy train’ Lewis, labour arsembly member for Merthyr Tydfil (even though he lives in Penarth with fellow Labour AM Lynne Neagle) has recently been heard criticising US firm Covanta over plans to build a huge waste incinerator in his constituency. Lewis is right to express his concerns. Covanta was found guilty of violating employment laws in the US and has been fined hundreds of thousands of pounds after exceeding emission levels of carcinogenic chemicals from its American incinerators.

‘Frankly, I find it a little surprising that the assembly government has been courting a company that has a string of environmental breaches and seems to also engage in union-bashing,’ said a perturbed Lewis.

Perhaps Huw might like to respond to South Wales Anarchists’ revelations last month that taxpayers’ money, set aside to provide for his generous pension, is being invested by Baillie Gifford Life Ltd in companies that, er, destroy the environment and abuse workers’ rights!

Alun 'greasy wops' Cairns

Alun 'greasy wops' Cairns

And whilst we’re on the subject of our arsembly members’ pension fund scam, we’re wondering why Alun ‘greasy wops’ Cairns hasn’t quite managed to remove an entry in the Welsh assembly register of members’ interests which still has him as chair of the pension fund trustees even though he was forced to resign from the post on 16 January 2009. Could we remind the diminutive tory that, according to section 36 of the Government of Wales act 2006, standing order 31 requires members to register within 4 weeks any changes to those interests. Oh dear, it looks like Alun has screwed up yet again…

BAILLIE GIFFORD IN DEEP SH*T

Monday, 19 January 2009

South Wales Anarchists’ revelations about the Welsh arsembly pension fund’s manager, Baillie Gifford Life Ltd, last week can only be adding to the woes of the Edinburgh-based partnership.

Baillie Gifford partners, Alex Callender and Edward Hocknell

Baillie Gifford partners, Alex Callander and Edward Hocknell

            In 2007 the thirty-three partners who own the company were sitting pretty on investments worth £55 billion. By September 2008 that amount had plunged to £46 billion with one of its flagship funds, Scottish Mortgage Fund, losing nearly half its value. Baillie Gifford lost a further £200 million when Northern Rock collapsed. And the international investment markets are only set to get worse.

            While the bankruptcy of such a disreputable organisation could potentially be good news, we think it could spell even more of a disaster for the environment. This is what Edward Hocknell, one of the partners had to say recently:

“We think what will get us out of the hole will be infrastructure spending,” Hocknell said. “It won’t be a consumer recovery but an industrial one.”

This strategy has led Baillie Gifford managers to continue betting on companies such as the Brazilian energy giant Petrobrás and Sweden’s Atlas Copco.

He went on: “We are very overweight in areas that are dirty and smelly-mining and engineering-because emerging markets have huge reserves to spend on their infrastructures.”

What Mr Hocknell means by that is in order to claw back profits for its clients, many of whom are UK local authority pension funds involving billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money, Baillie Gifford are going to pump more money into some of the most polluting companies on the planet.

Don’t these people take any responsibility for their actions? Of course they don’t. Profits come before people: “We take a pragmatic and flexible approach to corporate governance,” say Baillie Gifford on its website. “Baillie Gifford recognises that it has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of its clients.” And if that means supporting Robert Mugabe’s murderous regime in Zimbabwe by investing funds in Anglo-American mining corporation then so be it…

We CAN do something to stop these corporate cowboys.

Baillie Gifford is one of the largest managers of local authority pension funds in the UK. Not only does it look after the interests of Welsh arsembly members, Baillie Gifford manages the pension fund of the Scottish parliament and used to look after the pension fund of the Northern Ireland assembly.

If you work in local government, check on your pension fund with your employer. Baillie Gifford is creaming off billions of pounds from Orkney to Sussex.

Contact Baillie Gifford and express your outrage at what they’re doing.

We’re doing our best to track down the 33 partners. So far we’ve come up with:

 Alex Callander –     joint senior partner

Charles Plowden –  joint senior partner

Ken Barker                                                    Elaine Morrison

Peter Hadden                                                Anthony Tait

Edward Hocknell                                           James Anderson

The company also boasts top Tory porker, lord Strathclyde, as one of its directors.

lord Strathclyde

lord Strathclyde

 Head office address:

Baillie Gifford, Calton Square, 1, Greenside Row, Edinburgh EH1 3AN

Tel: 0131 275 2000

Or you can email them on: colin.neilson@bailliegifford.com

I’m sure Colin would love to hear from you…

And if you’ve got any more information on Baillie Gifford please tell us on cardiffanarchists@riseup.net

ALUN CAIRNS RESIGNS AS CHAIR OF ASSEMBLY PENSION FUND TRUSTEES

SOUTH WALES ANARCHISTS CLAIM VICTORY AS YET ANOTHER PENSION FUND SCANDAL EMERGES

 Following our revelations that the welsh arsembly members’ pension fund is being held in companies with appalling environmental and human rights’ records, chair of the pension scheme trustees, Alun ‘greasy wops’ Cairns has resigned.

another Tory twat bites the dust

another Tory twat bites the dust

End of story? Er, we don’t think so. Mr Cairns isn’t the only villain of the piece. There are, of course, four other trustees representing all the political parties who must have known as much or as little as Mr Cairns. Perhaps the lot of them should come clean and tell us exactly what they’ve been up to during their tenure as trustees? We’ll be sending a freedom of information question to the government requesting details of ‘meetings’ between trustees and Baillie Gifford Life Ltd, the Edinburgh-based partnership that manages members’ pensions. Watch this space, although we’ll probably be met with more porky pies from the freedom of misinformation team at the assembly.

But the story doesn’t end there. We’ve been in touch with the nice freedom of information officer at Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT), one of our favourite councils (see Gagged 24 and16) and we’ve learned that, coincidently, of course, Baillie Gifford, along with four other financial companies, manages RCT’s pension fund too! The assembly’s stash of £10.5 million pales into insignificance against RCT’s fund with a membership of 23,000 people. At the end of March 2008 the fund stood at £1.3 billion, with Baillie Gifford Asset Management holding £540 million.

 And, you’ve guessed it, many of the star performers in the arsembly fund feature in RCT’s. We asked specifically about money given to the arms and tobacco industries and were told the breakdown of holdings at 31st March 2007 in aerospace and defence was:

 BAE Systems            £2,908,645

Meggitt                        £3,305,736

Rolls Royce    £6,770,177

how many more Palestinian children will Israel murder?

how many more Palestinian children will Israel murder?

 

That wouldn’t be the same BAE Systems that supply Israel with parts for F-16 bombers currently being used to murder Palestinians, would it?

 

 

The breakdown of RCT’s holdings in tobacco was:

 British American Tobacco               £  6,252,715

Imperial Tobacco                              £10,838,441

Which, when added up, comes to £13 million to weapons manufactures and £17 million to tobacco barons.

By the end of March 2008 RCT’s investments in the arms trade had fallen to £9 million, following the sales of shares in arms companies including Lockheed Martin, worth £840,000 in 2006, and the sale of nearly £500,000 of shares  in our old friend, Raytheon (see Gagged 25). Investments in tobacco stood at almost £16 million.

Perhaps it’s time for the Pension Panel Members, which include council leader Russell Roberts and councillor Clayton Willis, to step up to the mark and account for their murderous investment decisions.

RCT councillor Roberts

RCT councillor Roberts

                                

RCT councillor Willis

RCT councillor Willis