Politicians should Represent The People, Not the Highest Bidder
Westminster never lets you down, well, not when it comes to scandals involving money and influence through donations lobbying and second jobs, and we don’t need to be tribal about this, they’re all at it!
In short, it is now clear that politicians are continuing to accept donations from dubious sources and outside interests, and let’s be really honest this is big business buying influence. The result has led to a loss of trust in our political system, and many people are now calling for reform.
It is important that we understand what is happening here. Lobbying has become a means to buy influence, corrupting our democracy. We need a system change, a return to politicians representing the people that elect them, not the highest bidder.
What Is Lobbying and Why Is It a Problem?
Lobbyists are people who try to influence politicians and government officials.
They can do this in a number of ways, such as by donating money to political campaigns, by giving politicians jobs after they leave office, or by arranging meetings between politicians and businesspeople, in many cases, it’s just a revolving door, where politicians walk straight out of politics into Banking, energy or municipal companies like water companies even though they have absolutely no experience in those fields at all, where some politicians come directly from those areas and act as their representatives, not the peoples, well as long as they pay them enough that is…
Lobbying has long been a problem, it can lead to corruption and unwarranted influence. Politicians can be bought off with money or jobs, and they can be influenced to make decisions that are not in the best interests of the people they are meant to represent.
Who Are the Culprits in the Recent Political Corruption Scandal?
It seems like it’s every other politician and to be fair it is. More money flows into the UK parliament from outside sources than in MPs’ salaries. Millions are channelled through informal groupings that can influence policy in the interests of businesses and foreign governments. The ‘Westminster accounts App’ shows that over £183 million of outside funds has funnelled into this parliament alone.
The continued corruption scandals in the UK have revealed the dark side of politics, from The former Tory prime minister, David Cameron’s lobbying for Greensell to Boris Johnson who when prime minister secured a loan of up to £800,000 from Richard Sharp, weeks before he recommended him for the job at the BBC.
Politicians and their cronies have been exposed as accepting donations and lobbying payments in exchange for favours. This has led to a loss of faith in our political system, with the public feeling that they are not being represented by their elected officials.
This corruption seems to house from the very bricks of Westminster, and in the main, it’s still legal.
A number of high ranking and wealthy Conservative party members have links to private healthcare companies which, in turn, are profiting from the current NHS crisis.
The Mirror revealed today that Tory MPs, lords and even Downing Street advisers have been shamelessly accepting money from private healthcare firms as the NHS is on its knees.
Dr Megan Smith, an NHS anaesthetist in London and member of the campaign group EveryDoctor, said of the revelations: “This is sickening. It is the epitome of letting the fox into the henhouse.
“Private healthcare firms, in effect, paying for access to politicians and obtaining benefits from cosying up to them undermines the integrity of our NHS.
At least 28 Tory MPs and Lords have had ties to private health and medical groups, publicly accessible records reveal. Of course, there is no suggestion of wrongdoing, they’ve made it all quite legal. but it doesn’t mean it’s right!
They include: Suffolk MP Dan Poulter, an NHS doctor paid £30k a year by medical cannabis firm Kanabo Group PLC
Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond who earns £25,000 a year as a non-executive director at Optibiotix Health that sells products to manage chronic lifestyle diseases.
Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly, the £30,000-a-year chairman of Pembroke VCT, which has invested in healthcare software companies.
Ex-health minister Steve Brine made £200 an hour giving “strategic advice” to drug firm Sigma before resigning in 2021.
He earned £1,600 for eight hours a month as adviser to healthcare recruitment service Remedium.
Portsmouth MP Penny Mordaunt, who made a bid for the Tory party leadership, took a £10,000 donation from care home firm Renaissance Care UK.
She was also paid £6,900 for speaking to the Boston Consulting Group, which made millions from Covid testing.
MP Richard Fuller, who represents North East Bedfordshire, was paid £20,000 a year as an adviser at Investcorp until last summer. The firm invested in Cambio Healthcare in the electronic health records market. Mr Fuller had no hand in that decision.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt earned £12,000 for a speech to Healthcare Business International, which provides services to “for-profit health care services”. Unlike some colleagues, he donated the cash to charity.
Wokingham MP John Redwood has a £5,000-a-year deal advising EPIC Private Equity, which invests in private prescriptions delivery firm Pharmacy2U.
Former Health Secretary Sajid Javid had share options in a California tech firm behind health sector software. He sold his stake after Labour accused him of a conflict of interest.
Lord Michael Farmer, who has donated millions to the party since 2010. He has shares in Centene, a US healthcare firm.
Its subsidiary Operose Health has taken over dozens of London medical practices.
But it’s not just the Tories.
Paying the piper and calling the tune springs to mind.
Kate Dove, Momentum co-chair, said: “It’s no surprise to see Tory MPs dominating the Westminster Accounts list – everyone knows the Conservative Party is up to its neck in sleaze.
“What is shocking, however, is that Labour MPs are joining them in accepting dark money donations – even senior members of the shadow cabinet like Wes Streeting and Yvette Cooper.”
She added that Momentum is calling on Sir Keir to ban “the use of shell companies to funnel dark money into politics” and “commit to kicking corporate interests out of political financing together”.
We have come to expect what the media call ‘sleaze’ from the Tories. but the truth is it’s not just the Tories. The Labour party and the lib Dems are not shy when it comes to a bit on the side.
‘Dark money donations’
Three top Labour MPs have faced calls to return hundreds of thousands of pounds donated by a single company, and that company has connections to, yes you’ve guessed it Healthcare.
It comes from MPM Connect Ltd which is the third-biggest donor to MPs since the last general election. The only organisations that have given more to individual politicians in that period are the trade union giants Unite and GMB.
MPM Connect Ltd as a physical company has no staff or website and is registered at an office where the secretary says she has never heard of them.
The £345,217 of donations that MPM Connect has made since the end of 2019 went to three Labour politicians.
Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, has received £184,317, former mayor of South Yorkshire Dan Jarvis £100,000 and shadow health secretary Wes Streeting £60,900.
That’s a lot of influence within the Labour Party.
MPM Connect’s entry in the Companies House register lists two directors – recruitment mogul Peter Hearn and Simon Murphy, the entrepreneur behind the redevelopment of Battersea Power Station.
The company’s accounts do not disclose where it receives its funding, what it does or why it donates so heavily.
When Sky News went to the office in Hertfordshire, where the company is registered, the receptionist in the building denied any knowledge of MPM Connect. She told Sky News she did not recognise the names of the two directors.
The truth behind lobbying, second jobs, and donations is often hidden. We need to demand transparency and accountability from our politicians, so that we can make informed decisions at the ballot box.
But what we do know is the director Peter Hearn, uses MPM Connect as his investment vehicle, especially for his shares in recruitment firm Odgers Berndtson, a major public-sector contractor. Through it, Hearn and Cooper et al are linked to a network of Tory politicians and public-sector outsourcing. We also know Odgers Berndtson works with the full breadth of health and care organisations, from NHS and independent sector providers.
Most upsetting for Labour supporters is the fact that up until Boris Johnson received a one-off donation amounting to a whooping one million pounds from Brexiter Tech investor Christopher Harborne. Sir Keir Starmer was storming ahead on donations with a breathtaking £799,900 spread across 104 declarations. His sources included £100,000 in donations each from Robert Latham and Lord Waheed Alli; a £31,000 donation from Unison; £18,000 in earnings from Harper Collins and £5,580 in gifts from the FA Premier League.
Sir Ed Davey the Lib Dem party leader completed the top three with a not to be sniffed at £441,600 across 88 sources.
Lords and Lobbyist
It’s also worth noting Labour peer Lord Peter Mandelson’s advisor to Sir Keir Starmer, actually owned one of the biggest lobbying companies in the world that act as lobbyists for Energy companies, Union-Busters, Big Banks and Oligarchs.
Solomon Hughes writes for the tribute stating:”Global Counsel offers to help corporations ‘see opportunities in politics, regulation and public policy’. He is therefore combining his role as a Labour advisor with a paid job helping big business to get ‘opportunities in politics’.
Unlike most UK lobbying companies, Mandelson’s secretive firm does not voluntarily list their UK clients. However, the stricter European Union lobbying register does show some members of the group: they include the aforementioned Centrica, banking giant Santander, UK Finance—the UK banking lobby group—and the European Round Table for Industry, a lobby group for Europe’s biggest corporations. All these big companies have strong stakes in low taxation and more deregulation, and so, by implication, does Peter Mandelson.
Mandelson’s network is an international one. Global Counsel’s website says the firm ‘advises international clients on Russian market entry, the impact of Russian sanctions and navigating Russian policymaking’. Until June 2017, Mandelson was personally a director of Sistema, an oligarch-owned Russian industrial conglomerate with defence interests. Global Counsel also offers advice on Turkish business and politics, while Mandelson personally is a director of Global Ports Holdings, the Turkish-owned cruise port operator led by tycoon Mehmet Kutman.”
Second jobs can also be a right little earner.
Two dozen MPs since 2016 have been paid for second jobs through personal service companies they have set up.
It means these MPs can exploit the fact that tax rates on companies differ from those on employment, enabling them to reduce their tax bills on second jobs.
This practice is legal and common in certain industries, but some MPs appear to have taken further steps to reduce their taxes on non-parliamentary earnings.
Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey is one of 12 MPs to have received earnings from second jobs via companies owned partly or solely by their spouse, arrangement accounting experts have said is often used to reduce taxes.
Sir Ed and his wife also appear to have taken advantage of a loophole that allows reduced tax rates to be paid on money taken out of a company when it’s closed. More than £100,000 was sitting on the balance sheet of the company through which Sir Ed received payment for five second jobs held between 2017 and 2022, before the company was liquidated last year.
Ex-cabinet minister Ranil Jayawardena, another to receive earnings from second jobs via a company owned with his wife, claims to have been doing two separate roles with the same company at the same time between 2017 and 2020 – an arrangement that may have afforded him further tax benefits.
What Can Be Done About Donations, Second Jobs and Lobbying?
The big question is what can be done about donations, second jobs, and lobbying? For us, it’s quite simple… Lobbyists should be banned from donating directly to Politicians. Politicians should not be allowed to have second jobs outside the public intrest. And lobbying should be more tightly regulated.
How Does Lobbying Effect Our Democracy?
Lobbying for special interests can have a hugely negative effect on our democracy and undermine the foundation of the balance of power. It gives certain groups an advantage over others, and allows them to buy influence with their donations. This puts the decisions in the hands of those with money, rather than those who were elected by the people. Through lobbying and donations, politicians are able to do favours for their donors, often behind closed doors. This has led to dangerously high levels of corruption and a lack of accountability from government leaders, as well as an erosion of trust in our political system.
This practice has corrupted our political process, leaving ordinary citizens unheard and underrepresented. We need a system change. Politicians must represent the people who elected them, not special interests or the highest bidder.
Why We Need an Accountable Government
You may be wondering why we need an accountable government when it comes to lobbying, second jobs, donations, and the recent scandal involving dirty money in UK politics. The simple fact is that lobbying has become a way for wealthy individuals and corporations to buy influence in our democracy.
The government has a duty to serve the people of our nation and be accountable to them. When large corporations and wealthy individuals use their resources to lobby, they are bypassing the democratic process and giving their own interests more weight than the interests of the public. By having a more accountable government, we can ensure that all voices are heard without one or two groups dominating the conversation.
Additionally, holding our elected officials to a higher standard of disclosure is essential to ensure the integrity of our democracy. The recent scandals involving dirty money and political donations demonstrate just how important it is for our politicians to be transparent about their financial dealings. We need to ensure that all donations are legal and that politicians do not use their position to enrich themselves or those close to them.
Furthermore, it is important for the government to ensure that second jobs held by elected officials don’t conflict with their duties. We want to ensure that politicians are dedicated to serving the public rather than pursuing their own interests or more specifically the interest of their donors. As such, a more accountable government is needed to make sure that second jobs do not interfere with a politician’s official duties.
Finally, having a more accountable government is necessary to eliminate any doubt of corruption or bias in our democratic system. We want to make sure all voices are heard and all people have an equal chance to be represented in our government. This is only possible when we have a government that is transparent and held to the highest standards to ensure our democracy works for the benefit of all.
How to Ensure Our Politicians Represent Us Not the Highest Bidder
To ensure that our politicians are representing the people and not special interests, there must be greater transparency in how political donations are used and who is making them. All donations should be made public but also pooled to the party and not individuals so that we can hold our elected officials to account. In addition, we should also ensure that any second jobs held by politicians are in the public interest and cannot create a conflict of interest with their primary role. Finally, we must work hard to strengthen our lobbying laws so that corrupt practices are discouraged and any violations punished appropriately. Only then can we guarantee that our democracy is not undermined by dirty money and unaccountable lobbying.
It is now more important than ever for the people of the UK to demand change. We need a system that is transparent and accountable, one in which politicians are elected to represent the people, not the highest bidder. Only then can we be sure that our democracy is working for the people and not the corrupt few.