After being stung in the latest Cash for Access ‘scandal’ at Westminster that’s been making all the headlines, Jack Straw has said he had fallen into a “very skilful trap” while Sir Malcolm Rifkind said his comments had been “silly”.
Silly is when you pour coffee down your front, run out of the petrol on the M74 or forget your packed lunch. Silly isn’t scrabbling like a political whore for £5k or selling your democracy to the highest bidder. It’s venal, deceitful or corrupt, not silly.
The veteran Tory grandee is said to have claimed that he could arrange “useful access” to every British ambassador in the world, while Labour’s former foreign secretary Jack Straw boasted of operating “under the radar” to use his influence to change European Union rules.
Almost worst than the incident is the blank denial that both people have made when caught.
We know they have no integrity but do they really have no shame?
You might think that MPs were a bit powerless in the face of the government machine and the trappings of power, you might think that they were a bit useless against the might of real power and big business, but you always figured they were sort of there for you, doing a full-time job, even at a salary vastly above the national average? Apparently not.
Jack Straw still insists he has done nothing wrong arguing he acted with integrity throughout his long career, as if he wants a Blue Peter Badge for it. This may be true – if presumably – you set aside the small matter of the Iraq war and that whole embarrassing Chilcot Inquiry.
Playing catchup with the story 24 hours-on the Tories have finally capitulated, reacting to the scandal, David Cameron saying: “These are very serious matters and we have very clear rules in this country.”
Indeed. Late in the day the Tories have finally withdrawn the whip from Rifkind.
Today the Financial Times, with seemingly no sense of irony after the HSBC fiasco and chief executive Stuart Gulliver‘s role (you might remember the charming Stuart from here ‘HSBC boss makes ‘capital flight’ claim’) – claims ‘City fears new bank liability rules will deter best people’.
Rifkind thinks the same, mewing: ‘If you’re trying to attract people of a business or professional background (who else would we be ‘trying to attract’?! – Ed) – to serve in the House of Commons it is quite unrealistic to believe they will go through their parliamentary career being able to simply accept a salary of £60k’.
The average UK salary is £26,500.
The code is simple – to get the best people we must pay them the going rate. For the best read people like us, with our interests, of our class, with our expectations. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, bankers and politicians think there adding a grand job.
As an aside – Tom Watson is quite right to say that there’s a difference in severity in that Rifkind – as Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) is in a far more vulnerable position.
Both are huge figures in their respective parties. These aren’t some minor rogue MPs. What we face now is a self-fulfilling prophecy. This article is hard to write just because it’s so routine now it’s hard to even be upset with this level of corruption for which Westminster has become a byword.
But the prophecy is this, to complain about it we will be branded part of an ‘anti-politics’, a fringe beyond the pale. So low is the bar of expectation that the individuals think they have done no wrong. There is no sense of service, of integrity, no commitment to their constituents. They assert a right to ‘earn’ as much as people in their perceived level in society. The ‘best people’. Such is the lack of perspective in the closed world of British politics.
The sense of entitlement is breathtaking.
What a pathetic indictment of a failed politics.