vlcsnap-2016-04-10-16h58m44s60Last week was not one of the finest David Cameron has enjoyed during his six-year tenure at No.10. After a disastrous budget, the resignation of IDS and a faltering Remain campaign had all served to add to the PM’s woes, then came the files of Mossack Fonseca. Confirmation of something everyone already suspected was exacerbated by his evasive attitude, eventually coming clean and releasing his financial records to the press when he realised his earlier avoidance of the truth made him look as though he had something to hide. As his Cabinet colleagues (or at least those not in the Brexit camp) have been constantly reminding us, Dave didn’t do anything legally wrong by profiting from his father’s offshore banking business; but it doesn’t look good on a moral scale. Then again, who associates morals with Honourable Members?

On the opposing benches, Jeremy Corbyn has stirred from his afternoon nap and has started adding his voice to the chorus of criticism as the Labour Party furtively clutches at any straw that might be to their advantage. I can’t remember a previous Labour leader in opposition so averse to getting his face on camera; if Iain Duncan Smith was the Quiet Man during his brief spell as Tory leader, then Corbyn is the Invisible Man. Does he believe that doing a Howard Hughes somehow gives him alluring mystique or has it yet to dawn on him that being a party leader means giving up the kind of preaching to the converted he indulged in for all the decades he was a professional backbencher? Corbyn might have a long-standing personal interest in the various ‘anti this or that’ factions operating on Labour’s fringes, but giving a speech at a rally before those for whom he can do no wrong as Keeper of the Socialist Flame is not what the rest of the country wants from an opposition to an unpopular government.

The narrowness of the Labour vision under Corbyn, with his brief experiment of a Shadow Cabinet airing opinions contrary to his own having been quickly discarded, appeals solely to nostalgic veterans of the 80s who worship the memory of Tony Benn and gullible novices too young to remember life before Blair. Labour has become the political equivalent of a band who were once chart-toppers and are now a cult act that nobody bar the diehard fans are remotely interested in. The new recruits in particular display the obstinate refusal to accept another point of view to their own that is characteristic of the tribal teenager and are responsible for the endless desperate online petitions demanding the resignation of Cameron every time he puts a foot wrong. Some are also guilty of worrying anti-Semitism of a kind that blames Israel for every ill in the Middle East, despite the fact that none of the mass murderers of Middle Eastern descent that have brought carnage to the streets of Europe in the past year or so practice Judaism.

The SNP in their Third Party shoes seem to imagine that simply pointing to their impressive numbers is enough, as though that is the beginning and end of their contribution to the Commons bar the occasional token grumble. Mind you, they are hampered as a powerful collective voice by the absence of their leader from Parliament, content as she is to play in the Scottish Premier League, wiping the floor with a glut of weaker and smaller teams like a Holyrood equivalent of Celtic. A big fish/small pond scenario suits Nicola Sturgeon because it makes her appear more important than she actually is, but it does somewhat reduce the potential of her party at Westminster.

And then there’s the Liberal Democrats. Oh, dear. What can one say of the depleted Lib Dems and their leader? Tim Farron is almost as invisible as Jeremy Corbyn, though I would imagine this isn’t through choice. I can picture Farron constantly trying to get on television and in the papers, yet being denied access to the enclosed VIP section of the political club by a burly bouncer telling him ‘if your name’s not on the list, you’re not coming in’. It’s hard to envisage what difference a party with a paltry eight MPs can make with the exception of a crucial Commons vote; the real strength in depth for the Lib Dems is in the Lords, where they have shown they can do considerable damage to unpopular government proposals. Not that this has much effect on day-to-day business in the House that really counts, however.

David Cameron announced last year that he had no intentions of running for a third term as Prime Minister; whether or not he foresaw that a humiliating defeat at the EU Referendum could force a premature departure is debatable, but a good deal personally hinges on the outcome of events on June 23. If the Brexit camp claim victory – something the majority of Fleet Street would certainly favour – Cameron’s position could be untenable, more so than it is courtesy of ‘revelations’ of his pre-Downing Street tax evasion or even of his alleged adolescent penchant for inserting his private parts into porcine orifices.

Any cloud-cuckoo Corbyn groupies who think Dave’s downfall will open the door to their Messiah, however, clearly haven’t considered a certain wild-haired Mayor who is no doubt reciting a winning speech in Latin as we speak. One could advise them to be careful what they wish for, though I’m guessing they’d probably respond by calling anyone daring to dispense such advice a homophobic, transphobic, misogynistic, corporate Zionist elite-loving Tory scumbag.

© The Editor


PigsThe rich and powerful have mastered the art of funnelling their finances into offshore tax havens that keep them beyond the reach of the international taxman and render the economic sanctions against corrupt regimes not worth the paper they’re written on; the systems for doing so are legal, albeit with enough loopholes to fill the Albert Hall. Tell us something we don’t know. Thanks to an enterprising German newspaper, the clandestine machinations of Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca have been leaked to the world’s media in the shape of eleven million files. A dozen incumbent or former heads of state have been implicated and a billion dollar money laundering scam may or may not lead all the way to the Kremlin. Fancy that!

214,000 companies have had their dubious dealings exposed courtesy of the leak; the dozen current or ex-world leaders named and shamed include the Prime Ministers of Pakistan, Iceland and Ukraine as well as the Saudi King; six members of the House of Lords and a trio of ex-Tory MPs are also listed; football superstar Lionel Messi appears on the roll-call of offshore evaders, as does a prominent member of FIFA’s ethics committee (woah, didn’t see that coming); even David Cameron’s old man is there, which is interesting considering his son’s token and ultimately meaningless demands that tax havens show a little more transparency. Again, all perfectly legal and above board, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t stink.

Has anybody really been surprised at these revelations, though? A few politicians will issue statements justifying their greed, there will be calls for heads to roll for a week or so within the media, and then it’ll all quieten down again. Bar a bunch of dispensable journos thrown to the dogs by their employees, what did the hacking scandal of 2011 actually change re the way the people that control this country go about their daily business? Murdoch Senior remains on the throne, Murdoch Junior has been reinstated in the dynasty’s line of succession, and golden girl Brooks is back in a top job, as though none of it ever happened. All these leaked documents do is to confirm something everybody has known for a long time, that our social superiors have the clout to do what those lower down the scale cannot.

Richard Nixon may have utilised presidential privilege to an exceptionally dodgy degree, but the fact that his extreme paranoia was facilitated by systems that were already in place merely underlines how the potential for corruption is served on a silver salver at the White House. Rumours and gossip about Hillary Clinton’s private activities have followed her around for years, but should they serve as a deterrent to her becoming America’s first female President? Does anyone expect a candidate to ascend the summit of absolute power without any shit on their shoes? Trust and faith in the political classes has been wallowing in the gutter for decades, something both Jeremy Corbyn and Donald Trump have exploited to their advantage, and a flurry of revelations that the elite operate within a legal framework inaccessible to the man in the street won’t alter opinions that have been set in stone for a long time. An indifferent shrug of the shoulders is probably the extent of the reaction that those who aren’t excited newspaper journalists will offer in response to the latest ‘sensational’ headlines.

To actually want to climb to the apogee of power to me indicates a design fault in a person’s personality there and then. Ambition is fine (and indeed admirable) in any chosen field, but there’s something different about politics. An honourable man or woman may be motivated by a genuine desire to change aspects of the system they see as unfair to the masses, but each step along the way to their goal is littered with obstacles challenging their virtue. A nod and a wink, a funny handshake, a flash of upturned trouser leg, a free meal or tickets to a sporting event via corporate hospitality – and thus it has always been. You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours if you want to get where you’re going; here’s a pot we all piss in. Britain’s first Prime Minister Robert Walpole would make a habit of inviting new MPs to dinner and promising them the world in order to secure their support and nothing has really changed in three-hundred years. In the fallout of the South Sea Bubble scandal of 1720, Walpole emerged triumphant because he had the nous to cover his back and successfully sell himself as the best of a bad bunch.

The hints of alleged shady banking practices linked to Vladimir Putin are hardly akin to discovering Doris Day used to shoot up with Janis Joplin; illegal annexations, press suppression and professional assassinations are already cluttering Tsar Vlad’s copybook, so why should anyone be shocked that he’s careful with his money too? World leaders are not necessarily the brightest of buttons, but they often surround themselves with men who are; the ones that get caught with their hands in the till are the ones who don’t.

I’ve no doubt that the documents that have seeped from the Mossack Fonseca vault are scratching the surface of something that runs deep in the DNA of every power-hungry martinet from the largest of life presidents to the most obscure of local councillors. And chances are we’ll never be told the truth, the whole truth or nothing but the truth. There is an Us and there is a Them, and never the twain shall meet.

© The Editor