It’s been a bad- or a good week, depending how you look at it, for Democracy in the UK. The LIBOR scandal gathered pace with various people adopting battle lines. Most notably George Osborne, the Chancellor seeking to blame Labour’s Ed Balls for the mess, was roundly defeated by a parliamentary enquiry which found no such thing and is now being pressured to apologise. Unfortunately, we still saw Barclays attitude to this affair when they handed Bob Diamond £2m as a pay off, twice what he was entitled to and still no regrets from Diamond either. On the plus side of this one, people are switching their accounts away from Barclays in droves, sick, at last, of the shameless profiteering and corruption that is coming to light.
Staying in Parliament but moving to the House of Lords, there was a vote this week to seek to make the Lords an elected house instead of its mixture of cronyism – many of them are appointed by government – and hereditary right. (Don’t forget we’re talking feudal rights here.) instead, of all the things that the Nasties could have rebelled against in this parliament, 91 of them rebelled against a 3 line whip and voted the move down, to the extreme anger of Cameron. It was only when the Guardian dug further into this that we find that some 25% of existing lords also have jobs in, or are paid by the City. It is only when this sort of thing comes to light that you are left understanding how important it is to be born in the right household. Social mobility died a generation ago and the lines are now so entrenched, it’s difficult to see how they could ever be breached. But breached they must be. Labour has to realise that as a party they have to breakdown these barriers, break the ties with the City and promote a more open and fair legislation for the UK.
It seems almost an insurmountable task, which is what the rich and well connected will hope for with their powerful lobbying systems to persuade and influence government – we also read this week that the City spends £92m on lobbying parliament to influence policy.
For that is the difference between rich and the poor; the rich have influence, connections, a network: the poor are, in effect, a disparate rabble of individuals, with none of the aforementioned advantages. It can only be left to a political party, such as Labour, or the Democrats in the US to champion people’s rights as a whole, rather than for the upper decile.
Not quite; one more.
This week, the National Lottery announced that, now the London Olympics is funded, they expect to make available up to £374m a year for good causes. They announced that from 2013, owners of stately homes will be able to apply for grants to renovate their homes. laughable? Hardly, scandalous more like, but yet another example, given that most of lottery ticket buyers are from the lowest quartile, of the subtle and persistent transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich.