Here we go again. We never learn do we? This is not news, it is now just expected and inevitable.
A joint project by the Times and Channel 4’sDispatches programme has four Labour MPs who are standing down at the next election touting their dubious wares for sale. They include three Blairite ex-ministers.An undercover reporter posed as a company executive on the look-out for MPs to hire for some lobbying work. Four rose to the bait and made all sorts of claims about how they could basically influence lawmakers for their potential paymaster's benefit.
Three major points come out of this. Firstly, we voted these people, and people like them into their seats. Secondly, are MPs that weak that they can be influenced by those that leave? Thirdly, after all the scandal is anyone in a large company going to really hire one of these soiled ex-politicians, if they are it brings their judgement into question.
In all thirteen Labour and seven Conservative MPs were approached, but it seems only these gullible four swallowed the tale hook, line, sinker, boat and jetty.
Stephen Byers is reported to have described himself as 'like a sort of cab for hire'. Miss Hewitt claimed to have helped a client get a key seat on a Government advisory group for £3,000. The former Defence Secretary, Geoff Hoon, said he wanted to turn his knowledge and contacts into a money making venture. Margaret Moran, who was recently forced in disgrace to hand back £22,500 in expense, boasted that she could mobilise a 'girls' gang' consisting of people like Jacqui Smith, Hazel Blears and Harriet Harman.
I wonder how many more MPs there are breathing a sigh of relief and thinking that they were glad they didn't get a call?
David Cameron called this one right. He recently predicted that lobbying would be the next scandal.So it must be far, far more widespread than just these hapless four. But let's call it by its proper title, corruption. In politics it's called 'lobbying', in banking it's called 'insider dealing'. The trouble is that lobbying has been going on for decades and is 'institutionally entrenched' in the whole way that place operates. For example, it has come to light that MPs make Westminster dining rooms and banquet halls available to the lobbyists. The little village of the Palace of Westminster has become its own 'Rotten Borough'. David Cameron has now called on Gordon Brown to investigate these allegations, in the hope of making this as damaging as possible for Labour. In fact, John Lyon, the Parliamentary Commissioner, may well be asked to examine the cases fpr possible breaches of MPs and Ministerial codes.
If they want lobbying then fine, let's do it properly and have civil servants present taking minutes of meetings within Westminster that can be published publicly as well as full video/audio records. Then we'll see how much interest there really is in this.
Then follow this up with a total ban on all ex-MPs having access to Westminster and have all current MPs declare that they will not discuss current Westminster business with ex-MPs on pain of removal.
But the biggest thing we can do is to use our votes wisely and not just fall for the slick big party election machines.