A recent Channel 4 Dispatches documentary Politicians for Hire trawled twelve well-known names with fake offers of lucrative consultancy work for a very rich Chinese businessman and two respected Commons elders Sir Malcolm Rifkind (Conservative) and Jack Straw (Labour) took the bait and came across on film as anxious to leverage their political experience and contacts for personal gain.
As a result of the revelations Rifkind’s political career has come to a sudden halt and he joins Geoff Hoon and Stephen “I’m like a cab for hire” Byers, both caught in the last Channel 4 sting five years ago, on the wall of the political Hall of Shame. Along with Straw who commented five years ago that Hoon and Byers had generated much anger and incredulity in the House of Commons for their stupidity in “being suckered into a stew like this”, or perhaps put another way, being caught. Now however it’s our Jack’s turn to drive the nails in the coffin having told his fake potential client “I have managed to keep out of any kind of scandal all my political career” He then went on to show how he earned a £60,000 a year fee from a commodity broker by getting laws changed in the Ukraine and the EU in their commercial favour, and saying that “the best way of dealing with these things is under the radar”.
Strew, who has been tipped for a place in the House of Lords, also did his potential future colleagues no favours by claiming, erroneously, that the rules on advocacy by MPs on behalf of companies that are paying them are “very strict” in the House of Commons and that this was not the case in the House of Lords where the rules are “different, and plenty of people have commercial interests there”. On this basis, said Straw, he would be able to “help more” his new Chines paymaster if he was elevated to the House of Lords.
Worrying or what?