Posts Tagged ‘Martin Williams’

TYT’s Jimmy Dore Talks to Outreach Head of US Anti-Corporate Corruption Movement

August 1, 2016

In my last piece, I discussed Mike article on the publication of Martin Williams’ book, Parliament Ltd: A Journey to the Dark Heart of British Politics, which reveals that British MPs currently hold 2,800 directorships in 2,450 or so companies, with a combined turnover of £220 billion and a workforce of £1.2m. Although there is no wrongdoing involved, 40 per cent of these directorships are not declared, 6 per cent only partially, and 3 per cent with major flaws. The potential for corruption is immense, leaving Mike to wonder what we can do about it.

In this video by The Young Turks’ Jimmy Dore, the comedian talks to David Cobb, a constitutional lawyer and outreach director of Move to Amend, a campaign group fighting the corporatist corruption of politics. They’re at the Free Speech Zone at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Corporate sponsorship of American politicians began in the 1970s, when a court judged that it constituted ‘free speech’, and so was protected by the US constitution. Since then it’s become a national scandal. Both the Republican and Democrat parties are dominated by corporate interests, particularly Shrillary Clinton, the Democrats’ candidate for the presidency. About a year or so ago, one Californian businessman was so revolted by the corruption, that he started the ‘California Is Not For Sale’ campaign to force politicians sponsored by companies to wear corporate logos on their jackets.

Cobb explains the difference between free speech, and the basis of the American Constitution in that the people govern themselves, and what they say cannot be dictated or affected by the state. But he also states that corporations are not ‘persons’ with the same rights as people under constitutional law. ‘Money’, he states firmly, ‘is property’, and that property can be used to purchase ‘microphones, amplifiers and distribution systems to drown out the rest of us’. He makes the point that for 150 years there was legislation banning corporate sponsorship because it was recognised that this would corrupt the democratic process. When Move to Amend introduced its motions – to remove the legal ruling that corporations are persons with constitutional rights, and remove corporate sponsorship from politics – in the last Congressional session it had three sponsors. This time, it had 22, including one Republican, from North Carolina.

Move to Amend was formed in 2010, it was 12 people in a living room. Now its 410,000 people and growing. 17 states have called for a constitutional amendment, and 600 communities have passed resolutions in their city councils supporting their resolutions. They’ve also been on 350 ballots by individuals, winning in each one. This is not just in liberal strongholds, but also in Conservative towns like Salt Lake City.

We badly need similar legislation like this in Britain to clean out the corporate corruption from our politics. Don’t expect it from the Blairites in the Labour party, though. As Peter Mandelson said, they were incredibly relaxed about getting rich, and notorious for the donations and sponsorships they received from business. And don’t expect it from the Tories either. Previous attempts to get business out of parliament has been shrugged off by the Tories on the grounds that the Conservative

    is

the party of business. David Cameron made a pretence of reforming lobbying, but it was designed to clean out lobbying by charities and other organisations, including trade unions, while leaving the big corporate lobbyists untouched.

Vox Political on New Book on MPs with Undeclared Directorships

August 1, 2016

Earlier today Mike put up a piece about a report in the Business Insider on a new book, Parliament Ltd: A Journey to the Dark Heart of British Politics by journalist Martin Williams , which documents the number of MPs holding directorships, many of which are undeclared.

There are 1,450 MPs, comprising 650 members of the House of Commons and 800 Lords. Together, members of parliament hold nearly 2,800 active directorships in 2,465 companies, with revenues of £220 billion and a combined workforce of 1.2 million people. Williams estimates that roughly 40 per cent of these directorships are not declared in the register of members’ financial interests. A further 6 per cent are only partly declared, and another 3 per cent declared with major errors, such as the misspelling of company names.

The book makes the point that there is no evidence that any of the MPs have broken any rules. However, the book, with the help of London technology startup company Duedil, did reveal many directorships that are potentially controversial .

Mike makes the point that Martin Williams himself states that there is no need for MPs to declare their interest in companies, except where this may influence the way they vote or Lords speak. However, it is only through books like this that MPs’ commercial interests can be revealed. Mike also compares it to the work of the journalists, who have uncovered the massive electoral corruption committed by the Tories.

He also makes the point that it shows the massive potential for unchecked corruption in our political system that has gone on for far too long, and asks what can be done about it.

See http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/08/01/politicians-hold-undeclared-directorships-in-firms-with-huge-profits/

I came across the book about a fortnight ago in the ‘New Books’ section of Waterstone’s in Cheltenham. The book’s blurb makes the point that these politicians aren’t working for us, and to think so is a grave mistake. In fact, such corruption has been a feature of the British political system for a very long time. A few months ago a put up a piece based on the book, Your MP, by ‘Gracchus’, published by Victor Gollancz in 1944. This was an expose of the corruption within the Tory party, and the way its members had collaborated or fraternised with the Nazis before the War, and had voted against liberal policies, such as the condemnation of Mussolini’s invasion of Abyssinia, and for the immediate implementation of the Beveridge Report and is recommendation for the new welfare state and NHS.

As for what can be done about it, there is now a mass movement in America demanding the complete removal of corporate sponsorship from politics. One Conservative Californian businessman put up a internet petition ‘California Is Not For Sale’ demanding that any politicians, who received donations from corporate sponsors for their campaign, should have to wear sponsorship logos on their jackets when they entered Congress. There is also the ‘Move to Amend’ campaign, headed by an American constitutional lawyer, that is demanding a repeal of the legislation permitting companies to sponsor politicians as constitutional free speech. I will be putting up a very short – just under 5 minute interview by the American comedian, Jimmy Dore – later this evening, which shows the amazing progress this campaign is making in the US.

We badly need measures like this over this side of the pond, to make our politics less corrupt, and our politicos genuinely answerable to the people, not to their shareholders or board chairmen.