Big business is still big business for the Tories. Despite Cameron’s recent pasty-lovin‘, man of-the-people exploits, it seems he and his party can’t shake the tag of favouring the rich. And this latest scandal hasn’t exactly helped them to this end. Whilst the major worry was originally a supposed breach of regulations regarding foreign donations (although little tangible evidence of this has come to light) this scandal has turned into a fiery debate about the kind of people Cam and Sam have evening meals with. All of the donors on the recently released list of attendees at ‘private social meetings’ with Cameron are either Lords, multi-millionaires or billionaires. I’m not by any stretch suggesting that Cameron should be instead fraternising with the local bin-men, but how about just some bog-standard, run-of-the-mill millionaires? No, instead he chums up with a group whose cumulative wealth would put the GDP of Andorra to shame (why Andorra? Small country, begins with A. First to mind essentially. Lazy of me? Perhaps.)
The amount this group has donated to the Tories has almost as many zeros as the Zimbabwean bank note needed to buy a loaf of bread; in total the figure is £19,000,000 from twenty-six sources. That averages at £730,000 each. That’s a lot of numbers just to read, let alone donate. There’s nothing inherently wrong with vast sums of wealth like this, it’s just difficult to reconcile being a party who supports the views of the über-rich whilst trying to nab a vote off Johnny Smithson, the bus-driver whose annual earnings amount to what the wine on the Chequers’ table cost at these functions. Which brings me nice and neatly onto the next section. No, I’m not going to talk about wine…as much as I’d like to…
2. It’s all about Con-text
Let’s face it, this scandal is no worse than the ‘Cash-for-Honours’ affair that happened under Labour a few years back. What makes it seem worse is the timing. Coming to light just after the recent budget, which has been described by commentators as everything from ‘disgraceful’ and smacking of ‘incompetence and cowardice’ (okay, that one is from The Guardian, but still) to ‘stunts and gimmicks’ that ‘in fiscal terms, amount to very little’ (that’s the Telegraph! I know, I had to double check that it really came from them), means that the Tories can’t help but be seen as hypocritical and self-serving. Whilst the Grannies are apparently being robbed blind and pasty-gate has given lazy journalists (myself included) another opportunity to crack out that overused suffix, Mr. Billionaire is paying a quarter of a million to twist Cameron’s arm into giving him a bit of (or I guess for that amount, a hell of) a tax-cut. Although one would imagine there was less twisting and more gentle caressing. Actually I really don’t want to imagine that. Oh god, I can’t get the image out of my head! No sleep for me tonight.
So no, this isn’t more extreme corruption in British politics. It’s just bad decision-making, bad P.R and most of all, bad timing.
3. The Trust is Bust
What is perhaps most surprising about this scandal is that it’s not in the least bit surprising. We as a nation have come to expect this kind of detritus in our political system, and whilst by no means accepting it as a good thing, we have most certainly come to terms with it as part and parcel of being governed by identikit politicians, forged in the furnaces of Eton and Oxbridge, who have about as much experience of ‘real’ life as automatons and whose moral compasses are as shiny as iPads but as bent as nine-bob notes.
The public don’t trust Cameron and Osbourne almost as much as they don’t trust Clegg. In fact they don’t trust any MP one tiny bit because by the time you’ve reached the halls of Westminster, you’ve already sold your soul to the devil thrice over in order to get there. To get into a position of power, you have to fit ‘the mould’. And that means compromising on all morals and convictions. And we the public are not blind to this. We are not the ignorant plebs it seems the ‘right honourable’ gentlemen believe we are. Let us rise up and take back the power, we are the rulers and…oops sorry, briefly thought I was a reincarnation of Ché Guevarra there. Maybe I am…let’s see, do I wear a beret? No? Okay I’m not him. Oh well…still, ¡Viva La Revolución!
4. Labour are still labouring behind
Okay so that’s a mildly misleading sub-heading considering Labour are in fact now ahead in the polls, but then so they bloody-well should be after what was by far the most calamitous couple of weeks this government has had so far. The point is that they are not far enough ahead; not creating enough of a buzz as the leading opposition, two years into the government’s term and amidst the current furore. This should be prime Labour-loving time but instead the public cannot help but be reminded of what happened last time they had a shot at running things.
It may be in part due to, as my previous point suggests, a diminishing faith in politicians generally. In fact a recent Yougov poll showed that 17% of people intended to vote for non-mainstream parties at the next election: that’s the highest it’s ever been. But I think it may also have something to do with Labour’s choice of a replacement for good ol’ Gordon. Ed Milliband is cardboard personified, and I use the word personified in its loosest sense. He is so dull that he makes his brother seem like Ernest Hemmingway. He is so flimsy with his policies you could push him down the stairs (please!) and he’d fall like a slinky (maybe he should be replaced by a slinky. After all, everyone loves a slinky). He is so pointless a politician that I’m going to stop writing about him mid-sen…
So another thing we’ve learnt from this scandal is that no matter how crap the Tories are, Labour don’t seem any better.
5. Sack the system?
More and more reasons are coming to the fore as to why entire aspects of the Westminster system need an overhaul. This business has only highlighted the need for a review into how parties are and should be funded. I’m not just picking on the Tories here, Labour’s intrinsic links with the unions must also be called into question. On the one side we have the city-boys whipping toys and on the other, the proletariat mouth-piece. Or at least that would be the case, if they weren’t basically two sides of the same coin. A coin covered in shit. That you pick up of the floor ’cause it catches your eye, and then immediately regret the decision. Your hand smells all day. This analogy ran its course a while ago.
Is it time for regulated public funding? Maybe, or perhaps we could just get rid of parties all together. I mean who needs these bully-boy fraternities telling us what to do. Not me. Do you? Let’s just get rid of the party system and vote in independents. People like George Galloway, he’s…umm…okay…
Or maybe, just maybe, we should instead go for a pint down the Stag’s and wait for all this to blow over.