“Cash for Access” Scams

I try not to comment too much on politics and political news. Too fraught with strong opinions and, honestly, I don’t want the hassle.

But, this week has brought yet more scandal about “cash for access” to Parliament and MPs being paid to lobby for whatever. I will stress the alleged nature of these accusations against the two MPs in question (one Labour, one Tory – nice to see it so balanced!) and how there’s no real evidence that wrong-doing has occurred (time of writing: 18:10, 23rd Feb. ’15) – or so the Beeb’s 6 o’clock Radio 4 news has just said. So, you know. Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t.

The story goes that they were caught in stings by undercover journalists for the Daily Telegraph and Channel 5, looking for British politicians to join the advisory board of a made-up Chinese firm. Of the twelve apparently approached, two senior, long-standing MPs began preliminary discussions and were filmed apparently talking about how they’d been paid previously for lobbying on behalf of companies.

I’m sorry, what? How many stories like this have we had?

When will these people learn? Do they not research – you know, with Google – the people who pop up and say, “Hi, I work for so-and-so, and I’ve got a proposition for you poor underpaid public servants”? Credit where credit’s due, most of the twelve approached either ignored or did investigate this company.

But you’d think the senior politicians might know better and be on their guard against such scams. It’s not like we haven’t had quite a few over the years.

And as to the “investigative” journalists, well! Creating a scandal isn’t quite the same as investigating allegations of a scandal.

And I’m not sure that banning MPs from having second jobs is the answer. Surely then they’d be more likely to accept money with strings attached if they can’t manage for whatever reason on an MP’s salary? Especially as it’s not likely the public would appreciate them having another pay-rise…

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