Sleaze and scandal stalk this government. David Cameron is under pressure and is desperate to avoid being caught in the mire. But it’s getting harder for him to do so.
It was always going to be difficult for a cabinet made up of a majority of millionaires to spin the virtues of austerity. A new “rich list” shows that the cabinet is worth a whopping £40 million.
But this obscene wealth hasn’t stopped them fiddling their expenses. The most recent to be caught out lining her pockets is Baroness Warsi, co-chair of the Conservative Party.
She is the most hard-up cabinet member with a mere £221,000 of wealth. Perhaps this is why she claimed up to £2,000 in “overnight subsistence” in 2008 even though she was staying with a friend.
Not content with claiming for a hotel stay that never happened she has also been found to be receiving rental income she hadn’t declared from a London flat.
But there is a deeper scandal beyond the sheer wealth and greed of the Tories. Political corruption is knitted in to every section of the ruling class.
The phone hacking scandal has exposed the common interests of political elites, their media baron friends and the top brass of the Metropolitan Police.
This week sees the first serving of cabinet ministers up in front of the Leveson inquiry. Education secretary Michael Gove has a close relationship to Rupert Murdoch.
He has described Murdoch as a “great man” and complained that Leveson has had a “chilling” impact on press freedom. No wonder Gove is seen as Murdoch’s point man in the cabinet.
Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt—the fourth richest cabinet member with a fortune of £4.8 million—is also set to be appearing at the Leveson inquiry this week.
This is a man who should have been sacked the moment that friendly email exchanges between his assistant and News International came to light.
Vince Cable lost his role overseeing the proposed Murdoch takeover of BSkyB for less. He was recorded boasting “I have declared war on Mr Murdoch and I think we are going to win”—and his responsibilities were promptly handed to Hunt.
In Hunt’s case the assistant was sacrificed while he survives—for now. His ability to avoid retribution suggests his role is not just to look after Murdoch’s interests in government but also looking after the Tories’ interests with Murdoch.
If he goes there will be little left to shield Cameron and George Osborne from scrutiny of their links to the Murdoch empire.
Corruption lays bare the rotten networks at the top of society. This a government of the rich for the rich—and that lies at the root of all these scandals.