Monday, 8 March 2010

The democracy money can buy

If anybody was surprised to learn last week that Lord Ashcroft, major donor to the Tory Party pays next to no income tax in Britain, they have not been following the news for the last thirty years. The buying of political influence has been becoming more and more flagrant. If anything it got worse under the Blair-Brown-Mandelson regime. There is now little to choose between the US and us.

The sad truth is that corporations have taken over the world. Ministers and civil servants are increasingly just the front men - and women - for their operations, conveniently changing laws or failing to change them, and deflecting criticism to suit them and their shareholders. Tiny Blair was caught at it in the very first months of his reign, exempting formula one racing at Silverstone from a ban on tobacco advertising, in gratitude for a donation to New Labour by its owner Bernie Ecclestone. Blair told us he was 'a regular kind of guy' and handed back the money, so Ecclestone had his cake and ate it. Having swallowed that scandal, it was clear that the public would not choke on anything.

That's why people can't be bothered to vote. Smooth Mr Cameron and his Etonian friends sound as devoid of principles and policies as Blair at his worst. In fact many people might in the end decide that they prefer gruff Mr Brown, not that he is any less susceptible to corporate pressure. But either way the corporations will continue to rule, and they will pay the money needed to win over the few tens of thousands of floating voters in marginal constituencies who will decide the election result.

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