Hypocritical and embarrassing: KCC’s continued failure to divest

March 16, 2018

Yesterday, once more, our KCC representative, Martin Whybrow, brought the urgent debate about divestment to KCC. Speaking at full council, he challenged the council’s treasury management report, triggering a lengthy public debate on the issue. The webcast can be viewed here: https://kent.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/336306/start_time/5423000

Here’s a transcript of his argument:

“I thought the treasury management report should not pass without a word or two about the £136 million of externally managed investments. I hate to pour cold water on the usual back-slapping that stems from the investments mostly doing okay – although not all of them – in markets that have been remarkably buoyant for a remarkably long time but…

“Yesterday we put out a press release entitled ‘Special support for Mums on No Smoking Day’. Andrew Scott-Clark, our head of public health, was quoted as saying ‘Smoking remains one of the major causes of preventable death so quitting is the best thing a smoker can do… we are committed to supporting Kent smokers who want to quit.’

“Most members will know where I am heading with this because I have banged on about it enough times before. But I will continue to do so until we actually do something about it.

“When we look into these funds, what do we find? British American Tobacco, the world’s largest cigarette and tobacco company. Philip Morris, which exports its products of death to 180 countries. The third largest, Japan Tobacco, operating in 120 countries. And we wouldn’t want to miss one of the big four would we, so we have Imperial Brands, previously known as Imperial Tobacco, who presumably re-branded out of embarrassment for their core product.

“How hypocritical of us to preach to the Kent public and hold a public health remit but still have investments in these companies.

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