2n. Croneyism

Also known as ‘chumocracy’ – a set-up where priviledged people in parliament can outsource contracts to their mates. From Jon Stone a couple of years ago; “The Conservatives have been accused of an attempt to hide party cronyism after quietly switching the way that the political affiliations of people given top public-sector roles are recorded.

Critics claimed the switch in the way affiliations are recorded will mean Tories could ‘hand top jobs to their mates’, just months after officials blocked part of Mr Cameron’s resignation honours list in which aides and friends were handed baubles including a peerage and knighthoods.

It comes just 24 hours after Theresa May’s administration was accused of making a separate change to how public appointments are approved that would make it easier for ministers in the future to pick political allies for senior jobs.

But it is the ‘methodology change’ in how political affiliations are recorded that will mask any glut of appointments… The co-leader of the Green party, Jonathan Bartley, told The Independent:

It’s no wonder more and more people are disillusioned with politics when we have a system that doesn’t just fail to stop politicians handing top jobs to their mates, but also deliberately seeks to hide what’s going on. We’ve long called for transparency to be the watchword when it comes to political appointments and the revolving doors that exist between industry and government. Sadly though, cronyism is still the order of the day.”

Labour shadow minister Andrew Gwynne branded the change a ‘gross distortion of government data’. He told The Independent:

These changes attempt to hide the true scale of the Tories’ power grab on our democracy – hiding the extent to which Tory allies have been snuck into the boardrooms of public institutions…It’s a gross distortion of government data, flies in the face of transparency and must be stopped.”

Mr Cameron was dragged into a cronyism row this summer after an independent scrutiny committee blocked part of his resignation honours list, refusing to support an award to a City businessman who raised an estimated £70m for the party. Theresa May refused to intervene to block the list, which Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson branded an “old boy’s network” and Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said “would embarrass a medieval court.”

Edited version of ‘Tories ‘masking true scale’ of political cronyism with quiet rule change. Jon Stone Political Correspondent for the Independent

More up to date, in November 2020, The Times reported that the government had awarded £10.5 billion in contracts directly without any competition :

Political ‘cronies’ given fast track to PPE contracts worth billions

“Ministers set up a VIP fast-track channel to buy billions of pounds of PPE from companies who had political contacts with the government and MPs, a damning report reveals today.

Amid accusations of cronyism, government auditors found that suppliers with links to politicians were ten times more likely to be awarded contracts than those who applied to the Department of Health and Social Care. In some cases due diligence checks were not carried out until weeks after contracts had been awarded.

At the same time officials paid more than £5 million in consultancy fees to companies with close links to ministers and the Conservative Party. These included a £1.5 million deal with two New Zealand social media consultants who worked on Boris Johnson’s election campaign.”

Much of the above public expenditure appears to have been wasted on items that were either not delivered, or not fit for use. The evident abuse of priviledge in the above will be paid for by taxpayers.

Even at the level of local town and parish councils there is governance to stop such abuse of the system. Local councillors have a ‘Code of Conduct’ in public life and declare their interests, opting out of any vote that includes their interest. Why does this not work at a parliamentary level?

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