Friday, 12 February 2010

Cameron's buddy finds a new trough already

As I said when starting this blog I am really disillusioned with politics at the mo. I've been actively involved since the 1974 elections and never been this cheesed off. One of the things that is really winding me up is the hypocrisy of Cameron and the Tories on so many fronts, as I first mentioned on the expenses post. I live in Surrey so the Labour party are an irrelevance to me here under our "first past the post" electoral system. They came 5th in the County elections last May behind UKIP and the Residents' Associations. For me the Tory party monopoly on power is destructive and I am convinced that they are pretty much unchanged from their slash and burn roots (see Surrey County Council new budget).

A great example of this is the career of Cameron's chum and No 3 in the expenses hit parade, Andrew Mackay. He has just announced he is to become a lobbyist. This from the Guardian.

Well, the disgraced Conservative MP Andrew MacKay has come up with a new twist on the practice – skipping out the government service stage and jumping straight to the corporate payoff. He has announced that he is to join the lobbying arm of the global PR agency, Burson-Marsteller after the general election. He will go from his role for the opposition – first as shadow Northern Ireland secretary, then in David Cameron's inner circle – to that of lobbyist without serving so much as a day in between as a minister.
This reflects badly, first, on MacKay himself. Not only was he forced to pay back £31,193 in expenses, after he and his wife, also a Tory MP, claimed second home allowances for two different properties, thereby paying for neither out of their own pocket, but he is not even prepared to leave a decent interval before selling his Rolodex, offering corporate clients an inside track to what he (and they) presume is the next government.
But it is Cameron who has the greatest grounds for embarrassment. News of MacKay's new job came in the very week when the Conservative leader launched an attack on – you guessed it – lobbying and lobbyists.
Cameron said the trade in access and influence had "tainted our politics for too long", and that it "exposes the far-too-cosy relationship between politics, government, business and money ... we all know how it works. The lunches, the hospitality, the quiet word in your ear, the ex-ministers and ex-advisers for hire, helping big business find the right way to get its way."
In words he must now regret, Cameron laid it on thick: "In this party, we believe in competition, not cronyism. We believe in market economics, not crony capitalism. So we must be the party that sorts all this out."
Clearly, MacKay's move leaves that – and Cameron's proposed two-year waiting period before ex-ministers can start lobbying – sounding pretty hollow. Put simply, it makes the Tories look like hypocrites.
But the damage goes deeper. It reminds voters that, for all the air-brushing, Cameron remains a creature of the very corporate elites that, in the era of the financial crisis, are now so distrusted.
Recently the Conservative leader boasted that he had the City in his blood, that his father, grandfather and great-grandfather were all stockbrokers. A survey found that at least 50 Tory MPs due to serve in the next parliament have either worked in the City or the financial services industry. It's not easy to square that with the message the Tories claimed so loudly at their last conference: "We're all in this together."

Hypocrisy indeed. No doubt there will be apologists out there who ask what is poor Dave to do? Well if he really means what he says he could say that neither the Tory party or any incoming Tory administration will have anything to do with any lobbyists who have been front benchers of any party! He won't of course. Lets be honest there is only one reason these guys are employing him and that is beacause he has an in to Dave and co.
Its this sort of crap, and there is so much of it I will be able to blog from now until election day, that is disillusioning voters. As you say Dave, "time for a change".

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