For supposedly decent, fair people who form the government of the UK, the Tories have some very strange friends, not least among which is a man who goes by the name of Adrian Beecroft, a multimillionaire venture capitalist who has some pretty dodgy businesses.
Mr Beecroft (above) has given more than half a million pounds to the Conservatives under Cameron, which, I suppose, makes him quite a good friend of the prime minister.
Recently Beecroft was asked by Steve Hilton (below left), the prime minister's policy tsar, to produce a report with some "blue sky thinking" (always a dubious process) on employment law. And indeed he has obliged...although not too many employees would consider the skies to be particularly blue if much of what he has proposed were to be approved.
One of Beecroft's companies, "Wonga.com" (classy name for a company that makes pay cheque loans to poor people) was found by "Which" to have quoted £36.72 on a one month loan of £100. That's an interest rate of 4,394%. That might give you some idea of what kind of a bloke he is before we even start on the details of the report.
One of Mr Wonga Beecroft's suggestions is that companies should be able to sack under performing employees.
Not unreasonable, I thought when I read it. But can't they already do that?
Oh yes, they can and indeed, I have.
The thing is that Wongaman wants to be able to do it with no explanation, as in:
"Right you, clear your desk and get out within 10 minutes."
"Because I say so".
Imagine how that could be abused...
The Tories have already doubled the time people must work before they can take an employer to a tribunal for unfair dismissal, although in my opinion an unfair dismissal is an unfair dismissal regardless how long you've been with the company. But now Big Chief Wonga suggests that the government should get rid of tribunals all together. Not only that but they should cut back on flexi hours; get rid of parental leave and change maternity leave to make things easier for firms.
Well, everyone to their own ideas, and I've only had experience of the flexi-time issue, but I found that the scheme which I devised and implemented for the company I worked at, boosted productivity.
But it seems that he has included anything that will make more money for the likes of Wonga Beecroft.
And that's not the only part of governance that Beecroft has put his thumb in. He has advised even deeper cuts in National Health spending (clearly with his fortune he goes private, so it won't be affecting him), and has advised that research support for charities such as Cancer Research is unaffordable. (He must think he won't need that either!!! a dangerous presumption to make.) It probably won't surprise you to know that some of the companies he is involved in stand to make a very considerable amount from the semi privatisation of health care in England.
I wonder if Mr Beeswax has advised No 10 that every company should do as his Apax company does, and register itself in the Cayman Islands, where the corporation tax is 0%?
Incidentally, the final photograph has no connection to the story at all. I found it while looking for something else and thought it was too good not to use, and try though I could, I couldn't weave the House Elf into the post...