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Sunday, 28 September 2014

Why aren't the British middle-classes staging a revolution?

Why aren't the British middle-classes staging a revolution?


Why aren’t the middle classes revolting?
Words you probably never thought you’d read in the Telegraph. Words which, as a Gladstonian Liberal, I never thought I’d write. But seriously, why aren’t we seeing scenes reminiscent of Paris in 1968? Moscow in 1917? Boston in 1773?
My current fury is occasioned the Phones4U scandal (and it really is a scandal).
Phones4U was bought by the private equity house, BC Partners, in 2011 for £200m. BC then borrowed £205m and, having saddled the company with vast amounts of debt, paid themselves a dividend of £223m. Crippled by debt, the company has now collapsed into administration.
The people who crippled it have walked away with nearly £20m million, while 5,600 people face losing their jobs. The taxman may also be stiffed on £90m in unpaid VAT and PAYE. It’s like a version of 1987’s Wall Street on steroids, the difference being that Gordon Gecko wins at the end and everyone shrugs and says, “Well, it’s not ideal, but really we need guys like him.”
 I’m not financially sophisticated enough to understand the labyrinthine ins and outs of private equity deals. But I don’t think I need to be. Here, my relative ignorance is actually a plus. You took a viable company, ran up ridiculous levels of debt, paid yourselves millions and then walked away, leaving unemployment and unpaid tax bills in your wake. What’s to understand? We should be calling for your heads on a plate.
This column is supposed to be a "lifestyle" column, not a "business" column. So, you might ask yourself, why am I writing about conscience-free private equity deals? Well, it’s because, assuming that you’re part of the broad middle class who make up the vast majority of the Telegraph’s readership, this is the most important lifestyle issue you’ll ever face.

Instead of shrugging and saying, “This is the world we live in” you should be on the streets, you should be calling for this sort of thing to be a jailable offence, and you should want to see these guys up in front of parliament (or, better yet, in stocks) explaining why they made around £3,500 for every person they put out of a job. Seriously, Stefano Quadrio Curzio, the managing partner at BC, should be ashamed to show his face in public.
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