Saturday, March 28, 2015

Green Party rally in Weston against the corruption in Westminster on 28th April

We have booked the Town Hall for the evening of the Tuesday 28th April (7.30pm, in the New Council Chamber) for an important presentation of the case for voting Green.

Dr Richard Lawson, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Weston-super-Mare will give a talk entitled
"How we can Cure the Corruption that is Infecting Parliament?"

This is a bold and controversial topic, but I will be presenting strong evidence and arguments that bear out the message.

We have had one scandal every 17 months or so since 1996:
  • Cash for Access, Cash for Questions, Cash for Influence, Cash for Honours;
  • the MP expenses scandal and many other grubby incidents;
  • then there are corporate lobbying, directorships, and massive corporate donations to political parties;
  • and last, and worst of all, the present scandal of the covering up of child abuse by MPs and other powerful figures
We cannot hope to make progress with our aim to work for the common good if Westminster is infested with corrupt politicians who see themselves as above the Law.

We want this meeting to be a big focus of the Weston campaign.
The chamber can hold about 90 people, and it would be great if it could be filled to overflowing. We are going to do our very best to try to get the meeting noticed by press, radio and even TV, but the main advertising drive will be through leafleting, in the street and house-to-house in Weston.

So, if you are available for leafleting in the week beginning 13th April and following, please get in touch by emailing Richard on rlawson@gn.apc.org.

And please come along on April 28th to meet your fellow Greens.


Nigel Farage will cost the UK up to £146 billion a year, but so what?

Nigel Farage's Ukip economics is predicated strongly on two funding sources:  savings from leaving the EU, and the savings from cutting our aid budget.

So does Kippernomics stand up?

EU membership

Ukip assert that we pay £55million a day or £20 billion/y for our EU membership. 

This is indeed what we pay to the EU - our membership fee, gross.

However, the EU also gives us money back again, and the difference between these two figures is the net cost.

The excellent Full Fact site has looked at the figures, and find that taking into account money paid back to the UK, the net cost is about £33m/d or £12bn/y.

Government figures deal exclusively with money flows between Government and the EU, and their net cost for 2013 is £8.6bn/y.

And then there is the CBI's assessment of the cost/benefit of EU membership. Their conclusion is that the net benefit of EU membership to the UK economy is somewhere between £62 and £78bn/y. 
Call it £70 billion. 

To be absolutely clear, the Confederation of British Industry is saying that we stand to lose £70,000,000,000 every year if Nigel gets his way.

You really would think, wouldn't you, that some economist or political commentator would have picked up on this fact. But no. Why not? Because, of course, the CBI is a know-nothing leftist bleeding heart liberal greenie organisation...oh wait...they are what?...OK. Right. OK, the answer is, Because.

Anyway, the Open Europe think-tank says Britain would only lose £56bn/y if it left the EU, so the CBI is wrong.

So let's be generous to Nigel, and assume, for the sake of argument, that leaving the EU would make us £12 billion/y better off. 

Aid budget

Ukip also want to cut our aid budget, currently £10.3bn a year, by 85%. This will yield about £8bn/y.

So between socking it to EU bureaucrats and Ethiopian tribespersons, Nigel has raised £20bn/yr.

What will he do with that lovely £20bn/y?

Nigel has a habit of saying "We leave the EU and with the money we save, we will do X"
X being:
  • an extra 40% on defence annually. This would cost £19bn per year.
  • double prison places to enforce zero tolerance on crime. This would cost £4bn per year.
  • abolish inheritance tax. About £3bn a year.
  • Abolish National Insurance. This would lose around £50bn a year in revenue
Net cost of UKIP policies:     £76 billion/y
Net benefits ditto              :    £20 billion/y
Net hole in Nigel's stocking: £56 billion/y
Unless, of course, the CBI is right, in which case the net cost of Nigel's aspirations is £146 billion/y

But who cares? He is against immigration, he hates the EU, he smokes fags and drinks beer, and these are all character traits that tabloid editors and right wing libertarian commentators feel good about, so leave the poor guy alone.

See also: Thinking of voting UKIP? Read this first.

    So you are not going to vote? Really?


    One in 10 MPs prefers it in used notes

    Pursuing the topic of corruption of our Parliament, I have been wondering what proportion of MPs were implicated in the 2009 MP expenses scandal.

    So I counted them up from this page. I found 68 MPs and 2 "Lords". There are 650 MPs, and so the 68 fiddlers come to 10%  of the total of MPs.

    This is important, because people tend to say "I'm not voting because they are all in it for themselves". These figures show that only 10% of MPs are blatant, proven fiddlers. Not all. Of course, of those not caught in the expenses scandal, more may be involved in corporate lobbying and directorships, and all political parties receive substantial donations. Including the Greens, though we greens believe that big donations should be banned, and parties funded through taxation in proportion to their votes.

    Anyway, the point is that only one in 10 MPs is a money grubbing venal low life.
    I hope that helps to restore confidence in our Parliamentary democracy.

    Friday, March 27, 2015

    Where this Green candidate and doctor stands on the NHS

    As a PPC, I am getting many emails asking all the Parliamentary  candidates in Weston for their stance on the NHS. I am delighted to see so many people (>80 emails so far) ready to take action to defend the NHS.

    I am happy to say that I stand fully and unequivocally for an NHS funded out of general taxation, free at the point of need (including a downward revision of prescription charges for those on lower incomes). I oppose privatisation, and oppose more NHS contracts going to private companies.

    I wish to see NHS funded adequately, and I reject the dishonest 3% pa "efficiency savings" that the Tories and LibDem have imposed on the NHS while claiming that the NHS budget is ringfenced.

    The NHS is one of the most cost-effective health services in the world, but the Tories and LibDems (and also Labour in their time in office) are trying to push it towards the inefficient USA Health Maintenance Organisation insurance-funded model. This makes no medical, humanitarian or economic sense, but is being imposed purely for ideological, free-market reasons.

    I want to see increases in NHS funding, particularly in the mental health sector, where I worked for many years.

    There are many real improvements in delivery of care and ways of working that the NHS could bring about. The proper way to do this is from the grassroots up.
    If an NHS unit, be it GP surgery or hospital office or department, thinks that they know of a better way of doing things, they can pass a suggestion to a designated manager who will look at their proposal sympathetically and constructively. If it seems to be viable, it will be trialled in other units. If it works in those units, it will be rolled out generally. This is a continuous, organic, grassroots-up approach to reorganisation, and is far preferable to the 13 major top-down reorganisations
    that I have seen in my working life which have been disruptive and have rarely produced any substantial improvements.

    This grassroots-up continuous reform could also be used to bring new therapies forward. For instance, I have used two extremely effective and brief psychotherapies (the "rewind technique" for PTSD, and "cutting the ties" for oppressive figures in a client's past. Both of these techniques should be assessed for their effectiveness, for their clinical usefulness, particularly for war veterans with PTSD, for drug dependent people in our hostels in Weston, and for survivors of child sexual abuse.

    The Green Party is completely opposed in to TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. These trade deals are essentially undemocratic, because they set commercial
    interests above laws drawn up by democratically elected governments, in particular laws designed to protech environment and society. The main parties are trying to say
    that the NHS would not be affected, but we would be naive to take them at their word. The US healthcare industry must grow year on year, but they cannot grow any more
    in the USA, so they are trying to force their expensive, inefficient and inhumane healthcare model onto us in Europe.

    I will oppose any future NHS contracts going to private companies. I want privatisation reversed and the NHS protected as a public service.

    I am proud of its principles and do now want to return to a time when people could not afford treatment.

    The Tories are trying to fudge the issue of privatisation, using weasel words, claiming that Labour started it (so much the worse for Labour), claiming that it puts GPs in charge of commissioning, that Lansley's Act was a wonderful success, and that TTIP will not affect the NHS. I have refuted all their points on this blog post.

    The fact is that the Tories (with the LibDems and, sadly, Labour) are all in the process of privatising the NHS. It is also a fact that privatisation is inefficient, as I have shown here: 

    If elected (and I have exactly the same chance of being elected as the Labour, LibDem or Ukip candidates) I will continue to fight to make sure the NHS is properly funded so we can all rely on getting quality care whenever we need it.

    I have been and still am involved in of the Protect our NHS Campaign that successfully played a part in blocking the franchising out of Weston Hospital services to private companies like the notorious Serco. The campaign was led by the excellent Steve Timmins, but I helped in chairing the meetings, and I ran the website which is here and which still has some useful background information about Weston Hospital


    I am moved by the way many people have been helped, even to the point of having your lives saved, by the NHS. I am angered by the sustained media campaign that Tory newspapers, and also the BBC post-2010, have waged against the NHS.

    I am angry that the BBC effectively imposed a blackout on discussion of the NHS while Lansley's HSCA was being forced through Parliament by the Tories and LibDems.

    I have been dismayed at how little protest has been made against the destruction of the NHS, and I am delighted to see so many good people are really ready to stand up for the NHS.

    Please be aware that with the First Past the Post FPTP electoral system which is preferred by Tories and Labour, your vote is not for a party, but for the local candidate and the local candidate alone. The vote has no effect beyond the constituency border. Note also that neither LibDems, nor Labour nor Ukip have any realistic chance of unseating the Tory - although each of them will ritually claim that they can, and the Tory will claim that he is not overconfident of winning. This is merely a political game that parties play in elections. The point is that there is no point in trying to make a tactical vote. Thanks to the FPTP system, the vote in Weston is nothing but a glorified opinion poll. Like it or not, that is how FPTP works.

    Therefore, by voting Green  you will be voting for a candidate who is committed and enthusiastically on your side. There is no fear that in voting Green, you will be letting the Tory in; the Tory is already in, thanks to FPTP. If however, Weston delivers a massive Green vote, maybe even putting me in second place, commentators will ask "What was that about?", allowing me a chance to explain the intensity of feeling about the NHS (and also about political corruption and the stupidity of
    condemning people to unemployment,  which are also major planks in my platform).

    There is much more that I could say, especially on how to improve the position of Weston Hospital but I have already gone on too long.

    Thank you again for writing, and - please vote for what you believe in.

    Yours for a more democratic, equal and sustainable nation

    Richard Lawson
    Green Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Weston Constituency

    Wednesday, March 25, 2015

    Sanctions and workfare


    Ghost Whistler asks :

    If elected what will you do to combat the toxic regime of sanctions and workfare at the DWP? For example, will you meet with local staff and call for changes (assuming they are among those punishing people in this way)?
    My reply:

    I hate sanctions and workfare. The punitive approach to out of work benefits taken by the Tories and LDs is irrational and deeply unpleasant, given that the basic problem is a market failure - namely, the inability of the system to provide jobs.

    It is deeply worrying that these politicians want to punish people for having no jobs when the system they support is failing to supply work at a time when there is so much work, good work that would help people and planet, left undone.

    That is why I came up with the Green Wage Subsidy idea. This is a positive, fully voluntary scheme that will create good constructive and useful jobs for people. If elected I will do all that I can to get the DWP to allow a GWS pilot run in North Somerset.

    Sadly, the reality of the situation is that the result in Weston constituency is a foregone conclusion: Con hold. Ukip will somewhat reduce the total size of the John Penrose's vote, but the fact is that none of the non-Tory candidates stand a chance of replacing him. The LibDems were the challengers in past elections, but they are now a shadow of their former selves, thanks to their flirtation with the Conservatives. The vote in Weston is a glorified opinion poll, and all non-Tory votes are wasted in the sense that they have no representation in Parliament. This is the ugly truth of First Past the Post. Of course, all the other candidates will contradict me, the three also-rans will assert that against all reality, they are able to win, and John Penrose will deny that he is a dead cert so as not to look complacent, but the electoral reality is as I have written.

    If I come second, pundits will ask "what happened there?" And I will be able to say that the people of Weston voted Green because the Green candidate put forward a positive solution to the problem of unemployment, and also spoke out against corruption.


    On Taxing "Carried Interest" of Private Equity Fund Managers

    A constituent asks me as PPC what I think of the 38 degree campaign to apply tax to the earnings of Private Equity Fund Managers. My reply:


    Dear xxx

    Many thanks to drawing my attention to this issue. You are the second to have done so, and I am fully in agreement with you on this.

    It is scandalous that this handful of highly paid Private Equity Fund Managers should engineer things so as to deprive the Exchequer and the nation of up to £700 million pa in tax revenues foregone.

    That HMRC should have colluded in creating a sweetheart deal to enable them to avoid taxation on their carried interest, a proportion of their funds profits, is a tribute to the effectiveness of the lobbying and political donation system that allows private equity fund managers to consititute one sixth of the donors to the Conservative Party, and the second largest donor to Labour's "Progress" faction.

    I would argue that the lobbying and political donor regime that prevails in Westminster is a form of corruption, wherein the beneficiary that uses office (or potential office) for gain is not an individual in this case, but a political party.

    Democracy means that politicians and parties are given power by the people in order to serve the interests of the people and the people alone. Political donations and lobbying corrupt this status, and causes politicians to seek to serve the interests of the rich individuals and companies with whom they are doing deals.

    I note with unease that Private Equity Funds now hold some 5% of UK companies, particularly water, mental health and social service providers. I note that mental health services are currently underfunded, so that the PE funds stand to gain from any top-up that future Governments may direct towards mental health services.

    I am glad to note that the US, Sweden, Netherlands and France have all made moves to treat carried equity as normal income, though all have failed up to now - a tribute to the power and influence of these fund managers. That they can cling so doggedly to their inflated incomes, despite the fact that they are earning up to £15million a year suggests very strongly that there is a process of addiction at work here - that a person in these ranks of the financial market is as dependent on ever increasing income as a heroin addict is dependent on his or her daily injection of heroin.

    As to the solution to this anomaly, I fully endorse your proposed amdnedment to the Finance Bill 2015, and if elected, I certainly will actively back that amendment.

    Sadly, the reality of the situation is that the result in Weston constituency is a foregone conclusion: Con hold. Ukip will somewhat reduce the total size of the John Penrose's vote, but the fact is that none of the non-Tory candidates stand a chance of replacing him.  The LibDems were the challengers in past elections, but they are now a shadow of their former selves, thanks to their flirtation with the Conservatives. The vote in Weston is a glorified opinion poll, and all non-Tory votes are wasted in the sense that they have no representation in Parliament. This is the ugly truth of First Past the Post. Of course, all the other candidates will contradict me, the three also-rans will assert that against all reality, they are able to win, and John Penrose will deny that he is a dead cert so as not to look complacent, but the electoral reality is as I have written.

    Therefore the important answer to your email is the one from John Penrose, and I would be grateful to have sight of the arguments he puts forward to defend the status quo.

    Thank you again for getting in touch.

    Richard Lawson
    Green PPC for Weston super Mare constituency

    Sunday, March 22, 2015

    Is Westminster Corrupt?


    Yes.

    Here is the evidence:

    The word “corruption” evolved from an old expression of rottenness, as of rotting fruit or flesh. It has extended its meaning to a lack of ethics, and has acquired a more specific meaning of the abuse of political power for personal gain, in the sense of "bribery and corruption".

    "Westminster" covers both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and the Civil Service, the whole place right through to the Remembrancer, the representative of the City of London who can whisper in the Speaker's ear.

    At the outset we should remember that the will of the people is the sovereign power in Britain, and MPs and Lords are given office in order to serve the best interests of the people. That is their job. It should occupy all of their working hours. They should be adequately rewarded for the hard work that they do, but they should not seek to gain any other money by any other means, except outside of their working hours, when everything that should be done to help their constituents has been done.

    So - is Westminster - the seat of power of the British state - pervasively corrupt? Is there an unusual lack of integrity, of ethical behaviour expected of responsible servants of the people?

    This piece presents evidence from known corruption scandals, ongoing lobbying, political donations, directorships – and last but not least, the scandal of child sex abuse by VIPs, and it concludes that Westminster is indeed corrupt.

    Looking at the history of the last quarter century, we find 15 instances where actions that may reasonably be characterised as being rotten practices, in the sense of being inconsistent with sound ethical standards, have been revealed. This averages at about one revelation every 18 months. Here they are:


    1. 1994 Cash for Questions: Lobbyist Ian Greer gave Tory MPs Neil Hamilton and Tim Smith money. They asked questions on behalf of Mohammed Al-Fayed. Fayed's employees confirmed payments had been made, but Hamilton and Smith were cleared by the Downey report.In July of the same year, a 'sting' by The Sunday Times reported that Conservative MPs Graham Riddick and David Treddinick had accepted £1,000 cheques for agreeing to table a parliamentary question.
    2. 1997 Bernie Ecclestone gave Labour £1m, and in a possibly coincidental action Labour exempted motor racing from a ban on tobacco advertising.
    3. 1998 Cash for Access/"Lobbygate" ; Derek Draper, a lobbyist, was caught by Greg Palast, an Observer journalist, boasting how he could provide access to Labour ministers and create tax breaks for his clients.
    4. 2006 Jowellgate: Tessa Jowell's husband gave testimony for Sylvio Berlusconi, and possibly coincidentally indirectly received £350,000 from him.
    5. 2006 Cash for Honours : In a workaround to evade the rules that capped large political donations, loans were made totalling £14m to Labour and £16m to Conservatives. These lenders found themselves, possibly coincidentally, in receipt of peerages. The CPS found no evidence that a prior deal had been done.

      2015: A statistical survey finds that the connection between donations and nomination for a peerage is highly unlikely to be due to chance.
    6. 2007 Peter Watt knew about, but did not report, the fact that Labour received £630,000 from one individual through third parties, a workaround for the rule that stopped one individual from making large payments. The CPS decided that there was not enough evidence to prosecute.
    7. 2008: Michael Brown gave the LibDems a £2.4m donation, despite the fact that they had been warned about him. Brown is a convicted fraudster (to the tune of £36m), having jumped bail after being charged.The Electoral Commission exonerated the LibDems of any wrongdoing, and absolved them from having to give any of their funds to the people Michael Brown had defrauded.
    8. 2009 Cash for Influence scandal. Four Labour peers offered to amend legislation for bribes of up to £120,000 in a Sunday Times sting. The House of Lords suspended two for the peers for 6 months.
    9. 2009 MP expenses scandal. About 68 (10% of the total) MPs were found to have committed some kind of financial irregularity in their expenses claims. 4 MPs were jailed, three peers were suspended.
    10. 2010 Cash for Influence: another sting by Dispatches/Sunday Times team, who interviewed 9 MPs (1 Con, 8 Lab) who accepted offers of cash for influencing policy.
    11. 2011 Liam Fox allowed his relationship with Adam Werrity to blur the distinction between official and private life.
    12. 2012 Cash for Access scandal: Sarah Southern (lobbyist and Cameron aide) introduced Sunday Times journalists to Peter Cruddas, Conservative Party co-treasurer. He claimed "£200,000 to £250,000 is Premier League - things will open up for you - you can ask him [David Cameron, the PM] practically any question you want." Cruddas subsequently won a case of defamation and malicious falsehood against The Sunday Times.
    13. 2012 Jeremy Hunt was prepared to adjudicate Murdoch's bid for BSkyB, but had been having inappropriately close communication with Murdoch and his team.
    14. 2015 Malcolm Rifkind ex-Foreign Secretary, was caught in a sting by Ch4 journalists posing as a Chinese business seeking to buy influence in Government. He was willing to arrange this at a rate of £5-8,000 per half day.
    15. 2015 Jack Straw was caught in the same sting as Rifkind. Straw said he operated "under the radar". He had used his influence to change EU rules on behalf of a firm which paid him £60,000 a year. He also earned £12,500 pa for work carried out for the corrupt and repressive regime in Kazakhstan.

    All of the above is evidence, in a range of clarity, that suggests that a culture of corruption, dodgy dealing, sleaze and amorality prevails in the Palace of Westminster.

    Bear in mind that these are events which came to the light of day. It is reasonable to suppose that not every shady deal is discovered.

    What is striking is that MPs do not learn from their mistakes, in that there are at least 6 stings in the list, but MPs continue to be caught out by undercover journalists. As Adam Ramsey, a green commentator said, “Like a toddler caught with their hand in the cookie jar, they just cannot see what the issue is”. This suggests that what we are recording here is merely the tip of the iceberg.

    The second noteworthy point is that on six occasions, the judiciary and other regulating authorities exonerated the perpetrators, and in one case, even awarded them damages.

    Over and above these 15 cases of overt corruption, there are four other modes in which the democratic process is overridden in Westminster: Lobbying, political donations, directorships and the protection of VIP child abusers.


    Lobbying


    We need to remind ourselves that in a democracy, the role of Parliament is supposed to be to represent the will and interests of the ordinary people of Britain, who are the ultimate source of political power and authority. If MPs and Peers are using their office to make deals that benefit themselves personally. This is a perversion of democracy. It is corrupt in the second, more specific sense of the word.

    There is a culture of lobbying in Westminster where MPs and peers are entertained and fed at great expense by corporate lobbyists. They are listening not to the concerns of their constituents, but to the blandishments of highly paid professional persuaders working on behalf of big corporations, whose only duty is to maximise the profits of their shareholders.

    There is also a “revolving door” that allows MPs and Ministers to take jobs with corporations, and corporations to embed their employees in Government offices. The nuclear industry is especially involved in this process.

    The Coalition Government has produced the Lobbying Act which enshrines the idea of self-regulation of lobbyists This shows only that they have learned absolutely nothing from the MP expenses scandal, where self-regulation failed so catastrophically.

    The Alliance for Lobbying Transparency rejects the Lobbying Act as a sham. They call for

    A genuine lobbying register, as adopted by the US, Canada and other countries, would cover the whole of the lobbying industry and allow us to scrutinise:


    • who is lobbying whom


    • what they are seeking to influence


    • and how much they are spending trying to do it.

    Here is the draft Lobbying Transparency Bill

    Support for this Bill must be a priority in the campaign to make Parliament fit for its original purpose of serving democracy.


    Political donations


    On top of lobbying, there is the matter of donations to political parties. In an effort to control the size of these donations, those over £5000 to a national political party, or £2000 to a local party, must be declared. We have seen how party fund raisers have repeatedly tried to circumvent this legislation by turning to loans.

    The major parties are in hock to major donors, receiving millions from private individuals, corporations and in the case of the Labour party, from the unions.

    It is naive to accept the protestations from donors and parties that there is no connection between donation and policy. They would say that, wouldn't they?

    Clearly, in a democracy, it should be illegal for a party to take money in donations above a very strict limit, and the law should be applied with rigour. In that political parties are a necessary part of the democratic process, they should be modestly and reasonably out of taxation,

    Several reviews and reports have been issued in an attempt to bring some kind of order to party funding.

    Hayden Phillips' report proposed a £50K cap on donations, and an increase of party funding from the state.

    The 2011 Committee on Standards in Public Life proposed a cap of £10K/donor/party/year, with more than that from Trades Unions if they accept an opt-in, a 15% reduction on allowable campaign spending, and public funding of £3 per Westminster vote, and £1.50 for other elections. They also suggested income tax relief for parties.

    Therefore reform is on the way, but moving with glacial slowness, held up by an emotional reaction from tabloid newspaper editors. The idea that parties should be funded by the taxpayer calls forth derision, based on their disgust at the behaviour of MPs. What these tabloids need to grasp is that the corrupt behaviour of MPs is a result of the very system of private payments that they, the tabloids, are defending.

    Directorships


    Here is a list of 10 Coalition Cabinet Ministers who have commercial interests in healthcare corporations. This is was during the time that the NHS is obliged to put its services out to private tender.

    This is unacceptable. Not only is it wrong that Ministers should take on directorships that will take their attention away from governing the country, but also it is wrong that they should have an interest in companies who stand to benefit from their political decisions. In that these directorships and consultancies are a source of income, the MPs are using their office for personal gain.

    We have found extensive evidence from 15 historic financial scandals, and from the way that Westminster is run through lobbying, political donations and directorships, that the system is corrupt, and that democracy is not well served.

    But there is more.


    Sexual Corruption


    If corruption is the abuse of office for personal gain, then it is clear that some office holders use their position to satisfy their sexual urges. There are no less than 60 (sixty) instances where investigations of sexual abuse of children were blocked as soon as they began to get close to VIPs. 23 Politicians have questions to answer. 6 civil servants are under suspicion or are known beyond doubt to have abused children.

    Given this evidence, it is reasonable to believe that the Establishment has a great deal to hide in the matter of child abuse by its own members. It does not want its crimes to be discovered.

    David Cameron claimed that he would leave “no stone unturned” in his search for answers to child abuse, yet the Home Office made not one, but two wrong choices of a chair for the Inquiry into Child abuse. The choices were said in the press to be faulty because they were Establishment figures, but the central criticism brought by the survivors was that the two figures chosen to lead the Inquiry were close to two VIPs suspected of being complicit in abuse.

    The first choice,Butler-Sloss, was sister to Robert Michael Havers. The second choice, Fiona Woolf, was friends with Sir Leon Brittan.

    It is vital that the Establishment figures involved in child abuse must be brought to justice. Quite apart from the pain caused, and the fact that murder is implicated in some cases. to have abusers at the heart of Government is not acceptable. First, VIPs who take part in child sex lay themselves open to blackmail. Second, VIP child sexual abuse creates a criminal underworld at the heart of the State. This works against democratic values, because if decision makers are hiding secrets in one area, this will work against transparency in other areas.

    Two simple policy changes are needed to discover who is trying to protect child abusers in high places. First, retired police officers need to be released from their obligations under the Official Secrets Act, so that they can tell investigating officers what they know. Second, the direction of investigations needs to be directed upwards, as in "Who ordered you to stop this investigation? Who was your superior?" These policy changes are developed here.

    A Plague on All Your Houses?


    A clear pattern is emerging. The common view that sceptics take of politicians, "They're all in it for themselves", is not that far off the truth. There are some decent MPs, and we should not dismiss the whole Parliamentary system by thinking that it is 100% corrupt. Parliament does not need to be destroyed and replaced by some unspecified other thing, it needs to be reformed.

    Labour, Tories and LibDems all have a poor record when it comes to the kind of corruption we are taking about here. Ukip are not in a position to claim that they are clean.

    The Green Party is relatively untarnished by the corruption in Westminster, if only because it has had no presence in Westminster, apart from Caroline Lucas, who has a reputation for integrity. Green MEPs, London Assembly members, and councillors have acquitted themselves well, although one early councillor was forced to resign on child pornography charges.

    The Green Party is the only major party that gets the majority of its funding from its membership, though even they have received some large donations from rich individuals - £55K from the Goldsmith brothers, and £300K from the personal account of Vivienne Westwood. Regrettably, the Vivienne Westwood group has a legal tax avoidance arrangement in Luxembourg that has saved them £500K. Vivienne Westwood Limited paid £780,228 of taxes in 2013 and £1,250,858 of taxes in 2012.

    In view of this, the Green Party is not in a position to take the moral high ground, but rather to work with honest politicians of every party to bring about policy changes that will put paid to the endemic corruption that infects Westminster.

    The best way forward might well be to declare an amnesty. a six month period during which people can come forward and confess any corrupt acts that they may have committed. They should then make reparations proportionate and appropriate to their actions


    Policy Changes


    Here is a list of policy changes that need to be made regarding MP expenses, rules concerning probity, contact with corporations, and political donations.



    1. Legal penalties including dismissal from office for MPs and peers who make fraudulent expenses claims, or who tout for or receive money for questions or for access.
    2. Enactment of the Lobbying Transparency Bill
    3. Reform of political donations along the lines suggested by the Committee on Standards in Public Life.
    4. MPs and peers are to either have an outright ban, or to be severely curtailed, on the number of hours that they can work outside of their Parliamentary duties.
    5. Release police witnesses to child sexual abuse from the constraints of the Official Secrets Act.
    6. Encourage police investigating sexual abuse by VIPs to ask witnesses which superior officers ordered investigations to be stopped, and follow this line of questioning up the chain of command.


    These issues must be brought to centre stage in this 2015 General Election campaign.


    Richard Lawson

    Green Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Weston super Mare Constituency