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Star Comment: What they’ll do unbribed

CHRIS GRAYLING’S declaration, in light of David Cameron and Boris Johnson’s £160,000 tennis match, that rich Tory Party donors can’t expect to dictate policy, recalls Humbert Wolfe’s verse on the incorruptibility of Britain’s media.

Wolfe said: “You cannot hope to bribe or twist, thank God, the British journalist. But, seeing what the man will do unbribed, there’s no occasion to.”

No-one expects former Russian deputy finance minister Vladimir Chernukhin to have drawn up a list of what he expects for the £160,000 offered by his wife to the Tory leader.

Chernukhin doesn’t need to. He knows that the Bullingdon boys need no persuasion to put big business and Britain’s wealthy minority first.

It’s their default position. They are of that minority, beneficiaries of inherited wealth and defenders of privilege. Their families send them to exclusive schools, partly taxpayer-funded as “charities,” designed not so much to provide quality education as membership of an interlinked elite.

This privately schooled privileged caste dominates the upper echelons of business, land ownership, government, judiciary, the Civil Service, the military, the BBC and the media.

They don’t see speaking out in favour of a low-tax regime for the rich and corporations, state subsidies for big business and landowners, legal restrictions on trade unions, public-sector privatisation, slashing services and benefits as part of a generalised “slimming down” of the state as special pleading.

For them it is a natural inclination to defend and, where possible, extend their own privileged position in society.

They regard themselves as born to rule, confirmed in their prejudice by their wealth, their social standing and their quasi-total separation from the lives of the people of no property.

This well-heeled minority opposed every proposal to widen the franchise, being fundamentally antagonistic to democracy since they reasoned that those who had traditionally ruled the country could be outvoted by the oiks.

That remains their collective fear, which is why those with the deepest pockets ensure that their preferred party does not lack for cash to spread its electoral message, aided and abetted by the capitalist media.

Grayling’s attempt to portray Ed Miliband as a creature of the trade union “bosses” is a classic example of the Big Lie. He seeks to implant the idea that working people clubbing together through their unions to finance a political alternative to the Tories’ austerity agenda is a threat to democracy rather than a vibrant example of it.

The Justice Secretary tries to curdle voters’ blood, declaring: “All that money will come with a price. No-one seriously believes the union bosses are providing all that cash for nothing.”

But neither he nor any other Tory blow-hard can point to a single policy “imposed” on Labour by the unions.

Miliband and company actually go out of their way to avoid backing policies supported by the unions and by most voters — such as rail renationalisation, returning the utilities to public ownership and investing heavily in a council housebuilding — in order to appear “responsible.”

Labour should not only oppose the Tory Party but also reject the narrow political parameters within which the Establishment insists policy must be framed to avoid falling into the “irresponsible” bracket.

Transparent and democratically accountable fund-raising, as practised by trade unionists, puts to shame the clandestine and shady methods used by the Tories.

There should be an equally clearly defined gulf between the parties’ political priorities.

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