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Friday, October 26, 2007 

Buying the Lords.

Ey, calm down, calm down!

Last night's Question Time saw Charles Falconer appearing for Labour. Why the BBC wasn't able to track down any of the current 353 Labour members actually elected to the House of Parliament wasn't up for discussion, but it didn't stop Falconer, a man who has had his whole recent career as a politician handed to him by his former flatmate from defending that bastion of democracy the House of Lords, which coincidentally also provides him with the only legitimacy he has to talk about anything.

There are 99 different reasons for abolishing the House of Lords, the fact that Falconer is a member being 97 of them, with the affront to democracy that an appointed house of so-called representatives still existing in the 21st century and the corruption involved in the appointing of those "representatives" being the other two. Today's Grauniad helps to remind us of the just how the latter goes hand in hand with almost everything the Lords does:

A Labour peer has admitted taking money to introduce an arms company lobbyist to the government minister in charge of weapons purchases. The case of "cash for access" in the House of Lords is likely to ignite fresh concern about ethical standards in parliament.

The lobbyist paid cash for an introduction to Lord Drayson, the defence minister in charge of billions of pounds of military procurement, according to evidence obtained by the Guardian.


Quite why you would pay to meet such a man as Lord Drayson is on its own difficult to fathom. It's on the level of buying a ticket to see Jim Davidson, or putting your face into an angle grinder. Drayson, aka Lord Smallpox, is best known for the completely innocent coincidence of donating £50,000 to the Labour party at a time when the government was deciding who to award the contract for producing Smallpox vaccines to. Seriously, it was completely innocent; the National Audit Office said so, and we can trust a man like Sir John Bourn to have told us the complete truth. Shortly after being made a peer of the realm, Drayson made a further donation of £505,000 to the Labour party, a sort of reversal of how Blair and another Lord, Levy, were alleged to have offered, perhaps not in words but in nudges, peerages in return for loans.

The lobbyist, Michael Wood, who trades as "Whitehall Advisers" and has worked with those completely incorruptible arms merchants, BAE Systems, coincidentally has the equivalent of the key to city of the palace of Westminster, as he holds a security pass as a "research assistant" to the Tory MP and shadow defence minister Gerald Howarth. Howarth had the following to say when it was announced that Saudi Arabia would be purchasing BAE's hopelessly outdated Eurofighters:

"The decision by the Saudi government to purchase the Typhoon is welcome news for the UK defence industry and demonstrates the enduring relationship between Saudi Arabia and the UK.

"The UK defence industry continues to be at the forefront of cutting edge defence technology.

"The Typhoon is a truly world class aircraft and today's announcement confirms the esteem in which UK equipment is held worldwide."


As Politaholic points out, Doug Hoyle, the man accused of taking money from Wood to meet Drayson, stood down so that the Tory turncoat, Shaun Woodward could have his safe seat, realising that he would lose his safe Tory seat of Witney (now occupied by David Cameron) for changing parties. Hoyle was duly rewarded with a peerage.

As might have been expected, as this is after all the House of Lords, taking money to introduce a wannabe arms dealer to the minister for defence procurement isn't "specifically outlawed", although it is "frowned upon". Like so much else, rather than it being out and out sleaze, this just has a stink about it. The same stink that pervades a house that includes those who are there through no other reason than what family they were born into, others purely there because of the religion they belong to, and oh, then there's Digby Jones. Every single reason you could ever need for abolishing the place wrapped together in one bloated corporeal body.

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