Surprise surprise, as the mainstream media subserviently celebrates the announcement that a pint of beer will now be 1p cheaper, what is seemingly an act of misdirection, George Osborne – responsible for the UK budget, has gotten away with it again.
As the Chancellor of the Exchequer used his Budget to cut corporation tax by 1% to 20%, Osborne also introduced new measures that will help his powerful friends in the energy sector.
Osborne announced the introduction of a generous field allowance, alongside tax relief, for the development of shale gas in the UK. As you would expect, this has not received the headlines that it deserves.
Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, is the process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas inside. Up to 600 chemicals are used in fracking fluid, including known carcinogens and toxins.
In the US, there have been over 1,000 documented cases of water contamination next to areas of gas drilling as well as cases of sensory, respiratory, and neurological damage due to ingested contaminated water.
So let’s take a closer look and connect the dots.
It transpires that George Osborne has some very close and personal links to the fossil fuel industry. In fact, his father-in-law, Lord Howell of Guildford, is a lobbyist and president of the British Institute for Energy Economics.
Lord Howell was the Secretary of State for Energy under Margaret Thatcher, he has also served as Minister of State in the Foreign Office in David Cameron’s government, under William Hague as Foreign Secretary.
George Osborne married his daughter, Frances, in 1998.
Interestingly, the Institute for Energy Economics is funded by Shell and BP, and boasts both these companies, alongside the BG Group, as its corporate members, while the Energy Department is one of its eight sponsors.
The connections don’t end there.
Osborne has met representatives of the fossil fuel industry multiple times since becoming chancellor, and has received tens of thousands of pounds in donations from Michael Hintze, the Chief Executive Officer and Senior Investment Officer for CQS Asset Management.
The company oversees funds that invest in fossil fuels and is responsible for billions of pounds flowing into the energy sector.
Osborne is also a beneficiary of donations in kind from audit firms KPMG and Deloitte, both of which have specialist oil and gas departments.
It becomes clear that even if we just barely scratch the surface, connections emerge between the government and corporations at the very top of politics, and hints toward a system that is so corrupt that decision-making, more often than not, is only for the benefit of the very few, irrespective of how detrimental the impact of those choices are to the very people who place these criminals in power.