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Surprise surprise. As the mainstream media subserviently celebrates the announcement that a pint of beer will now be 1p cheaper, George Osborne--responsible for the UK budget--has, in what is seemingly an act of misdirection, gotten away with it again.
As Osborne used his authority as Chancellor of the Exchequer to cut corporation taxes by 1% (to 20%), he also introduced new measures that will help his powerful friends in the energy sector. Alongside the tax relief, he announced the introduction of a generous field allowance for the development of shale gas in the UK.
As you would expect, this action has not received the headlines that it deserves.
Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," is the process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks and release the natural gas inside them. Up to 600 chemicals are used in the fracking fluid, including known carcinogens and toxins.
In the US, there have been over 1,000 documented cases of water contamination next to areas of gas drilling, as well as cases of sensory, respiratory, and neurological damage due to ingested contaminated water.
So let's take a closer look and connect the dots.
It happens that George Osborne has some very close and personal links to the fossil fuel industry. In fact, his father-in-law, Lord Howell of Guildford, is a lobbyist and president of the British Institute for Energy Economics. Lord Howell was the Secretary of State for Energy under Margaret Thatcher. He also served as Minister of State in the Foreign Office in David Cameron's government, under William Hague as Foreign Secretary.
In 1998, George Osborne married Howell's daughter, Frances.
Interestingly, the Institute for Energy Economics is funded by Shell and British Petroleum (BP), and boasts both these companies, alongside the BG Group, as its corporate members. Moreover, the Energy Department is one of its eight sponsors.
But the connections don't end there.
Osborne has met representatives of the fossil fuel industry multiple times since becoming chancellor, and has received tens of thousands of pounds in donations from Michael Hintze, the Chief Executive Officer and Senior Investment Officer for CQS Asset Management. The company oversees funds that invest in fossil fuels and is responsible for billions of pounds flowing into the energy sector.
Osborne is also a beneficiary of donations in kind from audit firms KPMG and Deloitte, both of which have specialist oil and gas departments.
It becomes clear that even if we just barely scratch the surface, connections emerge between the government and corporations at the very top of politics. This hints toward a system that is so corrupt that decision-making, more often than not, is aimed only at benefiting the very few. Little or no thought is given to how detrimental the impact of those choices may be to the very people who place these criminals in power.