“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” — Margaret Hilda Thatcher
Once upon a time ago there was-wasn’t a magic money tree. When the keeper of the magic money tree gave it a good shake, money would-wouldn’t magically fall from its boughs.
The tree was so magic it sometimes didn’t seem to exist at all. At other times it existed large, and gold gushed from it in very magical golden showers. [Do we really want images of golden showers? — Ed]
The legend of the magic money tree started long ago with the good witch Theresa of Costcutter. When the nurses and the teachers and police officers and doctors suggested they might deserve more money for the very important work they were doing, Theresa said in no uncertain terms, there is no such thing as a magic money tree, and thus it was-wasn’t born.
Then Theresa accidentally on purpose leaned against the tree that was-wasn’t and a billion quid fell out into the waiting arms of the Democratic Unionist Party. ‘Ta very much, said the DUP. We normally burn witches but we can make an exception in your case for this kind of bung, and prop up your collapsing government with our parliamentary votes.’
‘Erm, what about us,’ wondered the nurses et al.
‘I’ve told you before, there is no magic money tree,’ said Theresa. ‘Look at this blank space here,’ she said pointing to a mighty money-laden oak. ‘Clearly no money tree, just empty, empty space.’
And as the years passed the money tree that was-wasn’t did-didn’t flourish. A bloke named Schrodinger who had a cat became very interested in it.
May 2019, the good wizard Chris Grayling signed a contract for boats with a company that had no boats. When everyone realised there were no boats, £50,000,000 — an actual boatload of money — dropped from the tree into the pockets of the company that had done nothing.
But still there was no money tree and everyone, especially the good witches and wizards went on like nothing had happened.
And then that virus happened and the magic money tree that was-wasn’t blossomed-didn’t blossom and bore-didn’t bear loadsa fruit.
£150 million for Ayanda Capital to supply masks that fell off your face. £364 million for full-body suits, which failed to materialise in the ordered numbers. One contractor was Kau Media Group, a small digital marketing agency with no connection to or experience in providing PPE, personal protective equipment.
£52 million PPE contract went to a dormant company, TAEG Energy.
£180 million worth of PPE contracts went to individuals with links to the Conservative Party — including £1 million in deals handed to Public First, a company co-founded by a former colleague of Downing Street supremo Dominic Cummings and the co-author of the 2019 Conservative Manifesto.
Often there was no tendering process.
The biggest ker-ching of all was for the test and trace system, at which point, the guardians of the magic money tree that isn’t seem to have put a sign up in the local chums-of-the-Conservative club like an announcement for a car boot sale.
Outsourcing giant Serco is well known for failing in seemingly every one of its many government contracts, has regularly paid substantial damages over its failures, which it apparently regards as an operating cost now, stands to get over £400 million. Indeed, of all the government’s service providers, Serco successfully chained itself to the money tree a long time ago. But then the CEO is a chap called Rupert Soames, a grandson of Winston Churchill, alumni of Eton and Oxbridge, and therefore intimately — nay, incestuously — attached to every Tory politician and donor in the country. Mr Johnson may as well re-plant the magic money tree in Mr Soames’ back garden.
So, with the magic money tree as fecund as it is, when kids came asking for school dinners, when small businesses and the financially vulnerable came asking for help getting through the pandemic, the magic money tree shook its mighty boughs and bestowed bounty on the needy. No, it bloody didn’t. Johnson leaned nonchalantly against the thing and insisted it still didn’t exist, so yar boo sucks.
This isn’t the end of the legend of the magic money tree. It may well be a never-ending story. But you can be sure the recipients of the largesse of this remarkable tree are living happily ever after at our expense.
Read more about the Tory Money Tree.
Here’s an article from Scotland’s Daily record which gives a good summary of the cronyism at the heart of the issue.
This article from Open Democracy contains a list of some crony beneficiaries.
And this article from The National contains more detail.
Some helpful background comments from Owen Jones here with detail about the the DUP bung for anyone not familiar with the story.