A blog for the socially and politically conscious, written by a young, gay activist who strongly believes in equality and justice.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

More parliamentary sleaze

Many MPs accept money from big companies. This is in addition to direct company donations to the main parties. Why do these companies give cash? It's obvious isn't it - to get influence over government. "He who pays the piper calls the tune".  Patricia Hewitt's interests include being a director of British Telecom for which she received £61,475 between July and November 2009. She is also a special consultant to Alliance Boots services for which she gets £45,000-£50,000. In addition, she is senior advisor to an investment company called Cinven for £55,000-£60,000. She is standing down from parliament to "spend more time with her family", or should that say 'money'! The last company on the list has bought BUPA, the private health care company. She knows a lot about that since when she was health minister she handed a lot of NHS work to private hospitals. This was supposedly to reduce waiting lists, but further undermined the NHS in favour of private companies. Isn't it convenient she now has links to private health care and pharmaceutical companies?
Hewitt's replacement as Labour candidate for Leicester West, Liz Kendal, was her 'special adviser' including during her spell as health minister. Did she 'advise' this shift to the private sector? Will she act any differently to Hewitt if elected?

"I'm a bit like a cab for hire," said former Blairite government minister Stephen Byers to an undercover reporter who was posing as a company lobbyist. And, claiming to be able to influence government legislation, Byers then offered the 'lobbyist' his political services for "up to £5,000 a day". But this latest nauseating example of parliamentary sleaze didn't stop with Byers. Two other former Blairite cabinet ministers - Patricia Hewitt  and Geoff Hoon - were also secretly filmed offering to change government policies to suit the interests of big business, but for only £3,000 a day! As an illustration of how big business buys political influence, Byers boasted to the reporter that he had concocted a deal with the transport secretary, Lord Adonis, to enable National Express to welch on its rail franchise. He also claimed to have influenced Lord Mandelson to have watered down government food labelling proposals on behalf of Tesco; both companies deny any dealings with Byers.All three MPs have now been suspended from the parliamentary Labour Party. Big deal! They were all due to stand down at the general election, expected this May, anyway. Byers, Hewitt and Hoon should face legal proceedings. After all, paid advocacy when the client is not listed on the MPs' register of interests is a breach of rules. The actions of these former ministers speak volumes about New Labour. It's the equivalent of sticking two fingers up to people and saying: "I didn't enter Westminster to serve the public interest; I entered politics to make loads of money"!

It's as if the 'cash for questions' scandal under the previous John Major Tory government, or the cash for honours scandal under Tony Blair's premiership, or the MPs' expenses scandal, never happened! Is it any wonder then that disillusioned voters are abandoning the main establishment parties and not bothering to vote or looking instead to vote for minor parties? Unfortunately, at present, there isn't a mass workers' party that fights for the interests of working class people against the sleazy bosses' parties, and whose elected representatives only accept the average wage of a worker.

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