Socialist Worker

Tory government wants Thatchers’ cosy corruption to be kept secret indefinitely

Issue No. 2514

Tory prime minister Theresa May is keeping a lid on her predecessors corruption

Tory prime minister Theresa May is keeping a lid on her predecessors' corruption (Pic: Number 10 Flickr)


Tory corruption is to be kept secret. Two files entitled “Cementation contract: Mark Thatcher and the Omanis” are listed as being “retained” for 65 years. Two others were “temporarily retained” with no release date.

Under public records legislation, official files are released to the National Archives after 20 years.

Last year the Cabinet Office chose not to fully release government files for the first time in 50 years. That seems to now have become the tradition. The decision not to release the files was taken by John Whittingdale—who coincidently was an aid to Margaret Thatcher at the time the files were produced.

The £300 million business deal was for property firm Cementation International—for which Mark Thatcher worked as a consultant—to build a university in Oman. Other bidders complained that Thatcher used her influence with the Sultan of Oman. Her private secretary at the time said her conduct had a “whiff of corruption”.

Allegations

The files mentioned “other allegations”.

This is probably the al-Yamamah arms deal. Mark Thatcher received up to £12 million commission for his role in the al-Yamamah arms-for-oil deal with Saudi Arabia, signed in 1985.

In 2005 Mark Thatcher was convicted and given a four-year suspended jail sentence and a fine in South Africa for his part in an attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea.

Among the other files listed as being retained is a series of Number 10 papers about the royal family. The secret files include one entitled “Career of Prince Andrew Duke of York” and another entitled “The Prince of Wales’ Special Projects Unit”.

Also held back is a series of files relating to the Spycatcher case, which concerned the government’s efforts to suppress the memoirs of the former MI5 officer Peter Wright.

They did release a document that showed that in 1983 Margaret Thatcher’s aides wanted to publish pictures of nine month old Prince William to distract media attention away from a huge CND protest.


Daily Mail uncovers a huge extreme left

Good news! It seems the radical left is much, much bigger than Socialist Worker readers may have realised. A Daily Mail newspaper article last week whined about the Labour leadership election.

It pointed out that people can pay £25 to become a registered supporter of Labour and get a vote in the leadership election.

“More than 180,000 people have done so, sparking fears that the extreme left is attempting to flood the vote,” it said.


But then again maybe the Daily Mail isn’t always the most reliable source. A “correction” in Monday’s issue apologised for referring to the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust (JRCT) as a “pro-terrorist charity” in a headline. “We are happy to make clear that the JRCT does not support or fund terrorism,” it admitted.


Government lied over Yemen bombs

Ministers have repeatedly misled parliament over Saudi Arabian forces’ use of British-made cluster bombs in Yemen.

Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood admitted the “misleading” last week–coincidentally on the last day of parliamentary sitting. He issued “corrections” to six statements the department had made on the Yemen crisis over the past six months.

One statement said ministers had “assessed that there has not been a breach of international humanitarian law by the coalition”. The correction made clear this should have said, “We have been unable to assess that there has been a breach of international humanitarian law by the Saudi-led coalition.”

The United Nations last month reported that this “coalition” had killed over 500 children in Yemen over one year.

Worried about how David Cameron will make ends meet after resigning as prime minister? Don’t worry—his memoirs are on the way!

Tories consider Orgreave

Campaigners hailed a breakthrough last week after home secretary Amber Rudd agreed to meet a delegation from the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign (OTJC) in September.

The OTJC is calling for a public inquiry into the Battle of Orgreave, which took place on 18 June 1984.

Police attacked striking miners picketing a coking plant in Orgreave, Sheffield, then tried to frame several miners for riot.

Rudd said she would consider the possibility of an inquiry over the summer.


MPs—‘we’re not lazy, we’re against sexism’

A report on tackling sexism at Westminster was published last week. Ingeniously it found a way of recommending MPs work even less in the name of helping women.

It recommended a four-day week so MPs could “spend more time with their children”. These are the same MPs who have over 15 weeks holiday a year.

Concern about working hours keeping parents from their children doesn’t extend to the rest of us.


FAT CAT OF THE WEEK

George Freeman, Tory MP

  • Is the head of prime minister Theresa May’s policy board.
  • In 2013 he proposed cutting employment rights and wages in poorer areas in a paper.
  • The paper, “The Innovation Economy Industrial Policy” argues for halving corporation tax. And exempting companies from paying tax or enforcing any employment rights for their first three years.

Ex-Daily Telegraph newspaper owner Conrad Black has called thuggish racist Donald Trump a “great public figure”. It’s no surprise. Trump called for police profiling of Muslims following the homophobic killings in Orlando. Black approved. “The perpetrators of these acts rarely surprise us by their appearance,” he said.


The Tabloids were last week full of pictures of a child as he turned three. Not really news, you say? Except this was the second-to-latest royal scrounger. Unfortunately one of the pictures led to a number of calls for prince George to be sent to jail for animal cruelty. It showed him feeding his dog a chocolate covered ice cream!


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