Seumas Milne gives a comprehensive overview: “Corporate power has turned Britain into a corrupt state”

seumas milne

As MP Tim Yeo faces filmed evidence that – as chair of the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee – he helped a private company to influence Parliament, and as we are due to reflect on Peter Lilley’s support for fracking, Seumas Milne‘s article summarises the position:

Westminster lobbying is the least of it. Revolving-door colonisation of public life is a corrosive threat to democracy.”

But the real corruption that has eaten into the heart of British public life is the tightening corporate grip on government and public institutions – not just by lobbyists, but by the politicians, civil servants, bankers and corporate advisers who increasingly swap jobs, favours and insider information, and inevitably come to see their interests as mutual and interchangeable. The doors are no longer just revolving but spinning, and the people charged with protecting the public interest are bought and sold with barely a fig leaf of regulation.

Privatisation has extended the web of lubricated relationships, as a mushrooming £80bn business uses jobs and cash to foist a policy that is less accountable, lowers standards and is routinely more expensive on the public realm. When 142 peers linked to companies involved in private healthcare were able to vote on last year’s health bill that opened the way to sweeping outsourcing – and the City consultancy McKinsey helped draw it up – it’s not hard to see why.


Britain is now an increasingly corrupt country at its highest levels – not in the sense of directly bribing officials, of course, and it’s almost entirely legal. But our public life and democracy is now profoundly compromised by its colonisation. Corporate and financial power have merged into the state.

That vice can be broken, but it demands radical change: closure of the revolving doors; a ban on ministers and civil servants working for regulated private companies; a halt to the corrosive tide of privatisation; and a downward squeeze on boardroom pay to reduce the corporate allure. It’s going to need a democratic backlash.



Read his tour de force:




Posted on June 9, 2013, in Civil servants, Conflict of interest, Corporate political nexus, Democracy undermined, Government, Lobbying and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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