May 31, 2012
The global media circus has moved on from Cairo, Alexandria and the Egyptian seaboard. Soon the current rapt attention to the terrible bloodshed in Damascus, Houla, Aleppo and Homs will similarly pass. Yet for the nine million Egyptian Coptic Christians and the two million Syrian followers of Christ, whose lineage goes back to St Paul’s proselytising in the first century AD, these are desperate times. Religious minorities often find their most assured protection under dictatorships. Forget all the talk about liberators fighting against the existing regime in Syria, or of democrats and progressives triumphantly taking the reins in Egypt...
May 18, 2012
Sarkozy is history, the Greeks are in paralysis, the Coalition has for the first time experienced mid-term electoral blues (just wait until May 2013 and 2014). This month has already been one of savage reprimand at the polls in Europe. Yet rather than a definitive judgement on the benefits or otherwise of austerity, I suspect electorates continent-wide are issuing a plague on all our houses...
May 9, 2012
Mark was asked by City AM to comment on the impact of Francois Hollande's election as French President on the City of London. His views were published in today's paper: Francois Hollande’s victory at the weekend by a majority only slightly larger than Boris Johnson’s over Ken Livingstone scarcely provides him with a convincing mandate for radical change. Constrained by a lack of executive experience and the watchful eye of the international markets, I suspect Hollande will follow in the footsteps of his Socialist predecessor, Francois Mitterand, who was elected on a radical platform which he was soon forced to water down ....
May 4, 2012
Hot on the heels of the controversy at Barclay’s Bank’s AGM last week comes news of a major revolt at Aviva where nearly 60% of shareholders refused to back boardroom pay deals after a 30% fall in the price of the insurer's shares. This surely the first of many high profile shows of shareholder strength. The abiding lesson here is that any AGM vote to overturn a Remuneration Committee recommendation must be binding. Like most Conservative MPs, only a few years ago I cannot imagine that I would have been open minded to the notion of government interference in the remuneration...
April 18, 2012
The following article by Mark was published in this morning's City AM: FEW readers of City A.M. may have lost sleep over the chancellor’s decision in the recent Budget to impose a 15 per cent stamp duty land tax (SDLT) on acquisitions of homes costing over £2m by “non-natural persons”. After all, why shouldn’t we clamp down on the purchase of residential properties through companies, collective investment schemes and the like – isn’t this just the tax-dodging mechanism of choice for super rich non-doms hoovering up British homes?
April 13, 2012
Perhaps predictably as MP for Cities of London & Westminster I am unashamedly pro-business. For the UK to emerge from the serious economic malaise that has impacted us all since 2008, we must prioritise global trade and economic growth. Liberating businesses from unnecessary and deeply damaging regulation, enabling them to compete, flourish and expand, resulting in all the benefits we know that follow, must be a core component of our economic strategy.
March 29, 2012
Regardless of post-Budget and party donor squalls, I reckon it still remains a sensible working assumption that the coalition will sustain for the full five year term of this parliament. Incumbents are notoriously difficult to prise out of Downing Street. Against all odds (or so it seemed) John Major survived for virtually a full term after the collapse of his economic policy in September 1992; similarly even Gordon Brown could not be ousted from the Premiership in spite of apparently perennial terminal crises in the quarter-decade from October 2007...
March 27, 2012
Below is the text of a speech Mark was to make at a local debating event:
Make no mistake – this year's parliamentary allowances and expenses scandal will have a lasting impact on British democracy. The Daily Telegraph's handling of this story will provide a seminal case history to media watchers for decades to come. This parliament is now paralysed by inaction and lacks credibility or public confidence to govern effectively.
This would be serious at the best of times. These times, however, are arguably the worst seen in
March 21, 2012
After three years of hard work and tireless campaigning, especially from Animation UK’s Oli Hyatt, I am delighted that the Chancellor has announced today the government's intention to introduce a tax credit for the UK’s animation industry. Finally, we have the level playing field our creative industries deserve. Combined with our animators’ flair and talent, this fantastic boost will help keep some of our favourite characters animated on these shores. As the Chancellor has declared...
March 19, 2012
"Maybe something will turn up."
One of the classic stratagems of last resort in politics - and indeed for life in general.
I suspect Chancellor George Osborne’s tactical handling of the UK economy owes rather more than he might willingly admit to the Mr Micawber principle. After all, waiting for something to turn up is not always the ill-advised course of action. The accretion of time often does alleviate, and sometimes even solves, what seems an intractably difficult situation.
The fragile state of our domestic economy at the time of the 2010 General Election and the indeterminate election result meant that a mandate to take radical action on the economy was neither sought nor won by any political party.