Barlow's Beef: Who represents us, the taxpaying public?


Some years ago I took out a loan to help finance my small business. I'd been a customer of the same bank for more than two decades so I believed I would pay no more than the going rate. Wrong.

To my complete amazement I discovered the Libor rate, on which my interest rate was based, had been illegally manipulated by a British bank considered part of The Establishment for over 300 years.

"Dude. I owe you big time!... I'm opening a bottle of Bollinger," wrote one banker while another made diary notes to falsify the rate as if reminding himself to put out the bins.

For all those years I was paying an inflated rate of interest as a result of bank greed. I was furious and travelled to Westminster to complain to my MP but he was busy flipping houses.

During the same period my utility company jacked up their tariffs ten times the rate of inflation. No problem I would follow my government's advice and 'shop around.' Wrong.

All other energy suppliers immediately followed suit increasing their tariffs in a monkey see... monkey do style.

Government energy watchdogs explained that these spiralling prices were entirely due to the 'massive rise in the wholesale price of energy.' (At one point crude oil reached a market price of $140 per barrel stabilising around $122).

I resigned myself to believing that should the wholesale price fall I would benefit accordingly. Wrong.

The current price is around $48, a fall of no less than two thirds from its peak. Natural gas prices have fallen by a similar amount but my utility company has reduced its tariffs by only ten per cent. How does that work in a 'free market economy'?

I now know who actually 'benefits' from the fall.

In a fit of pique I bought myself a new diesel car. Okay, it was considerably more expensive than my previous vehicle but it was eco-friendly AND, according to official government figures, did 74 miles per gallon, which would help pay for the car.

I didn't really expected to achieve that figure in normal driving conditions but 64 mpg seemed reasonable. Wrong.

I never attained anything higher than 50mpg no matter how and where I drove the damn thing. Turns out the entire testing system had been deliberately rigged.

Not only do these cars not do what they say on the tin they were never designed to do so. CO2 emissions have proved to be around TEN times more than the tested figure.

The whole exercise was a huge con trick on a mammoth scale. Government tests proved meaningless. An apprentice mechanic with a thermometer and a balloon could have done better.

What have I learned? Big business will shaft you without a second thought and so-called government watchdogs are as complicit or useless as makes no difference.

So what's to be done? Why not scrap all government appointed watchdogs and use the money to set up consumer appointed regulators to report directly to us?

It may not be the perfect answer but it certainly couldn't be worse than the current state of affairs where we pay Millions each year to 'watchdogs' that couldn't spot an elephant in a beautiful baby competition.

I suspect such government appointed bodies are no more than jobs for the boys (and girls).

Do you REALLY believe they didn't know utility companies were taking us for a ride or that banks were gambling wildly with our savings?

Either they did and turned a blind eye, in which case they were complicit, or they did not and were hopelessly incompetent.

Unlike Big Business we don't have lobbyists stalking the halls of power wining and dining anyone and everyone who might further their cause.

So who represents us the taxpaying public? Who can we trust to act in OUR best interest?

Any organisation capable of doing that has a BIG future.

(NB: It probably isn't FIFA).

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of

Barlow's Beef, Vic Barlow


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Pete Taylor
Tuesday 29th September 2015 at 5:41 pm
Don't worry Vic; our MP (George) Gideon Oliver Osborne (heir to three Baronetcies) has just pledged £3m of British tax-payers' money to develop grass-roots football for kids in China (second-richest country in the world, evidently).
Small potatoes compared to the £30m he pledged for the "green bridge" across the Thames which, I understand, is not now to be built.
Your representative has your interests at heart. Why not drop him a line?
Stuart Redgard
Tuesday 29th September 2015 at 6:06 pm
I see Vic has taken the advice of one of his readers to ....... "start reporting on failures of free market economics across industries... market exists to make a profit!"

Of course markets exist to make a profit. A profit at the expense of the consumer...... !!!!!

I particularly liked the interpretation of free market economics made by the writers of "Star Trek : Next Generation / Deep Space Nine" in the 80's and 90's, when they introduced us to the 'Ferengi Alliances' Rules of Acquisition' and

in short

'Every Ferengi business transaction is governed by 285 rules of acquisition to ensure a fair and honest deal for all parties concerned... well most of them anyway."!!
Jack Pink
Tuesday 29th September 2015 at 9:38 pm
I see you took out a loan to finance a business. What was your profit margin?
John Clegg
Wednesday 30th September 2015 at 7:10 pm
If Jeremy Corbyn can achieve anything - if he survives a potential flip-flopping over Trident - maybe he can help move the focus of political compass away from multi-nationals running the agenda to a more nation-friendly consensus.
While we get the chance to vote every so often our disconnected 40 million or so voices are lost in the clamour of lobbying by Big Biz plc. Parties are nearly controlled by the international corporations who influence policy through party donations to help keep them running, the life blood of the parties.
Ol' Cammy did say, didn't he, that lobbying was the next big scandal. We all heard him. So why's he doing nothing about it? Oh, I see why not...
John Clegg
Wednesday 30th September 2015 at 7:45 pm
So in short, not the MPs who are supposed to represent us.
Unless you're one of those private equity boys: the ol' GPO recent sell-out - er, sell-off in which us mere plebs were allowed to apply for about 50 shares* each, while bankers and private equity people were allowed squllions* each.

*The above figures are accurate, by the way. This is properly researched, you know.