The full costs of G4S's "little security dilemma" come to light

Annual profits drop by a third.

People still talk about the Olympics. Oh, how it went off without a hitch against so many people’s expectations – apart from that little G4S security dilemma obviously.

But today, the full cost of that ‘little dilemma’, has now come to light: G4S has reported annual profits to have dropped by a third. That is on top of the £88 million already lost by failing to provide security at the Olympics, when the army was deployed in its stead.

When G4S announced that it would not be able to provide adequate security to the Olympics, it caused frenzy in the British media. Pressure was piled on G4S’s chief executive Nick Buckles to resign, the Government for answers and just about everyone involved in the Olympics for solutions. The word “shambles” was everywhere and even used by Buckles himself to describe G4S’s handing of the contract.

Yet, it seems the horror of that early summer frenzy did not obtain an audience outside the UK. G4S announced that sales from emerging markets account for one third of revenues, a figure that Buckles hopes will rise by 50 per cent by 2019.

Outsourcing, then, is as strong as ever and G4S remain the largest security outsourcers out there. They are the “privatizers” of this world, picking up government contracts for just about everything from providing maintanence for prisons in Israel to running airports on tiny Caribbean islands. It is hard to travel to any event, through any airport without seeing G4S blazoned upon the shirts of security personal.

However, although Buckles today insisted on “putting that behind us” when asked about the Olympics, there is one contract that they won’t be bidding for – Rio 2016.

Photograph: Getty Images

Oliver Williams is an analyst at WealthInsight and writes for VRL Financial News

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John McDonnell praises New Labour as he enters conciliatory mode

The shadow chancellor sought to build a bridge between the past and the present by crediting the 1997 government. 

Ever since Jeremy Corbyn became Labour leader, John McDonnell has been on a mission to reinvent himself as a kinder, gentler politician. He hasn’t always succeeded. In July, the shadow chancellor declared of rebel MPs: “As plotters they were fucking useless”.

But in his Labour conference speech, Corbyn’s closest ally was firmly in conciliatory mode. McDonnell thanked Owen Smith for his part in defeating the Personal Independence Payment cuts. He praised Caroline Flint, with whom he has clashed, for her amendment to the financial bill on corporate tax transparency. Jonathan Reynolds, who will soon return to the frontbench, was credited for the “patriots pay their taxes” campaign (the latter two not mentioned in the original text).

McDonnell’s ecunmenicism didn’t end here. The 1997 Labour government, against which he and Corbyn so often defined themselves, was praised for its introduction of the minimum wage (though McDonnell couldn’t quite bring himself to mention Tony Blair). Promising a “real Living Wage” of around £10 per hour, the shadow chancellor sought to build a bridge between the past and the present. Though he couldn’t resist adding some red water as he closed: “In this party you no longer have to whisper it, it's called socialism. Solidarity!”

As a rebuke to those who accuse him of seeking power in the party, not the country, McDonnell spoke relentlessly of what the next Labour “government” would do. He promised a £250bn National Investment Bank, a “Right to Own” for employees, the repeal of the Trade Union Act and declared himself “interested” in the potential of a Universal Basic Income. It was a decidedly wonkish speech, free of the attack lines and jokes that others serve up.

One of the more striking passages was on McDonnell’s personal story (a recurring feature of Labour speeches since Sadiq Khan’s mayoral victory). “I was born in the city [Liverpool], not far from here,” he recalled. “My dad was a Liverpool docker and my mum was a cleaner who then served behind the counter at British Homes Stores for 30 years. I was part of the 1960's generation.  We lived in what sociological studies have described as some of the worst housing conditions that exist within this country. We just called it home.”

In his peroration, he declared: “In the birthplace of John Lennon, it falls to us to inspire people to imagine.” Most Labour MPs believe that a government led by Corbyn and McDonnell will remain just that: imaginary. “You may say I'm a dreamer. But I'm not the only one,” the shadow chancellor could have countered. With his praise for New Labour, he began the work of forging his party’s own brotherhood of man.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.