The arrogance, sleaze and corruption at the heart of New Labour
The revelation that four (yes, four) cabinet ministers were caught in an undercover sting boasting that they were able to secure access to ministers and change Government policy in return for £3000-£5000 ought to appall all democrats. It is not ‘cash for questions’: it is worse. It is ‘cash for Government policy’ garnished with ‘cash for Government access’.
The sleaze which bedevilled John Major’s final years was as nothing compared to this: a few individuals were guilty of taking bungs in brown envelopes in return for tabling questions in Parliament; a former minister went to prison for perjury. And yet the residual (un-)popular memory of that era is of a government ‘mired in sleaze’.
New Labour promised to be ‘whiter than white’, yet they have not only bankrupted the country and inflicted us again with trade union militancy: they gave us Peter Mandelson; the £1 million Bernie Ecclestone affair; ‘cash for honours’; Derek Draper’s lies; Damian McBride’s plot to smear David Cameron and other senior Conservatives with lies and malicious slander; Peter Mandelson; a voting system worthy of a banana republic; Charlie Wheelan and Ed Balls with their ‘forces of hell’; a corrupt and deficient Speaker – the first to resign in 300 years; Peter Mandelson; Jack Dromey’s dodgy accounting; quangos, cronies; Lord Mandelson; three MPs facing prison for falsifying accounts; and now four cabinet ministers boasting they can grant ‘favours’ to private companies, at a price.
Stephen Byers spelled it out quite specifically: he saved companies millions of pounds in his ‘secret deals’ with Lord Adonis, the Transport Secretary, and Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary. He was recorded as saying he was like a ‘cab for hire’ who would work for up to £5,000 a day, could get confidential information from No 10 and was able to help firms involved in price-fixing get around the law.
This is not merely a matter for the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner: it is not simply an inquiry into whether the ministerial code of conduct has been broken. This conduct is criminal.
Patricia Hewitt, a former health secretary, and Geoff Hoon, a former defence secretary, were also secretly recorded offering their services to the bogus lobbyists. Mr Hoon reportedly offered to lead delegations to ministers, and said he wanted to make use of his knowledge and contacts in a way that ‘frankly makes money'. He said he charged £3,000 a day. And Baroness Morgan, a former adviser to Tony Blair, also allegedly offered to arrange meetings with ministers.
Of course, they all deny any wrongdoing.
But they were all recorded by the bogus lobbying company, and the evidence is damning.
And so they now attempt to brush off this sleazy affair with admissions of ‘exaggeration’, or (quite incredibly) a statement that they were suspicious of the company and so somehow ‘played along’ and purposely ‘overstated the case’.
They must think we are all irredeemably stupid.
Frank Field was right when he spoke of the 'darkness at the heart of the Labour Party'.
We have a government built upon a foundation lies, deception and corruption. There is sin at the heart of this Labour Government, and the Devil dwells within Number 10. It is time for the whole edifice to come tumbling down.