The Stew of Corruption 481

British democracy has lost its meaning. The political and economic system has come to serve the interests of a tiny elite, vastly wealthier than the run of the population, operating through corporate control. The state itself exists to serve the interests of these corporations, guided by a political class largely devoid of ideological belief and preoccupied with building their own careers and securing their own finances.

A bloated state sector is abused and mikled by a new class of massively overpaid public secotr managers in every area of public provision – university, school and hospital administration, all executive branches of local government, housing associations and other arms length bodies. All provide high six figure salaries to those at the top of a bloated bureaucratic establishment. The “left”, insofar as it exists, represents only these state sector vested interests.

These people decide where the cuts fall, and they will not fall where they should – on them. They will fall largely on the services ordinary people need.

Meanwhile we are not all in this together. The Vodafone saga only lifts the lid for the merest peek at the way the corporate sector avoids paying its share, hiding behind Luxembourg or Cayman tax loopholes and conflicts between international jurisdictions – with which our well provided politicians are very happy. The often excellent Sunny Hundal provides a calm analysis of the Vodafone case here:

Let me tell you something else about Vodafone. Vodafone took over Ghana Telecom three years ago. They paid an astonishingly low price for it – 1.2 billion dollars, which is less than the value of just the real estate GT owned. The value of the business was much higher than that, and there was a substantively higher opening bid from France Telecom.

The extraordinary thing was the enormous pressure which the British government put on Ghana to sell this valuable asset to Vodafone so cheaply. High Commissioner Nick Westcott and Deputy High Commissioner Menna Rawlings were both actively involved, with FCO minister Lord Malloch Brown pressurising President Kuffour directly, with all the weight of DFID’s substantial annual subvention to Ghana behind him.

What is the point of DFID giving taxpayer money to Ghana if we are costing the country money through participating in the commercial rape of its national assets?

And why exactly was it a major British interest that Vodafone – whose Board meets in Germany and which pays its meagre taxes in Luxembourg – should get Ghana Telecom, as opposed to France Telecom or another company? Was privatisation at this time the best thing for Ghana at all?

This Vodafone episode offers another little glimpse into the way that corporations like Vodafone twist politicians like Mark Malloch Brown around their little fingers. It mioght be interesting to look at his consultancies and commercial interests now he is out of office.

BAE is of course the example of this par excellence. Massive corruption and paying of bribes in Saudi Arabia, Tanzania end elsewhere, but prosecution was halted by Tony Blair “In the National Interest”. BAE of course was funnelling money straight into New Labour bagmen’s pockets, as well as offering positions to senior civil servants through the revolving door. Doubtless they are now doing the same for the Tories – perhaps even some Lib Dems.

It is therefore unsurprising the BAE were able to write themselves contracts for aircraft carriers which were impossible to cancel and that their New Labour acolytes were prepared to sign such contracts. It is, nonetheless, disgusting. Just as it is disgusting that there is no attempt whatever by the coaliton to query or remedy the situation. There is no contract in the UK which cannot be cancelled by primary legislation.

Meanwhile, bankers’ bonus season is upon us again and these facilitators of trade and manufacture are again set to award themselves tens of billions of pounds to swell the already huge bank accounts of a select few, whose lifestyle and continued employment is being subsidised by every single person in the UK with 8% of their income. This was because the system which rewards those bankers so vastly is fundamentally unsound and largely unnecessary. Money unlinked to trade or manufacture cannot create infinite value; that should have been known since the South Sea Bubble.

Yet even this most extreme example of government being used to serve the interests of the wealthy and powerful at the expense of everyone else, has not been enough to stir any substantial response from a stupoured, x-factored population, dreaming only of easy routes to personal riches, which they have a chance in a million of achieving.

Conventional politics appears to have become irretrievably part pf the malaise rather than offering any hope for a cure. But political activity outwith the mainstream is stifled by a bought media.

I see no hope.

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481 thoughts on “The Stew of Corruption

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  • ingo

    Evgueni, thanks again for your epitaph.

    They have sold the property he owned whilst he was hardly compos mentis well into a hunger strike, how can that be possible.

    Paragraph 6 of the European Human rights act, and I believe Switzerland has signed up to it as a transit country, clearly states that unless you harm somebody else, you are allowed to abuse yourself in the privacy of your own property, one could argue this to extend to all of your property, as long as its private.

    The initiative was lost by very little and there is now a large minority thats agrees with utilising Hemp farming and all low carbon expertise that comes with it.

    Not that they are doing it in the open, but all I can see is the machinations of large multinationals behind the scenes, trying to oust this man as a lawbreaking idiot who wants to take his own life, he is not.

    The Swiss might be proud of their own created law, but it can not be absolute.

    Swiss banking excesses and privacy has deprived millions of poor people of their rightfull taxes and services,i th as covered criminals and gangs who use these accounts to clean their dirty money.

    Swiss high society and establishment has a historic account with humanity, its banks supported and helped the Nazi’s and they have covered up contemporary crimes by means of secret accounting.

    This issue is unconnected with Bernhard, merely an example as to why the swiss sytems is not as perfect as always made out, and something the kantons can change, as you so rightly point out.

    They could end this gastly legacy with one foul stroke, but would they?

    The rich and powerfull in Swiss society will always manage to bend the law in their own direction, laws that do not cover the social responsibilities of banks and their customers, are rigidly applied to the Swiss themselves, thats far from perfect don’t you think?

    How can laws be blind to certain crimes because money changes hands?

    Should you be able to get me on to Swiss radio, let us know, I’m willing to square up to anyone on this issue, in my native German or, preferably, in English.

    Shall bring my own crossbow and apple?(:-)

    Free Bernhard Rappaz!

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