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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain


Corruption is the name of the game

by New Worker correspondent

ONE OF THE quainter traditions of British politics is Black Rod having the door slammed in his face at the State Opening of Parliament. Another is the Annual Lobbying Scandal when a senior ex-politician is discovered lobbying for some favour or other from his former colleagues who are presently in office. These favours are generally not a request for a dim-witted nephew for a job in the post-room of the ministry, but for vast sums of public money to be diverted to the company that employs said ex-politician.

Former Prime Minister David Cameron is only the latest individual to uphold this ancient tradition. He was found to be lobbying ministers on behalf of Greensill Capital, on whose behalf Cameron has been working since 2018, two years after his humiliating defeat in the European Union referendum.

As Prime Minister Cameron hired one Lex Greensill as an advisor. On his departure from Downing Street the position was reversed – but only after a decent interval for the sake of good form. Cameron had stock options worth at one time £70 million. Not one of his best investments. He was not the only one to take the Greensill shilling (or lots of them). A senior civil servant, Bill Crother, even took up a post whilst he was still taking the Queen’s shilling. Even the Tory Chair of the ineffective Office of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, Lord Pickles, deplored this.

After the Treasury refused Greensill Capital access to the COVID emergency loan scheme, Cameron was quick off the mark emailing Boris Johnson’s senior special adviser demanding second thoughts and saying: “What we need is for Rishi [Sunak] to have a good look at this and ask officials to find a way of making it work.”

helpfully

The Chancellor helpfully replied that he was doing as requested, informing Cameron he had “pushed the team to explore an alternative with the Bank that might work”.

As part of the tradition Boris Johnson has set up an inquiry into his predecessor’s conduct. He did this with great dignity, successfully trying very hard not to gloat. Cameron has publically welcomed this and denied any wrongdoing.

Also in line with this tradition, the inquiry will either be a complete whitewash or issue a mild reprimand and say that lessons have been learned and that some slight modification of the existing rules will be enough to prevent any further unpleasantness.

This is not, of course, the only such example. Retired generals and admirals soon find themselves on the boards of arms companies, former councillors get snapped up as directors by builders eager to have someone who knows who rules the roost in the planning department, and retired doctors and NHS administrators find themselves on the boards of pharmaceutical companies to act as salesmen.

This is how capitalism works. Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand” always involves politicians deciding when, where and why the “free market” operates. In the case of well-connected big business, any talk of allowing the weakest to go to the wall to allow better managed companies to fill the gap is forgotten about.

Greensill is one of those parasitical financial companies that does absolutely nothing but shuffle money which it borrows only to lend to associated companies and other equally dodgy clients who are headquartered in a sunny tropical tax haven. Founded in 2011 in Australia, its speciality is “supply-chain finance”, which means it buys and sells debt – not very successfully in this case.