It would be hard to further embarrass former Tory Prime Minister David Cameron after the publicity given to his grilling by parliamentary committees yesterday, but this quotation, from "Britain Alone " by Philip Stephens, made me smile.
Quoting an unnamed official on what Cameron thinks about the world the response is:
In [Cameron's ]mind "the world is somewhere where you take your holidays." (p340)
Most of the following "information" is taken from an article by Peter Geoghegan in the "London Review of Books" 6th May 2021.
- It was in a speech made in February 2010 (just before he became Prime Minister) that David Cameron promised to "lift the lid on secret corporate lobbying" which was the next big scandal waiting to happen. This speech has now been deleted from the Conservative Party's web-pages.
- Greensill, on whose behalf Cameron was so persistently lobbying, specialises in "supply chain financing." (In simple terms, as far as can see, the need for this arises because some big firms are slow to pay their suppliers. So Greensill pays the suppliers for them but only, say 95% of the total, and then claims 100% from the purchasing firm.) What it does is called "reverse factoring" and does not appear on a balance sheet as debt. It has been described as "balance sheet manipulation with a smiley face."
- David Cameron, after he had stood down as Prime Minister, took positions with Afiniti, a US data firm, became a consultant to Illumina, a biotech company, and registered with the Washington Speakers Bureau.
- Another former Prime Minister, Theresa May, has received more than £600 000 from this Washington Bureau in speaking fees since the pandemic began.
- For his work as an advisor to Greensill Cameron received "share options worth as much as $70 million." (This is often quoted as £60m. The average UK wage is presently around £30 000 a year. - so to earn, a million the worker on this average wage would have to work 33 years. To receive £60m at this rate he or she would need to work 2000 years, or from the time Jesus was about 20 to now.) Cameron says this estimation of £60m is "completely absurd" but refuses to disclose the actual figure, saying it is a private matter. (Suppose it was only half that, say £30m. That would mean working every year from "1066 and All That" until now, and you wouldn't quite make it.
- A Greensill company, Earnd, went into administration owing at least £400 0000 to NHS-affiliated organisations.
- Outsourcing now comprises one third of central government spending: hence the value to firms of effective lobbying.
- On stepping down (much to his credit) from being Chancellor, Sajid Javid, still an MP, took a second job with J P Morgan at £150 000 a year.
- The Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba) is supposed to monitor these things. Its chair is Lord Pickles, former Tory leader in Bradford, who is also president of the Enterprise Forum, an organisation to "connect the business community to the Conservative Party."
- Nigel Boardman, the person appointed by Prime Minister Johnson to conduct the formal enquiry into Cameron's lobbying , sits on the board of a private bank chaired and majority-owned by a major Conservative Party donor.
- The twice yearly register of minsters' interests has not been published since last July.
So it all seems rather relaxed and cosy.
Peter Geoghegan's book "Democracy for Sale; dark money and dirty politics" is, in my view , essential reading for anyone interested defending and improving Britain's democracy.