Labour were plunged into yet another ‘cash for access’ scandal after an undercover investigation carried out jointly by The Times and Channel 4’s Despatches programme revealed senior Labour MP’s offering to exert influence in return for money.
The investigation involved undercover interviews with 13 Labour MPs and seven Conservatives.
Former ministers Stephen Byers, Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt were interviewed by an undercover reporter posing as a company executive. The interviews show Byers apparently offering himself as a ‘cab for hire’ for £5000 a day. Hewitt and Hoon were each reported to have asked for £3000 per day
Stephen Byers is alleged to have claimed that he had already used his influence in order to change government policy by lobbying his cabinet colleagues.
The revelations will cause serious damage to Labour’s electoral hopes coming as they do in the wake of the expenses scandal that saw Labour politicians including Livingston MP Jim Devine face theft charges.
It also piles pressure onto the already beleaguered Scottish wing who are facing their own crisis as a result of the Steven Purcell scandal and the resultant controversy over Glasgow council contracts and donations to Labour.
Commenting, Angus MacNeil, the SNP MP who uncovered the cash for honour scandal said:
“At the forthcoming election, voters across Scotland will have a straight choice between SNP candidates who will champion local causes and Labour politicians who are out for what they can get.
“The Westminster Parliament has been left totally discredited – from cash for honours, to the expenses scandal and now cash for access Labour, have presided over the deep decline in standards that has left voters disenfranchised and disheartened with politics.
“If the people want to regain control of parliament at this election, it is essential they don’t just elect another Labour or Tory politician but vote for a local champion.
“MPs selling access on their way out of the door encapsulates the disgraceful attitude of the metropolitan parties toward the people they represent.
“For decades Labour MPs have been serving themselves instead of serving the people. MPs should be putting their constituents first – not their own business interests.”