Bain, civil, Conservative, contract, corruption, Department, disillusion, donor, education, government, John Nash, Michael Gove, Mike Sivier, mikesivier, Paul Rogers, people, politics, quit, servant, Theodore Agnew, Tories, Tory, Vox Political, Whitehall
Education secretary Michael Gove has appointed a partner in a global management consultancy that could bid for government contracts to sit alongside two Conservative Party donors on a committee that will oversee the progress of cuts in his department.
Paul Rogers is a managing partner at Bain & Company, a US firm that could bid for contracts that are outsourced on his recommendation – creating a serious potential conflict of interest.
John Nash and his wife have given nearly £300,000 to the Conservative Party since 2006. The private equity firm he co-founded, Sovereign Capital, once owned British private schools firm Alpha Plus and special needs school operator Senad. Although no longer directly linked to Sovereign, Nash has also invested in academies, private healthcare and care homes. He has already been rewarded for his contribution, with a peerage and a job as an education minister.
Theodore Agnew is a trustee of the New Schools Network, a group run by some of Mr Gove’s closest aides, that helped start his ‘free schools’ project.
The appointments appear to be a clear indication that UK government decisions are now made on the basis of financial gain, rather than the interests of the nation.
The committee they will join is to oversee cuts that will halve the DfE’s administration, with 1,000 job losses and the closure of six regional offices. Almost one-third of remaining staff will switch between teams working on time-limited projects.
The changes have created an atmosphere of disillusionment across Whitehall, with two-thirds of Britain’s most senior civil servants now so demoralised that they are considering quitting public service, according to a survey by the FDA union.
In other words, Gove is attacking our public services on several different fronts.
He is inflicting heavy damage on his own department’s ability to operate properly – does anyone really think expertise can be nurtured in people when they have to hop from one project to another, with deadlines hanging over them all the while?
His attack on civil service morale could create a vacuum where there is currently a large pool of expertise. How will our public services function if everybody who knows how they work has walked away in despair?
And his appointment of people with a clear financial interest in the outsourcing of Education Department responsibilities to the committee responsible for cutting it down to size makes it clear that he is trying to turn our children’s future into a fat little earner for his friends.
It is exactly what my #CleanHouseOfCommons e-petition is about. There should be a law against this.
Gove should not be allowed to give government jobs to Conservative Party donors. The decision seems clearly motivated by financial gain.
Gove should not be allowed to give a government job to a member of a firm that could benefit from his decisions. This is practically an incitement to make corrupt decisions for financial gain.
And he should not be allowed to make decisions that could weaken the British civil service. This could lead to mass outsourcing into the private sector – at huge expense – where no such move should be necessary.
The man is a disgrace to Parliament and an embarrassment to the UK.
But he’ll carry on doing exactly what he wants until YOU tell him to stop.
Spread the word.
Before it’s too late.
#CleanHouseOfCommons, BBC, corruption, e-petition, expenses, Fraser Nelson, George Galloway, government, Leicester, London, mass tweet, Mike Sivier, mikesivier, Parliament, politics, Question Time, Richard III, Vox Political, York
Two things happened yesterday evening to convince me that the fight to root corruption out of the House of Commons is not only necessary but urgent.
First, the inaugural ‘mass tweet’ by supporters of my #CleanHouseOfCommons petition – I know it’s a mouthful but clarity was required – took place between 9 and 10pm and was a modest success. We got 45 extra signatures and put it back into the top 10 trending petitions on the government’s website. Another 30, or thereabouts, have signed since then (at the time of writing).
That might not seem many to the casual reader, but it’s a good start. This is a petition that has no mass-media support, nor is it boosted by an endorsement from anyone who could be described as a celebrity. It is gathering signatures by word of mouth (or rather, in this internet age, via Facebook shares, Twitter re-tweets, other social media and possibly email as well).
This is why I keep having to emphasise the importance of spreading the word. It isn’t enough to sign a petition like this and expect everyone else to publicise it. If you believe in the cause it puts forward, please, tell the people you know. Say, “I’ve just signed a petition to stop MPs lining their pockets with private, corrupt side deals while they’re supposed to be serving the public – and I think you might want to do the same”. It takes a few seconds and the effect could be enormous.
Secondly, there was an exchange of views on the BBC’s Question Time, which started less than an hour after the mass tweet ended.
Questioner Elliott Hill asked: “With public scepticism towards MPs, similarities between the major parties and a decrease in party membership, is party politics dying?”
This was an opportunity to explore the reasons people are turning away from politicians – and corruption, the fact that politicians are using their positions to make decisions that people don’t want (but that are profitable for them personally), had to be high on the list.
George Galloway made the point about corruption by drawing attention to Parliamentary expenses: “We have a Parliament full of expenses frauds. We have a Parliament that’s almost always on holiday. Since I was elected 11 months ago, Parliament has been on holiday almost 50 per cent of the time – and the rest of the time, they’re filling in their expenses forms.”
Fraser Nelson (and I’m not a fan) made a good point about party funding: “Politicians go on about constitutional reform, but only the type that favours their own party. If you think the situation is bad now, then wait until they get state funding for political parties… It should never happen because they should be forced – all of them… to go and find ideas that people think are worth supporting. Either do that or go bust.”
In other words, once their funding is coming direct from the taxpayer, individual opinions won’t matter at all. They won’t listen to you if they don’t need to – and then they really will be rigging the system to make as much out of it for themselves as they possibly can.
These were views that the audience wholeheartedly supported. Look at this response from one audience member: “If you say you’re all fighting for the people, when do you listen to the people that you are there for? You’ve got to listen to the people – what they want.”
Or this one: “Isn’t it our democratic system that is broken? I go to a polling booth and have to vote for the best of a bad bunch… It’s not who I want to vote for, but who’s going to stop a different party getting in.”
Or this one: “Politicians are playing their own game – ‘If it’s in their favour, we’ll vote against it’. That’s playing against what the public need.”
Another audience member said: “Before an election, all parties promise this, that and the other, so they vote them in, and then after, they renege on what they promised.”
A perfect example of of this – politicians pandering to the public in order to gain popularity – then followed when the panel was asked where Richard III should be bured – Leicester (where the recording was taking place), York or London.
Every representative of the three major parties – Mary Creagh, Maria Miller and Susan Kramer – said Leicester, and received huge applause from the audience in return.
It was a prime example of the current political system in action (or inaction): Say what people want to hear – then do whatever suits you personally. In this case, the decision won’t even be up to them, so it was a conscience-free response.
The message was clear: Your MPs are not in Parliament to represent your interests. Your MPs are there to represent themselves and, where it suits them, their party.
The only way to make them do their job – as it has always been described to you – is to make it impossible for them to line their own pockets.
That’s the debate I’m trying to open up with the e-petition. It’s at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/44971 – if you agree with the Question Time audience, then please do something about it. You can’t make a difference by doing nothing.
And would you want to be responsible for allowing the corruption to continue?
I recently launched an e-petition on the government’s website, aiming to ban MPs from speaking or voting on matters which would financially benefit them. The reasoning is obvious – if you’re likely to make money from a decision, you’re going to speak in favour of it and vote for it. That’s corruption, which is why every single political representative in the UK who is not a member of Parliament is forbidden from doing so.
Please take a look at the petition and sign it, if you haven’t already. Please also copy the image above and post it around Facebook, Twitter and any other social media where you think people would benefit from the information.
There’s a presence on Twitter – @CleanHouse44971 and I’m currently using the hashtag #CleanHouseOfCommons. It’s a bit bulky, I know, but CleanHouse or CleanTheHouse are already in use and I didn’t want to cause confusion.
Today the petition had its 3,000th signature, which is great. But this is something that should have mass, cross-party appeal, so I think it should be capable of much more, very quickly.
Andrew Lansley, benefit, benefits, Coalition, conflict, Conservative, Corporation Tax, corruption, David Cameron, debt, disease, George Osborne, government, hypocrisy, Iain Duncan Smith, Income Tax, injustice, Justice, law, legal aid, malnutrition, Mike Sivier, mikesivier, Parliament, people, politics, poverty, rickets, social security, Tories, Tory, un, unemployment, united nations, Vox Political, welfare
The title refers to today’s comments by comedy Prime Minister David Cameron, who has stated that the United Nations needs a new set of international development goals to eradicate extreme poverty.
If he believes in this so fervently, why is he hell-bent on reinstating extreme poverty here, in his home country?
Before I go on, I should make it clear that I know poverty – as defined in the UK – is very much different from poverty in, for example, Africa. I know there are some in this country who would be very quick to get on their soapbox and warn that going without food indefinitely isn’t the same as going without a computer.
That’s all very well, but the fact is that changes made by the currently government will increase poverty massively, pushing hundreds of thousands of people below our extremely arbitrary poverty line. We will see increased malnutrition, and we will see a huge increase in diseases caused by lack of food, such as rickets (which is, itself, already on the rise).
People have already died – here in the UK – from the effects of changes wrought by Mr Cameron’s regime.
The BBC website’s report quotes Mr Cameron, who apparently said the UN must focus on ending factors that contribute to poverty, including “corruption [and] lack of justice”.
I bow to his knowledge and experience of corruption, because I believe he leads one of the most corrupt regimes the UK has had to endure in many a year.
Look at last week’s stories about the accounting firms that run the most tax avoidance schemes being allowed to write the law on tax avoidance (could this be because Mr Cameron and his part-time chancellor are well-versed in making money from such schemes? I think it could).
Look at the number of firms benefiting from Andrew Lansley’s changes to the National Health Service – how many Parliamentarians have a financial interest in those companies? (Hint: Many).
This is why I started the petition to ban MPs from speaking or voting on matters in which they have a financial interest* – and I think I touched a nerve there. It was the top-trending e-petition on the government’s website yesterday. From a standing start on Wednesday, it now totals more than 2,000 signatures, with more being added all the time.
As for lack of justice, let’s just remember this is the same David Cameron who is ending the right to Legal Aid for issues including debt, benefits, redundancy and landlord problems. If you’re poor and you end up with these problems, you won’t be able to rely on British justice.
He later added “conflict” and “lack of the rule of law” to his list. For conflict, let’s look at the riots of August 2011 – and hope that we don’t have similar scenes this year, after the effects of his buddy Iain Duncan Smith’s social security changes kick us all in the stomach.
As for the rule of law, I don’t think we’ve had that since the Coalition came into power and started writing laws that allowed its members and their friends to get their snouts in the trough at the expense of those of us who actually support the British economy.
How can cutting Corporation Tax by a quarter, or cutting the top rate of Income Tax by a tenth help our system? The people who benefit from that won’t be spending the extra money they’ll be keeping – they will bank it, most probably in the tax havens that part-time Chancellor
Gideon Osborne has been busily creating while telling us he’s doing the exact opposite. This administration is exceptionally well-versed in doublespeak – saying one thing, meaning the opposite – but dismally slow at realising that we all understand exactly what’s really going on.
So: Corruption, conflict, lack of justice, lack of the rule of law. I do, in fact, agree that fighting these scourges on society – preferably by removing the regimes responsible – would greatly benefit the fight against poverty.
Perhaps the UN would like to start right here, in the UK?
Andy Coulson, bribe, corporation, corruption, David Cameron, George Osborne, international, james, Jeremy Hunt, Leveson, Mike Sivier, mikesivier, murdoch, News of the World, phone hacking, police, press, Rebekah Brooks, regulation, report, rupert, Sky, The Sun, Vox Political
Oh, all right – greywash.
Please note: This is an initial reaction to the Leveson report, based on Lord Justice Leveson’s speech today (November 29). The report itself is 2,000 pages long and may contain much more that is of interest to us. But that will have to wait for another day.
Lord Justice Leveson has come out with his report which, in effect, advocates as little change to current press regulation as he thought he could get away with.
Jeremy Hunt, the Murdochs, George Osborne and David Cameron can all sleep comfortably tonight, in the knowledge that the skeletons in their closets have not been disturbed.
Leveson wants the press governed by a new self-regulatory body, underpinned by legislation, containing no serving editors or politicians.
But he says incidents in which the press have corrupted politicians or police are exceptions to the rule, and that the norm is a “robust” (he said that word a lot) relationship.
He said: “The lawbreaking in this area is typically hidden, with the victims unaware of what has happened… I haven’t seen any evidence to suggest that corruption by the press is a widespread problem in relation to the police; however, I have identified issues to be addressed.”
On the relationship between press and politicians, he recommended steps to create greater transparency “so there is no risk of even the perception of bias”.
He said: “In a number of respects, the relationship between politicians and the press has been too close, conducted out of the public eye, between policymakers and those who stand to benefit.
“The power of the press to affect political fortunes may be used to affect policy. That undermines the belief in policy decisions being made genuinely in the public interest.”
I suppose you could say he did criticise the government with this line: “The press is entitled to lobby in its own interests, but it is the responsibility of the politicians to ensure their decisions are in the public interest. Their dealings with the press should be open and transparent and the public should have understanding of the process.”
That certainly hasn’t happened with regard to the relationships between David Cameron and either Andy Coulson or Rebekah Brooks, or the relationships of both Mr Cameron and George Osborne with the Murdochs, or indeed that of former culture secretary Jeremy Hunt with News Corporation/News International!
I don’t think his proposals will work. I think the transgressors will keep on doing what they have been doing, and the politicians will continue to pander to them because they influence the popular vote.
I would like to have seen Leveson criticise a situation that has seen powerful newspaper magnates worm their way into the retinues of ministers and even the Prime Minister; and especially welcome would be a request for an explanation, from the PM, of his over-close relationship with the former chief executive of News International, Rebekah Brooks, who is even now awaiting trial for alleged criminal acts.
I would also like to see Leveson demand disclosure of the emails and texts that Mr Cameron did not provide to the inquiry or otherwise make public. What does he have to hide? Also, since the Prime Minister should be above reproach, should we conclude that his continued opacity in this regard is an admission that he is culpable of something, and therefore should we not demand his removal from office?
Instead, Leveson seems to have drawn a line under what happened. It is future relationships that he wants to safeguard. For those involved in the phone hacking scandals and the relationship between the Murdoch organisation and the Conservative Party, this means there will always be doubt in the public mind. Mr Cameron has lost public trust over this.
I would like to have seen Leveson question the way newspaper reporters have managed to get inside information from police forces across the country, because this raises serious issues about the corruptibility of our boys in blue. It takes two people to hand over confidential information – the one who’s asking for it and the one who provides it.
Perhaps that will follow but I doubt it. Despite Lord Justice Leveson’s beliefs, it seems this affair has damaged public perception of the police – as a whole – as well.
benefit, benefits, Centre for Social Justice, Coalition, code of conduct, compromise, conflict, Conservative, corruption, Department for Work and Pensions, DWP, government, hypocrisy, Iain Duncan Smith, ideology, integrity, Interest, judgement, Mike Sivier, mikesivier, Parliament, Philippa Stroud, politics, Public Life, Seven Principles, special adviser, The Sun, Tories, Tory, Vox Political
Iain Duncan Smith, a man with four children who has spent a sustained period of his life claiming state benefits, has described the UK’s benefits system as “overly generous”. Is he going to return the public cash he received, then? (No, I didn’t think so)
The Sun reports that he said big handouts for jobless parents are resented by their hard-working neighbours. How odious. He’s hoping that, by saying it, gullible members of the public will believe it, rather than thinking for themselves.
According to the article, “Most people get up in the morning, work hard, come back late and can only afford to have one or two children,” said the father of four.
“They look down the road to the house with the curtains closed, no-one going out to work but lots of kids around.” Your house, Iain.
“It’s dividing society.” No – you’re dividing society, Iain.
He added: “Everybody in Britain makes decisions based on what they can afford and how their family life works.” Fine words, coming from a man who lost a job at property firm Bellwinch after six months. I wonder if he was married then (he probably was; he’d been at GEC-Marconi in 1981, prior to Bellwinch, and they wed in 1982). So he knows that life-changing events can happen unexpectedly.
He just refuses to acknowledge this universal fact of life – it would contradict his ideology.
And his ideology is twisted, when it comes to money.
Look at his policy special adviser, Philippa Stroud, who is also being paid by a right-wing thinktank, the Centre for Social Justice, that lobbies his own Department for Work and Pensions!
He knows that the special advisers’ code of conduct stipulates that they “should not receive benefits of any kind which others might reasonably see as compromising their personal judgment or integrity”.
An annex to the code, titled the Seven Principles of Public Life, adds: “Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might seek to influence them in the performance of their official duties.”
The code also makes clear that ministers making such appointments, in this case Smith himself, are held responsible for their advisers’ conduct.
He seems to think it’s okay for her to take public money on top of her own salary; he seems to think it’s all right for her to have a job as a senior member of a pressure group that tries to influence his department, when he role within that department is to give him advice on what to do; he seems to think it’s permissible to allow all that and still lecture the nation about what is morally acceptable; and he seems to think he’ll get away with it.
Sadly, as a member of a government that is so twisted its members need help screwing themselves into their trousers in the morning, he’s probably right about that last assumption.
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I can’t say I was surprised when I read ‘Dyfed-Powys tops corruption allegation list’ in the County Times at the end of May. Why should I be surprised? I’m one of the people who made the allegations!
“Dyfed-Powys Police has topped the list of police forces with most corruption allegations for its size in England and Wales,” wrote CT reporter Emma Mackintosh.
“In the Dyfed-Powys force area, there were 146 allegations against officers. With 2,100 police officers, that gave the force a ratio of 69 complaints per 1,000 officers, the highest in Wales and England and more than twice the average.”
Only 69 complaints per 1,000? You might think those are good odds. But then, you might never have got on the wrong side of one of the officers to which these complaints relate!
A buddy of mine did, a few years ago. As a result, he was arrested and prosecuted for a particularly nasty crime – but I’m not referring to that. My complaint was about a crime related to the allegations against him, but committed by someone else, in an attempt to swing public opinion against him.*
That’s when I made my complaint. I know a thing or three about the law and I knew that an offence had been committed (contempt of court, as it happens – someone had publicised information that they shouldn’t have). I gave full details of what had happened and how, and not only did I refer to the relevant section and paragraph of the legislation – I quoted it verbatim.
The response was a flat refusal to investigate and a claim that the law had not been broken, with a reference to an irrelevant section of the same law.
You see, prosecuting this individual would have been inconvenient as it would have weakened the case against my friend. Easier to let them flout the law and get away with it, apparently. One law for us… another law for them.
“In the Dyfed-Powys force, of the 146 complaints made, only 16 found their way to the IPCC,” writes Emma. Mine would have been one of them. I made a full, detailed complaint, quoting the relevant legislation, pointing out where the officer involved had gone wrong, and explaining why I believed the error was intentional.
All I got for my efforts was another flat refusal to acknowledge the facts. The investigator spoke with the officer and decided that his interpretation of the law was correct – despite having it quoted to them, in black and white, by me!
For me, the only way forward from that point would have been to hire a lawyer and get a judicial review, but that costs money and I simply don’t have enough. Again, it’s one law for us… another law for them.
So the crime went unpunished, the perpetrator went scott free and my friend was imprisoned. He was later released by the Court of Appeal, after a hearing in which the presiding judge actually demanded to know whether the prosecutor had any concrete evidence at all! That wasn’t enough to save him at the retrial and once again he was sent down. You see, the alleged crime was one of which people tend to be found guilty merely because they have been accused.
“The IPCC has said it wants clearer information on what constitutes police corruption, with 631 complaints made in Wales between 2008 and 2011,” Emma continues. I don’t know why. My experience indicates this Independent organisation (that’s what the ‘I’ stands for) will just toe the police service‘s line, no matter what.
“Responding to the findings, a Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson said: ‘Dyfed-Powys Police notes and welcomes the report’s findings which will inform future practice locally. “’The force acts proactively to prevent corruption and where it is alleged investigates such cases thoroughly and professionally. “’We are reviewing our policies and procedures in line with national recommendations following various reviews into this subject area.’”
On past experience, I very much doubt that.
*I apologise for the necessary vaguenesses in this story. It is about criminal acts which were committed by people who have not been brought to account, and if I made my story any clearer, I might be the next person in front of a judge!