Laurence Peacock

essays, extracts, misc.

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NHS Privatisation

Myth, reality, threat?

When people say the NHS is being privatised, what do they mean? Privatisation in Britain usually means the flotation model. A government organisation is sold off as shares, transferring both ownership and control to the private sector. Such an approach was never going to work for the NHS. The very idea that a hospital might be auctioned or that British citizens would be charged at the point of need is so far outside acceptable politics that you’ll only ever hear it from Nigel Farage.

Instead, what we’ve seen is the subtle but relentless opening up of the NHS to profit-seeking organisations. Virgin now run 230 NHS services in England. Whilst winning contracts of around £1bn, the company uses tax havens to avoid paying corporation tax. Outsourcing in general has also shot up, from £1.2bn in 2012/13 to £9.6bn in 2014/15. The pace only increases. Last month , £7.9bn...

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“No Matter What” : the Song of the Kipper

An EU monologue

24 June, 2016

When I woke this morning, I felt it. It were weird at the start because I didn’t know what it were. How can you, when you’ve never felt it before? It helped it were sunny, don’t get me wrong. Not that I’m talking new dawns or any of that bollocks. He’s a twat, in’t he? Farage. I mean, they’re all twats, don’t get me wrong, but he even looks like one. You probably think yours are better than ours, but at least our twats won. Which just goes to show, don’t it?

Your lot, you probably told yourselves, you’re always telling yourselves, we don’t know what we’ve done. That, deep down, I can’t even make up my own mind. Me, a grown man. People like you, you’re so wrapped up in your own little world you don’t even know where you are. You’ve all convinced yourself, somehow, this country we live in, it don’t exist. Which is weird. Because where else are you? This...

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Everything You Know About Tax Evasion Is Wrong

Ok, so not everything. That Putin’s clearly a wrong’un. And Dave definitely looks like a man with something to hide. But the media’s obsession with details and personalities misses a far more startling picture. Here’s some things you won’t have heard about the Panama Papers.

Misconception One. You’ve got to have loads of sand to be a tax haven.


Being a haven is a question of secrecy not sunshine. If you happen to fit the cliché of white sandy beaches, that’s all to the good, but it’s not a necessary requirement. No, the biggest tax haven in the world is….drum roll, please…us! Yes, Britain - number 1!

The Financial Secrecy Index “regards the UK as one of the biggest, if not the biggest, single player in the global offshore system.” Why the ambiguity? Because “Britain” here is not just her Majesty’s Government and HMRC but, far more significantly, the City of London and its network...

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“There’s free houmous…”

An occupation of Sheffield University

“Lectures as normal. We don’t want to spoil your education,” says the sign on the Richard Roberts building at The University of Sheffield – “We’re not the government.”

Since Monday 29 February a group of students calling themselves The Free University of Sheffield have occupied a lecture theatre and seminar room. They’re opposing what they say is the “current assault on higher education” and are calling on the university to, among other things, demonstrate “active resistance to the Higher Education Green Paper”, a document which continues and deepens the marketisation of British universities begun by the Brown Report in 2010. The group have had some high profile support. “I support you completely! I wish I was there and could join you.” That’s Richard Roberts, the Nobel prize-winning scientist whose lecture theatre the group currently occupy.


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Auden in Love

Long before he had any right, Auden had figured out that there is no such thing as a perfect love. It seems a shame, in some ways, to have denied us his juvenile poems of youthful romance. Instead, at the age of twenty three, he was already writing this:

“Love is not there,
Love has moved to another chair,
Aware already
Of what stands next,
And is not vexed,
And is not giddy.
Leaves the North in place
With a good grace,
And would not gather
Another to another,
Designs his own unhappiness
Foretells his own death and is faithless.”

The earth does not move. The histrionics are decidedly muted. Love simply moves on. As the title tells us, the emotion is both “Too Dear, Too Vague” to be of much use to anyone. It is everything and nothing. And where’s the use in that?

(Here is a picture of the young Auden, looking like a boss.)


(Let’s continue)

Love’s duplicity, both in the sense of...

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This is Punjit Renjen’s, Chief Executive of Deloitte Global, new year missive. And I thought working for the council was bad.

Let’s swap resolutions: Living our purpose 12


We have said “Hello, 2016!” and now it is time for resolutions. One of my resolutions is to join with member firm leadership to deliver an exceptional, and consistent, global talent experience across the Deloitte network.

This promise is articulated through four key pillars: 1) to help you make an impact, 2) inspire you as professionals, 3) accelerate your ambitions, and 4) connect and celebrate your unique strengths (more on these pillars soon).

To deliver on this promise, Deloitte will invest to set expectations and help develop consistent capabilities within each role level. So no matter where you practice, you have the same exceptional skills as your peers.

In return, I ask that you resolve...

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Starbucks, Tax Bucks and the Sheffield Star

The Star recently featured an article about this:


And I wrote them a letter.

Dear Sir,

On 11th December you published the story, “Starbucks hit back after Sheffield coffee shop daubed with ‘Pay your tax’ graffiti”.* The article reads like an inspiring story of a plucky underdog (coffee monolith Starbucks) standing up to a bully (one or more individuals with a can of green paint and dubious artistic ability)

You first describe the graffiti as the act of “vandals”. Kids destroying a bus stop, students urinating on a war memorial, and graffiti written on a Starbucks’ shop front are all acts of vandalism. But the meaning of these actions surely differs from context to context, both for the perpetrators and the victims. (Though it is hard to see who the ‘victims’ are in this case, unless you count the staff members who had to clear it up, some of whom may well have agreed with the...

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Twitter japes, tragic jokes and David Cameron’s deficit fetishism.

I recently spent a very enjoyable half hour trolling David Cameron on twitter.

The whole episode was thoroughly uplifting and I really would recommend it if you find yourself feeling listless.

But fun though Dave bashing is, there’s a darker comedy to be found in the exchange of letters between the PM and the Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, Ian Hudspeth.

“Dear Ian”, begins Dave “Man of the People” Cameron, displaying that legendary common touch, like a Boris Johnson you’d trust with your daughter. “Yours, David” then explains he is writing to fellow...

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We need to talk about Jeremy.

Is Jeremy Corbyn the Messiah or a very naughty boy? A Moses delivering his people unto the Promised Land or a false prophet offering forty years of sand? Lots of people seem to be very confused. New or old, they ask? Future or past? Twenty-first century post-capitalist icon or 1980s mothballed socialist? By the looks of it, Jezza himself isn’t entirely sure.


More questions abound? Why doesn’t he wear a tie? What’s he been doing all these years? And does he really think a Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland can get away with that beard?

I don’t know the answer to any of these questions. Some of them are irrelevant, though I suspect we’d disagree as to which. But it’s always fascinating (and heartbreaking, of course - always heartbreaking) to witness the internecine conflicts of the left. The virus of Blairism? Hardly. It’s Corbynitis which...

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In Crookes Cemetery

Crookes cemetery is a beautiful place to be buried. Overlooking the Rivelin valley, domestic Sheffield snuggles in the middleground. Further off, dramatic moorland rises. The graves drift down the hillside, forever acquainting themselves with the view. It’s a good place to watch the weather come in.


Like much of Sheffield, the cemetery feels both inside and out, a melding of close and cultivated with a wider, gust-filled feeling. Over 29,000 people are interred here. Not that you’d know it. There is no sense of crush among the plots. Some are shabbier than their neighbours. Some display a taste for ostentation eschewed by others. Others still have fallen into disrepair. In this they resemble nothing more than the suburban houses built all round. Is this what the English seek in eternity? A private piece of stone with a patch for flowers at the front? Neighbours close by but...

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