Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/617/9054
More parliamentary sleaze
'MPs for hire' scandal
"I'M A bit like a cab for hire," said former Blairite government minister Stephen Byers to an undercover reporter who was posing as a company lobbyist.
And, claiming to be able to influence government legislation, Byers then offered the 'lobbyist' his political services for "up to £5,000 a day".
But this latest nauseating example of parliamentary sleaze didn't stop with Byers. Two other former Blairite cabinet ministers - Patricia Hewitt (see article below) and Geoff Hoon - were also secretly filmed offering to change government policies to suit the interests of big business, but for only £3,000 a day!
As an illustration of how big business buys political influence, Byers boasted to the reporter that he had concocted a deal with the transport secretary, Lord Adonis, to enable National Express to welch on its rail franchise.
He also claimed to have influenced Lord Mandelson to have watered down government food labelling proposals on behalf of Tesco. Both companies deny any dealings with Byers.
All three MPs have now been suspended from the parliamentary Labour Party. Big deal! They were all due to stand down at the general election, expected this May, anyway. Byers, Hewitt and Hoon should face legal proceedings. After all, paid advocacy when the client is not listed on the MPs' register of interests is a breach of rules.
The actions of these former ministers speak volumes about New Labour. It's the equivalent of sticking two fingers up to people and saying: "I didn't enter Westminster to serve the public interest; I entered politics to make loads of money"!
It's as if the 'cash for questions' scandal under the previous John Major Tory government, or the cash for honours scandal under Tony Blair's premiership, or the MPs' expenses scandal, never happened!
Is it any wonder then that disillusioned voters are abandoning the main establishment parties and not bothering to vote or looking instead to vote for minor parties?
Unfortunately, at present, there isn't a mass workers' party that fights for the interests of working class people against the sleazy bosses' parties, and whose elected representatives only accept the average wage of a worker.
This is why the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, which is fielding candidates in the forthcoming general election, is an important new development; in that it has the potential to be a forerunner of a new workers' party.
In The Socialist 24 March 2010:
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
Marxist analysis: history
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news