UK politics is systemically corrupt. The examples are almost too easy to find:
- MPs and Lords with interests in private healthcare, whose parties are funded by private firms, voted to privatise the NHS.
- Those implementing the NHS reforms received lavish hospitality from consultancy firm McKinsey.
- £50k will buy you membership of David Cameron’s ‘leader’s group’, while for £250k you can “ask him practically any question you want“.
- Blair had the Cash for Honours scandal, whilst Cameron had Cash for Peerages.
- MPs have voted through inflation-busting pay rises for themselves over the last 20 years.
- The expenses scandal involved the leadership of all three major parties, while UKIP MEPs were caught misusing EU allowances to fund party work.
- Whilst austerity measures have left more families dependent on food banks, the House of Commons’ bill for champagne has increased by 72%.
- Lobbyists and heads of corporate interest groups are given free access to the House of Lords.
- The ‘revolving door‘ between private firms and the UK parliament is legendary to say the least.
The weaknesses of the UK political system are there for all to see. We have a First Past The Post system that encourages a two party state in which most seats are safe and ‘swing voters’ opt for the lesser of two evils. The majority of party funding comes from private donations. The largest donations come from big companies and rich individuals, and there is no limit on donation size. Politicians are allowed to vote on bills where they have a conflict of interest, and once they leave government they are free to take up a highly-paid role in a private corporation that benefited from said votes. The end result is a corrupt government passing laws to benefit itself and its corporate sponsors.
How do you end political corruption on such a scale? NHSpace has a few suggestions:
- Put a cap on donations – both for individual donations and the total amount a party can receive.
- Put an embargo on MPs and peers having shares in private firms. They can easily do without.
- Make it harder for MPs and peers to support bills where they have a conflict of interest.
- Close the ‘revolving door’ and end the outsourcing of government duties to private firms.
- Link MP’s earnings to the minimum wage and cut back on extravagances.
- Make it easier for constituents to remove their MP from parliament.
- Make the move to a proportional voting system and end the two party system.