Category Archives: Corruption

Politics and Business Merge

Many people will be aware of the corrupting influence of Big Business on our government, but this is now being taken to a new level with the latest trend for party leaders to hire corporate gurus to run their election campaigns. It was Tony Blair who introduced the whole idea of ‘spin’, assisted by his henchman Alastair Campbell, but at least Alastair Campbell had a genuine interest in the Labour Party, and a genuine belief in its policies. Now party leaders hire professional lobbyists and PR consultants, who will work for whoever pays them the most, whose only loyalty is to themselves, and who invariably use their new-found political influence to alter legislation for the benefit of  their corporate clients.

So we have David Cameron hiring Lynton Crosby, a £500,000/year consultant from Australia who has been called the “master of the dark political arts”. Shortly after his arrival at No. 10 David Cameron dropped plans for minimum pricing on alcohol, opted against plain packaging on cigarettes, and gave tax breaks to fracking companies.* The fact that Lynton Crosby’s consultancy counts Distillers (alcohol), Phillip Morris (tobacco),  and Dart Energy (fracking) amongst its corporate clients, left many people gasping with incredulity. He also has business interests in the Healthcare Industry just as the Tories are pushing ahead with privatising the NHS. Co-incidence?

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David Axelrod, who worked for Barack Obama before being hired by Ed Milliband. Picture © The White House

Not to be outdone, this week Ed Milliband announced he was hiring American David Axelrod (who previously worked for Barack Obama), as his election adviser, on a six-figure salary. Mr Axelrod is notorious for an advertising campaign he ran in the United States, where it was claimed consumers and small businesses were lobbying for energy companies to be allowed to charge higher prices, in order to guarantee energy security. It later turned out the ‘consumers’ were none other than the energy companies themselves, who conceived the advertising as a way to persuade the public to pay more. Despite widespread condemnation, Mr Axelrod’s company, ASK Public Strategies,  benefited to the tune of £8m from that dishonest campaign.*

And finally the Lib-Dems, where Nick Clegg has hired South African political strategist Ryan Coetzee as his £110,000/year special adviser. As well as causing controversy by being paid with taxpayers‘ money, Mr Coetzee has also been accused of improperly awarding commercial contracts while carrying out a similar role for the government in South Africa*. One South African source said that Mr Coetzee ‘specialises in blurring the lines between political work, civil service work and commercial work.’

What all these appointments signify is a trend away from any attempt at government for the people, with policies for the common good, but instead show new heights of corruption of the democratic process. And it is absolutely clear that unless we all do something very soon, the takeover of our democracy by corporate interests will be complete, and ordinary people will be little better than slaves in a world ruled exclusively by money and big business.

*Refs:  Lynton Crosby: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/lobbying-scandal-ex-watchdog-tells-david-2100461 David Axelrod: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2608117/Labour-hires-Obama-spin-chief-backed-higher-energy-bills-Axelrod-led-campaign-behalf-power-giants.html Ryan Coetzee: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2608707/Cronyism-probe-Nick-Cleggs-controversial-election-strategists-role-4million-deal.html

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Ukrainian Hypocrisy

Whatever the rights or wrongs of recent protests and military intervention in Ukraine and The Crimea, one thing that is becoming clear is that Western Financial Institutions have been heavily involved with all sides from the start – supporting corruption, raking in money, and pursuing profit for themselves with no care for either the lives of ordinary people, or the dangerously de-stabilising effects on the region.

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Yanukovych: As corrupt as they come, but couldn’t have done it without Western help.
Picture © premier.gov.ru

Ostensibly the main reason for the overthrow of Yanukovych was his massive corruption and theft of billions of dollars from the Ukrainian state ($70bn is estimated to have gone missing over the last 3 years, leaving Ukraine virtually bankrupt). These allegations were borne out by subsequent investigations, with even Putin stating that Yanukovych’s corruption was unacceptable. Western governments of course condemned Yanukovych, supported his overthrow, and consequently put themselves on a collision course with Putin’s Russia. However the hypocrisy of this is that it was Western Financial Institutions who facilitated Yanukovych’s corruption in the first place. For example it now transpires that his mansion, so shocking to ordinary Ukrainian people in its grandeur, was in fact one third owned by a UK shell company (ie a company whose true owners remain anonymous) and two thirds owned by an Austrian Bank (again the beneficial ownership being unknown). Further investigations of the paper trail of Ukraine’s missing billions leads to financial operations in various notorious tax havens including the British Virgin Islands, the Dutch Antilles, Liechtenstein, Panama, Austria, and of course, and not surprisingly, the City of London.*

So on the one hand we condemn Ukrainian corruption, while on the other hand it is our own Financial Institutions who facilitate and benefit from it. (This is a story being played out the world over, with every corrupt tyrant knowing their stolen money is safe with us.)

Now the world teeters on the brink of a cold war, or even a shooting war, while the financiers are still pulling all the strings and making sure they benefit no matter who wins. Recent discussions on sanctions against Russia were shown in their true light, when an official was filmed going into a government meeting with a document saying that no measures should be taken which would ‘close London’s Financial Centre to Russians.’ With over 50% of Tory party funding coming from the City of London it’s clear who’s setting policy here.

Yanukovych was bad, Putin’s Russia is corrupt and violent, but as long as our leaders continue to play a double-game, putting their own financial ambitions ahead of everything else, nothing will change, the world will remain dangerous, and it is ordinary people, in all countries, who will continue to pay the price.

* http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/exclusive-ukrainian-assets-owned-or-used-by-ousted-president-viktor-yanukovych-hidden-behind-trail-of-firms-with-links-to-uk-9161504.html

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