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Sir Richard Branson, Nelson Mandela and Bernard Manning walk into a bar…
“One of the most inspiring men I have ever met and had the honour to call my friend.” – Richard Branson on Nelson Mandela.
Sir Richard Branson may have won the prize of: Proper knobhead of the week. This is a man who has just asked for a bailout by the treasury. Anything wrong with that? Virgin Group, founded in 1970, have contributed greatly to British capitalist society and employed many, many people over the years. I’m still bitter about losing my Virgin Megastore gift vouchers (by then known as Zavvi) in 2008. Okay, so it was the management buy-out group that made the store sink fast, but I still believe Virgin did the damage. Virgin Care settled a claim against NHS Surrey – which was scandalous and just adds to their weighted presence in public healthcare. How much of the NHS money was used to fight a battle against dark enterprise? Too much.
In 1971, he did time behind bars for tax evasion. A spot of fraud helped him along with his fledgling empire. Okay, that’s ancient news. It happens amongst British complex laws and taxes. Forgivable. He paid his fines and did his time. But, since then offshore trusts and companies have become the norm. Paying tax to the U.K. treasury has not. This self-described tax exile has made millions from the U.K., yet is now a citizen of the British Virgin Islands (which came first the decision to live there or the Virgin Records store?). All this came long before Sir Richard became accused of sexual assault. Will he star on the #METOO movement soon?
69-year-old Sir Richard Branson is worth shitloads. Some say about 4 billion U.S. dollars. That’s about 70USD for every UK citizen. His political leanings are mixed. He endorsed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016. He’s the son of Eve Branson (a Child welfare advocate) and Edward Branson. Sir Rich Branson has a sister who owns the Scottish island of Eilean Shona. The author J.M. Barrie wrote Peter Pan here. Privilege and humanity have surrounded his family’s rise for decades on end. However, he has a history of promoting SeaWorld.
The world is not black and white, even racist comedian Bernard Manning had The Beatles at his Embassy Club early on. A man who guarded Nazi war criminals ahead of their trials had lived in a different time and displayed his talents in the most unacceptable ways. A complex and tough life intertwined with a mix of smoke and daggers. Sir Richard Branson, however, paints himself more as a white knight. A keeper of values. Perhaps from his Necker Island home, owned by Virgin Limited Edition, he had a natter on WhatsApp with Airbus (a fleet of aircraft are on order), Rolls-Royce (a company with origins in Manchester who now make the engines for Airbus), and a few airports (who need airlines). Then he picked up his pen, crossed some teas and scribed his name. “Dear Transport Secretary Grant Shapps…” grovel, beg, plea, cringe, know-tow, fawn, creepy-creepy crawling words, kneeling, stooping words, and a spot of demeaning of ourselves. Did they bow and scrape humbly? “Oh, and hey, we want to build a cable car to France and back (for a premium).”
Sir Richard Branson has done amazing things over the years. But, with petitions against him receiving winter fuel payments, even if he gave it to charity, he’s not shy of controversy. Virgin Atlantic staff have been placed on eight weeks of leave. Some have been lucky and found work with the side of the angels – the NHS! There’s always hope…