Blog Archives

India stops one carriage on the Gravy Train in its tracks

When will senior politicians in the British government decide to have an arms length relationship with currently close defence, banking, construction, pharmaceutical and bioscience corporates, stop rewarding failure, close the revolving door and begin to believe that – long term – honesty is the best policy?

gravy train

For years the name of Agusta Westland has surfaced in our database files.

Reuters now report that India, after terminated the 2010 contract for twelve AW101 helicopters, partly produced in Britain, has recovered 228 million euro bank guarantees. Allegations of bribery (detailed here) had emerged in Italy against executives at Finmeccanica’s helicopter unit, leading to the arrest of former Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland senior executives.

The revolving door between government and multinationals

revolving_doorA 2009 investigation by the Mail found that one in three civil servants who took up lucrative private sector jobs was working in the Ministry of Defence: “Last year 394 civil servants applied to sell their skills to the highest bidder – and 130 were MoD personnel.

ACOBA, the committee which vets such appointments, approved all the applications, although some carried conditions”.

The MoD handed a £1.7billion contract for helicopters to Finmeccanica who then appointed as chairman the department’s top civil servant, Sir Kevin Tebbit, who ran the MoD in 2005. Finmeccanica, owns AgustaWestland.

  • Three years ago this site recorded the award of a £1.7billion contract to former Cabinet minister Geoff Hoon, Defence Secretary who became AgustaWestland’s executive senior vice-president of international business.

Another reward for failure?

The Financial Times and so many others – recalled that Hoon left his position with NATO in 2010 after being filmed by Channel 4 Dispatches telling undercover journalists posing as representatives of a lobbying/PR company, that his experience as a minister would help ‘open doors’ for firms wanting to lobby government.

A comment on the Movement for the Abolition of War newsletter: “Ex-defence secretary Hoon, having ensured AW earned millions, is now working for them.”

In March this year, another appointment was highlighted by Exaro News, an online service which investigates issues that are important to both the business world and the public in general, but which are being inadequately covered – or ignored – by the mainstream media.

jackie callcut

jackie callcut text

Yesterday, a blog by David Hencke, an investigative journalist, pointed to an article by Exaro colleague David Pallister which reveals that proceedings investigating alleged corruption involving a middleman and another British businessman and Indian officials are continuing in India and Italy.

Squeaky clean – only ’foreigners’ involved?

cameron singh indiaDavid Cameron in 2013 visited India with 100 business and, as you can read here, praised Westland, saying that any corruption problems about the order were a matter for the Indians and the Italians;

“Britain has … some of the toughest laws in the world, so people know if they do business with British companies, they have protections.”

How odd that must have seemed to Indian listeners – as one of the people under investigation in the corruption scandal was British.

The Indian Parliament has recorded a request for more information and a written answer to MPs says: “MEA (ministry of external affairs) has also been requested to take up the matter with the government of the UK, as well as requesting its co-operation in verifying the allegations, and helping us by providing relevant information relating to the alleged involvement of a middleman and/or of any Indian individual/entity.”

Philip Hammond, the defence secretary, was asked what was happening by David Hencke at a press gallery lunch in Parliament. His reply was that he was “unaware of any request” and repeated the Cameron line (above).

British workers in Yeovil will suffer from various forms of corruption in the higher echelons

Hencke ends by adding the latest news reported by the Times of India, that India has been considering whether to blacklist the company – a decision currently ‘put on hold’. He points out that this arrogant attitude towards corruption – “only a problem for others” – might well have serious repercussions for British workers who assemble the helicopters in Yeovil.

 

Radical change? Long overdue

FT on the rise of populism in politics: Janan Ganesh doesn’t go to the heart of the matter

A promising start:

tony blairGanesh, “A spirit of anti-politics began permeating the country around the turn of the millennium when Tony Blair, the last politician the British allowed themselves to love, broke their hearts by turning out to be a prime minister and not a miracle worker.

“The disillusion intensified after the Iraq war, a work of naive over-ambition forever remembered as an act of heinous deceit. Then came the crash, the expenses scandal and much more immigration than voters were told to expect.

“Cynicism verging on nihilism is the closest thing modern Britain has to a national ideology. It has become common sense to assume the worst of anyone in public authority”.

Causal trends noted:

  • fragmentation of class loyalty,
  • wage stagnation and structural unemployment,
  • UKIP relies on older voters, of whom there are more and more.

Damage limitation?

Ganesh advises: “Mainstream politicians should remind populists that they do the hard work of politics: representing constituents, reconciling competing claims and taking an interest in dry corners of legislation that affect people’s lives. Most politics is necessary drudgery”.

The public has become aware of the truth

revolving door largerMany more people are now aware that political decisions are being made in the interests of wealthy corporates, not the electorate. This leads to the damaging decisions made in the economic, social, environmental and military sectors. The Political Concern website was set up to raise awareness of the ‘revolving door’, rewards for failure, widespread behind-the-scene lobbying and party funding which corruption the decision-making process here and abroad.

The latest example of the revolving door:

jackie callcut textjackie callcut text2

Until leading politicians really care for the ‘ordinary’ people, who elect and pay them to work for the common good, the spirit of anti-politics” will continue to “permeate” the country.

We need to build an anti-corruption movement – one did well in Delhi elections.