Labour sleaze: cabs for hire

While the opportunist left peddles the illusion that the Labour Party has some connection with the working class, Labour MPs have at every opportunity shown otherwise. Throughout the last 13 years, while relentlessly persecuting the working class, they have shared the same avaricious lifestyles as the rich they so admire, taking favours from millionaires, milking their expenses and lining up lucrative jobs for themselves. Their greed has exposed Parliament for what it is: a cabal of those on the make and the take, a den of corruption, of greased palms, fraud and deceit, and a stepping stone to even greater fortunes.

While regularly denouncing the ‘benefit fraud’ of the poor, Labour MPs have maximised their income through the parliamentary expenses system which could give them over £150,000 per annum on top of their £64,000 salaries. Many made fraudulent claims for a second home allowance of £24,000 per annum, including:

• Home Secretary Jacqui Smith (while she was living with her sister);

• Employment Minister Tony McNulty (for his parents’ home);

• Hazel Blears (for three different properties in a single year).

A succession of Labour ministers has had to resign for doing favours for themselves and others:

• Multi-millionaire Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson resigned in 1998 after making an undeclared loan to Labour Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Mandelson for his luxury London home. Mandelson also resigned.

• Mandelson then resigned a second time in 1999 after trying to hide his role in helping the millionaire Hinduja brothers to gain British passports.

• In 2005, the vindictively self-righteous David Blunkett had to leave the government twice for lying and deception.

• Shahid Malik (Justice Minister) and Jacqui Smith had to resign in 2009 after their fraudulent expenses claims were revealed.

The Labour government has been more than happy to dish out favours to its supporters. Both Lord Gavron and Lord Drayson donated £500,000 when they got their peerages. Labour donors Dr Chris Evans, David Brown of Motorola and Ronald Cohen of Apax Partners were all knighted. Vice-President of the Formula One Association Bernie Ecclestone donated £1m to the Labour Party at the beginning of 1997. A few months later, Formula One motor racing was the one sport exempt from a bill banning tobacco advertising and sponsorship in sport.

In 2006 Tony Blair, backed by Jack Straw, now Justice Minister, forced the Serious Fraud Office to drop criminal investigations into BAE’s bribes to prominent Saudis when it won the £43bn Al Yamamah weapons deal with Saudi Arabia. In February 2010 the company was found guilty of false accounting in this and other deals with the Czech Republic, Tanzania and Romania, but not of bribery. The fine of £285m was a small slap on the wrist for being found out.

In return, Labour MPs, and especially former ministers, have expected rewards for service rendered to big business. David Blunkett received £150,000 ‘other remuneration’ in 2007; Charles Clark £50,000 from three directorships. Among 11 other former Labour ministers finding lucrative jobs in the private sector at the beginning of 2008 were former Health Secretaries Patricia Hewitt (£25-30,000 per year from Boots) and Alan Milburn, (£30,000 per year from Lloydspharmacy Healthcare). Former minister Stephen Byers described himself on Channel 4 Dispatches as a ‘cab for hire’ – for up to £5,000 a day; Hewitt and former Defence Minister Hoon pitched their stalls more modestly at £3,000 a day – roughly what someone on JSA would get in a year.

Top of the list is Tony Blair: since resigning as Prime Minister in July 2007 he has made £20m. He controls 14 different companies and foundations as well as serving as an adviser to JPMorgan Bank and Zurich Financial. In March it was revealed that he had kept secret a deal advising UI Energy Corporation, which was given oil drilling rights in Iraq, as well as a £1m deal advising the Kuwaiti royal family.

Some working class party!

FRFI 214 April / May 2010