Socialist Worker

Stench of corruption

Issue No. 1681

in my view

Stench of corruption

By Kevin Ovenden

I FELT sorry for the TV journalists reporting on the race for the US presidency. They did their best to liven up the selection of the Republican Party's candidate for president in the Iowa hustings. But they could not stray far from one stubborn fact. Texas governor George Bush (son of former US president George Bush) had $70 million of business money behind him. His main opponent had a mere $27 million. Therefore, there were no odds at the bookies on who would win. US politics is notoriously corrupt. Two capitalist parties seek rival big business funding, present big business policies, pay back their favours in office, and between them fail to attract the support of over half the electorate.

Ah, but that is the discredited First Way of unrestrained capitalism, according to the New Labour "thinkers". What then of the unfolding scandal surrounding the German Tory party, the CDU, which this week sucked in the French Socialist Party and its former leader, the late Fran�ois Mitterrand? The CDU secretly filled its coffers with millions of pounds from an arms dealer and other shady businessmen throughout the 1990s. The lies that are unravelling are so monstrous they are off the top end of even the Jeffrey Archer scale. Former party leader Helmut Kohl now looks a dead ringer for Marlon Brando's Mafia boss in The Godfather and has earned the nickname Don Kohleone. Kohl oversaw the unification of Germany in 1990.

It appears that much of the CDU's slush fund went into buying up the defunct Stalinist political apparatus in East Germany. It used the money to smooth the transition from state capitalism to market capitalism. Kohl was also, with his French counterpart Mitterrand, the main driving force behind the European Union. The focus of the scandal has now turned to how these two men siphoned off money from the takeover of an East German state-owned oil company by a French state-owned oil company. What an indictment of the corrupt Second Way, European state-directed capitalism.

Which brings us to shiny New Labour and a third nasty whiff of corruption. Multi-millionaire and Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson is under investigation over the collapse of TransTec, the engineering company he founded in 1991 with a little help from the crook Robert Maxwell. On one level it seems a bit unfair. All TransTec did was hide from the authorities an �11 million debt it owed Ford, go bust last year, and throw its hard working employees on the dole. Standard business practice. It must seem doubly unfair to Robinson, who has splashed his cash around his New Labour friends. Peter Mandelson got a �300,000 loan, the Blairs got use of his Tuscan villa, and for 18 months Robinson got to be the Paymaster General (you couldn't make up a better title). It is almost a commonplace when New Labour leaders seek money from big businessmen, tailor their policies to suit them, and hope to emulate their lifestyles. Capitalist interests, whether in the free market US or social democratic Europe, undermine the sliver of democracy we are allowed. New Labour's Third Way blather was never that new. But it has come to something when it can't even come up with a novel form of corruption.

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Thu 27 Jan 2000, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1681
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