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Editorial: At last Labour comes out swinging over Tory corruption

IN a significant relaxation of the previous system in which profit-hungry bosses seeking government contracts were required to be personally acquainted with the prime minister or at least have attended the same institutions of education, now it is merely necessary to have his phone number on speed dial.

It is to deal with this integral feature of Tory government that Labour has demanded that ministers end the “text for access” system.

And in a move that will enthuse the busily electioneering activists, Westminster Labour has called for Rishi Sunak to make public all “tax breaks by text” and any relevant Greensill communications

If anyone ever entertained doubts that this administration is a government of the rich and for the rich, then the continuing controversy about the corrupting influence of ministerial and Civil Service links with big business should set them on the road to revelation.

Set aside the diversionary nonsense about a falling-out between those two tricky chancers, Dominic Cummings and Boris Johnson.

The first is a disgruntled dropout with an eclectic collection of remedies for the contemporary capitalist crisis. His meteoric rise and equally rapid fall are proof of the counter-intuitive truth that actually you can read too many books. The latter has no pretence to tackle these questions.

This kind of scandal is standard for the capitalist system. The main modification is the refusal of anyone with sticky fingers to take the rap.

Nowadays the only ministerial resignations are performative pretences like that of the tin soldier Johnny Mercer who thinks wearing the Queen’s uniform is licence to commit murder and go unpunished.

Johnson the buffoon makes no rival claims to great profundity. While his tenure in No 10 has so far been dependent on the ineffectiveness of the the official opposition, we can be sure that when his utility to our ruling class ends he, too, will be despatched with efficiency.

The Downing Street media machine has fingered Cummings as prime suspect in the continuing trickle of text messages which expose intimate relations between government and business figures on the make.

It may be that these revelations will make less impact on the elections than media comment suggests. Tory sleaze is already priced into the political balance accounts by most electors.

Where Johnson is also vulnerable is with revelations that he remains on intimate terms with chief Saudi head-chopper, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

Johnson must be wondering whether the renewed focus on his predecessor Davi dCameron’s insistent lobbying on behalf of the capsized Greensill Capital finance house might take the heat off himself.

A brief recap of this scandal points to the instability of our financialised economy. Greensill specialised in speculative supply chain finance.

When insurers lost confidence, the chain reaction set in and Greensill went belly up. When last year the German bank regulator filed a criminal complaint and shut down the firm’s Germany-based banking operation, the chances of Cameron cashing in on his stock options vanished.

It is his energetic lobbying on behalf of the firm that gives this story staying power while the release of communications which show his frustration at Treasury officials foot-dragging over his insistent entreaties can be read as evidence that factional tensions remain at the heart of the government machine.

Labour does much better when it comes out fighting. The rediscovery ­ that its southpaw left hook is more effective than anything its right arm possesses is encouraging.

If Labour cannot be relied to expose and condemn capitalist corruption in all its manifestations then it will not recover lost ground in places where it needs to win.


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