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We need to talk about UK corruption

After a long hiatus, mostly to do with indolence and partly to do with the general election campaign, I feel compelled to take up the metaphorical pen and make a few comments on where I see the situation of the UK in the aftermath of the "Brexit election".

OK, so we lost.  We can blame many reasons, though fundamentally the Conservatives refused to make the mistakes of 2017 and Labour and especially the Liberal Democrats made every mistake that could be made.  Indeed the biggest mistake of all was allowing Johnson to hold the election at all, when another six months would probably have eaten the Conservative Party alive.  It was Jo Swinson's first, but perhaps most critical, mistake to make, and from it came all the others.  The flow of defectors and money persuaded the Liberal Democrat bunker that an election could only be better for the Lib Dems, and as far as votes were concerned, the party did indeed increase its vote by 1.3 million.  

BUT, and it really is the biggest but of all: the party was simply not prepared for the general election. As my friend and colleague, Craig Harrow, candidate in Ross, Skye and Lochaber, told me on the day the election was declared: "Its simple: the election is 6-12 months too soon for us to win".  That was true in Gordon and in many other seats, we simply had not done enough ground work and we knew it. It was, after all only 2 years since the previous election. Establishing credibility for the Lib Dems is everything, but the idea that we could win seats such as Esher, where the Tories had a majority of over 23,000 simply because Dominic Raab is a bit of a shit, was simply wrong.  By contrast, we could not hold North Norfolk, despite plenty of signs that Norman Lamb wanted to stand down. The Tories were prepared, and we were not.  In Scotland, the London media refused to look to closely at the SNP claims to be the voice of remain and we were squeezed, even in areas that were Liberal or Liberal Democrat for two or even three generations.

As the pressure grew, headquarters staff were stripped to campaign in held seats, and the efficiency of the campaign, never that great to be honest, simply fell apart. 

The targeting became more and more frantic and less and less effective as again and again the Liberal Democrat message was ignored and derided in the air war and laughably inept in the ground war. Having made much of being "candidate for Prime Minister", the party had no come-back when this debatable claim was drowned in the false choice between Johnson and Corbyn.  

Yes the media was astonishingly biased: I was asked repeatedly "But what are you really?"  As though Liberalism was some jumped up fraudulent ideology, when of course that is Conservatism.  Simon Jenkins put out a classic example of the genre, to which my response is simply:  f*** you!  

I think my favourite joke of the campaign was "Robert Peston is so far up Johnson's a**e, that he can see Laura Kuenssberg's feet".  Even by the despicable standards of the corrupt right wing press, the coverage was disgraceful, and this time even the broadcast media simply went along with it.  The UK fourth estate now forms a dubious celebrity continuum which starts with Katie Price, goes on to Kay Burley, La Kuenssberg and ends with Alexander Boris de Pfeffel "Johnson". The Political-Bullshit complex has twisted the truth and placed our country into the hands of immoral and degraded crooks.  Johnson can't even tell us how many kids he has, never mind the scale of Russian influence peddling at the highest quarters in the UK. 

Which brings me onto the next five years.

We have already seen the scale of the corruption of the Trump administration- it is after all why he has become only the third President- and the first Republican- in history to be impeached.  Johnson has the same attitudes and the same dangerous recklessness, he also has the same questionable relationship to Russia

The rumours of a peerage for Crispin Odey are just the standard low-grade patronage/corruption that the House of Lords has long been known for, and likewise the peerage for Zac Goldsmith. Yes it shows bare faced contempt for the voters that just threw him out, but hey the PM's old Etonian mate is not the first to be rewarded for failure. Likewise the suppression of the report detailing the large amount of questionable Russian money given to the Tories. It is outrageous, but no more than the average episode of "Yes Prime Minister".

However, given the fact that most administrations start as they mean to go on, then I think we can already see the second theme of the Johnson government, the fifteenth Prime Minister of the reign of Elizabeth II, and quite possibly the last. Of course Brexit will remain the first touchstone for the UK, and if economists, businessmen, financiers and other people apparently less skilled than Johnson are to be believed, then the next few years will be pretty unstable. Covering up mistakes will be the natural bias of the regime, and given that the Conservatives do not have a shining record of unblemished competence, mistakes there certainly will be.  So incompetence covered up with lies. 

I think we can predict with a reasonable degree of confidence that the Home Office will screw up several high profile cases and doubtless the reputation of the country will be further damaged. That is simply business as usual for the Home Office, and the aggressive and obnoxious Pritel Patel will demand ever more aggressive and obnoxious policies. On the bright side though, after the third or fourth scandal she will most likely be an early casualty. The UK will move sharply from migration magnet to brain drain and Johnson certainly will not be blaming himself for the sudden exit of academics and staff shortages in the NHS.

Then there is the elephant in the room: the City of London.  Odey's oleaginous toadying may get him a peerage, but almost immediately after January 31st the EU will undertake a comprehensive review of MIFID II.  Germany in particular does not consider that London's financial markets are "socially useful". In fact it is well known that more or less all the German political class views the City as a den of thieves. It is London that has hosted the most egregious examples of financial mismanagement and corruption, from money laundering through Baltic banks to the wholesale theft of Russian, Arab or even Chinese assets. It is not the Panama, Luxembourg or Maltese companies that lead the world in corruption: it is onshore British, and there is surely a scandal brewing about how much the UK authorities both knew and were even complicit in huge levels of financial crime.  If Brexit itself does not cause the UK to tighten up its own house, then the continuing EU will force the pace.  So the supporters of Brexit, who were quite willing to sell out the UK family owned farms to US agri-businesses, and equally happy to sacrifice the Pharmaceuticals companies and the auto sector to the US and Germany respectively will also find that UK finance will need to be seriously reformed if it is to survive the post Brexit world.  

So after probably the most corrupt election I can ever remember, I do not hold out much hope for the future. Yes we failed, and yes we fell into every trap, yet in the final analysis, we were right: Johnson is unfit for office. While he walks in victory today, as sure as night follows day, his own flaws will find him out.  

The utter tragedy is that the price of our failure will be paid for by the whole country and will be in the hundreds of billions remarkably quickly. The future of our economy, our healthcare system, our national reputation looks bleak indeed.

So, I will consider what to do.  I have a job overseas and the dubious prospect of campaigning for another five years for a very iffy chance to enter the House of Commons is not one that looks especially appealing. On the other hand, the people who are the government now are likely to fail... so what then?

Perhaps I should simply return to using this blog as a bully pulpit, to talk to politicians rather than to attempt to be one.  Well, over the Christmas holidays I will think about it.

So I wish my readers a Happy Christmas and let us hope for a better 2020.


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