Blog Archives

A Times reader emphasises the growing awareness of the imperative to eradicate ‘the frankly corrupt, hypocritical behaviour some British MPs have indulged in for decades’

Oliver Wright, policy editor for The Times, focusses only on the tip of the iceberg – the ‘revolving door’. He reports a recommendation by the public administration select committee (PASC) that ministers and civil servants should be banned from taking up lucrative private sector jobs for two years when they leave office. (The article may be read here – possible paywall.) They said that more than 600 former ministers and senior civil servants had been appointed to 1,000 business roles. The committee wants the government to impose a two-year ban on taking up jobs that relate “directly to their previous areas of policy and responsibility”.

From many instances Mr Wright singled out:

  • Lord Hague of Richmond, who now advises Teneo, an international business consultancy,
  • Sir Ed Davey, the former energy secretary, who advises a PR and lobbying company that lists EDF Energy as a client.
  • Mark Britnell (though un-named in the article), a former director-general of commissioning at the Department of Health who became global head of healthcare at KPMG, which bids for government health contracts.

There is no reference to extra ‘jobs’ done whilst MPs are in office – except from one of The Times readers who bluntly writes: “Any MP should not be able to hold any extra job outside the House of Parliament”. Constituency work and special responsibilities – if properly attended to – would occupy an MP full time.

The parliamentary decision-making process is sometimes shown, with hindsight, to have been affected by MPs’ connections with the armaments, healthcare and tobacco  industry and many companies based in tax havens.

Property interests are less well covered, but itemised two months ago in Property Week:

 

Social Investigations reports that their research into Lords’ and MPs’ connections to private healthcare through the register of interests is complete.

Below are listed a few of the key findings. Research into the Health and Social Care bill is ongoing and more facts will be added as and when they arise.

  • 225 parliamentarians have recent or present financial private healthcare connections
  • 145 Lords have recent or present financial connections to companies or individuals involved in healthcare
  • 1 in 4 Conservative Peers have recent or present financial connections to companies or individuals involved in healthcare
  • 1 in 6 Labour Peers have recent or present financial connections to companies or individuals involved in healthcare
  • 1 in 6 Crossbench Peers have recent or present financial connections to companies or individuals involved in healthcare
  • 1 in 10 Liberal Democrat Peers have recent or present financial connections to companies or individuals involved in healthcare
  • 75 MPs have recent or present financial links to companies or individuals involved in private healthcare
  • 81% of these are  Conservative
  • 4 Key members of the Associate Parliamentary Health Group have parliamentarians with financial connections to companies or individuals involved in healthcare.

Endnote: a Times reader comments: “When I was growing up British MPs would sneer at the corrupt goings on by politicians from various pejoratively termed ‘banana republics’ and declare that such behaviour would never be tolerated in the UK. Well, it soon became obvious that this was nonsense and the issues outlined in this June article illustrate the frankly corrupt, hypocritical behaviour our British MPs have indulged in for decades, and the higher the office they occupied the more hypocritical the behaviour – proving time and again the accuracy of the saying that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

 

 

 

n

Advertisements

Keep Trident as a job creation scheme?

“Just get the catchphrases correct and the masses will nod along”; today –

A reader emails: “Today’s Times has several vituperative comments on Jeremy Corbyn – questioning his patriotism, etc., including an editorial on Trident after the Scottish Labour Party vote”.

nuclear buttonAs most will have heard, at a conference in Perth, Scottish Labour Party members and union delegates both voted by 70% to 30% to abandon plans to maintain a “massively expensive” and “militarily useless” submarine-launched ballistic Trident nuclear missile system.

The FT’s Mure Dickie reports (so much more objectively than the paper’s Corbyn-bashing Jim Pickard) that delegate Stephen Low said scrapping nuclear weapons would free money to be spent in more economically productive ways.

FT blog: the problem with UK politics, however, is not that people are too cynical but that they are too gullible

Though union delegates overall voted substantially to abandon Trident, Gary Smith of union GMB Scotland, played the fear card, saying that the idea that Trident jobs could be replaced is “utterly disingenuous” and that scrapping Trident renewal would threaten members far beyond Scotland’s Faslane and Coulport submarine and nuclear missile bases. Elsewhere an estimate of up to 13,000 jobs was given.

Politicians and other vested interests realise that – as FT lawyer/analyst David Allen Green says: “Our politics is beset and bedevilled by the phenomenon of mass nodding along. Just get the catchphrases correct, and you will get all the audience applause you need. The trick is saying the right things at the right time”.

*

Twice as many – up to 25,000 worthwhile, constructive jobs in Scunthorpe and North Lincolnshire are at risk as a result of in-plant losses at Tata Steel, it has been claimed – but apart from workers, unions and the current Labour Party, the fear of this far larger loss is not presented to the public as cause for concern by mainstream politicians and supportive media.

After reading my correspondent’s final words: “I suppose several people may well have lost their jobs after Hitler-Germany no longer built the gas-ovens”, two questions occurred to me:

Why have governments preferred to support and promote damaging nuclear and armaments industries?

And why not work to elect a government which will break the mould . . .?

See: Musing on the Trident issue – arms conversion: the transfer of resources from military to civil use.

Lucrative corporate-political-scientific alliance revealed, working in the nutrition/malnutrition sector

hnrc nutrition header

A British Medical Journal investigation has published findings that leading public health scientists working for the government-funded Human Nutrition Research (HNR) unit, who advise the government on nutrition, have received millions of pounds in research funding from food and drinks companies.

A total of almost £250,000 a year for the past decade has been given by companies including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Mars, and Nestlé.

So what’s new? Many scientists who advise the government have close links with interested nuclear, biotech, waste disposal, armaments and pharmaceutical companies.

revolving door peopleAnother case of the revolving door: Susan Jebb, a former HNR scientist is now chair of the food network for the government’s Public Health Responsibility Deal, lead or joint lead investigator on industry-funded research projects worth £1.37m between 2004 and 2015.

Last year it was reported that five of the eight members of the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), which advises Public Health England and other government agencies and departments on nutrition and related health issues SACN’s carbohydrates working group had advised or consulted for the food and drinks industry, including Coca-Cola and Mars.


Mars, PepsiCo, Nestlé and Coca-Cola declined to comment.

Media sources:

The Scotsman,

The Telegraph

The FT

Relevant site links:

http://www.bmj.com/content/350/bmj.h231

http://www.ncl.ac.uk/hnrc/people/profile/john.mathers