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Dodgy Dave’s Greenshill scandal: what to do about retired politicians

Politicians – if there is one thing I cannot stand, it is when they abuse the power and responsibility given to them. This extends to those who have left office because (let’s face it) they still hold sway. We often hear about the exploits of Tony Blair in the Middle East, with his latest intervention being on Afghanistan, and we’ve even heard from Gordon Brown on Covid vaccination supplies. But I want to draw attention to David Cameron who, up until recently, was hiding in the shadows due to his disastrous Brexit referendum. The effects of which we are still feeling.

Cameron’s return to the public eye was far from triumphant. Earlier this year, it was made public knowledge that he had lobbied ministers and former colleagues on behalf of Greensill Capital, which collapsed this year. Obviously, lobbying is nothing new and (as a former politician) Cameron would have seen his fair share. The issue was that he lobbied through private channels; sending emails, texts, and WhastApp messages to former colleagues; including Rishi Sunak and the Treasury’s top civil servant Sir Tom Scholar. He even met the now disgraced Matt Hancock with the head honcho at Greensill, Lex Greensill, for ‘a private drink’. We all know what that means, Dave!

Forget the fact that an ex-PM has just strolled into Westminster and Whitehall to try and pull a few strings for a moment. Let’s briefly talk about finance: Cameron managed to wrangle £350m for one of Greensill’s clients using the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan scheme – a scheme that only allows a maximum of £50m. Good job Dave – did you consider that money may be for a national purpose and not a personal agenda? You already tried to get more than £10bn of our money from the Bank of England. When they saw sense and refused, you decided to exploit another scheme. Good on you, we’ll all go back to struggling and let you carry on. And it’s not like you can’t – you made around £7m before Greenshill collapsed.

I personally believe that once you leave Westminster, that should be it

There’s several issues with this whole affair. First, I’m just disgusted at the sheer entitlement Cameron thinks he has as an ex-PM. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve spoken to ex-colleagues of my own for help with my current endeavours – but then again, I wasn’t running the country. The rules are different, especially when taxpayer money is involved. These politicians claim to represent us, but they continue use public money for their own private gain. It’s not right at all. It maintains a shocking level of inequity in this country.

Second, Cameron has set a precedent. Who’s to say that when Boris finally leaves office (counting the days, everyone) that he won’t try and pull the same moves? Granted, he’s already been investigated while in office – I don’t know if you all remember WallpaperGate – but the fact Cameron got off with nothing but a light slap on the wrist shows an alarming lack of regulation in the laws surrounding lobbying. I personally believe that once you leave Westminster, that should be it. If you retire from your role in politics, you retire from politics entirely. Unfortunately, most politicians don’t seem to share that view and will seek to continue to reap the benefits

It would do politicians well to remember that they are simply servants of the masses

So, what do we do? The ideal thing to do would be to review the current lobbying laws and tighten them so that former politicians (especially the high-profile ones) face a more vigorous process than normal citizens. Politicians should change their numbers regularly to avoid ex-colleagues being able to exploit the system – I mention this as our dear Prime Minister, the man running our country, has allowed his number to be available online for the last 15 years.

As I say this, I’m sitting and shaking my head. Realistically, we know that I am talking about a utopian society here – because if the system benefits you and you can get a whopping pay packet like Cameron, why change it? Nevertheless, it would do politicians well to remember that they are simply servants of the masses and that, while they enjoy the lifestyle, they ultimately have a responsibility to the taxpayer. Wishful thinking, right?

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