Notebook

March 28, 2012 8:21 pm

For sale: British politics, one owner

At Cruddas Capital Management, a Gulf client discusses investment strategy. By John McDermott

In the Mayfair office of Cruddas Capital Management, Mr Feikh Sheikh, a Gulf client, sits down to discuss investment strategy with Mr Tarquin de Crisp, his fund manager.

Feikh Sheikh: I would like to invest in the British government.

Tarquin de Crisp: Wonderful. What are you thinking of? RBS? Royal Mail? The next 20 miles of the A46? George says the Chinese have snapped up most of Liverpool but I hear Toxteth is still up for grabs.

FS: I would like to buy a stake in the Conservative party.

TC: Ah, you mean you would like to donate to the Conservative party. That’s tricky: we once helped out a chap from Belize but at the time we thought he was a UK resident.

FS: Not a donation; an investment. I looked at a few of those terraced houses on Downing Street but this stamp duty increase is an absolute nightmare. The Sunday Times says that for Mario Balotelli’s weekly wage I can have the prime minister’s policy committee look at my idea for a seven-star hotel in Westminster Abbey, while Dave whips up dinner.

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TC: You’ve got the rear end of the stick old boy. Donating to a political party is a sure sign that you don’t understand how Britain works.

FS: Please explain.

TC: The policy committee sounds grand but this is not the Chinese Communist party. The policy unit consists of three adept note-takers just down from Brasenose. Most of our MPs have no power. I warned Al-Fayed about this when he was hob-nobbing with the Hamiltons. I said “Mo, asking questions in parliament is about as influential as phoning into Radio 5 Live.”

FS: I see. It just seemed like the MPs need the money these days.

TC: Quite true but the thing is, most of them are less influential than a Greggs Cornish pasty.

FS: A what? So why is everyone getting so annoyed at Dave?

Banx

TC: Britain suffers from cognitive dissonance. We have emotional attachments to our political parties and we don’t like funny business. But we also don’t want to give them money. Or, God forbid, join them.

FS: Why are hedge fund managers getting involved then?

TC: Have you heard of credit card roulette? Every couple of months a few of us get together with someone from HQ. He asks us to stump up for a cabinet-bonding trip to build igloos in the Arctic or for an airbrush job for the 1922 Committee. We all put down an AmEx and he picks one. Quite fun really. Labour then taps up the unions for an equal amount.

FS: What about the Lib Dems?

TC: You’ll need to ask a boutique fund about that.

FS: This is all very disappointing. What about all this “Britain is open for business” stuff? I saw a photo of George holding up an empty red suitcase outside his house last week. I thought that was a pretty clear sign he wanted it filled with cash.

TC: That’s the Budget. . . never mind. Donations really aren’t the way to go. Not in the UK. But we do have frontier market offerings. Our macro team has launched a Joseph Kony Tracker Fund, which pays out on capture. And the Bo Xilai prison bonds are selling very well.

FS: It really must be British.

TC: Fine. Well, we have a couple of packages that could make life easier for your existing companies. The basic package comes with two former ambassadors to sit on your board, a voucher for The Cinnamon Club and help filling out an e-petition.

FS: And the premium package?

TC: All of the above, plus an hour with the office of Tony Blair.

FS: Hmm. I’m not sure about this. Is Prince Andrew for sale?

TC: I’ll ask, but it’s a Jubilee year.

FS: It’s OK. But my businesses are doing just fine, thanks. Don’t you have something with a new, guaranteed revenue stream?

TC: Well, the quants are working on a couple of new products. I wasn’t planning on selling these yet but I’m sure the FSA won’t mind.

FS: What are they?

TC: Coalition default swaps: they pay out when Clegg walks or once every Lib Dem MP has had a go in the cabinet. Naturally, subject to Isda committee determination.

FS: And the other one?

TC: Collateral Yvette Obligations: the windfall comes if Yvette Cooper makes Ed Balls topple Ed Miliband.

FS: Is this what passes for innovation in your country? Perhaps I’ll just buy another football team: that Scottish one is still going, right?

TC: I sympathise. But I’ve had one final thought.

FS: Yes . . .

TC: Have you ever been to the House of Lords?

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