Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Corruption in Government
Jack Abramoff was sent to jail in the States for widespread corruption. He served three-and-a-half years of a six year sentence. He was stripped of his status as one of Washington’s best-connected and most powerful lobbyists. He has an insiders view of the way corruption works. He claims it as simple as saying to someone, “You know when you’re done working on the Hill, we’d very much like you to consider coming to work for us.” He said this in an interview on CBS television’s 60 minutes. “The moment I said that to them, that was it. We owned them. And what does that mean? Every request from our office, every request of our clients, everything that we want, they’re gonna do.” Independent 14/11/11
We do things a bit differently here. We have politicians openly ‘working’ for companies and investment trusts while they are an MP. David Blunkett has so many other engagements he is reputed to make nearly a million a year. William Hague has cut down on his outside activities but he has not stopped them all. Patricia Hewitt walked out of her job as health secretary straight into a series of non-executive directorships with private health care companies. There are many, many more.
Does it matter? You betcha!
Take this little nugget from the letters page of yesterdays Guardian about the privatisation of Hinchinbrooke Hospital. “The company recruited a former aide to health secretary Andrew Lansley as head of communications. Christina Lineen spent two years working for Lansley prior to him becoming health secretary. In addition , Conservative MP for Boston and Skegness Mark Simmonds, who was a minister when the healthcare reforms were drawn up, was paid £50,000 a year to work just 10 hours a month as ‘strategic adviser’ to Circle Healthcare.” Guardian 14/11/11
At the height of the expenses scandal, Lansley featured on Question Time. He did not go down well with the audience, with his claim that the extra £30,000 per year he received for attending 10 meetings a year, was value for money and helped him in his role as an MP. The company turned out to be a private health care concern. Seed corn. 
It is no surprise to see that Lansley is sitting on a report examining the implications of his so-called reforms. Now why would he do that? The Information Commissioner has given him a further 30 days to comply and publish the report. Unfortunately, most of the votes on the bill will have been completed by then.
Our system is rotten through and through. Lansley and his cronies are among the rottenest of a deeply shitty bunch.
As Andrew Robertson, the author of the Guardian letter concluded, “Our democracy is broken.”

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