10 November 2021, The Tablet

The taint of sleaze

Government corruption


The furore over allegations of sleaze against the British government, especially over the case of former Tory cabinet minister Owen Paterson, is a warning that must be heeded. It is treated as a truism that Britain is not a corrupt society. But this depends on the definition of corruption. The use of political power to serve private interests is a breach of public trust. In Britain this is often hidden behind a smokescreen of respectability.

One example is the revelation that membership of the House of Lords is more or less automatic for past treasurers of the Conservative Party who have donated £3 million to party funds. But, say defenders of this practice, these donors are wealthy philanthropists, and funding a political party is a public good.

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