Notes From the Margins…

Money, it’s what I want

  • March 27, 2012
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It’s good – and in fact quite salutary – to see that the Coalition have dropped down in the polls at last and that the voters have concluded that the Tories are ‘the party of the rich‘.    Not the most startling revelation perhaps, but I was beginning to think that the electorate had lost its collective mind, or become so inured to austerity-driven punishment that it had entered into some weird sado-masochistic relationship with the government that was administering it, and just wanted to cry out with morbid relish ‘beat me again – I deserve it’ through its gritted teeth.

Otherwise what the hell was this horrific government-for-the-rich-by-the-rich doing leading Labour in the polls until right up until last week?  No doubt Ed Miliband’s Grommit-like wooden opportunism was partly responsible – the man always sounds as though he’s reading lines from an autocue written by his media advisers even when he tries to act like an impassioned man of principle.

And then there was the constant deficit-talk propaganda that cuts were inevitable and necessary and had to be swallowed like bitter medicine to that we would all feel better in the long run.

But given what Lord Snooty and his ghastly pals have been up to for the last two years you would expect the opposition – any opposition – to be ahead even it was led by a mannequin or an exhibit from Madame Tussaud’s.   And now it has happened, thanks to the Budget, the vengeance of Rupert Murdoch, and yet another scandal emanating from that moral twilight zone where the political establishment and corporate lobbyists interact.

It is satisfying and amusing to watch it happen, even if one has to resist a slightly hysterical laugh on reading Murdoch condemning the cash-for-access scandal on the grounds that ‘  Without trust, democracy and order will go…Trust must be established.’

Well Rupert is right about that, even if the messenger leaves much to be desired and the future of democracy is probably not high on his priorities.    But the practices he describes are hardly unique to the Tories.

Who can forget that smug little twerp Derek Draper – the epitome of New Labour arrogance – offering access to the  Observer‘s phony American environmental company  in 1998 and boasting that ‘ There are 17 people who count.  And to say I am intimate with every one of them is the understatement of the century

And more recently there was the 2010 sting video filmed by Channel 4’s Dispatches featuring Patricia Hewitt promising to help clients influence government legislation in exchange for   £3,000 a day – to undercover reporters claiming to represent a company whose brazenly fake name ‘Anderson Perry’ failed to arouse the suspicions of politicians who were too besotted with money to put their brains in gear.

Or Stephen Byers ( ‘ I’m a bit like a sort of  cab for hire‘), or Geoff Hoon (‘ One of the challenges that I”m really looking forward to is translating my knowledge and contacts about the international scene into something that frankly makes money’).

At the time that stern moralist Nick Clegg declared  ‘It’s just very, very sleazy and I think people are so fed up with the way in which money and greed is corrupting our politics.’

Too true Nick, too true.  Yet here we are again, confronted with the likes of Peter Cruddas, bragging to undercover Sunday Times reporters that ‘200 grand ($317,000), 250 is premier league … it’ll be awesome for your business‘ in exchange for ‘  a private dinner with  George Osborne, David Cameron, William Hague, the chairman around the table.’

And Sarah Southern, the ‘political consultant’ and member of the British American Project (BAP) who boasted of having made a ‘tidy sum’ by introducing a client to Cameron.

Well good for her.    Personally I’d rather be dumped in the middle of the Sahara to gnaw on a piece of stale bread than sup with this lot, but then I’m not looking to get the government to help me do business,  am I?  And if I was a company or a corporation and I was looking to do this, then maybe I would pay the Cruddases, Southerns, Hewitts and Byers of this world whatever they were asking for in exchange for ‘premier league’ access.

Instead I’m down here in the Sunday League that we used to call democracy with the majority of the population, kicking an old ball round what is definitely not a level playing field, while yet another cluster of greedy, amoral parasites whose single ability consists of their access to important people,  seek to frankly, make money out of those contacts.

And all this is being done at a time when the public estate is being cut to pieces and turned into a corporate feeding ground under the pretext of deficit reduction and austerity.

So as pleasurable as it is to watch the government squirm, I can’t help feeling repelled by these cash flies who are buzzing round Westminster, and wonder why the system that we have continues to reproduce so many people for whom politics is a route to enrichment and not much else.

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About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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