Former Chancellor George Osborne has opened up a scandal at the heart of Westminster, only weeks before the 2017 general election. In quitting as an MP, Osborne has paraded the ‘revolving door’ between parliament and lucrative finance and defence jobs. No longer will Osborne’s financial activities be on public record. Using the connections he made as Chancellor, the outgoing MP can continue to make a fortune, but free from public scrutiny. The scandal is a timely reminder of how some politicians view Westminster.
Osborne is making an absolute killing
As The Guardian reports:
Since becoming a backbencher, Osborne declared new employment paying £650,000 a year for one day’s work a week for fund manager BlackRock. He has earned £800,000 for 15 speaking engagements in the last year, collects a £120,000 a year stipend from a US thinktank and has a book deal on top of the £75,000 MP’s salary.
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Osborne is also to become the new editor of The Evening Standard. The MP, who hasn’t voted against the Conservatives on a major policy in 25 years, is now in charge of a newspaper with a daily readership of nearly two million.
Our political system saw no conflict of interest in the former Chancellor juggling all these jobs. A man who, as Chancellor, piled on £555bn in public debt, and then popped off to make a killing for himself.
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In government, Osborne failed to crack down on tax avoidance. Now, he is a part-time senior advisor for BlackRock. The fund managing giant administers what HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) calls “offshore funds”.
Osborne has now delivered lucrative speeches to bankers in Canary Wharf and at events hosted by banking giant JP Morgan. As Chancellor, he presided over the neoliberal orthodoxy of privatisation, financial deregulation and reduced public spending. While these policies pile on debt and misery for the rest of us, bankers certainly love them.
The ‘revolving door’ is a scandal. Working as a minister is often short-lived and, while MPs may not necessarily target post-parliament jobs, they may pass legislation with future careers in mind. After the 2015 election, former Coalition ministers walked into companies they had dealt with in their ministerial positions. Several Conservatives and Liberal Democrats accepted jobs from organisations they worked with as MPs. New Labour faced similar controversy. Tony Blair and Alistair Darling, for example, made a post-parliament killing from Morgan Stanley.
Fortunately, the present Labour leadership stands against neoliberalism. The party is now challenging the power of multinational corporations, against a political pattern that goes back years. After her premiership, Margaret Thatcher charged tens of thousands for speeches and reportedly earned $250,000 per year as a “geopolitical consultant” for a tobacco firm.
Send ’em packing
Osborne has paraded a scandal by quitting parliament to earn a massive fortune free from scrutiny. Politicians who are out to milk the system deserve the cold shoulder. Let’s bin political chancers like Osborne.
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