Corruption in the UK (Updated)

A few excerpts from an article in the New Statesman :

“The last prime minister to make a fortune out of public office was Lloyd George. Today’s cabinet ministers earn middle-class salaries, and most of them live in modest houses. So why do people think otherwise?”

“Corruption in British public life can be divided schematically into three phases. Until the 19th century men entered politics in ­order to enrich themselves and to reward their dependants. Samuel Pepys was a senior civil servant at the Admiralty. His diaries in the 1660s are a squalid record of how he accepted endless financial and sexual favours in return for awarding contracts and arranging promotions. Sir Robert Walpole, Britain’s first prime minister, amassed a prodigious fortune.

“For reasons that are still not well understood, something fundamental changed in Britain in the Victorian period. Gladstonian liberalism brought moral rectitude to national life. The sale of military commissions was abolished. The Northcote/Trevelyan reforms led to the creation of an impartial civil service, with promotion by merit rather than nepotism. The Victorians consolidated the idea of the public domain, a sphere where the common good rather than self-interest and greed was paramount.

“Of course corruption continued, because human nature is venal. But it was no longer part of the system of government. Corrupt public officials were now rogue elements, who were sent to jail and held up to public scorn if they were caught.  …

“David Whyte, professor of socio-legal studies at the University of Liverpool, challenges this complacency in How Corrupt Is Britain?, an ambitious collection of essays. Professor Whyte maintains that only a “residual racism” prevents us from acknow­ledging that we are corrupt on the scale of southern Europe, Afghanistan or Russia. Corruption is once more embedded in British public life, Whyte asserts…

“These are extremely large claims and Whyte endeavours to substandestrtiate them by citing all kinds of malfeasance: phone-hacking, the LIBOR banking scandals, child abuse allegations, the manipulation of evidence by police over the Hillsborough disaster, the 2013 horse meat labelling scandal, and so forth. Corruption, he concludes, is “a central mode of power-mongering in contemporary Britain”.

“The same applies to police misconduct, the subject of several other essays in this book. The police have largely not been subject to the same sorts of pressure to adapt to market forces as have been brought to bear on the NHS, schools and the welfare state. Episodes such as Hillsborough are horrifying, but cannot be laid at the door of Milton Friedman. In any case, police corruption dates back to well before the neoliberal revolution, as the Mark report into Met corruption during the 1970s shows.”

Try this report as well Corruption_in_UK_Local_Government-_The_Mounting_Risks

A report from The Independent