As steel production in Britain continues to struggle on from crisis to crisis, as planless as every other sector of our industrial base, revelations about former prime minister David Cameron’s role in the collapse of Greensill Capital are exposing the deep-rooted corruption that pervades every corner of the body politic and the national economy.
Indian billionaire Sanjeev Gupta, owner of Liberty Steel, is facing an uncertain future following the meltdown of his primary lender Greensill. More to the point, so too are the roughly 5,000 of Liberty Steel’s British employees. While the lords of finance capital roll the dice, it is always the workers who lose their shirts.
Gupta, once hailed as the ‘saviour of steel’, is now revealed to have feet of clay. With the benefit of hindsight, Helen Thomas, writing in the Financial Times, suggested: “Sanjeev Gupta’s midas touch in rolling up ailing, aged assets in a sector struggling to compete in an oversupplied global market should always have appeared less than 24-carat.” (UK government steel strategy should look beyond Greensill by Helen Thomas, Financial Times, 23 March 2021)
Yet Gupta’s high-risk strategy, taking out ambitious loans in order to fund his massive buying sprees, was always a clear gamble, even before factoring in the folly of relying so heavily on one lender, Greensill, with whom Gupta enjoyed a close, some would say incestuous, relationship. (With ‘saviours’ like Gupta, who needs enemies?, The Communists, 9 March 2021)
The reality is that this reckless gambling is not an aberration; rather it goes to the rotting and corrupt heart of final-stage capitalism – in which all the great and the good are irretrievably invested.
As if to prove the truth of our assertion, up pops ‘honest’ Dave Cameron right in the heart of the action. Oliver Wright, writing in The Times, tells us: “David Cameron directly lobbied the Bank of England for government support on behalf of a controversial finance group that collapsed into liquidation this month.
“The bank said yesterday that it had been contacted ‘several times’ by Greensill asking it to extend the scope of its Covid-19 support loans to make the company eligible for the scheme. The bank added that ‘some’ of those approaches had come directly from the former Conservative prime minister, who took up a role as an adviser to Greensill in 2018.”
Cameron even texted Rishi Sunak, badgering him to come up with government-backed loans associated with the pandemic. (David Cameron lobbied Bank of England to help finance firm where he worked by Oliver Wright, The Times, 23 March 2021)
When he was still PM, Cameron set up the Register of Consultant Lobbyists in order to keep tabs on consultants lobbying ministers on behalf of third parties – like, for example, Cameron lobbying Sunak on behalf of Greensill.
It should surprise nobody to learn that Cameron’s own signature on the register is conspicuous by its absence.
In the same article cited above, Helen Thomas points out that the “morass of financial engineering” between the Gupta empire and Greensill means that Liberty Steel “could well land at the UK taxpayers’ door, in one form or another”.
And once again workers will be expected to foot the bill, whether as wage slaves or as taxpayers, whilst the steel industry goes down the Swanee.
Meanwhile, let it be noted that the much-reviled ‘revolving door’ between government, civil service and monopoly corporations is neither new nor an aberration: it is an intrinsic feature of the monopoly stage of capitalist development, identified both by petty-bourgeois critics of monopoly and by VI Lenin well over 100 years ago.