Tag Archives: cash for access

Ofcom report on Rifkind and Straw is more proof Parliament’s standards commission must be scrapped


Tamasin Cave, campaigner for the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency, is right to state that the standards regime is “not fit for purpose and not doing what the public expect of it”.

Cave added that David Cameron had failed in his promise to clean up politics when it comes to MPs being lobbied by corporate interests, and this is also correct.

The current Ofcom report came after Standards Commissioner Kathryn Hudson’s decision on the Rifkind and Straw case was challenged by Labour MP Paul Flynn – and shows he was right to do so.

Furthermore, it has emerged that Rifkind was a member of the panel that helped appoint Hudson as Standards Commissioner, three years ago. Corruption?

The parliamentary standards commissioner Kathryn Hudson is facing questions for criticising the media sting on Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw, after regulator Ofcom found the reporting was of significant public interest and did not unfairly represent the MPs.

Ofcom opened an investigation into the programme in question, a joint operation between Channel 4 and the Daily Telegraph, after Rifkind and Straw were cleared of cash-for-access allegations by Hudson and the standards committee of MPs in September.

The programme used secret filming to allege that the MPs offered their political connections to earn money from commercial companies.

After exonerating the MPs of breaching parliamentary standards, Hudson said the damage done to the former MPs could have been avoided if Channel 4’s Dispatches and the Daily Telegraph had accurately reported the exchanges they had filmed.

The House of Commons standards committee was even more critical of the journalism, saying it was “very concerned that the matter should have been reported in this fashion”.

But Ofcom took a different view on Monday, saying there was a “significant public interest” in exploring the conduct of the MPs and that in the circumstances undercover filming was “proportionate and warranted”.

In its 38-page ruling, Ofcom also said that the filming was an “accurate representation” of the discussions the MPs held.

Source: Parliamentary commissioner faces questions over Rifkind and Straw sting | Media | The Guardian

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The Conservatives support big business and corruption rather than the electorate

This cartoon by David Simonds, from The Guardian, illustrates the problem - fat-cat businesses back Cameron while the working-class poor can only watch while they starve.

This cartoon by David Simonds, from The Guardian, illustrates the problem – fat-cat businesses back Cameron while the working-class poor can only watch while they starve.

Looking at the headline, one might thing that is a bold claim – but it is what David Cameron’s party supported with their votes yesterday.

The Tories fended off a Labour Opposition Day motion for Parliament to ban MPs from having directorships or consultancies with private business interests with a vote of 287 against the motion, compared with 219 for – a majority of 68.

Shadow Commons Leader Angela Eagle said the public deserved to be “safe in the knowledge” that every MP was working and acting in their interests – and not for somebody paying them.

But her Tory counterpart, William Hague, pretended that unions were a far greater influence on MPs.

In that case, perhaps he should have explained the amount of influence that unions have held over the Coalition Government during the last five years, relative to big business – to illustrate his point.

No such demonstration was forthcoming – because unions have no influence on Tories while businesses dictate the Conservative Party’s every move.

This is what the last five years of Conservative-led Coalition Government have been about, you see – changing the system to make it easier for big business to make a profit – and to pass some of it on to the Tories in donations to party funds.

You won’t see any change in that while Tories are in office.

Labour has already changed its rules to ensure none of its MPs can hold business consultancies or directorships after this year’s general election.

That sends out a clear message about who voters can trust to make the right decisions.

David Cameron, meanwhile, just can’t get anything right.

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Cameron outflanked and outclassed by Miliband on MPs’ second jobs

Triumph: Ed Miliband had David Cameron on the ropes in Prime Minister's Questions.

Triumph: Ed Miliband had David Cameron on the ropes in Prime Minister’s Questions.

That’ll be another win for Ed Miliband this week, then.

Obviously, the topic of the leader exchanges at Prime Minister’s Questions (or Wednesday Shouty Time, for political realists) was always going to be MPs’ second jobs and ‘cash for access’.

Both Conservative Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Labour MP Jack Straw were implicated in a ‘hidden camera’ operation to show they were selling their services as MPs for money.

Ed Miliband acted immediately with a plan to stop MPs taking high-paying consultancies and directorships, saying they cannot serve two masters. David Cameron, on the other hand, did nothing – putting him in a weak position before today’s battle began.

It started in civilised fashion: Ed Miliband said the reputation of all members of the House had been “damaged” by the recent revelations, and Cameron responded by saying they were “extremely serious” and it is right they are investigated.

Cameron went on to explain that he is not ruling out further changes on second jobs – but the existing rules should be “properly applied”. Meaning they’re not already? Whose responsibility is that?

Having built up a slight head of steam, Cameron then ruined it by suggesting the government has tightened up the rules on lobbying and introduced a right of recall. We all know that both of these measures pay lip-services to their stated aim, while in fact protecting lobbyists’ access to ministers and helping MPs keep their seats.

Miliband capitalised on this by pointing out that Cameron said – in a 2009 speech before he became Prime Minister – that he would end the practice of “double-jobbing” as he called it then. We all know nothing happened about it after he took office so this was clearly yet another pre-2010 election lie.

Cameron tried to parry by saying Labour’s proposals to ban outside directorships are “not thought through”, repeating a claim made earlier this week that they would allow someone to be a trade union official but not run a family business or shop.

He worsened his position by adding that he believes Parliament is “stronger” if MPs have outside interests. So he’s in favour of the kind of corruption exhibited by Rifkind and Straw?

Clearly, Cameron thought his line on “paid trade union officials” would hammer Miliband down – but the Labour leader batted it away without batting an eyelid. He said he was prepared to add trade union officials to the list of extra jobs that should be banned, in Labour’s motion on the subject to be debated later.

This left Cameron with nowhere to go. He tried to raise the outside earnings of current and former Labour ministers like Tristram Hunt and David Miliband, but the Labour leader said Cameron “talked big” while in opposition and should now “vote for one job – not two”.

Cameron’s final claim, that Labour is “owned lock stock and barrel” by the unions, fell flat following Miliband’s concession on union jobs, while Mr Miliband scored a final hit by pointing out that the Conservatives are controlled by wealthy hedge funds.

Now Cameron is in a corner.

He won’t want to let Labour score a victory by conceding this afternoon’s vote on consultancies and directorships (and now, it seems, trade union officialdom) because it would allow Labour to say it has again changed government policy – and also the rules of Parliament.

But if he opposes the move, then the electorate will see a Conservative Party that works for big business rather than the electorate, and supports corruption.

What is he going to do?

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‘Cash for access’ – Cameron revealed as a repeat offender

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