The plague of corruption

The Sunak cabinet. Wikimedia Commons

Richard Murphy has never been enamoured by corruption. His dislike of everything to do with it motivated the work he did on tax havens and the abuses that they permit. He has little more liking of corruption within government either. And it seems like we are plagued with it, again.

For those old enough to remember, what is happening now feels quite remarkably like a re-run of the dying years of John Major’s 1992 – 97 government. It matters not a jot if the PM is as clean as a whistle if those all around him are sleazy.

Sunak has every reason to be worried on this score, although his own fixed penalty notices hardly stand to his credit in terms of judgement. Those around him are worse.

Zahawi’s days are numbered. You can’t pay a tax penalty of more than a million whilst Chancellor and hope to survive in political office. He will be gone by Wednesday morning as Sunak will be unable to defend him at Questions to the PM.

But he is only a part of the story. Johnson’s excesses, and stories relating to the BBC’s chair are very unlikely to go away.

And his party is now proving notorious for having other MPs pursuing dubious or even alleged criminal activity, which activity appears to be too readily tolerated compared with most reactions from Labour when similar allegations arise (as they do).

On top of that though, Sunak also has the problem of the political corruption. Braverman is pursuing immigrants contrary to all the commitments to the Windrush generation. Kemi Badenoch supports her, too often.

And Jacob Rees-Mogg’s utterly foolish attempt to abolish 4,000 laws that will create chaos continues its passage through parliament, even though he is not in Cabinet any more, threatening mayhem in everything from environmental protection onwards.

That exposes the simple fact that Brexit has clearly failed: the whole raison d’être of this government has long gone, clearly having been a disaster, and yet it lingers on in office, clueless as to why and with the stench of the Covid era still hanging all around it.

And underpinning all this is the nagging feeling that some very rich donors are pulling the strings, aided by the fact that we never did see the report on Russian interference in elections, suggesting there might still be something to hide.

No wonder that the Tories are doing badly in the polls. What is staggering is that 20 per cent or more still plan to vote for them. Labour have little to say or offer, but right now they don’t stink of sleaze like the Tories do.

But, the question is, should things really get this bad before we can have changes of government in the UK? Isn’t that in itself some indication of how bad our politics and our political system is?

Sweeping the corruption-laden Tory party from office is important. But first-past-the-post and the whole rotten system of party politics we now have should go with it. An alternative can’t guarantee corruption-free politics, but it has to be better than this.

Originally tweeted by Richard Murphy (@RichardJMurphy) on 23/01/2023.