The Westminster Accounts: weak regulations, no consequences - how Britain's system fails us

The Westminster Accounts: weak regulations, no consequences - how Britain's system fails us

When you think about corruption in politics, the images formed are of shady deals, the handing over of suitcases of cash in the Kremlin or some other faraway place. In Britain, there is a mentality of exceptionalism; no corruption could ever happen here, not in the birthplace of liberal democracy. And yet it does happen time and time again. We have seen it with the cash for honours scandal, we've seen it with the expenses scandal, and we've seen it with partygate, Dominic Cummings, and the whole Boris Johnson debacle.

This country is not free from corruption; it's just that it is at the heart of its culture. It is built-in and packaged up as plain old politics. It is so ingrained that the people perpetrating this public offence can't see that it's wrong; they wring their hands and apologise through their teeth, and that's only after pretending it didn't happen in the first place.

The conservative party seems especially adept at looking the other way. Either that, or they are all complicit. It seems the preparatory school upbringing fosters a sense of superiority that hangs around like a bad smell through adolescence and into adulthood, it's the smell of entitlement, and I'm told it's distinguishable from bullshit.

Corruption has seeped in through the in-trading of favours which has been a staple between influential individuals in Westminster for centuries. Whether it's getting mates into a safe seat, trading assets in return for political favours, or using political clout to manipulate the public narrative, Westminster is by no means free from corruption.

That is the problem with Westminster; it is still heavily rooted in an archaic system of patronage and cronyism, where those with suitable connections and influence can get away with almost anything.

As a person living in this country, it is humiliating.

The public is always the brunt of the "joke". We are held to ransom for our trust in the system. And, at no point has anyone in the palace ever been held to account for their misdeeds. There has been no inquiry, no one has faced a court, and no one has paid their dues; except, of course, we the taxpayers, who have had to foot the bill for all of it.

The newest corruption story is, of course, the revelation of the Westminster Accounts; a summary of all the side hustles and shady transactions that occur in the ivory tower of Westminster.

The summary is damming.

Oh, there are some innocent engagements on there; public speaking and consulting are benign enough. But, then we come to the thousands of pounds paid by private investment firms and companies for seemingly no reason - or what would seem like no reason until you looked at where they sit in the halls of power.

MPs had received large payments from private companies and investment firms - money accepted without question and justification - on top of the salaries they had already received for their ministerial duties.

To make matters worse, it was unclear whether the MPs who had accepted the payments had done so for their own benefit or to vote or help enact policies that were not necessarily in the constituents' best interests.

The bottom line is that MPs are getting paid by companies to vote or enact policies that may go against their constituents' best interests, all the while collecting their minister paycheck to serve in their constituencies' best interests.

The Westminster Accounts scandal revealed the deep-seated corruption behind the scenes in British politics.

It exposes a rancid rot in the British government, which has quite probably festered for decades.

And that's my point.

In our frustration, we will shake our heads and shout about it at the dinner table. But we will forget it all by spring. We will say, "it is a broken system, but it's the best we've got". We will vote Conservative despite clamouring against corruption.

Not you and me. But our parents; Our friends; Our neighbours - anyone who digests The Daily Mail or consumes the BBC's beams.

Because the media control the narrative; They suggest what to think and act on our behalf.

If they don't propagate important revelations, who hears them?

If they don't hold the government to account in print, TV, or video, who does?

The sick reality of Britain is that most media outlets are owned by wealthy individuals and corporations that benefit from the status quo; a status quo that includes the corruption at Westminster.

Therefore, they aren't interested. Instead, the media chooses to focus on more sensationalist stories that don't necessarily delve deeply into crucial topics and instead serve to bolster public opinion.

Yes, we have the BBC, which has often done a fine job of challenging the government. We all remember Jeremy Paxman, Andrew Neil, and Andrew Marr. But Paxman retired, and Neil and Marr moved on. Besides, Sky News, a competitor, broke the Westminster Accounts story, so of course, the BBC can't credit that.

And so it goes ever on.

As long as there are no consequences, MPs will cross ethical and legal lines to win an advantage; for power or money, at our expense. It is a mockery of our democracy, our values, and our trust.

We need stricter regulations.

We need stronger accountability.

We need more brutal consequences.

That starts with me, that starts with you.

Will you vote for a party that has engaged in corruption? Definitely not.

But will you forget by spring?

Sean Ryan
Sean Ryan

PhD in Chemical Engineering. Interests in politics, society and economics. Born in Manchester, living in London. Loves to experience different cultures and indulge in different viewpoints.

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