World’s Tiniest Symphony Orchestra: Dirty Britannia

From the NYTimes article:

England’s establishment is not what it was; the old imperial elite has become crude and mercenary. On Monday, a British civil servant was photographed arriving in Downing Street for a national security council meeting with an open document in his hand. We could read for ourselves lines from a confidential report on how Prime Minister David Cameron’s government should respond to the Crimea crisis. It recommended that Britain should “not support, for now, trade sanctions,” nor should it “close London’s financial center to Russians.”

The White House has imposed visa restrictions on some Russian officials, and President Obama has issued an executive order enabling further sanctions. But Britain has already undermined any unified action by putting profit first.

It boils down to this: Britain is ready to betray the United States to protect the City of London’s hold on dirty Russian money. And forget about Ukraine…

The Russians also understand this. They know that London is a center of Russian corruption, that their loot plunges into Britain’s empire of tax havens — from Gibraltar to Jersey, from the Cayman Islands to the British Virgin Islands — on which the sun never sets.

British residency is up for sale. “Investor visas” can be purchased, starting at £1 million ($1.6 million). London lawyers in the Commercial Court now get 60 percent of their work from Russian and Eastern European clients. More than 50 Russia-based companies swell the trade at London’s Stock Exchange. The planning regulations have been scrapped, and along the Thames, up go spires of steel and glass for the hedge-funding class.

Britain’s bright young things now become consultants, art dealers, private banker and hedge funders. Or, to put it another way, the oligarchs’ valets…

Anybody up for a rousing sing-along of the Ankh-Morpork national anthem?

(lyrics at the link)

66 replies
  1. 1
    RuhRow_Gyro says:

    I’m not sure what the American establishment has against Vladimir Putin, but they really don’t seem to like him.

  2. 2
    Big R says:

    We own all your generals, we own all your shoes….

  3. 3
    Roger Moore says:


    I’m not sure what the American establishment has against Vladimir Putin

    Only the left wingers who disapprove of invading countries at the drop of a hat. The right wing that wants to carry out invasions of its own seems to prefer Putin to our own President.

  4. 4

    I was reading an article in one of the London papers the other day about rich Saudis and others buying up mansions in London as a tax break and basically letting them rot. When affordable housing in London for the average Joe is about non-existent I wouldn’t be at all surprised if people started squatting in these places (and maintaining them) until someone does something about it.

  5. 5
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    On Monday, a British civil servant was photographed arriving in Downing Street for a national security council meeting with an open document in his hand.
    Featherheads,” George Smiley muttered to himself, shaking his head sadly before returning to his newly acquired first edition of Heine.

  6. 6

    Is the US really all that different? There is a GC category for an investor visa which is not exactly cheap to obtain.

  7. 7
    RuhRow_Gyro says:

    I think Vladimir is kind of working to restore in part or in whole a democratically elected government that was ousted by a military coup.

  8. 8
    sm*t cl*de says:

    British residency is up for sale. “Investor visas” can be purchased, starting at £1 million ($1.6 million).

    Gibberish like that does not instill faith in the NYTimes author. A visa is not residency. The price of a Tier 1 Visa is £840 (plus evidence of intention to invest £1 million).
    Does the existence of the USA “investor visa” (E-2) mean that “American residency is up for sale”?

    UPDATE: Ah, Schrodinger’s Cat is on the case too.

  9. 9
    Baud says:

    Dickens was right, but for all the wrong reasons.

  10. 10
    max says:

    They know that London is a center of Russian corruption

    London, being a money center, and arguably the only profitable part of the UK, given austerity, is corrupt in general. As is Wall Street.

    Cash flow is king.

    Britain is ready to betray the United States

    Oh, fuck off. There are only three countries that have vital interests in the Crimea, and that’s Ukraine and Russia. Turkey’s interest in the Tarters isn’t vital (unless you want to get into a defense of the Turks actions towards the Kurds), but does exist. No betrayal involved, unless you’re still humping that Hyperpower/New Rome/Unipolar horseshit.

    the old imperial elite has become crude and mercenary

    Baby, the new ‘imperial elite’ is resident in Washington, DC, and for all their huffing and puffing they’re just as mercenary as the old British elite. I suppose you could say the old British imperial elite was just trying to help the poor Hindus run their country and if so there’s an entire planet made of green cheese up in the sky and all you need to do is pay me to build you a big rocket.

    [‘You can talk about how the rich guys are all sickening (and they are) but there’s nothing as disgusting as the usual neo-connish suspects throwing a tantrum because they aren’t getting the war they want NOW, goddammit.’]

  11. 11
    NotMax says:

    “Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail”
       - Henry L. Stimson (Sec. of State under Hoover)

  12. 12
    aimai says:

    @Roger Moore: I love a man not in uniform.

  13. 13
    Mike in NC says:

    I was reading a similar article about how the wealthy Russian oligarchs have so much money invested in the UK. They buy up property, send their kids to posh schools, have billions in the financial sector, etc. There are even jokes about “Londongrad”.

    BTW, “Eastern Promises” is a great movie about Russians in London.

  14. 14

    Is RRG old troll under a new nym? BOB?

  15. 15
    Roger Moore says:

    @sm*t cl*de:

    Does the existence of the USA “investor visa” (E-2) mean that “American residency is up for sale”?

    Yes. SATSQ.

  16. 16
    beltane says:

    @RuhRow_Gyro: You have potential but you’re going to have to lift up your game if you want to be a contender. We have high standards for our trolls here.

  17. 17
    Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937 says:

    England is the USA in 10 years. Post industrial, run by finance.

  18. 18
    Ruckus says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:
    No. BoB could never get this close to any subject before having his usual brain fart.

  19. 19
    scav says:

    Oh dear, are the usually free market extremists now upset that money may be speaking freely and rational actors may be maximizing their personal returns instead of bowing to the desires of somebody else? “Betrayal” is not a Free Market sin.

  20. 20
    chrome agnomen says:

    does anyone really think that the photographed ‘secret’ document wasn’t deliberately on display?

  21. 21
    sm*t cl*de says:

    Google informs me that Ben Judah is an agitprop author for Politico, now promoted to maintaining the NYTimes’ required level of tendentious piffle.

  22. 22
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Roger Moore: You know what other foreign invader was preferred by American right wingers?

  23. 23
    chrome agnomen says:

    @Bobby Thomson:

    ted cruz?

  24. 24
    mdblanche says:

    @Roger Moore: The left wingers who only disapprove of the US or the UK invading countries at the drop of a hat will be very hurt that you forgot about their love for Putin. Of course the only thing they’re the establishment of is the Guardian comments section.

    @Bobby Thomson: Lord Cornwallis?

  25. 25
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    More crude and mercenary than the Tudor elites who gobbled up church property following Henry VIII’s break with Rome? More crude and mercenary than the Anglo-Norman elites? Read some damn history.

  26. 26
    🍀 Martin says:

    Does author of seriously think greed, corruption & inequality he sees now were not there in Victorian London?

    Victorial London corruption was limited to the scope of England. At least then a Brit was on one winning end of that corruption. In this instance the Brits are only getting the transaction fee. If you’re going to break the rules, it should at least be worth your while to break the rules.

    @Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937: I’ll wager you have that backward. We’re likely to be emerging from that state, to a new (though very different) industrial state. Autonomy has the potential to undercut wages on a greater scale than finance was able. The driver of that autonomy will be sitting better than others, and we’re pretty well positioned to be driving it.

  27. 27
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I just looked up Ben Judah; he seems to have a First in Modern History from Trinity, Oxford. Jesus wept.

  28. 28
  29. 29
    Violet says:

    @Mike in NC: During the Sochi Olympics NBC ran several human interest pieces on Russia. They did one of the rich women of Russia and how they jet all over the world. Showed a bit of some woman in London shopping or something. She said it was like a second home or something. Also Miami.

  30. 30
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @RuhRow_Gyro: You and Bob in Portland should get a room.

  31. 31
    shelly says:

    the other day about rich Saudis and others buying up mansions in London as a tax break and basical

    There’s a certain curve of street thats used in a lot of movies that are set in London. (One is the scene in ‘Oliver’, where he wakes and looks out the window to see all the street vendors.) Almost all of those houses are said to owned by absentee tenants. Most of the year they’re empty and the street is a ghost town.

  32. 32
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Some in Ukrainian military intelligence believe the current actions in Crimea had been planned for next year (when, if you will recall, presidential elections were to be held), and the schedule was just moved up.

    Meanwhile, Russians are mining the border between Crimea and mainland Ukraine.

  33. 33
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @aimai: When I was in the Army, and took a shower, I was not in uniform.

  34. 34
    NotMax says:


    That would be Royal Crescent, in Bath, not London.

  35. 35
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:

    Selling England by the Pound.

  36. 36
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Yeah, a few years back there was an “honours scandal” in Britain, where apparently contributions to Labour were rewarded by various goodies handed out by the Queen every year.

    As if that was something new.

  37. 37
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    “Betrayal” is not a Free Market sin.

    Oh yes it is. Just ask Fred Koch about his dealings with Uncle Joe!

  38. 38
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Well, in the two cases you cited, they were not betraying their great ally across the pond, because back then their great ally across the pond was “here there be dragons” country.

    Or, to be consonant with AL’s Pratchet reference, off the edge of the world.

  39. 39
    Violet says:

    Rand Paul wins CPAC straw poll with 31%. Ted Cruz came in second with 11%.

  40. 40
    NotMax says:

    @NotMax – @shelly

    Also too, (trivia alert) – there were no scenes shot on location for Oliver! – the entire film was shot on sets or sound stages at the film studio.

  41. 41
    Roger Moore says:

    @🍀 Martin:

    The usurper is shoving a national monument down our throats!

    If you look it up, that particular National Monument was actually shoved down our throats by Clinton, who designated a lot of National Monuments. Obama hasn’t been particularly busy on that front, especially compared to Clinton.

  42. 42
    Suffern ACE says:

    My guess is that the ability to do anything to save Ukraine was lost when the intelligence agencies of the west decided it was more important to capture nude pictures of their citizens chatting online than finding out what Rissianleaders were up to. They aren’t really mercenary so much as pervy old men.

  43. 43
    p.a. says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: and Ireland. No Hibernians here? It took an ItalianAmerican to mention Ireland and English venality?

  44. 44
    jl says:

    @🍀 Martin:

    Thanks for that news. Pt. Arena is a beautiful area for hiking.

    Someday I hope they do something for the Lost Coast and King Range area to the north. Part of it is a conservation now.

    Would be probably have to do something like Adirondack State Park in NY, where local farms and ranches could co-exist with the park. I think Pt. Reyes was supposed to be something like that, but controversy over the oyster farm in Tomales Bay has kind of poisoned the atmosphere around there.

    Edit: I think the dairies and ranches inland at Pt. Reyes give the place some charm and points of interest.

  45. 45
    scav says:

    @NotMax: Not a clue about Oliver! but shelly is likely talking about Billionaires Row in London, where houses are indeed rotting. Guardian: Inside ‘Billionaires Row’: London’s rotting, derelict mansions worth £350m
    “The North London street where billionaires can buy homes, never live in them, let them rot and still make millions”

  46. 46
    scav says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: If done in the name of the Free Market, it is not Sin but Virtue Incarnate, right?

  47. 47
    jl says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Wikipedia says that the California Coastal National Monument Expansion Act has been working is way through the process. I assumed from Martin’s comment that it finally passed. Act would expand the area and give it more protection.

  48. 48
    mdblanche says:

    @Violet: Followed by Uncle Ruckus at 9%, Vladimir Harkonnen 8%, Savonarola 7%, Zoidberg 6%, Nikolai Lobachevsky 3%, Phillip J Fry 3%, and Kenneth the Page, Mrs. George W. Bush, Elmer Gantry, and Norma Desmond 2% each.

    Yep, that presidential bench is something all right. If any of you figure out what that something is, please don’t tell me.

  49. 49
    opiejeanne says:

    @jl: There’s also this: Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, CA (expansion)

    It was drawn up in 2000 with an arbitrary boundary at the California border with Oregon, if I understand it, and this would expand it to include the Klamath River in California. You’d think the government was doing something really nefarious judging by the reaction in the area around Yreka along I-5.

  50. 50
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @chrome agnomen:

    does anyone really think that the photographed ‘secret’ document wasn’t deliberately on display?

    That was the first thing that occurred to me. Having spent the past 25 years working for a foreign government, where documents FAR less sensitive were locked up in safes and kept out of eyeshot of even those of us who had accrued decades of loyal experience, I have to believe that this was anything but an error.

  51. 51
    chrome agnomen says:


    is uncle ruckus the hermanator of 2016?

  52. 52
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @chrome agnomen: Ben Carson. I saw a bumper sticker for him today in Madison. Weird.

  53. 53
    Violet says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Ben Carson came in third at the CPAC straw poll. Seriously. The man has never held an elective office, right? And they think he’s the third best candidate to be President of the United States?

  54. 54
    NA says:

    @🍀 Martin:
    I don’t think adding London in there changes the fact that Victorian corruption had an impact on pretty much the rest of the world, starting but by no means ending with India.

  55. 55
    Omnes Omnibus says:


    And they think he’s the third best candidate to be President of the United States?

    I think I see where you went astray…

  56. 56
    catclub says:

    @mdblanche: No love for Franco or Pinochet.

  57. 57
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @catclub: Only the fact that they are still dead kept them out of the running.

  58. 58
  59. 59
    chrome agnomen says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    time for the revival of zombie reagan? did he ever really die? how would he do in a straw poll vs putin?

  60. 60
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @chrome agnomen:

    time for the revival of zombie reagan?

    Isn’t that really what they are trying to do every year?

  61. 61
    Roger Moore says:

    Have you looked at the rest of the Republican field recently? The Republicans are going to be pining for Mitt Romney before long.

  62. 62
    SRW1 says:

    If Ben Judah thinks stuff like this was invented by Tony Blair & David Cameron, he needs to read up on Cecil Rhodes.

    Cecil Rodes?

    What about the ‘Guinea boats’, smuggling gold to France DURING THE NAPOLEONIC WARS? A trade directed by the Rothschillds from the City of London.

  63. 63
    billB says:

    Hey Barry O’President, how about making some national parks in good ol southern oregon, where they have no jobs, and therefor can’t pay taxes, therefor can’t afford to have any police of any kind. So when some wanker robs a store or beats his girlfriend or drives 120 drunk killing peds, there IS NO LONGER ANY POLICE OF ANY KIND to respond. What a great country, we have 5 billion dollar military war planes, but no one to protect a battered beaten woman.

  64. 64
    SinnedBackwards says:

    So late…

    Nur nur nur nur nur…

    (actually posted by SectionH, because I am the Pratchett fan.
    Mr S isn’t. But we’re in the depths of moving, so a bit of chaos is a relief.)

  65. 65
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @billB: Um, okay. What the fuck, over.

  66. 66
    Chris T. says:

    @scav: The funniest (depending on how you view it) bit in that whole article was the quote from someone, which was a slightly toned down version of the comedy bit: “if you tax us we will just leave … and that’s no idle threat: we can always go wreck somebody else’s economy”.

    (This is in fact just what the defenders say, except that they fail to acknowledge how this sort of hot money from corrupt enterprises really does wreck the “real” economy.)

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