Monday, 22 March 2010

They Think It's All Over.....

Oh, how naive of us to believe that dodgy expenses was the full extent of Political trough-snouting.

No one seems to realise that Politics is the ultimate game of sales - how else can a former PM be suddenly worth an accumulated £20m in just 3 years whilst being a Middle East Envoy. I mean, think about it - it's all about selling your rolodex of contacts, it's all about telling people that you can get things done - why else would someone like Blair be useful to Insurance Companies?

And we thought the Hamiltons' were sleazy. Just look at the crop we have now, not emptying mini bars anymore, the going rate for the likes of Byers and Hewitt, allegedly, is between £3,000 and £5,000 per day. Yes, that's per day.

It puts fiddling expenses into it's correct perspective - it's all just part of the way of making money.

By sheer coincidence I had lunch with a couple of people who are employed in the Lobby Industry and they had no idea this story was about to break. They talked about only the bit of the industry which they see - the endless stream of 'freebies' which MPs regularly and repeatedly partake of which royally look after their holidays and make their schedules less stressful. They believed it was right on the edge, and in some cases, well beyond the boundaries of 'influencing opinion'. The latest revelations remind me of the famous case of John Prescott being taken across the US by private jet and lauded at a ranch owned by the CEO of the lottery co-bidder, who gave him the infamous cowboy suit. Soon after, the same company landed the rights to run the lottery as part of the Camelot consortium and have remained at the heart of the biggest and easiest money making scheme since it's start in 1995.

My lobbyist friends believe that there is growing fear in Westminster and Brussels that there will be a hung Parliament causing at minimum financial inertia where no one can get things agreed and done. They said there is also a growing belief that over half the sitting MPs will lose their seats and be replaced by a new batch of wannabe MPs - the biggest churn of Politicians in ages. It would be a great thing if it happened and we got rid of the stagnant thinking, populist policies and cynical abuse of the system but I think it's naive to think so.

I agree that a huge number of people are really upset about the expenses thing and will clearly be angered about the lobbying scandal too. The belief that constituencies will vote as they should, about the individual candidate, is likely to occur in the extreme situations like Luton South or Bracknell but politicians have thick skins and voters have short memories with a limited capacity to reason. In many areas, the local MP could commit murder but the locals would still vote by Party while many will just look at the value of their staples like beer and fags and vote accordingly.

This year is unusual. We have a sitting Inquiry into the steps that led to a war that cost us billions, led to unnecessary loss of life and has stoked up the rattler's nest of fanaticism to endanger us more. The sitting PM has already admitted he has lied to the Inquiry - God knows that others have. Our economy, that we were led to believe was impregnable, has suffered a worse recession than any of its rich counterparts and our GDP is now lower than that of Italy's. We have a spiralling budget deficit and no plan to tackle it; we have the prospect of more taxes and yet we are already the most taxed British citizens of all time.

The fact we haven't voiced our discord to date is testament that we will revert to type at the General Election. It may get close but the sweet talk of the likes of Mandelson will likely win the day. And before you think I'm too biased, I predict the likes of Nadine Dorries will somehow get voted back in and what about Julie McBride?

It comes to something when we trust the likes of a twice disgraced MP.

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