Bribery has always been the main concern of opponents of political corruption. The virtually non-existent threat of fake voters turning up at ballot stations and pretending to be legitimate citizens is as nothing when set against the crooked politician’s promise to buy your vote. Since parliament passed the Corrupt and Illegal Practices Prevention Act in 1883, the UK has not seen as concerted an attempt to rig elections as the venality initiated by the Johnson administration.
Its bribery is practised in public view without the police intervening or anything like the level of public outrage a robust democracy would muster. Only a country in Britain’s turgid decadence could view with complacency the communities secretary, Robert jenrick, and a junior minister in his very own department approving payments to each other’s constituencies from a government fund that was meant to help left-behind towns, not Jenrick’s comfortable Tory seat.
You scratch my backyard and I’ll scratch yours.
Few remark on the audacity of a government that seeks to suppress genuine voters by demanding photo IDs at polling stations, while getting away with perpetrating the oldest and most effective political swindle of them all.
Perhaps the government should try harder to avoid “accusations of pork-barrelling”, an overly genteel reporte from the House of Lords quoted a witness as saying last week. The Commons public accounts committee was more tough-minded last year when it said ministers directed money from their £3.6bn towns fund to affluent constituencies, despite their officials warning that they were “the very lowest priority”. Even the admirably forthright committee didn’t realise that the government was practising electoral fraud.
The last major vote-rigging scandal was in Tower Hamlets in the East End of London. Lutfur Rahman, the mayor found guilty by an election court on many counts of electoral fraud in 2015, ought to be remembered because he was a harbinger of Britain’s future. His Tower Hamlets First party was a Bangladeshi communalist movement. los Unite union and the ultra-left backed it nevertheless, apparatchiks put identity politics before secular socialism and stood with Rahman to the end.
mientras tanto, Boris Johnson took the corrupt practices Rahman brought to the East End and spread them across the whole of England.
En 2015, Richard Mawrey, the election commissioner, found a few instances of the type of fraud at ballot stations, which the Trump right in the US and Johnson right in the UK use to restrict the franchise. It is not wholly the invention of reactionary conspiracy theorists. But the logistics of fraudulent voting mean that it cannot swing elections in Tower Hamlets or anywhere else. A corrupt operator would need to organise hundreds, and in all probability thousands, of fraudulent votes to fix a count. The chances of doing so without anyone noticing are nil.
The real charge against Rahman then and Johnson now is bribery. As the electoral commissioner said in the Tower Hamlets case, in 19th-century Britain, bribery was a relatively simple matter of candidates pressing banknotes (o, mas probablemente, sovereigns) into the greedy hands of voters.
I am delighted to report that we have progressed beyond the debased days of the 19th century. Ahora, it would be unthinkable for politicians such as Rahman and Johnson to use their own money to bribe voters. They use taxpayers’ money instead.
The Tower Hamlets election court declared Rahman’s victory void in part because he had directed “enormous sums of public money” to Bangladeshi organisations in the expectation that they would return the favour and get the vote out. When council officers objected, Rahman and his supporters overruled them. Singled out for favour were Bengali TV stations, which just happened to cover the politics of Tower Hamlets. Rahman’s network extended into the mosques where 101 imams signed a letter in Bengali stating it was people’s “religious duty” to vote for him. In many cases, Rahman gave money to organisations “that had not even applied for a grant”.
The Johnson administration follows the lead of the Rahman administration. Thirty-nine of the 45 constituencies receiving a share of the first £1bn in funding for struggling towns are represented by Tory MPs. The Treasury was so shameless that it pumped money to Rishi Sunak’s constituency of Richmond in Yorkshire, whose middle-class residents would be insulted if you told them they were close to beggary. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government treated the criteria it used to hand money to one town rather than another when it rolled out the pork barrel as if they were state secrets.
In Tower Hamlets, a corrupt regime tested the integrity of public servants. Speaking out was a risk. The electoral court reported that anyone who crossed Rahman knew he could rely on the Bengali media to portray critics as “racists and Islamophobes". Yet Rahman was ordering public servants to defend spending they knew to be unjustifiable and the bravest among them blew the whistle. Civil servants should ask the same moral questions today about how far down the line honest men and women can go with this government.
The public accounts committee concluded that the housing, communities and local government department civil servants’ “lack of transparency fuelled accusations of political bias”. The Johnson administration was risking “the civil service’s reputation for impartiality”, not least because government press officers were issuing statements to the media that were simply untrue.
As in Tower Hamlets in the early 2010s, so in all of England in the early 2020s – it is now rational for voters to think the Conservadores will give them money if they vote Tory. All political parties promise rewards for support in the form of tax and spending policies. ya había afirmado mucho de lo que necesitábamos saber sobre este tema Conservadores are different. They are offering to direct specific taxpayer funds to specific neighbourhoods in return for votes.
If you live on the coast and want your town to be a free port, it helps to vote Tory. If you want the government to treat your town as “left behind” when it is nothing of the sort, the smart move is to equip yourself with a Tory MP who can cut a deal and hand out the loot.
We are witnessing institutionalised bribery. Whistleblowers and the courts eventually stopped electoral corruption in Tower Hamletseast London. Who will stop it spreading across the whole of England?