Another media ‘sting’ and the banality of sleaze

Westminster MPs voted against the Assisted Dying Bill for England and Wales today. The Scottish Parliament rejected a similar move last May.

By Derek Bateman

The greed is so casual in the British parliamentary system that they’ve stopped noticing it. The title Member of Parliament is a meal ticket to a free buffet – eat as much as you want and then come back again and again.

Derek face left
Derek Bateman

Even at the height of the referendum Alistair Darling, while receiving an MP’s salary and expenses, was touring the corporate fleshpots earning £10,000 for a speech, earning, it’s estimated, a quarter of a million in the two-year campaign. Better Together? You bet.

The indignation of the once-fine Scottish Tory MP Malcolm Rifkind when confronted with his own thirst for business on Radio Four was epic. “They approached me…” he screeched, as if entering talks with a hiring client was an innocent pursuit.

He wasn’t offering information that wasn’t already in the public domain. Really? So why would they pay thousands for a day’s ‘work?’

He wasn’t paid a salary, he was self-employed so he could do what he wanted. Oops. He had to admit getting that one wrong. The taxpayer very definitely does pay him a salary – of £67,000, two and a half times the average wage – but what he meant was that it was too small to really count.

“That’s not a professional salary,” he said to the presenter in the certain knowledge that the BBC man will earn probably three times an MP’s income plus a fortune in outside speaking engagements. It means that the presenter is even part of the problem. He knows he can’t bark at Rifkind: “Are you saying £67,000 isn’t enough to live on?” and he also knows he is earning £10,000 a speech on the after dinner circuit so his own position is compromised.

Here you have the British elite dancing around each other with feign and parry in the ceremonial tableau of failed accountability. Why is Rifkind in Parliament?

Who does he represent? What is the basis of his contract with the people? What comes first in his priorities?
He can say what he likes. He has six City directorship despite criticism of a possible conflict of interest. He has agreed to become non-executive chairman of ArmorGroup, which is the biggest private security company currently working in Iraq and coincidentally, he is also chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee at Westminster which monitors the security services…But there is no conflict of interest.

He is so used to schmoozing with those who grease his palms that he doesn’t accept he can’t differentiate between his roles on behalf of people and or of private interests.

The real insight isn’t that he’s greedy but that he tells us 200 other MPs are paid by outside interests as if to say: ‘It isn’t only me…so that makes it alright.’

Jack Straw, the man who wants a law to stop the Scots getting independence (mentioned AFTER the referendum vote) is the same politician who must have known about rendition flights and torture and will be awaiting Chilcott with apprehension. He now joins the queue of sanctimonious Labour skeletons using the River Thames club as a business base. He shows you don’t have to send old socialists to the Lords to reveal their lack of principle – just offer them cash. Good old, sad old, Labour.

And remember both these high-flying, respected and principled British politicians were so gullible they were suckered by the oldest con trick in the investigative book. Time after time and even after the expenses storm and extra scrutiny, the corruption keeps leeching through. They were, ultimately, just numpties with their hand out.

Does anybody still think Westminster can be cleaned up?