Friday, April 07, 2006

Ministers For Sale

Blairwatch is on the ball once again. It seems that Labour ministers are renting themselves out to the business community. All you need to do to gain access to a government minister is subscribe to make regular donations to the Labour Party. What could possibly be wrong with that?

I've decided to contact the Labour Business Liason Unit to see if I can get a few more details. (This is a rehash of a comment I made at Blairwatch.) If you'd like to take advantage of this exciting new opportunity, you can email them at
business [AT]
Here's what I sent:
Dear Sir/Madam,

I read in today's newspapers that it is possible to gain access to government ministers by subscribing to donate money to the Labour Party through an offshoot of your unit called London in Business. As I cannot find relevant details for that organisation, I have contacted yourselves in the hope of aquiring further information about the scheme.

Can you advise me what level of payments are required to allow me to attend such events? Where do I apply? How often will I be able to speak to government ministers and how long is each contact likely to last?

At the moment finances are tight. I would, however, be most interested in taking advantage of this scheme if the costs are not too great.

I very much hope you can help. Thank you for your time.

Yours sincerely...
I'm not hugely optimistic about getting a reply. This'd be a shame because I would genuinely be prepared to pay to gain access to this government if the price is right. (I'd go as high as £5 per year, maybe £6). In fact, there's a strong possibilty that the Labour's BLU will consider my email to be a waste of their time. Perish the thought.

So that's business [AT] if anyone's interested in finding out more about the scheme. No time-wasters though...

I'm not joking. I did send this email. That's business [AT]

Thanks to David in the comments to the Blairwatch post for pointing out that the Guardian has the scans of the invitations online. (If I'd have looked, instead of just assuming that they were links to previous Labour scandal stories, I'd have seen that for myself.)

Here's the Guardian article. The scans are right at the bottom. On page three, there's a London in Business email address.
londoninbusiness [AT]

Reading the rest of the links, my questions are actually mostly answered. Please forgive me if a repeat one or two salient points in the following.

It's clear that this should be a major scandal. (My conspiracy radar can't help noticing that the story seems to have first appeared at 5pm on a Friday afternoon. This is, of course, the infamous dead spot in the weekly news cycle. Probably just a coincidence. Unless Downing Street called in a few favours on the timing to try to limit the fallout. Possibly. Anyway it's a scandal, Friday or not.)

This is a political party explicitly selling access to "decision makers". That's "decision makers". Donors are advised that they will be helped to gain "a greater insight into the rationale behind government thinking". That's "government thinking". There are explicit charges on page four. It's £2,000 per annum for small businesses and £3,500 p/a for large ones. This money is to be paid to the Labour Party. That's the Labour Party.

Let's be absolutely clear. When ministers are acting in their capacity as "decision makers," when they're providing businesses with insights into "government thinking," they are working for us. For. Us. Not the Labour Party.

This is an outrageous abuse of government power and position for party political gain. Financial gain at that. Calling all journalists. Calling all journalists.

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