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From The Socialist newspaper, 1 July 2020

Capitalism and corruption go hand in hand

Parliament, photo Maurice/CC

Parliament, photo Maurice/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Dave Carr, East London Socialist party

Can a leopard change its spots? Can a Tory MP stop taking cash for favours?

Not if allegations against government housing secretary Robert Jenrick prove correct.

Jenrick approved a planning decision in January, overruling inspectors, to allow former Daily Express magnate Richard Desmond to build 1,500 luxury homes on an old print works site in east London.

The timing of the decision avoided a surcharge (Community Infrastructure Levy) being imposed by Tower Hamlets council. 12 days later Desmond bunged the Tory party 12,000 - a paltry sum from a billionaire who had just dodged paying 40 million.

Thank you

In an apparent thank you email, Desmond told Jenrick: "We appreciate the speed as we don't want to give Marxists a load of doe [sic] for nothing!" A bizarre description of cuts-making Tower Hamlets Labour council.

In a later twist to the story, Desmond claimed that Labour's London Mayor Sadiq Khan had earlier promised to fast track the development if Desmond agreed to 35% affordable housing.

And it has been reported that back in 2010, Boris Johnson, when London Mayor, was initially approached by Desmond about obtaining planning permission - "without spending loads of money" - at the east London site. Apparently, Johnson obliged.

Jenrick, of course, has denied impropriety and has refused to resign. The Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill (who in a behind the scenes run-in with Boris Johnson's eminence grise, Dominic Cummings, has now 'stood down') dismissed Labour's call for an inquiry, and Boris Johnson considers the matter "closed". But instead of campaigning for Jenrick's removal, Labour leader Keir Starmer sacked his shadow education spokesperson Rebecca Long-Bailey, and agreed to Johnson's call to support the premature opening of schools.

Meanwhile, it's also been revealed that Jenrick, when exchequer secretary, had met with 'family friend' Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer, who was lobbying for government support for his ailing mining company. Ofer later donated 10,000 to the Tory party.

But Jenrick's reportedly dodgy dealings are not unique. Health secretary Matt Hancock too has 'questions to answer' after intervening on behalf of Tory party donors to block a housing development near Newmarket racecourse in his constituency.

Scandal after scandal

None of this comes as a surprise. Readers may remember the 'cash-for-questions' political scandal of the 1990s involving Tory MPs, and the 'cash for influence' scandals involving Labour peers and Labour MPs in 2009 and 2010, as well as the 2007 'cash for honours' scandal involving Tony Blair. And not forgetting of course the cross-party MPs 'expenses scandal' in 2009.

Capitalism and corruption goes hand in hand. That's why the workers' movement needs working-class representatives, subject to recall and paid a worker's wage, with all necessary expenses open to scrutiny.

Socialist Party member and former Militant-supporting Labour MP Dave Nellist used to regularly circulate to trade unions and labour movement bodies his full parliamentary expenses record to ensure political accountability.

See 'Ending MPs' expenses scandal requires socialist change' and 'For workers' MPs on a worker's wage' on

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In The Socialist 1 July 2020:

No going back

A socialist NHS fit for heroes

Workplace news

PCS: Change in leadership needed to secure union's future

Come to the NSSN conference

Sunday trading: Government blinks first

Trade unionists stand in solidarity with Maxine Peake

Equity union president elections

Tower Hamlets council strike

MoJ cleaners' covid outbreak

What we think

Workers need a new mass party to defend their interests


Tories put profit before lives

Boris's new big deal

Tory full return to school plans gamble with lives

Yes to self-identity: Fight for trans rights

Benefits system being used to force return to unsafe workplaces

Leeds City Council in danger of bankruptcy

Capitalism and corruption go hand in hand

Plastic waste ignored

News in brief


I left Labour and want to end capitalism - join us in Socialist Party

Cardiff community fights nursery closure: Council must step in

Fighting Fund: Target smashed by half time

Black Lives Matter has not stopped - protesters flock to Socialists

Selling the Socialist

Red flags line road for Ken Douglas

Lessons from history

75th anniversary of the Attlee Labour government

Readers' opinion

From slavery to Black Lives Matter - racism and capitalist injustice exposed

Readers' opinion


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