Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Who is Andrea Leadsom?


The Tory MP Andrea Leadsom leapt into the political limelight during the EU referendum debate and even more so after putting her name forward to be the next Tory leader (which would make her the unelected Prime Minister of the UK).

Political track record


Most people would be forgiven for not having a clue who Leadsom was before the Brexit campaign kicked off, because she was hardly a well known politician. She has only been an MP since 2010. After a brief stint as a junior treasury minister for George Osborne, Leadsom was appointed as David Cameron's Minister of State for Energy (a junior ministerial position in the DECC) after the Tories financially doped their way to their wafer thin majority in 2015.

Leadsom's appointment as energy minister nailed the coffin shut on David Cameron's lie about the Tories being "the greenest government ever", because no government with a genuine commitment to environmental issues would appoint a person with a track record of opposing renewable energy schemes and environmental targets as their energy minister.*

Leadsom has only been an MP for six years, and has only held two junior ministerial positions in David Cameron's team. If you think that the UK would benefit from an experienced leader during the post-Brexit restructuring process, then Leadsom clearly isn't that person.

Tax controversies

Readers of Private Eye might be more familiar with Andrea Leadsom than most people are as a result of the magazine's investigations into her dodgy tax affairs. 


Leadsom uses tax-dodging schemes in her kids' names in order to avoid paying tax on the buy-to-let property portfolio she has built up with her husband Ben. You'd have to be living in some kind of ludicrous Brexiter fantasy land to believe that such a person would do anything to clamp down on tax-dodgers, or to regulate the rash of parasitical buy-to-let slumlords that has infected the UK housing market.

Another tax controversy Leadsom was embroiled in was a £70,000 series of political donations to her election campaign from her brother-in-law's company which is owned by a British Cayman Islands based holding company. This tax-haven operated company has also handed £816,000 to the Tory party too. 


The fact that the ban on political donations from foreign companies can be so easily bypassed through the use of of a British based subsidiary company is appalling. However what is even more concerning is the fact that while in the wake of Brexit the EU has immediately moved to begin the clampdowns on tax loopholes that the Tory led UK government have been blocking and obstructing for years, one of the top contenders to be British Prime Minister has the same kind of shockingly lax attitude to tax-dodging as David Cameron.

UKIP



Andrea Leadsom's campaign to become Tory leader is being supported by Arron Banks (the Tory donor - turned UKIP donor - turned Brexit campaign donor - turned Tory leadership candidate backer) who has openly stated that if it was up to him he would privatise the NHS.

There are two important considerations about the fact that Arron Banks has decided to back Andrea Leadsom for leader of the Tory party.

The first is that if he manages to get his pet politician established as the unelected Prime Minister of the UK, his dream of abolishing the NHS would clearly be a lot closer to coming true.

The other consideration is the fact that under the leadership of a candidate who has been hand-picked by one of UKIP's biggest donors, the likelihood of UKIP being folded back into the Tory party would be increased. 


It's still unlikely to happen because UKIP serves as a brilliant Tory Trojan Horse party which hoovers up the votes of dissatisfied working class voters and then uses that support to promote even more of the toxic Thatcherite economic dogma that has savagely undermined working class wages and ruined working class communities for the last four decades.

Whether UKIP is folded back into the Tory party, or kept as a Thatcherite Trojan Horse party isn't the main issue. The main issue is that one of UKIPs biggest donors is now interfering in the Tory leadership election to promote his own favoured candidate. If the same man can have such influence over both parties, isn't it completely obvious that they're essentially the same thing with differently coloured ties?


Workers' rights

Andrea Leadsom's views on workers' rights are particularly appalling, even for a Tory. This is what she said about the rights of people who work for small businesses during a parliamentary speech in 2012.

"I envisage there being absolutely no regulation whatsoever – no minimum wage, no maternity or paternity rights, no unfair dismissal rights, no pension rights." [source]
Make no mistake about it, Leadsom is an even more rabidly right-wing Tory than Cameon and Osborne. They attacked workers' rights throughout their six years at the top, but they did it piece by piece. Attacking unfairly sacked workers with one piece of legislation, public sector workers with another, the trade unions with another and so on ...

Leadsom has openly fantasised (on the public record) about stripping all workers' rights from anyone who works for a small company. She actually seems to believe that such a policy would be good for small businesses, rather than turning them into unscrupulous employer free zones, which any potential employee with any brains would avoid like the plague.

Who on earth would want to work for a small business if they knew that they would have no right to the basics provided by other employers such as sick pay, parental pay or pension contributions?

Who in their right mind would work for an employer who could sack them for whatever reason (refusing to suck their cock for example) with absolutely no right of appeal or compensation?

Leadsom is clearly an absolute crackpot who is so in love with hard-right economic dogma that she's utterly incapable of seeing that her plan to revoke workers' rights from small business employees wouldn't be a marvellous gift to the small business sector as she imagines it, but a curse that drives away any potential small business employees with brains enough to avoid putting themselves in a position where they can be ruthlessly exploited.


Dishonesty

In the aftermath of Brexit the veteran Tory politician Ken Clarke was recorded making a number of unguarded observations about the Tory leadership "fiasco". One of the most interesting was his claim that he didn't think that either Boris Johnson or Andrea Leadom were actually in favour leaving the European Union at all.

It's hardly beyond the bounds of possibility that a self-serving Tory politician would support a policy that they don't actuallybelieve in because they see it as being in their own self-interest to do so.

A look back to what Andrea Leadsom was saying in 2013 only adds to Ken Clarke's suspicion that she only jumped on the Brexit bandwagon because she felt it was in her own political self interest to do so. This is what she said in a speech to the Hansard Society:

"I don't think the UK should leave the EU. I think it would be a disaster for our economy and it would lead to a decade of economic and political uncertainty at a time when the tectonic plates of global success are moving".
Here's what Andrea Leadsom said on her own website on June 20th 2016, just three days before the EU referendum:
"I am convinced that a Vote to Leave on Thursday will not hurt the UK's economy."

Either one of these statements is true or the other. It's impossible for Leadsom or her supporters to argue that they're both true when they're so obviously contradictory. In one she predicted an economic disaster and in the other she predicted no harm whatever. She couldn't be more contradictory if she tried.

Some of her justifications in support of the second statement are outrageously dishonest too. This is an absolute corker:

"My best expectation, with my 30 years of financial experience, is that there will not be an economic impact"

Judged in its own right this is clearly an appeal to authority fallacy, but in light of her predictions of an economic disaster just three years previously, it's also brazenly dishonest. If three years ago she was declaring that Brexit would be an economic disaster, then 27 of her cited 30 years of experience clearly led her to the opposite expectation of what she was claiming. 

If Leadsom was even remotely honest she would have admitted her complete U-turn on the economic impact of Brexit at some point in the last three years, and then explained her reasoning for such a total reversal of opinion. But she didn't do that, she chose to exaggerate in a brazenly dishonest manner instead.

Economic illiteracy

Andrea Leadsom worked in the Treasury under George Osborne and actually praises him for doing such a good job as Chancellor, despite the way he has created more new public debt than every Labour government in history combined, overseen an appalling relative decline in UK productivity, and his ideological austerity agenda has completely failed to eliminate the deficit by 2015 as he promised in 2010. Additionally Osborne has had to admit that his 2015 promise to get rid of the deficit by 2020 was a load of rubbish too.

Leadsom voted in favour of one economically toxic batch of Tory austerity measures after another with no regard for the appalling social and economic consequences of such ideologically driven madness, and she shows absolutely no signs of having an economic epiphany that a fiscal policy of "let's cut our way to growth" is unworkable macroeconomic illiteracy.

Perhaps even more concerning is her insistence that Brexit was going to have no economic effect on the UK. Of course nobody expects politicians to have a magic crystal ball to predict the economic future with, but anyone who claims 30 years of financial experience should have been able to see how the market and the value of the pound slumped on every poll favouring Brexit, and how the markets boomed and the pound soared in value on every poll favouring Remain.

Aside from her pathetic inability to read the pre-Brexit market conditions, her claims that Brexit would have no impact on the economy are quite simply bizarre. The idea that such a seismic change in direction for the UK would have no impact on the economy is not only absurd from an economic perspective, it's utterly ridiculous from the most basic rational perspective too. The concept that actions have consequences is such a strongly established scientific principle it's been accepted as common knowledge. The idea that the action of quitting the EU would have no economic consequences is either the opinion of an economic illiterate, or a massively dishonest opinion of someone who knows that it's lamentably pathetic gibberish, but is intent on preying on the economic illiteracy of their audience.

Conclusion


Andrea Leadsom is an inexperience politician who has what can only be described as a very serious sincerity problem. Her economic views are ridiculous. If she actually believes what she is saying she's economically illiterate, if she doesn't, then she's cynically preying on the economic ignorance of her audience.

If this woman ends up being appointed as the UK's unelected Prime Minister, we can expect yet another Tory lurch to the right. An administration headed by an inexperienced political novice like Andrea Leadson would end up being a Thatcherism on steroids government with the appalling Arron Banks in the background pulling the strings. 


If UKIP don't fold back into the Tories under Leadsom's leadership, it's hard to see how much space would actually be left for them on the extreme-right of the political spectrum without straying into full bore Britain First style fanaticism.

If you like stuff like workers' rights and the NHS, and dislike brazen insincerity, tax-dodging and hard-right economic madness like ideological austerity, then you should be very afraid that Andrea Leadsom's political star is rising.


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* = But then no Prime Minister with a commitment to the NHS would appoint a man who co-wrote a book calling for the NHS to be scrapped as their health minister (which Cameron did), no prime Minister with a commitment to equal rights would appoint two consecutive opponents of gay equality as their Equalities minister (which Cameron also did) and no Prime Minister with a commitment to maintaining a strong legal system would appoint the first Lord Chancellor in history with no legal qualifications, followed immediately by the second (which David Cameron also did).

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