In this editorial from the latest issue of Socialist Appeal, Rob Sewell looks at the rotten Establishment in Britain, which is mired in scandal from top to bottom, with corrupt politicians supporting corrupt bankers, and ultimately a corrupt system. It is time to clear out the filth and fight for a socialist future.
“The British public has become deeply cynical about the political class at Westminster”, states a recent Financial Times editorial (11/2/15). This is what is called an understatement. Contempt and anger towards bankers, property speculators, hedge fund bosses and politicians is widespread.
There is a rotten stench seeping from the capitalist Establishment, which has become overpowering. Those who lecture the working class about moral belt-tightening are the very ones up to their necks in corruption and scandals of all kinds, including sex and paedophile rings.
Now, yet more cases of “MPs for hire” have come to light, just to add to the mix.
A cesspool of corruption
In the past, these scandals were kept under wraps. The Establishment closed ranks to protect its own. Top judges and police chiefs covered up for their rich and powerful friends, including politicians. After all, they were from the same social class, shared the same clubs and sent their children to the same private schools.
In the last period, the rich have become filthy rich. Tories, Liberal Democrats and New Labour all joined the banquet, paid for by the sweat of working people. They fell over themselves to please their friends in the City of London, this gang of speculators who got fat on lavish salaries and bonuses. The Royals also joined the party
Of course, the Tory party is at the centre of this cesspool, financed by the rich and super rich. Ed Miliband was absolutely correct when he described Cameron as “a dodgy prime minister surrounded by dodgy donors”, who turned a blind eye to tax avoidance by the rich and big business.
At the recent secretive Tory fundraising event in the Grosvenor House hotel, Park Lane – the annual “black and white ball” – Cameron rubbed shoulders with multimillionaires, pornography barons and off-shore financiers. Cars arrived with darkened windows, while others arrived by the back door. They were afraid of being too openly associated with the “Nasty Party”.
Even the right-wing Daily Mail, was scathing about the fundraiser: “Porn barons. Shady financiers. Hedge fund kings. Welcome to the secret Tory ball.”
Snouts in the trough
Welcome to the life epitomised by the likes of Lord Fink, a former treasurer of the Tory party and multimillionaire hedge fund boss, who has given nearly £3 million to the Tories, singled out by Miliband as part of the tax avoidance scandal. After threatening legal action, he was forced to admit he had been involved in tax avoidance, but didn’t see any harm in it. “Everyone does it”, he said, utterly ignorant of the lives of ordinary people.
While the capitalist Establishment relentlessly carries out its cuts and austerity, especially against the poorest sections of society, they make sure their class have their snouts in the pig’s trough.
Membership of the unelected House of Lords, stuffed with upper class layabouts and parasites, has soared from 666 to 850 in fifteen years. If they continue at this rate, there will be 2,207 peers by 2025. The Lords is now the second largest parliamentary chamber in the world, only overshadowed by the Chinese People’s Congress.
These money-grabbing “right honourable” Lords and Ladies claim a daily allowance of £300 for each sitting they attend, while mothers in Britain go without food to feed their children. Such pampered parasites are now the subject of scorn by ordinary people.
Hypocrisy and double-standards
MPs in Westminster spend their days going on about how we must all live on low pay for the good of the nation i.e. capitalism. Yet now we see more new cases, after the expenses scandals, of MPs being caught offering their services for hire like call-girls. They claim it is all just a misunderstanding / technical problem / slip-up, and so on.
As a response, the argument is now being made that MPs should get massive pay rises on top of the already high salaries and perks they currently enjoy. This will, we are told, stop them from having to do “second jobs.”
This attempt to claim financial hardship on the part of our elected representatives would be funny if it wasn’t so sick.
What message does this send to teachers, nurses, care workers and other public sector workers having to do a proper job on a fraction of what MPs take home? What about those low-paid workers who really do have to take a second-job just to make ends meet each month?
The double standards being seen here will anger people and rightly so.
The scandal surrounding the money laundering and tax evasion operations at HSBC exposes the links between a corrupt banking elite and the rotten political establishment. Lord Green, former head of HSBC, was at the centre of this tax dodgers’ row. He chaired HSBC until December 2010, when he became a Conservative trade minister and was given a peerage by David Cameron.
Lord Green was chairman of the advisory committee of the lobby group CityUK, but was forced to resign as a result of the scandal. “People are starting to worry about appearing with him in public”, said one member of the advisory committee.
While others were distancing themselves, Lord Green was given staunch backing by the elite of the Church of England. Needless to say, these preachers of moral effluent have a great tradition in protecting their own – and our millionaire banker is a devout Christian and ordained Anglican priest. The archbishops of Canterbury and York said they were grateful to the former HSBC boss for his “contribution and expertise”. This gang of hypocrites have attacked politicians for failing to provide a “fresh moral vision”, but act no differently.
Lord Green himself was no shrinking violet when it came to preaching. He expounded his hypocrisy in a book in 2009, at the height of the money laundering and tax evasion at HSBC, entitled Good Value: Reflections on Money, Morality and an Uncertain World. In this he preached about the importance of ethics in banking.
Earlier our banker-priest had published Serving God? Serving Mammon?, a question he appeared to answer in practise, earning tens of millions of pounds in bank bonuses.
For the capitalist establishment, morality is simply a means of justifying capitalism, their privileges, and the system of exploitation.
Rotten to the core
While Ed Miliband attacked the Tories’ rich backers, New Labour has been guilty of doing the same. Property magnate John Mills and former tax exile Andrew Rosenfeld both gave the party over £1million.
If Labour remained true to socialism, it would repudiate the millionaires and base itself instead on the working class. However, while Labour remains committed to capitalism, it will always end up justifying a system that produces a rich and privileged elite.
The crisis of capitalism simply exposes the rottenness of the system. British capitalism has become casino capitalism, based upon property speculation, banking and financial services.
Capitalism means a concentration of wealth at one pole, and poverty and degradation at the other.
The capitalist establishment will always defend its income, power and privileges. There is no way this system of exploitation can be reformed, as the Labour leaders imagine. Only by expropriating the banks and giant corporations run by a privileged few, and putting them into the hands of working people, can we clear out this filth.