Last Monday evening listeners to my talk ‘Politics & Prose’, for the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster Libraries, seemed to enjoy it, especially the Q & A afterwards. There were some excellent questions. But barely have my feet touched the ground and I’m involved in another event.
Next Thursday ‘COVID, Corruption & Crony Capitalism’ is a discussion organised by publishers Claret Press which promises to be equally interesting, if rather different.
The panellists will be Vicky Pryce, noted economist and current member of the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills Panel which monitors the economy, Dr Emily Barritt, Co-Director of the Transnational Law Institute at King’s College London and me – I get billing as either an ex-high ranking Civil Servant or as author of Plague. The session will be chaired by Dr Katie Isbester, Editor-in-Chief of Claret Press and supported by Ko-fi as part of the ‘Claret and Conversation’ series of online discussions.
In Plague the villain co-ordinates a complex strategy to emasculate or destroy the institutions of democracy including Parliament. He says ‘Democracy is so easy to pervert, why replace it? Money can buy anything. If a government gets difficult another can be sponsored. Sometimes it takes time, sometimes it’s easier, but there are always people willing to take over. When national or global institutions fail to serve the purpose they are destroyed, distorted or hollowed out from the inside.‘ (P236). Money, the media, the connivance of powerful individuals, inside and out of those institutions, enable him to do this, together with leverage over others who are hungry for power.
This includes illegally determining the award of lucrative public contracts so they go to friends and allies. On page 246 the heroine says to him ‘You’re ensuring the contracts go to the right companies so you can reward your friends and allies while you make money on the markets.’
In real life, the Good Law Project, the Runnymede Trust and a non-partisan collection of MPs from various parties have sought judicial review of the Department of Health and Social Care’s awarding of billions of pounds worth of contracts since April 2020 to private companies e.g. for Personal Protective Equipment. That is, they’ve asked the judiciary to adjudicate on the legality of the contract awarding process. Of these contracts, many millions remain unstated and have not been made public as regulations require. The Labour Party has raised this issue in Parliament and via the media ( see HERE ).
In correspondence with the GLP the government has recently stated its intent to spend £1 million in defending the case, stating that finding out whether they acted lawfully in channelling hundreds of millions or billions to their VIP associates, is not in the public interest. The money is, apparently, to fund a vast exercise in disclosure, not required by the courts. The GLP, funded by small donations, will be unable to accept such a financial risk and has sought a cap on costs from the court. If this isn’t granted the litigation will have to be abandoned. Perhaps the villain was right and ‘Money can buy anything.’ even the law. I hope not.
COVID, Corruption and Crony Capitalism looks at the situation and the impacts of corruption and ‘crony capitalism’ on a country’s economy, on its system of law and on how such a country is governed and administered. Join us on Thursday 4th February. It’s a FREE event, but you need to register on Eventbrite.
If you missed the broadcast you can watch the recording HERE.