Saturday, 18 February 2012
This list represents the dire state of our democracy. The financial and vested interests of our MPs and Lords in private healthcare. Why are these people allowed to be in charge of our NHS, to vote on a bill that they clearly have something to gain from. Who cares that they have put it in the register of interests. This doesn’t excuse their interests, it merely highlights clearly why they should have no part in voting for the privatisation of the NHS. It is privatisation, despite the media’s continued use of the word ‘reforms’. The question must be asked. Are they public servants or corporate servants?
The list is long, and could surely be longer, I make no apology for that, tragically that is the reality of our politics today; and although the majority of vested interest lies with the Conservatives, as you might expect, it is however a cross party issue. It is compiled from accessible and trusted sources throughout the Internet. If one of these listed is your MP, then contact them and let them know you will not be voting for them again if this bill goes through. If the Lord is under your area, email them and let them know what you think. If there are others to be added, then please let me know with link to source - as this is by no means a complete list. Equally if you think someone should not be on here, then please say with reason and then they may come off if justified as the list should be as strong as possible.
In short - they won't be stopped unless they are stopped. You can help apply pressure by spreading this out on twitter. It is already gone quite viral, but can go wider still. A new campaign is starting which will release a number of 6 Lord names a day on twitter with quotes they have made on the Health and Social Care Bill - RT them, spread them all over in time for the Lords debate in a weeks time.
I start with the Lords predominantly taken from the Daily Mirror research: These are also available in register of interests.
In addition to the list below research by Dr Éoin Clarke - has revealed 333 donations from private healthcare sources totalling £8.3 million has been gifted to the Tories. Here is the database of those donations and 'gifts'.
Baroness Bottomley of Nettlestone: Conservative - The former Conservative Health Secretary Virginia Bottomley is a Director of BUPA, the health insurance, private hospital and care group.
Quotes on bill: I give this Bill an unequivocal and extraordinarily warm welcome.'
'It is romantic poppycock to think that the Secretary of State should be personally involved ...'Lord Naseby: Conservative - Chairman of and a share-holder in Invesco Perpetual Recovery Trust. One fifth of their investments are in pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.
Quotes on bill: 'I want to make it clear that I support the Bill. More importantly, I support the need for the Bill.'
'Finally, competition is good for any industry...Competition gives people pride and responsibility.'Lord Wakeham: Conservative - Advisor to L.E.K. Consulting, which specialises in helping private healthcare companies identify "growth and new business development" and "opportunities with the government".Lord Hunt of Wirral: Conservative - Partner in Beachcroft, a law firm that offers incisive analysis on the full range of government, parliamentary and regulatory matters in the health sector.Lord Lang of Monkton: Conservative - Director of Marsh & McLennan Companies that "help hospitals, insurers, pharmaceutical companies and industry associations understand the implications of changing policy environments".Lord Darzi: Labour - Former surgeon drafted into government as a health minister by Gordon Brown when he was PM. Now an adviser to medical technology firm GE Healthcare.
Quotes on bill: he would find it 'difficult at this stage' to vote for blocking the Bill...'I am speaking as a surgeon, not a politician.'Baroness Cumberlege of Newick: Conservative - Former Tory health minister, runs Cumberlege Connections, a political networking firm that works "extensively" with the pharmaceutical industry. Used to be non-excutive director of PR firm for healthcare huntsworth PLC, of which Lord Chadlington is Chief Executive. Former executive director of healthcare consulting firm MJM healthcare solutions.
Quotes on bill: 'I applaud the flexibility of the Bill.'Baron Higgins of Worthing: Conservative - Holds in excess of £50,000 of shares in Lansdowne UK Equity Fund, backers of private hospital group Circle Holdings.Baron Newton of Braintree: Conservative - Advisor to Oasis Healthcare on dentistry and general healthcare matters.Baroness Hogg of Kettlethorpe: Crossbench - Chair of Frontier Economics, a consultancy that advises private sector clients on the impact of healthcare reforms and how "to shape regulatory environments".Lord Freeman: Conservative - The ex-health minister is chairman of the Advisory Board of PricewaterhouseCoopers, which claims to have “been at the heart of shaping [healthcare] reforms and working with clients to respond to the opportunities they present”.Lord Ribeiro: Conservative - Adviser on hospital reorganisation to PricewaterhouseCoopers.Lord Blackwell: Conservatives - Chairman of Interserve, consultancy to NHS and private healthcare firms.
Quotes on bill: We are now 10 years further on from that and it is important that the changes are not lost in the voices that will always oppose changes that are necessary to reform the way that the NHS works. I hope that, while listening to those voices, the Minister can assure us that these essential reforms will be carried through and that the period of uncertainty for the NHS will not be any longer than it needs to be before we can get to the kind of reformed NHS that we all want to see.Lord Blyth of Rowington: Conservative - Senior adviser to investment bankers Greenhill. Former Boots Chemists deputy chairman. Tory Donor. Stands to gain from the break up and privatisation of the NHS wants and would surely like to buy the Walk in Centres at an agreed cut-price with Cameron.Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: Conservative - Senior adviser to Evercore, bank involved in huge healthcare deals.Lord Garel-Jones: Conservative - MD of UBS bank, whose healthcare division earned the firm over $1billion since 2005.Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach: Conservative - Director of Goldman Sachs bank, provider of services to healthcare firms.Lord Howard of Lympne: Conservative - Senior adviser to Hawkpoint Partners, a corporate finance firm. Provide staff to NHS and Private Healthcare providers. Lord Howard replaced Douglas Hurd in early 2011, thus keeping the connection of influence in parliament. Andrew Lansley met Hawkpoint partners for dinner on 30th June 2011. What was said?Lord Tugendhat: Conservative - Adviser to Trilantic Capital Partners, a private equity firm “active” in healthcare.Lord Coe: Conservative - In February 2011 became Director of AMT-Sybex Group, IT supplier to the NHS. Same company that paid for a trip of former MP Robert Keys.Lord Magan of Castletown: Conservative - Director of the SISK Group of healthcare companies.Lord Ballyedmond: Conservative - Chairman of pharmaceutical company Norbrook Laboratories.Lord Chadlington: Conservative - Chief executive of Huntsworth communications group with several lobbying firms. Huntsworth Health chaired a meeting on commissioning on behalf of Healthcare Communications Association, a group whose members consist of PR agencies and pharmaceutical companies. Members set to make increasing profits from the Health and Social care bill.Lord Bell: Conservative - Chairman of Chime Communications group, whose companies include Bell Pottinger, and whose lobbying clients include Southern Cross, BT Health and AstraZeneca. Tim Bell has a conviction for ‘wilfuly, openly and obscenely’ exposing himself ‘with intent to insult a female’ under Section 4 of the 1824 Vagrancy Act. For more on this delightful personality, which bears little relevance to the NHS but says so much about the character click here.Baroness Hooper: Conservative - Until July 11, chairman of Advisory Committee of Barclays Infrastructure Funds, one of the most experienced investors in hospital PFI deals.Lord Ashcroft: Conservative benches and funder - Until 2010, held investments in two private healthcare groups.Lord Leitch: - Labour Bupa chairman.Lord Filkin: Labour - Adviser to outsourcing giant Serco, heavily involved in NHS services.Lord Harris of Haringey: Labour - Senior adviser to business services giant KPMG.Lord Hutton of Furness: Ex-health minister is an adviser to law firm Eversheds. Clients include care homes and private hospitals.
Lord Puttnam: Labour - Director of Huntsworth communications group. global public relations and integrated healthcare communications group. Did not stand for the board this year (2012).Lord Warner: Labour - Former adviser to Apax Partners, one of the leading global investors in the healthcare sector. Current director of Sage Advice Ltd. Works as an adviser to Xansa, a technology firm, and Byotrol, an antimicrobial company, which both sell services or products to the NHS” and was “paid by DLA Piper, which advised ministers on the £12 billion IT project for the NHS” projects that he was responsible for when he was a government minister.Lord Evans of Watford: Labour - Director of healthcare property firm Care Capital.Baroness Morgan of Huyton: Labour - Ex-director of failed care home firm Southern Cross.Lord Clement-Jones: Liberal Democrats - Partner in DLA Piper, a global law firm providing lobbying services to “clients in the health and social care sectors”.Lord Taverne: Liberal Democrats - Chairman of private health insurer Axa Sun Life’s monitoring board.Lord Patten of Barnes: Conservative - Adviser to private equity firm Bridgepoint.Lord Currie of Marylebone: Crossbench - Chairman of Semperian, an investment vehicle, which owns a portfolio of mature Public Private Partnership investments, including hospitals.Lord Hameed: Crossbench - Chair of private secure mental health hospital group Alpha Hospitals, which is investing in a new acute private hospital in central London.MPs
Lord Carter - Labour - the head of the increasingly influential Competition and Cooperation Panel, is an adviser to Warburg Pincus International Ltd, a private equity firm with significant investments in the healthcare industry. Chairman Patrick Carter, or Lord Carter of Coles to give him his full title, was the founder of Westminster Health Care, a leading private nursing home company. He is also the Chair of McKesson Information Solutions Ltd, which delivers IT to “virtually every NHS organisation”, the chair of Primary Group Ltd, a Bermudan based private equity company, and a substantial shareholder in, among other companies, B-Plan Information Systems Ltd, which has also benefited from the increased need for large scale IT systems that the introduction of an internal market to the NHS has brought with it (see the interview with Frank Wood, of King’s foundation trust, where B-Plan has worked, in the last news update). Carter’s register of interests in the House of Lords also lists him as an adviser to Warburg Pincus International Ltd, a private equity firm, which has significant investments in the healthcare industry. It even rescued United Healthcare from financial ruin in 1987 and helped it to become one of the largest healthcare companies in the world. He can now help it to become one of the biggest beneficiaries of the government’s reforms. - http://www.corporatewatch.org/?lid=3934
Lord McColl - Conservative - was a paid a fee as a consultant to a new private healthcare company that provides a fee-paying rival to the National Health Service’s family doctor service.
Endeavour Health, which was set up by two hedge fund advisers, claims to be Britain’s first comprehensive GP network, offering access to the best doctors and the opportunity to beat NHS queues and have appointments at any time they want. Endeavour Health was founded last year by two financial advisers, Briton Yadin Shemmer and American Jonathan Weiss, to compete with the NHS. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6801270.ece- has since claimed no ties with the company.
David Cameron - Nursing and care home tycoon Dolar Popat has given the Conservatives £209,000. The Ugandan-born dad-of-three has amassed an estimated £42million fortune as founder and chief of TLC Group, which provides services for the elderly. Mr Cameron made the businessman a peer shortly after entering No10 last May, and Lord Popat’s donations include a £25,000 gift registered a week after the Tories’ health reforms were unveiled last July.http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/2011/01/19/nhs-reform-leaves-tory-backers-with-links-to-private-healthcare-firms-set-for-bonanza-115875-22859373/
Andrew Lansley - Conservative - John Nash, the chairman of Care UK, gave £21,000 to fund Andrew Lansley’s personal office in November 2009. In a recent interview, a senior director of the firm said that 96 per cent of Care UK’s business, which amounted to more than £400 million last year, came from the NHS. - Hedge fund boss John Nash is one of the major Conservative donors with close ties to the healthcare industry.
He and wife Caroline gave £203,500 to the party over the past five years.The “hedgie” is also a founder of City firm Sovereign Capital, which runs a string of private healthcare firms. Fellow founder Ryan Robson is another major Tory donor who has given the party £252,429.45.His donations included £50,000 to be a member of the party’s “Leader’s Group”, a secretive cash-for-access club. The would-be MP, who tried but failed to get selected as the election candidate in Bracknell, is managing partner at Sovereign Capital. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/2011/01/19/nhs-reform-leaves-tory-backers-with-links-to-private-healthcare-firms-set-for-bonanza-115875-22859373/http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/6989408/Andrew-Lansley-bankrolled-by-private-healthcare-provider.html
Andrew Lansley’s wife, Sally Low, is founder and managing director of Low Associates (“We make the link between the public and private sectors”). A Daily Telegraph report in February records that the Low Associates website lists pharmaceuticals companies SmithKline Beecham, Unilever and P&G among its clients. It also records Ms Low’s assertion that the company “does not work with any client who has interests in the health sector”. The website currently contains no reference to the drug firms listed above. http://www.channel4.com/news/andrew-lansleys-nhs-plans-still-in-good-health
Circle the ambitious private healthcare firm run and owned by clinicians, has recruited a former aide to health secretary Andrew Lansley as head of communications. Christina Lineen spent two years working for Lansley, who became health secretary after the general election. The company’s income is derived from private patients, either on insurance schemes or paying for themselves, but it also treats NHS patients. - http://www.publicaffairsnews.com/no_cache/home/uk-news/news-detail/newsarticle/private-healthcare-firm-circle-recruits-ex-lansley-aide-to-head-comms/2/?tx_ttnews
Nick de Bois, Conservative MP for Enfield North - De Bois is the majority shareholder in Rapier Design Group, an events management company heavily involved with the private medical and pharmaceutical industries, and whose clients include leading names such as AstraZeneca. The company was established by the Tory MP in 1998. Last year it had a turnover of £13m. Last April, Rapier Design purchased Hampton Medical Conferences to “strengthen the company’s position in the medical sector”. It is involved in running conferences and other events for private-sector clients, and for NHS hospitals.
A number of the company’s clients are “partners” of the National Association of Primary Care (NAPC), a lobby group supporting the health secretary’s plans. Rapier Design Group’s biggest clients stand to profit when the NHS is opened up to wider private-sector involvement. The GP commissioning consortium for south-west Kent, covering 49 GP practices and known as Salveo, has already signed a contract with the pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca aimed at improving diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/may/29/lansley-ally-shareholding-lobby-firm
George Freeman - His own business: http://www.4d-biomedical.com/ which is a specialist adviser on Healthcare markets, Technology development, Business strategy & Venture financing, working with NHS trusts. Speaking in Parliament on 11 November 2010 during the Policy For Growth debate he said, "The third is the national health service. I know from my own experience that we are sitting on billions of pounds-worth of patient data. Let us think about how we can unlock the value of those data around the world." See Hansard at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm101111/debtext/101111-0003.htm
Chris Skidmore, Conservative MP for Kingswood who sits on the Health Select Committee received a payment of £3,500 for 4 hours work - giving speeches to STAC Consultancy http://www.stac-consultancy.com/ which specialises in the launch of pharmaceutical products, strategic branding and medical education.
Chris Skidmore's family also owns a company called Skidmore Medical http://www.skidmoremedical.com/, which appears to be solely selling a physiologic Vascular testing equipment. The company made a donation to him of £7,500 in June 2010 which also appears on register of members interests.
Michael Fallon – Conservative MP for Sevenoaks – Director of Attendo AB since 2008 – a Swedish private health company offering care and social care. The register of interests show, he receives an annual fee of £13,954.88 net, for approximately 20hrs work. Bridgepoint the private equity firm which acquired Care UK, whose chairman John Nash bankrolled Andrew Lansley’s office just prior to the takeover, has also invested in Attendo AB. Will they get contracts in the UK if the bill? Judging by this list of scandals, lets hope not.
Patricia Hewitt, left commons - is a former director of Andersen Consulting (now Accenture - which has gained from PFI contracts - Former Labour Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has been an advisor to Cinven; http://www.corporatewatch.org.uk/?lid=2382 - took a consultancy with Alliance Boots seven months after standing down and a £55,000 role with Cinven, which bought 25 private hospitals from Bupa - http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/may/17/labour-ministers-consultancy-private-sector
Alan Milburn, left commons - then Health Secretary for the Labour party, was a consultant for Alliance Medical’s parent company. Alliance Medical runs diagnostic services for the NHS, including in Birmingham and Falkirk. UNISON reported that services were giving patients sub-optimal care, losing the NHS money because of below-capacity uptake, and pressurising hospitals into using private sector treatments - http://www.corporatewatch.org.uk/?lid=2382
David Heathcoat-Amory - Former Conservative MP for Wells and a former Treasury minister, registered a payment of “£1,671.08 and health benefit to the value of £86.17” in July from Western Provident Association, which provides private medical insurance policies. The MP defended his work as a non-executive director for the firm, which pays him around £20,000 a year, saying: “The insight I receive from that helps me during health-related debates in Parliament and being part of the world of work and commerce helps me in scrutinising other parliamentary bills.” - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/6143256/Tory-MP-David-Heathcoat-Amorys-private-health-link-revealed.html
Rob Wilson - Conservative - MP for Reading East, registered shares in Vital Imaging, a private screening company. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/2011/01/19/nhs-reform-leaves-tory-backers-with-links-to-private-healthcare-firms-set-for-bonanza-115875-22859373/
Frank Field – Labour Birkenhead MP – is a non-executive director of Medicash Health Benefits Ltd a private health insurance company – he was appointed Chairman of the board on 20th of June 2011. Frank Field has worked with Medicash for 8 years having first been appointed as a non-executive director in 2003. The register of interests says his role is to ‘attend meetings offer advice.’ For this work he receives a monthly payment of £1,030, which according to the Medicash website will be given directly to local charities. What’s the problem with this? Less so than some others, but private health companies are set to profit massively if the bill goes through.
Stephen O’Brien Eddisbury MP - Conservative - Stephen O’Brien’s office received three payments totalling £40,000 from Julian Schild. Mr Schild’s family made £184million in 2006 by selling hospital bed-makers Huntleigh Technology. Mr O’Brien was moved to International Development after the election.http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/2011/01/19/nhs-reform-leaves-tory-backers-with-links-to-private-healthcare-firms-set-for-bonanza-115875-22859373/
Mark Simmonds, Conservative as a shadow health minister, accepted a trip to the United States to look at hospitals there from Bupa UK. Mr Simmonds missed out on a ministerial job in the government. Mark Simmonds, who was a minister when the controversial reforms were drawn up, is paid £50,000 a year to work just 10 hours a month as “strategic adviser” to Circle Health, the first firm to win control of an NHS hospital: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/2011/10/26/tory-mp-cashing-in-on-nhs-break-up-with-second-job-at-health-firm-115875-23515038/#ixzz1dJFD7uKw - Mark Simmonds accepted a US trip to Boston worth £4,982 from private health provider BUPA.
Mark Lloyd Davies - Conservative failed candidate a French pharmaceutical company gave a job to this prospective Bristol South Tory http://www.newsoftheworld.co.uk/notw/news/696096/Tories-paid-an-unhealthy-sum-Quiz-over-MPs-private-firm-links-Health-Ministers.html - According to the Conservative website: "Mark is the UK head of the pharmaceutical government affairs and communications team in the world's largest healthcare company [Sanofi-Aventis], so he's already familiar with the workings of Westminster."
Simon Burns Conservative - Chelmsford MP - attended an oncology conference paid for by Aventis Pharma - a five-day trip to the US funded by a leading drug firm.http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/2011/01/28/tory-party-links-to-private-healthcare-companies-115875-22880670/
Jonathan Djanogly – Conservative MP - His office received payment of £1,900 on 01/11/2001 and declared it on 30/01/2002 from Huntleigh Healthcare Ltd, 310-312 Dallow Road, Luton. The company manufactures medical, orthopaedic equipment and instruments for measuring and is part of Huntleigh International Holdings Limited of the same address. They are a member of the Getinge Group, a Swedish based group of companies who are split between Healthcare and Life sciences. The acquisition of Huntleigh by Getinge took place in 2007.
Helen Whately - Former Conservative parliamentary candidate. Has shrugged off any suggestion of a conflict of interest, after it emerged she works for the same consultants helping draw up plans which could see the A+E or maternity unit at Kingston Hospital removed. Her website states she works as a management consultant specialising in healthcare, mainly in the NHS but does not mention her employer McKinsey.
Robert Key – former MP for Salisbury – stepped down before the last election due to health reasons - 2-3 September 2002, panellist at Executive Brief 2002 at Gleneagles Hotel. Travel and hospitality paid by the organisers, AMT-SYBEX of Letchworth. AMT-Sybex Group, is IT supplier to the NHS. Lord Coe is now a Director of AMT-Sybex Group ensuring parliamentary access.
Liam Fox – Former Conservative MP – became shadow health secretary in 1999 – employs Adam Werrity as a paid intern in 2004 – by this time Adam Werrity becomes a director of health consultancy firm ‘UK Health Ltd’ (now dissolved), while Liam Fox was shadow health secretary of which he and Liam Fox were shareholders. Werrity owned 11.5% of UK Health Group and Fox owned 2.3%. In 2005 a researcher based in Mr Fox’s office worked ‘exclusively’ for the now closed Atlantic Bridge ‘charity’, which Liam Fox was the founding member; Mr Werrity became director, and which had links to radical right-wing neocons in the U.S. The researcher received funding from Pfizer Inc. He claimed ‘she has no function in any health role.’ The researcher was Gabby Bertin, who is now David Cameron's press secretary.
Liberal Democrats - Alpha Healthcare, a residential homes firm which gave the Liberal Democrats party £125,000 last year, is ultimately run by Harberry Investments in the British Virgin Islands. Alpha Healthcare, based in Redditch, Worcestershire, runs ten care homes across Britain and had a turnover in 2006 of £14.5 million. Alpha Healthcare’s ultimate parent company is Harberry Investments, which is based in Tropic Isle Building on the island of Tortola. Harberry’s turnover and tax payments remain hidden because the company is based in an offshore haven where businesses do not have to declare their accounts publicly - http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/health/article2492984.ece
Summary table – Alpha Healthcare Ltd payments to the Liberal Democrats
Summary table type
Description No. Total value
Sum : 6 £440,000.00 Q2 2010 1 £95,000.00 Q3 2008 1 £50,000.00 Q2 2007 1 £125,000.00 Q4 2005 1 £60,000.00 Q2 2005 1 £100,000.00 Q1 2004 1 £10,000.00
Sum : 6 £440,000.00
The Lib Des have received a total of £440,000 from a private care home provider called Alpha Health care Ltd. The company is run by Harberry Investments in the British Virgin Islands a tax haven island and has been giving the Liberal Democrats yearly payments since 2004 with the exception of 2009. In addition to this sum, Bhanu Choudhrie who is listed as a shareholdera in Harberry and also director in Alpha Healthcare, according to Companies House and he gave two donations of £10,000 in 2004, and £20,000 in 2008 to the party. However Bhanu’s Father Sudhir Choudrie who has been accused in several cases filed by the CBI alleging manipulation and bribery in defence purchases has also given 3 individual sums totaling £95,000 in 2006.
Friday, 17 February 2012
By Mike Wells
Except they wont be slumming it. They will be traveling in their own VIP lanes, aka Games Lanes, which Transport for London expect to carry 1,000 vehicles per hour at peak times.
On roads with two or more lanes, the outside carriageway will be declared a Games Lane, for the sole use of members of the “Olympic Family”, and VIP sponsors, along which they will travel in some 4,000 cars shipped from Germany by “Greenest Olympics Ever” sponsor, BMW.
To avoid delays to VIPs ordinary drivers will not be permitted right turns across the Lanes. TfL were unable to comment on the length of detour right-turning drivers will have to make.
Inconvenience to the Olympic Family is also to be minimised by the “suspension” of 48 “signalized junctions”, closure of 50 side roads, closing of pedestrian crossings, and the daytime suspension of parking and loading along the Olympic Route Network. Electronic devices are to be located at traffic lights and fitted to the fleet of BMWs to ensure VIPs a green-light-journey.
INRIX, a company which specialises in traffic information, warns. “Londoners need to be prepared for a huge volume of traffic in the city that they are unlikely to have experienced previously.”
While red carpets and green lights are being rolled out to speed important folks between their 5 star hotels and Olympic venues, ordinary Londoners will suffer considerable inconvenience. Black cabs, mini cabs, bicycles, buses, and non “accredited” cars will be banned from the VIP Lanes. Infringement of the VIP space will carry a fine of £200.
Emergency vehicles will be allowed in the Lanes only when on an emergency. For ordinary Londoners simple tasks such as picking kids up from day care is likely to turn into a time consuming nightmare.
A comment in a report produced by the London Councils highlights some of the problems.
“Small businesses, in particular, may need support to cope with the additional demands of the Games. For many, it will be simply too expensive (to employ staff overnight) or too difficult (for perishable goods, or where there is a lack of storage space) to reschedule their deliveries. These businesses are often those that are run, or relied upon, by local residents.”
But the practical consequences of the Games Lanes are a lot less interesting than their social implications. While VIP culture may be woven into fabric of life in West London it is not so in the host boroughs of Newham, Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Waltham Forest. According to the organisation End Child Poverty, these boroughs have some of the highest levels of poverty in the UK.
Undercover journalists working Channel 4’s Dispatches revealed that various tour operators are selling £20,000 Olympic tickets, which include access to to the Games Lanes.
Dispatches also leaked conditions contained in the Host City Contract which states that the International Olympic Committee’s BMWs must be chauffeur driven. Their drivers must wear a hats, and the 5 ringed Olympic flag should take precedence over the national flag.
Considerable effort has been put into presenting the Olympic Project as a generous gift to the poor folks of East London, who, Olympic orgainisers claimed, would benefit from jobs, training, sporting facilities, and housing etc.
Since London won the bid these claims have have revealed themselves as largely hollow, and during a time of austerity the Olympics is looking more like an enormous waste of resources than a gift.
The claims of government, bankers, and business leaders that we should pay for their mistakes, loose our jobs, or take pay cuts, look less credible when money can be found to bail out bankers and pay for the construction of a £9billion Olympic venue used for only 17 days, while ostentatiously catering for VIPs.
The chauffeurs, the hats, the 5 star hotels, and the hierarchy of flags seem entirely consistent with the concept VIP lanes, and the values of our political masters. They will carry members of an elite social class, in luxury cars, on roads we are banned from using, between the best seats at venues we paid to build, and to and from the plush hotels we are paying for them to stay in.
Unlike other facets of the Olympic project, what is different about the Games Lanes is the difficulty of disguising them as somehow to the advantage of ordinary Londoners. As such, in comparison to other facets of London 2012, they are refreshingly authentic - no nonsense elitist privilege.
Within our culture the roads have always been an egalitarian space, open to a person on foot, on bicycle, or driving their Rolls Royce. We have all shared the cut and thrust of that space equally. The Games Lanes change this. They are the physical manifestation of class divide, and represent the injustice embedded in the Olympic project, and also in the current system of national and global economic mismanagement, which benefits a small minority. They are the enforced privatisation of public space for a favored minority.
In signing up to the Games Lanes our maladroit politicians demonstrate a stunning lack of social understanding and sensitivity, and may have painted themselves into a corner, as they can’t help but make a show of providing for, and protecting their own class, by putting huge numbers of boots on the ground. Current estimates of military, police and private security (G4S) stand at 49,000 personnel, who will outnumber athletes by more than 3 to 1.
With the possible exception of their chauffeurs, VIPs will be able to move from their luxury hotels in London’s West End without having to come into contact with local people. They will be seamlessly transported from one sanitised environment along a red carpet corridor, to another sanitised environment, their very own VIP area within the Olympic venue, which is entirely surrounded by a 5,000 volt electric fence. Rather then being "inclusive" as Olympic chiefs have claimed, the London Olympics stand as a template for class divide, the question is what message does this send to the rest of the population?
Reading the Riots, a report by the Guardian and the London School of Economics into the causes of the 2011 disturbances comments that ... “many of those involved said they felt like they were participating in explicitly anti-police riots. They cited ‘policing’ as the most significant cause of the riots”. The report continues ... “Rioters identified a range of political grievances, but at the heart of their complaints was a pervasive sense of injustice”. The Games Lanes, as a visible sign of an unequal society, can only consolidate perception of injustice.
The Guardian also give an account of a report seen by councilors in another host borough, Waltham Forest, which shows the security services have a broad list of Olympic suspects which include ...
"a high-level threat of AQ-inspired extremism from males aged between 20 and 38. The individuals of interest to the police are predominantly British-born second and third-generation migrants from south-east Asia.”
The report comments that ... "perceptions of inequality driven by relatively high deprivation levels, particularly within Pakistani communities", "experience of criminality due to high levels of crime and strong gang culture", and "possible radicalisation within family structures".
"'jihadi cool' possibly linked to macho gang culture".
According to the Guardian the report also ...
“acknowledges the growth of far-right extremism and admits there is ‘growing discontent on local benefits around the Olympics’".
The ballooning 2012 security operation will include the involvement of special forces, snipers in helicopters, , battleships on the Thames, drones in the skies, and the stock piling of rubber bullets. This doesn’t have a flavor of diplomacy and soft force, which would be more appropriate.
But it isn’t just youth who are disillusioned with the current political and economic status quo, ordinary folks with a sensitivity to inequality and injustice are disgruntled. The choice of sponsors for London 2012 reads like a who’s who of corporate criminals, especially Dow Chemical and BP, who’s involvement with the
Games has ruffled more than a few feathers. MPs’ expenses, and the daily litany of choices made in the sphere of public spending, which has recently seen the PM approving an extra £40million for the 2012 opening ceremony, clearly demonstrates the dissociated mindset of the ex-private school boys running the nation.
The 2012 Games are different to other Olympics. Sydney 2000 was before 9/11, Athens 2004 was not in a time of austerity, and Beijing 2008 was not in a “democracy”. London 2012 is taking place post 9/11, in a time of austerity, when inequality has never been as stark, in a brave new world of surveillance and securitisation. 2012 is a year in which the the world’s elite are feeling insecure due to uprisings and social unrest in numerous nations. That that elite is coming to London, and they expect to be treated like kings and queens, with our roads turned over for their sole us, while whole populations are disillusioned and angry.