Conceivably, some of us may have been underestimating the broader power and politics of the man running the DWP
There seem to be a number of ‘loose ends’ knocking about in relation to the existence or ottherwise of Stephen Crabb the SME – not to be confused with Stephen Crabb, the shining example of flying-brick sensitivity at the DWP currently happy to leave at the very least 320,000 1950s born women destitute. The Slog here attempts to tie them up – and help readers form their own conclusions about the broader ambitions of the Secretary of State.
At 9 am CET last Wednesday, I posted a piece about Stephen Crabb’s business arrangements and landlords. I used this page capture from Zoominfo:
The post went sort of sub-viral, and at approximately 10.35 am the entry was abruptly removed…on my browser. Other browsers could still, however, see it. By the end of the day, no UK browser was able to find it.
Three readers then got in touch to say the entry was false, and/or there was no record of Stephen Crabb the company or the director at Companies House.
Of the three, two proved to have false email addresses. I tried to engage with both online, but was ignored.
The information about Crabb the director was false: Companies House shows 2 entries for Crabb, one of which is to say the least ironic:
Clearly, Stephen didn’t hang around for long. Hardly surprising, really.
The following day, it was confirmed that the ‘Stephen Crabb’ company entry was still visible in some EU countries and north America. I contacted Zoominfo, and the impression I gained was that they were happy with the entry.
There is one obvious possible reason why the company isn’t registered at Companies’ House: if it was offshore, it wouldn’t need to be.
It is notoriously difficult to get information about offshore directorships and turnover – that’s a big part of the idea.
There are, however, several other things that argue against the entry being “a mistake”. First of all, there is a specific reference to turnover: not a range, but an amount – $2.4 million, or £1.64 million. Second, Crabb’s specific MP website logo is included in the entry. Third, Crabb is highlighted as the owner.
But let’s not rush to judgement; instead, let’s ask the Secretary of State himself to answer some very straightforward questions. So these are my Magnificent Seven:
- Are you now and have you ever been part of an offshore company?
- Is the entry at Zoominfo right or wrong?
- Can you explain the sudden disappearance of the entry on my browser and millions of others?
- Do you and have you ever employed aggressive tax avoidance in relation to your Parliamentary or other salaries?
- If the Zoominfo entry is correct, can you take us through what the company does and how it generated the turnover?
- Is Winston Churchill House in Haverford West owned by The Churchill Trust or the Churchill Society, or neither?
- If the Zoominfo entry is correct, why does it not appear in the register of MPs’ interests?
Thus far I haven’t had a peep out of the Secretary of State. But then, given he is so lofty as to be above meeting even the WASPI Executive, that’s hardly suprising.
However, I am beginning to wonder whether I’ve underestimated the power and reach of this MP. Mr Crabb, it seems, knows all the right people.
An excellent source for material about MPs and their
jollies information-gathering trips abroad is They Work For You. I’m happy to credit that site for much of the source material presented in the various Crabb posts here.
Mr Crabb is, as we know, a keen and active Christian, with what appear to be strong missionary tendencies. In 2005, he went to India, courtesy of a donation from Stanley Fink. While working for Man Group in Switzerland, Fink – a former Tory Party treasurer – opened accounts with HSBC’s Swiss subsidiary. It reportedly banked Man Group shares held in British-registered family trusts – a common way of minimising a tax bill. This aggressive tax avoidance earned David Cameron an equally aggressive PMQ from the then Labour leader Ed Miliband. Fink is in the Top 1,000 UK richest list.
In 2006, Crabb went to Israel. The visit was hosted and funded by Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), a powerful and censorious organisation of whom the highly respected and even-handed journalist Peter Oborne has written at length. His conclusion was:
‘The Friends of Israel groups in the House of Commons have firmly established themselves in the interstices of British political life. Their heavy presence at party conferences is taken for granted, their lunches and dinners an ingrained part of the Westminster social scene, the donations a vital part of the political financing. An environment now exists where MPs and ministers feel cautious about criticizing the foreign policy of the Israeli state, wary of opening themselves to criticism on the home front.’
Like me, Peter is not and never has been an anti-semite.
By 27-30 October 2007, Stephen was back on a plane…this time to Doha, Qatar, to attend the 6th annual Natural Gas Conference. Business class flights and hotel accommodation for two nights were paid by South Hook LNG Terminal Company Ltd. A First class upgrade was provided by Qatar Airways on return flight. Crabb lists energy as one of his interests.
In 2010, Stephen Crabb went on an all expenses paid trip to Rwanda to ‘help organise Project Umubano, a Conservative Party social action project.’ The BBC has described Umubano as something that started when ‘the Conservatives were still in opposition, and looking to shake off the “nasty party” image.’ Crabb was a key organiser in this image process. In an email to the BBC, he wrote at the time, ‘[Umubano] has undoubtedly had a profound effect on the Conservative Party. It would be inaccurate to say that the Conservative Party was not interested in development pre-2007…. But I remember debates on Global Poverty during that last Parliament that were sparsely populated on our side of the House’. As sparsely populated as the Waspi debates in 2016, we ask?
There are other seamy bits to this project. The President of Rwanda got 93% of the vote last time around, which tells you something about the democratic values of his government. Britain is the biggest international donor to President Paul Kagame’s government – pumping in some £46m a year. Britain still sees Rwanda as a “fantastic development partner”…even if Kagame is a dictator. It’s the muunnneeee again.
None of this is “innuendo”. Stephen Crabb is an MP interested in donations from dodgy Hedge Fund tax-avoiders, pro-Israeli groups, and NATO oil pipeline interests. Umubano no doubt has good social side-effects, but it is part of the British Government’s long-standing business policy of supplying terrorist supporting Saudis, African dictators and Middle East trouble spots with….well, whatever they want, really.
In short, he is totally onside with the loopy and unethical ideas of neoliberal Conservatism, its desire to remain in the EU, and its mission to remain a fervent stooge of NATO’s ambitions to support Israel come what may, while ensuring exclusive access to the Qatar pipeline.
What he doesn’t support is the idea that everyone should pay their taxes in full without resorting to tax avoidance, property flipping and the maximisation of expenses income. And probably in keeping with that, he doesn’t support the idea of compassion for the elderly and disabled in the country that gave him a chance to crawlout of a social ditch.
So I simply say to Stephen Crabb: there are your Magnificent Seven questions…as citizens, I think we deserve full and frank answers to them.