“The rot runs much deeper. Cosy chats. Private text messages. Looking after your own. It’s how our system works, as this crisis shows.”Richard Burgon MP
The scandal of the former Prime Minister David Cameron lobbying the Government for his new boss has rightly captured the headlines.
But the rot runs much deeper. Cosy chats. Private text messages. Looking after your own. It’s how our system works, as this crisis shows.
The pandemic has cast more light on very questionable practices at the heart of our government. The Prime Minister has allowed a revolving door between his Tory Government and paid lobbyists. Privileged access and jobs for their mates – sleaze is ingrained in this Conservative Government.
And then there’s the dodgy contracts. While the Tories are forcing through insulting 37p increases in benefits for the sick, disabled and unemployed, cutting the wages of millions of public sector workers and forcing through tax rises for low paid workers, others are having a very good pandemic.
Serco and the like have been able to use the crisis to get their hands on vasst contracts to boost their profits.
Contracts worth billions have been handed over to those with political connections to top Tories.
The Health Secretary’s mate, the landlord of his former local pub, won a Covid test contract worth a small fortune.
That was no one off. In fact data shows that companies with connections to top Tories are ten times more likely to get covid contracts than those without.
As the former Government chief scientist David King recently said of the processes by which public money has been distributed to private sector companies without due process, “it really smells of corruption.”
But it’s not just in this crisis that the Conservatives look to enrich the super-rich.
Our whole system is rigged in the interests of the super-rich. And the super-rich spend a lot making sure it stays that way. In the Tory party, they have the perfect vehicle for this.
Just last year there was the scandal of the Housing Minister acting unlawfully over a billion-pound property deal that helped the developer avoid tens of millions of local council charges. The developer got his approval from the Conservative Government. Two weeks later donated £12,000 to the Conservative party.
While some Tory MPs are raking in small fortunes on top of their salary doing private consultancy work on a second job during this pandemic. It’s shameful – and frankly should be banned.
It’s obvious to everyone that the current lobbying rules are not fit for purpose. As I write, there’s just been shameful scenes in Parliament as Tory MPs voted to block Labour’s call for a proper inquiry into lobbying to clean up the sleaze and cronyism that’s at the heart of this Conservative government.
They’re terrified it would uncover more rotten dealings between Tory MPs and their super-rich backers.
One in three of the UK’s billionaires have bankrolled the Conservative Party since 2005. And they have got their money’s worth – tens of billions of pounds in corporate giveaways for the rich from the Conservative party.
As David Cameron, something of an authority on these matters, put it in 2010: “We all know how it works. The lunches, the hospitality, the quiet word in your ear, the ex-ministers and ex-advisers for hire, helping big business find the right way to get its way.”
The stench of corruption has grown ever stronger through this crisis. People are rightly sick of it. It needs to be stamped out. Before it does even more damage to our democracy, which far too often is skewed to serve the few and not the many.