Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Government in the Pay of Big Business

Proof, if proof be need be, that New Labour just lurve the filthy lucre:

They are among Britain's wealthiest businessmen, with access to the heart of Downing Street. Yet little has been known about the elite group of multinational chairmen, or exactly what they talk about during their breakfast meetings with the prime minister. Until now, that is.

Downing Street documents disclosed to the Guardian reveal how the secretive lobbying group, which consists of the heads of Britain's most powerful corporations, including BP, Unilever, HSBC, Shell and British American Tobacco (BAT), have used their private access to protect the pensions of the ultra-rich.

The exclusive club, known as the multi-national chairmen's group, consists of fewer than 10 executives. Its members are invited to Downing Street to tell the prime minister how they believe government policies are affecting international corporations.

Downing Street has been forced to release the prime ministerial documents after a two-year battle over freedom of information. They show the executives:

· outmanoeuvred Gordon Brown, then chancellor, to shield "fat cat" pensions from his proposals to tax them more heavily;

· wanted Tony Blair, then prime minister, to lobby George Bush to treat corporations more favourably in return for supporting the invasion of Iraq;

· and lobbied for less "burdensome" red tape so multinational corporations would continue basing themselves in Britain.

And they call this a Labour government.