The writing on the wall

The bailout for failed privatised energy ­supplier Bulb has soared to £6.5 billion, making it thelargest state bailout since Royal Bank of Scotland in 2008. Bulb was effectively nationalised after collapsing in November last year, with 1.6 million customers  The total cost to ­taxpayers is now the equivalent of more than £200 for every household in Britain. That’s  according to figures ­published by the Office for Budget Responsibility last Thursday.

Customers of 28 other ­collapsed energy suppliers have been transferred to rivals at a cost of £2.7 billion.  This has already been added to every energy bill in Britain at a cost of £94 per household. Bulb’s customer base was deemed too large to ­transfer, however, and was effectively taken over by the government until it was sold last month to Octopus Energy.

The cost of the ­government bailout of Bulb may be added to customer bills next year, the Treasury has previously said.  It’s  a commercial secret whether Octopus has to pay any of the cost of the bailout.

Otherwise it gets the full benefit at no cost. Taxpayers have paid for Bulb’s running costs. That includes the £240,000 a year salary for Hayden Wood, the company’s founder and chief executive, who stayed with the company until the end of July.

He has since joined London-based Giant Ventures as a venture partner.  Together with co-founder Amit Gudka the pair earned more than £8 million from a Bulb share sale in 2018.

The company paid ­quarterly bonuses to retain staff in the wake of the state bailout.  Taxpayers are also on the hook for at least  £34 million in administration fees. These include £25 million of fees charged by Teneo, the administrators of Bulb Energy, which is being ­scrutinised by the High Court.

As part of his budget last week Jeremy Hunt announced that veteran Labour figure Patricia Hewitt, a former health secretary, would be brought in to help identify where to slash NHS spending.After being an MP, Hewitt was an adviser to tax avoiders Alliance Boots, a board director of private health firm Bupa and an adviser to private equity company Cinven which bought Bupa hospitals.Hewitt was one of the MPs named in the 2010 sting operation into political lobbying by Channel 4.

The details of the government’s vote suppressing scheme have now been released. The Tories, who do better among older voters than younger ones, have said it’s OK to use an older person’s London travel pass. But similar cards for younger people are ruled out. The House of Lords had passed an amendment that would have allowed student IDs, library cards, bank statements and other easily accessible forms of ID for use at polling stations.

The government defeated it.

How the police killed Krystian Kilkowski  

A fit and healthy man died following “serious failures” by police officers who restrained him face down for more than an hour, an inquest heard last week. Harrowing footage seen by a jury showed hand-cuffed Krystian Kilkowski telling officers that he thought was going to die as they placed him in leg restraints.

Kenneth O’Regan of the East of England ambulance service told the jury that he was so shocked by what he saw that he immediately thought of the case of George Floyd. The inquest concluded that serious failures by the officers who restrained him and delays in paramedics getting to him contributed to his death.

Footage showed officers repeatedly pushing his head towards the ground. Krystian was a fit and healthy Polish man who had been living in England for nine years. He died very shortly after midnight on his 32nd birthday in August 2020.

Boris Johnson trousers cash

Boris Johnson wasted no time before cashing in on his years as prime minister. Last month he enjoyed the hospitality of media giant Rupert Murdoch and a few days later was paid £276,130 plus expenses for a speech to insurance agents in the US.

Johnson’s update to his register of interests shows he travelled to Montana for a business meeting 11-12 October. The entry shows Murdoch covered Johnson’s air travel inside the US and provided him and two members of staff with more “accommodation and hospitality”, at an estimated value of £11,559.

On 14 October, the former prime minister addressed the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers (CIAB) conference in Colorado Springs for 30 minutes. He then engaged in a “fireside chat” for 45 minutes, for which he was paid. He was given transport and accommodation from the conference for himself and two members of staff, on top of the £276,130 fee.

Johnson also declared £3,500 worth of accommodation for him and his family over a period of four weeks from the Tory donor Anthony Bamford. The businessman also covered the cost of Johnson’s wedding reception in July.

Former health secretary Matt Hancock declared a payment of £10,000 for appearing at a conference where he discussed how the government should support cryptocurrencies. The industry has subsequently reached the edge of collapse.
Former chancellor Sajid Javid MP is also in the money. As chancellor, he grabbed £71,000 a year on top of his MP’s loot. But the money from his eight‑month tenure of Number 11 has soon been exceeded by payments from bankers. He collected £66,000 just for two speeches to the financial sector. These entailed a couple of hours’ work preparing and giving one speech to HSBC and another to Deutsche Bank, his ex-employer. In the register of MPs’ interests, Javid says he will put cash from “speaking and related engagements” into a new firm he has set up, SJ Office Ltd. The company will also pay him with £20,000 a year.

Not that punk

Venture capital-backed “punks”, Brewdog, have “made a stand” about the football World Cup in Qatar.  Launching the brand’s “anti-sponsorship” of the tournament, the company announced, “All the profits from our Lost Lager sold during the tournament are going to fight human rights abuse.”

That might be a more meaningful gesture, were it not for the fact that the company will continue to profit from its beers being sold in Qatar throughout the tournament thanks to a deal with a third-party distributor in the region.

Brewdog told the Just Drinks website that it “doesn’t mean it endorses human rights abuses” in the country. The company has been accused in the past by workers of treating them badly.

Things they say

‘I feel Qatari, I feel Arab, I feel African, I feel gay, I feel disabled, I feel a migrant worker’

Fifa president Gianni Infantinois is all things to no one as he defends the World Cup taking place in Qatar

‘The government will start losing votes. The Conservative Party will break’

A Tory MP on the prospect of a softening of relations with European Union

‘Not ruling anything out’

Talkshow racist Nigel Farage is threatening to take up losing elections again

‘Proper control of our borders’

Prime minister Rishi Sunak doubles down on his attacks on migrants

‘Our common goal must  be to help  the British economy off its immigration dependency’

Labour leader Keir Starmer joins in the attacks

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