Old Corruption and young Alexander
Disregarding the current crowdfunded litigation against the government's awarding of PPE and other contracts during the pandemic, which was frequently characterised as less than transparent and evidence of a chumocracy, due to the frequent involvement of Tory party donors, I am reliably informed by Keith Flett’s blog that Johnson and his third bride Carrie Symonds recently spent a mini-honeymoon at Chequers, the grace and favour country house in Buckinghamshire provided at public expense for the use of prime ministers, alleged, part-time or other.
Keith Flett’s blog post also comes with the interest fact that William Cobbett, the pamphleteer, journalist, Member of Parliament and farmer, referred to such sinecures as Chequers as the “Old Corruption“.
Further delving into the topic of the Old Corruption took me to the website of St Stephen’s Chapel in Westminster, which reveals that, before the 1832 Reform Act, the “Old Corruption was a system by which the elite benefited from selling of offices, sinecures (jobs which paid a salary for little or no work) and pensions. Patrons also influenced the small electorate, often through monetary incentives, to secure election for their friends and allies to parliament“.
However, the sale of offices and other abuses did not entirely die out after the enactment of the so-called “Great” Reform Act of 1832.
Honours continued to be sold throughout the Victorian era, culminating in the actions of David Lloyd George when Prime Minister. Lloyd George made the practice of selling honours more systematic and more brazen, charging £10,000 for a knighthood, £30,000 for baronetcy and £50,000 upwards for a peerage, and by so doing prompting the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925. Furthermore, practically every single prime minister since has repaid favours with honours such as a seat in the House of Lords, knighthood or such like.
More evidence of corruption, neither ancient nor modern, but extremely blatant, emerged this past week and once again involved a certain Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, the other members of the cast being one Peter Cruddas, billionaire, and the House of Lords Appointments Commission.
In December 2020, it was announced that Cruddas, a former Tory Party treasurer, would be made a life peerage after a nomination Johnson, despite the contrary advice of the House of Lords Appointments Commission.
As reported by the Mirror, a few days later Cruddas made a donation of half a million pounds to the Tory Party.
The Old Corruption is perhaps not so old at all, but surprisingly contemporary
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