Parliament Is Up To Its Neck In Sleaze – It Must Be Closed Down By A Workers Revolution!

0
126

EX-TORY MP Owen Paterson has been a paid consultant for clinical diagnostics company Randox since 2015, and for meat distributor Lynn’s Country Foods since 2016, earning a total of £100,000 a year on top of his MP’s salary!

Paterson was found to have broken conduct rules by: failing to declare his interest as a paid consultant to Lynn’s Country Foods in four emails to officials at the Food Standards Agency, using his parliamentary office on 16 occasions for business meetings with his clients, and in sending two letters relating to his business interests on House of Commons headed notepaper.

A parliamentary committee concluded that Paterson had breached the rule on paid advocacy. However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson sought to defend Paterson, and had to be overruled by the House of Commons itself.

Johnson then absented himself from the emergency debate on the issue, treating the House of Commons with absolute contempt.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer commented during the emergency debate: ‘The Prime Minister damaged himself, damaged his party and he damaged our democracy.’

Meanwhile, both the SNP and Plaid Cymru have called for a police investigation into the process of appointing Conservatives to the House of Lords.

The SNP’s Commons leader Peter Wishart told MPs: ‘The price to get into the House of Lords has gone up from £1m from New Labour to £3m from the Conservatives.’

At the beginning of the House of Commons emergency debate on Monday, Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said it was essential to ‘sort out the mess we’re in’.

In fact, PM Johnson was conspicuous by his absence from that debate. He said that any review of the process for investigating MPs had to be done on a cross-party basis.

Last month, a report by Parliament’s standards commissioner Kathryn Stone found that Paterson had repeatedly breached Commons rules banning ‘paid advocacy’. The Commons Standards Committee recommended Paterson be suspended for 30 days.

But the Johnson government intervened and supported a proposal to block his suspension until a review of the investigation system had been carried out.

Following an outcry from opposition parties and some Conservative MPs, the PM then U-turned on the plan and Paterson had to go!

Opening his speech in the House of Commons, Tory MP Stephen Barclay told MPs: ‘I would like first and foremost to express my regret, and that of my ministerial colleagues, over the mistake made last week.’

Despite calls from some MPs, Barclay said the government would not hold a second vote on the suspension of Paterson, arguing such a vote was unnecessary given his resignation from the House of Commons.

Asked about the row earlier, Johnson did not apologise for ordering his MPs to block Paterson’s suspension, insisting the government had only been trying to reform the standards system.

He said it was ‘very important’ to get any changes ‘right’. In fact, Johnson displayed a contempt for the House of Commons in refusing to allow Paterson to be suspended and to just walk away from the scene of the crime. The danger is that Johnson will now be encouraged to ride roughshod over the House of Commons, with very big economic changes for the worse on the way – he is displaying a contempt for even bourgeois democracy.

Trade unions cannot permit this cavalier approach to parliamentary democracy and their members’ living standards.

In the period ahead, Johnson will be seeking to push though some very unpopular measures to make the working class pay for the bosses’ crisis, using no doubt the already discredited Metropolitan Police force and the judiciary to impose anti-working class measures.

Trade unions must use their great strength to take action to defend working people and their living standards. They must call a general strike to bring down the Johnson regime and bring in a Workers Government and socialism through the nationalisation of the banks and major industries under workers’ management and control.