I was living in Hong Kong not long after “The Independent Commission Against Corruption “ , established by Governor Sir Murray MacLehose in 1974, completed its work. Dozens of corrupt policeman, civil servants and other officials had been prosecuted and/or expelled from the colony. The ICAC had teeth and the cosy corruption among the (mostly) British ex-pats was brought to light and acted upon.
Roll forward to today in Britain and you will find something which in reality, if not in scale, is not unlike colonial Hong Kong. There is corruption in Government and it’s suppliers on an industrial scale. There is patronage, the selling of honours, the rewarding of Brexiteer loyalty which has placed some very unsuitable people in our Upper House. Contracts go to buddies whether they are otherwise qualified suppliers or not.
The freedom to act that this Government assumes for itself comes from a grossly unfair electoral system that gives them unprecedented power despite the majority of voters having rejected them at the last election. Corruption is institutionalised. The Upper House is unelected and the Lower House unfair. It’s an undemocratic shambles.
We need an ICAC to investigate this benighted political system and reveal for all to see just how venal it is. The key word in the ICAC was “Independent”. Internal enquiries don’t work. If we want to restore our self respect and international reputation there is no alternative. Gloves off.
One thought on “If we want to restore our self respect and international reputation there is no alternative but to have an independent enquiry into institutionalised corruption”
Peter Godber retired to Spain and is aged 99 years old. He was an example of how corruption becomes institutionalised and acceptable in colonial society.
The Met Police and the GLC were no different in the seventies. Back-handers to police officers and civil servants were almost expected. It became the norm.
Supply contacts were given by the GLC buyers to preferred bidders who paid. MP’s now do something similar given half the chance. The Covid emergency allowed less scrutiny of contracts awarded to close friends and cronies of ministers and the party.
The truth is corruption pervades every walk of life in every country in the world. Where there’s money involved there’s someone who wants a piece of the pie for themselves. In Spain corruption is part of national life. It’s gone beyond being institutionalised to becoming part of the cultural fabric of a nation. Franco and the Royal family and their cronies carry the blame for that.
The only weapon society has against corruption is to create greater scrutiny, checks, and balances. Then heavy custodial sentences for those convicted. In other words, make taking a bribe uneconomic with massive consequences that act as a deterrent. Convince society corruption is an evil that erodes the fabric of the state.
A public enquiry into MP’s would be welcome but it will not root out the culture until the house is cleaned out.
There is in Britain now since Brexit an all-pervading attitude in public life of being the masters now. Major was so on the money with that statement.
A good beginning would be to ban all MP;’s from taking second jobs or consultancy fees. The MP’s that remain would be the ones who want to serve their constituents loyally not enrich themselves.