Richard Burgon brought to light the corruption and blatant cronyism the Tories have carried out under cover of the covid crisis.
In a parliamentary speech, Burgon points out the link between big money politics and the rewards politicians can look forward to after they leave Westminster after they have sacked the public coffers of our money that could be spent to better everyone’s lives.
This pandemic has been a time of extreme hardship and suffering for millions of people. In my constituency in east Leeds, many have lost loved ones, and others, who were struggling to make ends meet even before this crisis, have fallen into deeper poverty. But it has been a very good crisis for some—for British billionaires, who increased their wealth by £100 billion in the last year; for outsourcing giants such as Serco, pocketing money that should have gone to our public services; and for those with friends in high places in the Conservative party who have got their hands on huge covid contracts.
The one sure-fire way to make money over the past 18 months has been to be a mate of a Tory Minister. Access to the so-called VIP lane made someone 10 times more likely to win public contracts. Ministers have been found to have broken the law with contracts. A world-leading anti-corruption body says that one in five Government covid contracts has corruption red flags. Over £800 million in covid contracts went to donors who had given the Tories £8 million in total—a very good return for those in the know, with the inside track. Those super-rich donors hand over huge funds and expect public contracts and favours to come their way in return. The Conservative party, I am afraid, is up to its neck in it.
Because the Tory party is using the system to help super-rich donors with covid contracts, it thinks that that is what other people are up to, too. We have seen a Tory MP this week implying that the British Medical Association’s medical advice to wear masks is because of lobbying from mask manufacturers, and Ministers have admitted that they are refusing proper sick pay because they think that people out there would abuse the system. Is that not telling? It is a telling insight into Ministers’ thinking: the assumption that everyone else is as dodgy and corrupt as they are—that is why Ministers think that.
Polls show that huge swathes of the population believe that the Conservative party is corrupt, and the stench of corruption has grown ever stronger through this crisis. They have been using a crisis where tens of thousands have died needlessly as a money-making scheme for their mates and their super-rich donors. The link between big money and our politics has been exposed more than ever during this crisis. Of course, many will hope to get their reward with directorships and comfortable jobs when they leave this place, but this is rotten to the core. It is undermining confidence in our democratic system and we need to put an end to it.