“I want nothing to do with politicians ― they are not men; they cease to be men in becoming politicians. Their hearts wither away, and die out in their bodies”
HOW CORRUPT IS BRITAIN?
edited by David Whyte
[Whilst we do not share the political platform and insights of all the contributors to this book, we cannot allow this to detract from the importance of these research papers. This is, nevertheless, an important book and everyone should read it.]
Let us make no mistake, corruption has always been the daily bread of politics. However, in the last ten or twenty years a plethora of corruption scandals has come to light, not confined to politicians, but across the whole spectrum of those in authority: business, police, local government, the health service, the media, few areas of public life are exempt. Very often public figures have not even tried to hide the fact that they were lying through their teeth. There was the scandal of MPs expenses; false evidence used to send our young men to war; lobbying scandals; phone tapping in the media; price-fixing by the utility companies; in the banking sector LIBOR rate-fixing; and police evidence falsification has been uncovered time and again. Many have sought to argue that these events have been engineered by corrupt or greedy individuals. How Corrupt is Britain? demonstrates that the corruption plaguing our country today is endemic, normal and institutionalised in such a way that the country could hardly function as it does without it. To quote, it is ‘…actually a routine practice that is used for maintaining and extending the power of corporations, governments and public institutions.’ With this we must agree and the book brings powerful, credible arguments and evidence. We cannot point the finger at other States, so long as the UK has every appearance of being itself a Mafia State.
Corruption enables the functioning of commercial banking in the City of London. Without it, the whole structure would implode. Defrauding the public appears to be part of the banking business model. The newspapers have given us a litany of scandals: pensions have been mis-sold, fraudulent endowment mortgages, the payment protection insurance confidence trick, rate rigging, and so it goes on. Much of this amounts to criminal activity, yet no senior banking figure has ever been brought to court still less thrown into jail as ever miscreant should have been. As one political commentator recently said, “…they should be sent to jail not to the House of Lords.” Lord Green, a former government minister, was in charge at HSBC whilst it was engaged in tax evasion, money laundering for drug gangs, and providing services for Saudi banks with the suspicion money was being used to finance terrorists. It is little use asking the Inland Revenue to fix things, its head went off to work for HSBC on retirement. All this is carefully hidden in a complex secrecy scheme, so that also foreign authorities are unable to access evidence in order to bring prosecutions. To add insult to injury, UK is rated by Transparency International as being among the least corrupt nations. What then are the worst like? Working hand in glove with bankers, our government embarked on the Private Finance Initiative. This devious scheme hides from public view the true extent of public borrowing. Money flows into the hands of corporations, landing our hospitals and schools with debts they cannot ever hope to repay. Then there all the sweeteners...!
In this series of meticulously researched essays, all pulling no punches, the ground covered is quite wide. As well as MPs accused of cooking the books; there are the defence contractors being investigated over dodgy arms deals; police suspected of being paid off by tabloid newspapers, the list seems endless. Corruption is far from being something that happens in other countries. In institutions long venerated corrupt practices are exposed as being integral to their operation.
From the Introduction:
"It seems that the margins are getting wider. In the past couple of years alone we have seen several national newspapers involved in routine phone-tapping and payoffs to police officers; we have seen allegations of systematic price-fixing in the energy supply industry; and a major European Commission investigation into the alleged role in price manipulation by key corporate players in the oil industry, including BP and Shell. In the food retail industry, we have had a major meat labelling scandal in which horsemeat was sold as 'beef' by supermarkets and major brands in Britain. As this book goes to press, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has just been fined £297 million - and senior executives given suspended jail sentences and deportation orders for bribing Chinese officials. An investigation into similar conduct by Rolls-Royce executives in Indonesia and China is ongoing. The banking sector has been mired in all manner of grand corruption scandals. Low-end estimates show that LIBOR and related rate-fixing alone involved frauds that were comparable to the combined losses of WorldCom and Enron. Those frauds led to fines of £290 million being imposed on Barclays and over £700 million on the Royal Bank of Scotland. ...
The evidence gathered here will show us that corruption is not merely a minor accidental flaw of the political and economic systems that we live in, but is actually a routine practice that is used for maintaining and extending the power of corporations, governments and public institutions. The weight of this evidence fundamentally questions the extent to which the current rulers of the United kingdom can be trusted to make decisions that are in the public interest. The cumulative force of the chapters in this book impels us to ask: can we now say that we are entering an era of 'turbo corruption'? At the very least, it is time we started talking openly and seriously about our very own, quintessentially British, brand of corruption."
Comments on the book:
"This excellent book should be read by everyone. ... The authors reveal a network of state and corporate corruption in Britain to rival any in the developing world" ― Penny Green
"At last, a book that asks the right questions about corruption, and provides some fascinating and important answers. Corruption isn't what - or where - most people think it is" ― Nicholas Shaxton
David Whyte is Professor of Socio-legal Studies at the University of Liverpool. He has written and edited several books including Crimes of the Powerful (2009) and The Corporate Criminal (2015, with Steve Tombs).
The essays emerged out of a conference of the same title that the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies co-sponsored with the University of Liverpool in May 2013. The conference brought together some of the leading experts and campaigners on state and corporate corruption in Britain.
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