Politics is Corrupt – According to Politicians!
This week Parliament witnessed a series of events to undermine politics on a scale we have not witnessed since the expenses scandal. The difference this time is that it is those trying to get back into power who have undermined our political system.
It is naive in the extreme to think that a politician is able to stand and accuse another politician of corruption and yet somehow think that if they were in Government the public would think they were the great white hope.
Granted, this was the case in 1997 after eighteen years of Conservative governments bruised with the private lives of many Tory MPs splashed across the newspapers, something only hindered by allegations of “cash for questions”. Despite the truth of this saga to be not quite as it was reported it was successfully exploited by the then opposition Labour Party under Tony Blair.
This helped Labour achieve the biggest landslide in history, ostensibly because of the extra marital affairs of a few Conservative MPs that enabled a very clever Tony Blair to paint the party as sleazy. And why not? The public lapped it up, kicked them out, elected Tony Blair as the self acclaimed “whiter than white” Prime Minister.
As often is proven the case in politics it is vital to ensure you are white than white if you are going to proclaim so. Almost immediately after the 1997 election the very issue Labour had spent five years attacking the Tories over came flooding into the light when Foreign Secretary Robin Cook admitted he was having and affair with his secretary; hypocrisy from Labour that was temporarily forgiven by the British public.
This forgiveness emboldened Labour. They knew that they had been cheeky about a bunch of Parliamentarians who on the whole were good people, in it for the wider good and that many of the things they accused them of were indeed going on in their own ranks. The ‘Cook affair’ was followed up with the scandal of trying to get passports for party donors, illegal mortgages by Cabinet Ministers and the u-turn on tobacco advertising in sport following a million pound donation from the head of Formula 1. It seemed to many that sleaze was not just a growing cancer within one party but at the heart of British Government.
What is interesting to analyse about this time is that Labour seemed to ride the waves. The public were not interested in the Tories but the mantra of ‘whiter than white’ was long forgotten and replaced in people’s minds with; “what do you expect, they are all the same”. Along came the 2001 General Election and almost uniquely in British political history, the result was almost the same as the 1997 election four years earlier.
But of course there was one great last act for Labour – Iraq. We will be attacked with “weapons that can be launched in 45 minutes”. Really? It was shortly after questions were asked about the reliability and intention of the Government that Tony Blair took to the airwaves: “I think you know me well enough to know I’m a pretty straight guy”. Crisis adverted. The Prime Minister had made a statement, why would you not believe him? Ten years ago this week a civil servant let slip in a conversation that the 45 minutes claim was in fact total rubbish. This wouldn’t do for ‘straight talking Tony’ so the Labour machine kicked in against the BBC and the unfortunate civil servant. The bullying Labour machine that had swept so much away now bore down on a quiet man who decided the only way out was to take his own life and escape the pending repression of the state.
Now we see the extent to which the last government bullied people through the outcome of the Keogh report. One of the most important things the Health Secretary has done is to outlaw gagging clauses. Indeed we have just seen the whistle blower in Staffordshire driven out of her home because she exposed what was going on and the deadly consequences; 1,300 unavoidable deaths. But why should this be the case? Exposing the ill treatment of people should be applauded not ridiculed.
The Keogh report not only outlined 11 hospital trusts that had to go into special measures with a further three under scrutiny, but almost unbelievably revealed that care in some hospitals was so bad that they had to stop doing the assessments and administering care to people. Growing evidence showed that this was highlighted under the last government and true to form they tried to cover it up and spin their way out of it. Bullying appears to have been rife from the Labour Government to those who were trying to raise an issue of most importance.
This week witnessed Labour’s response to the allegations made against them; try to create a different scandal targeted at the Government and hopefully pushing the story away. This disgraceful behaviour not only shows that they are no where near fit to govern again but also leads to the public completely losing faith in all politics and politicians.
The Labour Party mantra of the ‘Party of the NHS’ has now been destroyed. Their dogma of a sacred cow that must not be criticised has lead to thousands of early deaths. In the debate only two Labour MPs actually mentioned patients in their wet attempt to save their political skin. The temperature in the Commons matched that outside, showing the bullying of Brown boot boys at its worst.
The problem for politics overall is that Labour are trying to save their own skin by trying to make up another government scandal. To those outside the Westminster bubble it looks like a plague on all our houses. Labour were already on the back foot at having been exposed as effectively being bought by the unions so their strategy to link health and influence by claiming big tobacco got the government to change its policy on cigarette packaging was weak to say the least.
Let me be clear. I am not in favour of plain packaging on cigarettes as I do not believe there is any sufficient evidence to show it will reduce the uptake in smoking and I am very concerned about the hundreds of people in my constituency who are employed in the printing of cigarette packets. I know there are hundreds of people employed in this printed of cigarette packets because their trade union lobbied me to oppose the ban, doing what is right in protecting their member’s interests in the workplace; the very same trade union dictating Labour’s policies, fixing selections and securing Ed Miliband the leadership.
The idea that MPs cannot have their own opinions and must make every decision based on who gives them the best “treats” is as insulting as it is dangerous to our democracy. Take for example Tory strategist Lynton Crosby, there is a world of difference between hiring someone one day a week to work for you and being held hostage by the unions who bankroll your party. The trade union influence on Labour has been growing since Tony Blair left Number 10 to make his millions. Indeed, because Blair was not seen as a union man many in the Labour Party have tried to airbrush Tony Blair out of their history despite him being their most successful leader to date.
This exposure of what has happened in the Labour Party needs to be cleaned up and yet Ed Miliband has only three weak suggestions; to create a scandal that doesn’t really exist as a smokescreen; make noises to change union subscription but refuse the back a government bill that would allow it to happen limit the amount of donations; and to try and change the rules on MP’s outside earnings.
So in the wake of a party scandal so bad that the police are investigating it, what Miliband has done is try and confirm to the public that all politicians are bent not just his lot. In addition, he has followed this up with a suggestion to get the taxpayer to fund political party campaigning and in not acting to stop Unite fixing selections he has tacitly approved the appointment of wet behind the ears career politicians into seats funded by the unions.
All in all this weak crisis strategy is a prime example of Miliband’s weak leadership. Perhaps more worrying than everything above, it seems Ed is now trying to paint a picture that it is ‘Government’ that is corrupt; that all parties are the same.