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Friday, 23 February 2018

The stench of filth at the heart of government

Over my career I've been offered just about every reward and inducement you can imagine. As the bloke leading the contract award team and the bloke signing-off contractors claims and stage payments, and a lot of the time the bloke leading the design team as well, I am a natural target. Apart from end-of-job boozeups (at which I always contribute to the pot) I've turned them all down. One poor sod charged by his board with 'grooming' me grew desperate after I'd turned down Wimbledon, a hired superyacht, a table at the Cafe Royal and a tank driving weekend and asked me outright what it would take. "Your firm making the most advantageous bid to my principal" was my frustrating answer. I'm not a Puritan, it's just far easier to sleep at night if you're dead straight. Plus you get a reputation, and employers know they can trust you with their millions. 

I guess many of you feel fine about both taking advantage of such offers and properly representing your own side; I've been told many times that such things are just part of the mutual perks of business, just oiling the relationship. For others working in the private sector this may be true - I can only say I can't work with it. 

When of course those gifts, inducements and rewards are made to planners, government officials, elected ministers and those charged with stewardship of the public purse, I'm sure my view should prevail; there should be a zero tolerance of such things. This is not now the case. All that's required is that the recipient of such largesse declare it on a public register. Simon Jenkins in the Guardian exposes the threat to national probity of such corruption;
" ... the hospitality showered on (Westminster Council's Planning) committee’s chairman for 16 years, the amiable Robert Davis, was breathtaking. Five-hundred freebies, including 10 foreign trips, in just three years. At least 150 of these were from a who’s who list of property industry figures. Even Harvey Weinstein is on the list. Entertaining Davis was clearly a Westminster cottage industry. He can hardly have had time to down one glass of champagne before raising another.

The NHS is awash in inducements to doctors to prescribe branded medicines. Arms company boards are stuffed with generals. The banks that fund private finance initiatives keep the Whitehall doors revolving. Declarations of interest by members of the House of Lords read like a lobbyists’ congregation. It clearly pays companies to lobby. The irony is that it was David Cameron who made great play of curbing this in his Lobbying Act. It was, he said, “the next big scandal waiting to happen”. Yet the only scandal was how the act was watered down, and how Cameron’s transparency register for lobbyists was lobbied to oblivion."
Yep for the dilettante Eton-boy Cameron his chums always came first and controlling lobbying went the same way as Localism and all the rest of his early lies. If Blair is the father of fake news and unjust war, Cameron is the father of nepotism, cronyism and corruption. An honour for his hairdresser was a final finger thrust in the air at the rest of us. 

Lobbying carries the stench of filth into the heart of our democratic processes, feeding on the avarice, rapacity and vanity of weak and credulous people in public office. It leaves both the giver and taker beshitten. It must be ended. 


DeeDee99 said...

If you think it's bad in the UK, imagine the scale in the Berlaymont, where they don't even have to pretend to be accountable to taxpayers.

jack ketch said...

'normal' lobbying smells bad enough but the ones who really stink are those 'charities' whom government pays to lobby themselves...I'm thinking of fASH of course but there are others.

rapscallion said...

Regrettably it's the nature of the beast Radders. Being naturally competitive, humans will do what they feel is necessary to gain any advantage.
It's wrong you understand, but the trick I suppose is to avoid being tainted by it. As you say, "it's fair easier to sleep at night if you're dead straight" Our Government's of whatever flavour have always had a touch of corruption and nepotism, you only have to look at the Lords to see that, and to think that we had a "Golden Era" is mistaken. Even Henry VIII's court were practising backhanders.

As DeeDee99 rightly pointed out, if it's bad here, how rampant it must be in the belly of the beast that is Brussels? I shudder to think!

Anonymous said...

It's been going on forever. One of the most egregious in my experience was that old blind sweetie David Blunkett.

While he was trying to push Identity cards through the UK parliament, his guide dog had coincidently let him to a relationship with Entrust, the American IT security corporation.

There was probably nothing there though.

Anonymous said...

Also there are the 'perks of the job', the people who always claimed for the newspapers that they never read and the emergency toileteries that they never needed.

Presumably at one time it was possible for a humble civil servant to be posted to India or Hong Kong so an allowance would be paid to obtain a passport. Move forward a hundred years when 'everyone' has a passport, the office-bound junior staff buy their own while their bosses claim the allowance. At one time these self-same bosses could fly to the USA 'on business' and claim the air-miles. Business complete they would take leave, then don the business hat to return home. Later on the accumulated air-miles provided a nice little European trip for self and spouse. One other advantage of these tax-payer funded trips was that they missed out on the grumblings of the stuck-at-home junior staff.

Anonymous said...

Add to your list, Raedwald, the need to tell the truth. That isn't so much a matter of sleeping easily, but of never being in the position of forgetting which lie you told.

I worked in a former Poly now Uni, and eventually, the HR Director came up with rules on receiving gifts. Apparently, they forbade us to receive anything from a supplier of goods or services. I queried this as students are neither, and was told (I kid you not) that gifts from students were fine! If asked what I wanted, I always asked for a postcard or interesting photo from their home country, but was OK about some valueless tourist trinket that added to the general clutter in my office.

However, after a student had left for several years, I no longer felt that I was bound by my own ethical strictures, but I still prefer a nice message via e mail or a postcard.

Ravenscar. said...

Don't the lobbyists lets call 'em big business make the laws in Strasbourg and Luxembourg thus, what chance for the individual, the little guy, the honest man?

Creaming the public, that's what they do, building the slush funds of the conglomerate cartels is unbounded, awash with money, they can buy who they like and a file of the dirty stuff - just in case. Now throw in massive profits of Amazon, google et al and they just buy up the opposition and politicians to boot.

That's how the EU works, this pestilence has spilled over into the UK and pride in your work gone up the spout, just like honesty and truth.

Dishonesty, on the take, the Chinese call it 'fragrant grease' is a disease, it is the west's cancer and the body is riddled, and only fit to drop.

Our enemies sense it, smell it the reek of decay, the stench of rotting edifices, institutions, governments, the people are being undone, the nation state destroyed because: bigger = the vanishing of accountability.

Our enemies see this and laugh, laugh hard and laugh loud in mocking paroxysms.

Ed P said...

It used to happen in my company, usually near Xmas. When the salesmen were told all "gifts" would become prizes in the Xmas charity raffle, the bribes petered out.

right-writes said...

I think that we can learn from other countries about how to keep corruption, which is a natural instinct, to a minimum.

The idea that money should be a nationalised commodity is anathema to good practice, so when President Wilson hat tipped that act through under cover of democratic darkness on Christmas eve in 1913, the world should have been wary. Money is not a thing in itself, it is and should always be a means to an end. The blockchain is such a great idea, since it cuts out the middleman... Note that one by one the banks are trying to scupper that market. WE HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Here's a good idea: The Magna Carta, a great idea in itself, which led to the the US Constitution.... Popes and politicians in and out of frocks, those naturally easy targets for villainous debasers, like bankers and insurance men, immediately tried to annul the first, and have been steadily attempting to water down the second ever since its inspired inception. WE HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Here's another: Sir John Cowperthwaite, who was promoted by the unwitting British government to be the financial secretary of almost bankrupt Hong Kong, decided that there is only one necessary social service, which is to ensure that every citizen has a place to keep his shit, however meek that abode be. Other than that there should be no administrative government, except to keep the peace, 15% overall tax, anything more is too much.

Lastly, whoever invented "limited liability" should be ashamed, all trade arrangements should have unlimited liability... People that want to take a risk, whether alone or in partnership, should stand or fall by that.

Put those things together and you wouldn't need your kind of honesty Raedwald, the opportunity for grift just wouldn't exist.

English Pensioner said...

The building industry seems the worse. As a very junior engineer I was on a site one day and took the opportunity of discussing with the building foreman the type and depth of concrete that I'd need for the drive I was building at home. To me a perfectly innocent question, but my boss heard it and later said it wasn't very wise to ask for such information, it might be taken as a hint and I could find a load of Readymix concrete arriving one day. I never forgot.

Budgie said...

There are, roughly, three types of regulation in the EU: laws which promote the power of the EU; laws which suit the crony-capitalist corporations based in the EU (almost fascism); real regulations based on scientific principles (often imported from outside sources such as the UN).

All three carry the stench of corruption, but especially the first two. That is one of the main reasons we must leave the EU completely. Inside we can't stop it, and we can't clean it. Out of the EU we are less tainted by the fascist/corrupt nexus, and may have a chance of cleaning up our own government.

Doug Shoulders said...

One of the reasons why most companies with a modicum of integrity want to leave the EU so that they can operate on a level playing field.
To those companies that gain succor from the EU their noses must remain at the trough.

Poisonedchalice said...

I hate lobbying, especially from charities. It ruins the probity of everything it touches.

Anonymous said...

Raedwald said:

'Lobbying carries the stench of filth into the heart of our democratic processes, feeding on the avarice, rapacity and vanity of weak and credulous people in public office. It leaves both the giver and taker beshitten. It must be ended.'

Lobby comes from the Latin lobia, 'covered walk', and labia is the Latin for 'lip'. Just one letter changing the meaning - or in this case describes the where and the who.


Steven_L said...

Funny this, at the front end of local government we're told accepting anything worth more than a tenner from service users is bribery, gross misconduct and a criminal offence.

Raedwald said...

Steven_L - Ah, like sacking the binmen for accepting a Christmas box. Yes, I see the irony.

When I was working on 2012 Olympics infrastructure the troughers with the biggest snouts were always the leaders / mayors / chief executives of GLA / London councils - they downed champagne by the bucketful and were distinctly annoyed if they had to leave a 'presentation' without an expensive goody bag. Greedy liggers, the entire lot.

Cascadian said...

"When I was working on 2012 Olympics infrastructure the troughers with the biggest snouts were always the leaders / mayors / chief executives of GLA / London councils" tell, I am sure Newham/GLA residents past and present would be interested.

Of course why would any racket run by Tessa Jowell be expected to improve the poorest borough in London. All those expensive sport facilities and still the yoof prefer knife crime. 9,000,000,000 quid invested plus or minus a few hundred millions and still a shit-hole.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Raedwald said...

Anon - Folk who post on here can expect their privacy to be respected if they wish.

John Brown said...

I think this post is describing the “swamp” as Mr. Trump calls it, and why representative democracy is failing.

The only way to beat the swamp is through a referendum as was shown by the EU referendum overcoming the PM, the Chancellor, the majority of MPs, the EU funded CBI and BBC and a myriad other organisations, the corporates, the bankers, the financiers, the hedge funds, the IMF, the wealthy elites etc. etc.

Although I was no admirer of Mr. Cameron at least he did allow the EU referendum which allowed the people to make the decision and not our unrepresentative elites/establishment.

A similar situation exists in the US over gun control legislation.

Polling shows there is a majority of US citizens who would accept some sort of gun control but neither Democrat nor Republican governments are able to curb gun ownership because so many politicians are in the pay of the Gun Lobby and the US, like the UK, has a representative form of democracy.

A single issue party needs to be created in the US which campaigns solely for stricter gun control and for a referendum to be held on the issue.

If indeed this is very popular then this party will start to win elections or have a significant rating in the polls and at which point it will force either of the main parties to offer the country a referendum.

Anonymous said...

The people haven't won the Brexit referendum until it actually happens. The Remainers are very determined to block Brexit at all costs, and there is a lot of money involved.

As for the ease with which Mayors etc can be bribed, is it the case that people who spent their childhoods in poverty and have fought their way into positions of power are the most easily corrupted ?

Don Cox

Michael said...

The advent of 'networking' did something for contact with buyers/suppliers.

Back in the early nineties, my job was to get business in development and construction, for a project management firm.

I found it very difficult at first, as some of the clients I would want to talk to were ex-army WW2 vets etc, and I was a small chip.

Luckily, builders and I began to form a creative mass of information, and contact, and 'networking' began to arrive, with 'Placemakers' and 'Movers and Shakers'!

I actually started The Doyle Club, and it now has a couple of thousand members who all badger each other for business! And why not?

I don't remember anyone trying to bribe, except for several bottles of Rioja in Finos, where I'd pay half anyway!