As each new revelation about Cameron’s long association with the disgraced banker Lex Greensill has surfaced – the lobbying, the stock options, the private jets, Lex’s Downing Street business card, the boys’ camping trip with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – the stench has become harder to stomach.
Ben Wright 2 April www.telegraph.co.uk (Extract)
…..The problem is that he went to work for the very same man he had invited into the heart of government. He blurred the demarcation line between his public and private careers to the point of non-existence. If it didn’t break the rules, we need new ones.
This isn’t just about one man and his weapons-grade sense of entitlement. The points on the sliding scale between chumocracy, sleaze, crony capitalism and outright corruption can too easily elide. Where, for example, should we place the dealings of housing secretary Robert Jenrick with property developers, or contracts issued by health secretary Matt Hancock to certain PPE suppliers?
This stuff is deeply insidious. Sure it further undermines trust in politicians. More importantly it will make it harder for future governments to draw on the expertise of private companies – either in shrinking the state to make it more efficient or, as during the pandemic, scaling up at speed to deal with an emergency.
What we really need is more self-aware politicians and a greater sense of probity in public life. In the meantime we should redouble our efforts to lampoon those who, just for example, attack Silicon Valley companies for not paying enough tax, say they’re “not especially bedazzled by Facebook” and then scuttle off to become Mark Zuckerberg’s bag carrier as soon as they’ve been booted out by the electorate.
There must be far greater transparency of government contracts. It can’t be right that civil servants were asking questions about the mechanics of Greensill’s pharmacies scheme and unable to get straight answers. If these deals are not comprehensible to a layperson then the assumption must be that there’s something nasty hiding in the small print…….