Sleaze and Corruption, a Digest

Are you, like me, finding it difficult to keep up with the stream of cronyism and greed that seems to be woven into the fabric of this decaying government? As one scandal emerges a second arrives, while the first is put out for ‘investigation’ the next is uncovered, as it is put to to an inquiry the next ones emerges. It becomes a blur. The conveyor belt is not just about the decline of standards in public office, nor the decline in journalistic integrity (with notable exceptions), it is perpetuated because of the boosted sense of exceptionalism of the political elite, now drawn from a very specific demographic of the Super-Rich; and, in addition their experience of living with almost complete impunity. So not only do these people occupy a rarefied existence, they experience no consequences for any of their actions, and never have. We aren’t ruled by the gold club bores and bigots of the culturally conservative that used to comprise the Tory party, we are ruled by the mega-wealthy, billionaires and hedge-fund managers. It’s in this context that ‘Scandals’ are exposed, denied and investigated. It’s very rare that anything happens at all. Living an almost completely consequence-free existence is normal in elite circles, its just in the political arena of those circles we have to watch them get away with it.

If there might be a superficial resemblance of the end-days of the John Major regime, the actual figures of cash involved for Cash for Questions and other sleaze is miniscule next to the bundles of loot being sloshed about by VIP Lanes, Tax Dodgers, Covid Contracts and other backhanders.

Here then is a digest of some of the current scandals engulfing our political class, before they disappear …

  • The Yevgeny Prigozhin Affair – as Jim Fitzpatrick explains on Open Democracy: “The UK government helped the boss of Russia’s murderous mercenary army to circumvent its own sanctions and launch a targeted legal attack on a British journalist” …

    Yevgeny Prigozhin is the founder of Wagner, the private army that the US government last week announced it would designate a “transnational criminal organisation”, allowing it to impose tougher sanctions on the group. For years it has been accused of vicious human rights abuses and war crimes in Ukraine and across the world in support of Putin’s regime …But a vast cache of hacked emails shows that, under the leadership of Rishi Sunak, the UK Treasury issued special licences in 2021 to let the oligarch override sanctions and launch an aggressive legal campaign against a journalist in the London courts.”

  • 200 Children are Missing – beyond the routine political sleaze this scandal is astonishing. About 200 immigrant/refugee children have gone missing from Home Office accommodation. Newspapers report: “Two hundred asylum-seeking children who were placed in hotels run by the Home Office have gone missing, a minister has admitted. They include one girl and at least 13 children under the age of 16, the Home Office minister Simon Murray told the House of Lords on Monday.”

    The disclosure comes after the Observer reported that a whistleblower from a Home Office hotel in Brighton had claimed that some children had been abducted off the street outside the facility and bundled into cars.

    Lord Murray said 88% of the 200 children – 176 – were of Albanian origin, and he said the government hoped to phase out the use of hotels for children “as soon as we can”. This is what happens when the concerns and warnings of NGOs are ignored and when whole groups of people are routinely demonised and dehumanised by the rancid reactionary political culture nurtured by (in this case) English sado-populism and Britain’s far-right Home Office.

  • Richard Sharp’s BBC Appointment – Richard Sharp is the chairman of the BBC. He has insisted he had no conflict of interest when he was appointed the chair of the BBC by Boris Johnson, despite allegations he helped secure a loan of up to £800,000 for the Prime Minister only a week earlier. There are not one but two new inquiries into the appointment of the BBC’s chairman amid allegations (blah blah blah). They love an inquiry. This piece of the scandal jigsaw is part of the reason why nothing ever happens…

    It’s worth remembering that Sharp had personally donated £400,000 of his own money to the Conservative Party. This is not normal. There is no need for any inquiry, this should simply not have been an acceptable appointment to a prominent media position.

  • The Taxman and the Chancellor, Nadhim Zahawi. Imagine being detached from reality you have to ask your ethics adviser if the Chancellor engaging in industrial-scale tax avoidance was a bad idea? In a new development is appears Zahawi received £62,500 from Khaled Saïd – in his bid to become Tory leader. In fact he was the sole bidder. Saïd is personally listed in the Paradise Papers. As Byline Times explains: “Khaled Saïd is the son of Wafic Saïd, the Syrian-born financier who brokered a multi-billion pound arms deal between Saudi Arabia and the UK in the mid-1980s – at the time the biggest arms agreement ever signed by the UK.”

    As Zahawi clings to office and suppresses journalism on the matter the political class around him take a calculated view of at what point he should be thrown under the bus. My guess would be about Friday.

  • Michelle Mone PPE Scandal – Back in December Prime minister, Rishi Sunak, said he was “absolutely shocked” by a bombshell report revealing that Mone and her husband secretly received tens of millions of pounds originating from PPE Medpro’s profits, according to bank documents. Nobody else was. The investigative journalist David Conn broke the story revealing that the Conservative peer Michelle Mone and her children secretly received £29m originating from the profits of a PPE business that was awarded large government contracts after she recommended it to ministers, documents seen by the Guardian indicate.

    Lady Mone’s support helped the company, PPE Medpro, secure a place in a “VIP lane” the government used during the coronavirus pandemic to prioritise companies that had political connections. It then secured contracts worth more than £200m. We now know that:

    PPE Medpro and partners made as much as £100m profits
    Mone’s husband donated £170,000 to the Conservative Party months before the contract was awarded
    At least £70m from PPE Medpro contracts taken offshore
    Jet, yacht and racehorse purchased after PPE deal
    Michelle and her husband now selling yacht and properties
    Mone takes leave of absence from Lords and may leave UK

    The UK government has since commenced legal action to recover more than £100m from the company that was awarded two large PPE contracts after Mone recommended it to ministers.

    Remember there is no Magic Money Tree.

Oh yeah, the privileges committee investigation into Boris Johnson is still continuing.

What did I miss?

This article will be updated and used as reference as the facts of this public disgrace emerges (if it ever does).

‘Abuse of power comes as no surprise’ is the slogan of the American artist Jenni Holzer, and its true, political power has always been the centre of corruption. To view our current ‘leaders’ as more corrupt is itself a form of nostalgia. What is different is the scale of social inequality; the advanced stage of socio-ecological breakdown; and the extent to which bribery corruption and sleaze just becomes an ever-present part of our daily reality. These are not aberrations/shocks away from the system, this is the system. 

Comments (12)

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  1. James Mills says:

    My God ! This crop of Tories are giving SLEAZE a bad name !

  2. Bill says:

    First of all they lied ( Osborne blaming Labour for the Crash – later the lie was admitted). Then their economic policies increased the debt and caused ruin for many (austerity policy) then they destroyed the NHS( Lansley’s policies plus lack of investment) then they promulgated hate( May’s anti immigrant policies) then they further increased division( with lies and more hate in the Brexit approach) then more destruction of the NHS and public sector. With the pandemic, policies that led to excessive deaths(social murder) Then various episodes of sleaze and corruption.
    Now as people protest, democratic freedoms being removed and increased powers for a police force that has lost credibility. Further hate promulgated, Braverman ( Is Manston a concentration camp?)

    They opposed the creation of the NHS. They have now destroyed it. Your article Mike is an excellent review of the sleaze and corruption, but it only scratches the surface. Aneurin Bevan was right, they are nothing but spivs and their existence nothing but organised spivery.

    All I can say in response to your article is what else can we expect from such corrupt people. Perhaps we have reached this position because we did not heed the warnings found in the work of Tom Nairn – Gerry Hassan has published an excellent review of Nairn’s work in this weeks Scottish Review.


  3. Alasdair Macdonald says:

    About 4/5 years ago, around the time Boris Johnson was plotting to become Prime Minister and his naked self-interest, cavalier attitude towards rules was evident (mind you, it had been evident since he was at school) an SNP politician was interviewed on BBC Scotland complaining about Johnson’s shameless conduct. I response, the interviewer, Hayley Miller asked with an admiring chuckle in her voice, “Isn’t this just Boris being Boris?”

    This is indicative of the media attitude to not just Johnson, but his wealthy privileged cronies, who really believe that they can do what they like. It is not ONE law for them and another for the rest of us, it is NO law for them.

    The Wagner scandal, is no surprise. London has been the money laundering centre for Russian oligarchs, who have effectively bought the UK Government and state.

    And Labour still tries to convince people it can use that state to bring about transformative change.

  4. John Wood says:

    Sadly, this is merely the tip of a huge iceberg that affects countries across the world, Scotland included. The problem really is an ideology that underpins modern economics. It asserts that the sole purpose of life, in an essentially meaningless world, is to struggle endlessly for power over others. Wealth is the means to that power. And these ends justify any means whatsoever. ‘Shareholder value’ always takes precedence over any concern for other people or the planet – and now, with stakeholder capitalism shareholders too are to be abolished and only the super-rich will be ‘stakeholders’. It is all about totalitarianism. There is no recognition of mutual interdependence in this philosophy. The ‘survival of the fittest’ means the survival of the nastiest and most ruthless. ‘Ethics’ claimed are merely means to an end. I think this culture has deep roots in western societies, but nowhere more so than in the British Empire and its creation, the US, which took it to whole new levels. Everything and everyone is seen as mere ‘resources’ to be exploited and destroyed for personal ‘gain’. What we are seeing can be seen developing in the writings of Bernard Mandevile, Nietzche, Darwin, Marx, Freud, and others. Nietzche distinguishes between an ‘elite’ who are essentially above the law, and ‘slave morality’ which applies to the rest of us. Today’s would-be world dictators wear business suits and use sophisticated technological and psychological weaponry alongside guns and explosives. We are bought and sold these days for (mainly) American fiat dollars. This is only possible because so many people cling to those with power and wealth out of fear or a belief that they will be rewarded.
    All this is rapidly coming to an end. It sort of worked when the western person had a rising standard of living at the expense of the out-of sight, out of mind 3rd world slave labourer and the environment was someone else’s problem; but now, as all wealth and power are concentrated into fewer and fewer hands more and more people are finding themselves among the have-nots. Whatever Gates, Schwab and others may tell us, people will not be happy to own nothing and be entirely dependent on them. Well, those who live by the sword, die by the sword because they end up fighting each other. The oligarchs don’t seem to quite get that message. They can buy off politicians, scientists, regulators, media, but not indefinitely. And if they cannot offer people anything worthwhile anymore in return for their obedience, if the world becomes a vast protection racket, well, ‘it’s the economy, stupid’ .

  5. Axel P Kulit says:

    I cannot tell if they are no worse than previous governments but not hiding the corruption, or the media have finally turned against them and are starting some real investigative journalism.

  6. Squigglypen says:

    And then add on a male double rapist changing gender in the middle of his trial to become a ‘woman’ and is being sent to a FEMALE prison…still got his bits by the way…Scottish government slowly dissolving into a westminster lookalike by passing laws that the majority of Scottish women would kick into the long grass forever…keep your eyes on our lot as well. Does it follow that the minute you are in power you know better than the voters who put you there?….careful FM.
    For Scotland!
    PS: your article is excellent and well researched..but watch Holyrood….

    1. Mary says:

      Presumably you’re just as concerned about the approximately 2,000+ rapes by cisgender men recorded every year? If you are genuinely worried about the sexual assault of women, the woefully low conviction rate is surely more deserving of your scrutiny.

      I would bloody hope that the first minister knows better than the majority of the population – that’s why she’s there.

      1. Niemand says:

        Better keep on bloody hoping then as the evidence is for the opposite.

        And why would someone not be concerned about all rape? Are you not concerned by this case then, or is this just a competition to you? SP’s post was making a very good point indeed. And of course this rapist is a man, or at the very least a man when the crimes were committed!

        What is depressing is how this site it totally ignoring this serious issue at the very heart of current politics and the nationalist party in power. Head. In. Sand.

        Oh and they’ve just done a u-turn on their position on this particular convicted rapist’s place of incarceration

        1. This article wasn’t about the issues you raise Niemand.

  7. Wul says:

    Our country is being run by criminals. They are barely even trying to hide it.
    What are we going to do about it?

  8. philmac says:

    We wring our hands and bemoan the Westminster atrocities – and they are atrocities – yet what are we achieving here in Scotland?
    What strides have the snp, Green party and Indy movement taken to bring about our exit from this continuing atrocity?
    I see no real evidence of developing a plan – I see political ‘games’ being played but little else.
    if Scotland can’t now then when can it???

  9. JamesDow says:

    Scots have been described as uncommonly intellectual deep thinkers, if that is still the case there should not be one person residing in Scotland that is not determined to deliver Scottish Sovereignty. If Scotland remains conjoined to England its going to wake up one day chained to an English corpse.

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