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Blame Game: Carillion or Capitalism?

Blame the deluded board members for Carillion’s collapse,” explains the finance editor at one of Britain’s leading capitalist newspapers. That is true, but I would also blame capitalism too.

Either way if the board members of such a huge corporation are actually deluded, as we are led to believe, then the capitalist establishment had better hope that Carillion’s board members are not representative of the interests of big business more generally.

Yet tragically, for the millions of ordinary people who continue to suffer under financial crisis after financial crisis, Carillion’s board members do appear to represent the best and brightest of the British ruling-class (they evidently don’t have much to offer the world)! That of course is precisely why socialists call for the nationalisation of companies like Carillion, so we can make sure such huge corporations are run to meet the needs of ordinary people not fat-cat shareholders.

So let’s now meet some of Carillion’s deluded board members?

Well one member of Carillion’s prestigious board of directors was Alison Horner, whose other job sees her act as Tesco plc’s “Chief People Officer” where she watches over the retailers “People Matters Group” which looks after 525,000 Tesco’s employees worldwide.

Another Carillion hotshot is Andrew Dougal, who was the former CEO of another global construction company (Hanson plc). He is presently also a council member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, and a board member of Victrez – a company that boasts on its web site that: “Every day, millions of people rely on products or applications which contain our thermoplastic polymers (plastics), from smartphones, aeroplanes and cars to oil & gas platforms and medical devices.” How reassuring.

Justin Read, in addition to his recent employment on Carillion’s board also keeps himself busy as a board member of Grainger plc (“one of the UK’s largest professional landlords”) and Ibstock plc (“a major manufacturer of clay and concrete building products”), and to round off his resume he is the trusted chairman of Segro Pension Scheme Trustees Limited. (SEGRO is a very large Real Estate Investment Trust which provides houses many of the world’s most successful companies.)

Baroness Morgan is another famous member of Carillion’s now defunct board of directors, who most famously served as a political secretary to Tony Blair. The Baroness is also infamous for her entanglement with the British care “sectors’ most notorious bankruptcy,” the tragedy at Southern Cross, as she had served as a board member of this ‘care’ group between 2006 and 2011.

After this failure, the Baroness was then promoted to regulate the education sector as the new head of Ofsted (2011-2014), and is now the chair of Ambition School Leadership’s board of trustees, and the chair of the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Trust.

Finally, although there are other board members of interest I will finish my introduction to their deluded ranks with the floundering chair of Carillion, Philip Green, who is a former CEO of United Utilities Group plc, a former CEO of Royal P&O Nedlloyd, and former COO at Reuters Group plc. Mr Green also happens to be a former trustee of Business in the Community, a charity set up by Prince Charles that has ostensibly “helped to establish the wider agenda for corporate responsibility.” It makes my head dizzy when I think that people like Mr Green are in any positions of power at all!

Capitalism’s problems are all too deep, and the crisis at Carillion is emblematic of the perpetual crises that capitalism creates for ordinary workers. There are certainly many things that should be done by our Government to ensure some form of justice is achieved for all whose lives were reliant upon Carillion, but without collective pressure coming to bear upon our “leaders”, little or no justice will be forthcoming.

Thankfully a national demonstration against this Government has already been planned for 3 February, whose focus is the fight for the future of our NHS in the wake of its terminal underfunding by the Tories. This protest, which was called by Health Campaigns Together and the People’s Assembly, should now become a call to arms for all who seek justice and an end to capitalism, a political and economic system that enriches a few (like the board members at Carillion) at the expense of everyone else.

Read: “Carillion crisis shows chaos of privatisation: Demand action to save jobs and services.”

 

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Michael Barker is the author of Under the Mask of Philanthropy (2017).

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