British “New” “Labour” politicians in big business

From British daily The Morning Star:

Ministers’ revolving door into business is jammed

Thursday 18 June 2009

Solomon Hughes

Some tragic news in the Financial Times. So sad that it takes a hard-hearted reader not to laugh out loud. According to the pink paper, “Labour MPs hoping to land lucrative private-sector jobs after the next election are in for a disappointment.”

The Financial Times says that City headhunters think the MPs’ “lack the glitter” to attract the big jobs in the Square Mile.

Plenty of ex-ministers, even the worst kind, have already gone on to jobs in the City. But the glitter has gone – the glitter of being attached to the ruling party.

The City would rather recruit David Cameron‘s spin doctors’ tea boy than a Labour minister of state right now because it thinks Labour is on its way out of power.

The whole point of recruiting former ministers is to get hold of their contact books and their introductions.

Richard Caborn no doubt likes to tell himself that the fantastic skills he developed in his undistinguished reign as sports minister are the reason why nuclear and engineering firm Amec gave him a job.

But we all know that Amec hired Caborn to help it to win government contracts.

Amec took on former energy minister Brian Wilson

For neo-conservative fossils who still get hissy fits whenever people name the words “energy”, “oil”, and “Iraq” in one sentence: Wilson used to be Tony Blair‘s special envoy to Iraq.

for the same reason.

Every cloud has its silver lining. The miserable prospect of the coming of Cameron does at least mean we will see fewer Labour ministers joining City boards.

Maybe even James Purnell will have to join one of his own “workfare” schemes if the voters kick him out.

David Blunkett was able to get a nice cushy number with A4E, a company bidding for those workfare contracts from the government, but Purnell probably won’t get a ticket for this gravy train.

With a bit of luck, the “revenue protection officer” is moving towards his carriage.

There are two other reasons to be happy that the revolving door has got a bit of a jam in it.

First, the prospect of a cushy number in the City was one of the many factors nudging ministers towards ever more pro-corporate policies. It looks as if this temptation is gone.

Unfortunately, I think some of Labour’s ministerial donkeys would trudge in that political direction even without the corporate career carrot dangling in front of their noses.

Second, we will see fewer Labour ministers shaming themselves and their movement when they get on the boards, because the simple truth is that Labour’s ministers-turned-executives are easily as bad as some of the lowest people already found in those high places.

Here are three recent examples. Patricia Hewitt said that she was standing down at the next election so she could spend more time with her many directorships.

One of the former health minister’s many jobs is on the board of Boots.

Now it may be that Hewitt got the job because of her expertise in two-for-one deals and her advanced knowledge of loyalty cards, but I suspect Boots’s persistent attempts to get NHS services located in its chemists shops might be a stronger reason.

However, at least Boots did some good things. It was a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative, an organisation that’s trying to stop the worst kind of worker exploitation further down the supply chain.

Unusually, the ETI is a tri-partite group, with union representatives whose members work in developing world industries as well as campaigners and employers. So all in all, a good thing.

However, now Hewitt has joined the Boots board, the high-street chemist has decided to leave the ETI. Hewitt apparently cares less about the exploitation of Third World workers than the company director she replaced.

Sally Morgan, one-time minister for women and Tony Blair’s chief No 10 aide, also works for a high-street store. She has a job with Lloyds Pharmacy. Morgan is on its “advisory board,” so you won’t see her stocking the shelves with corn plasters.

Oddly, Baroness Morgan is also on the board of Carphone Warehouse. Since she joined, the firm has started saying: “Stuff the workers.”

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has been trying to organise at Carphone Warehouse. But with Morgan in the boardroom, the firm has started making mass redundancies and, according to delegates at the CWU conference, using the lay-offs to victimise trade union reps.

Or how about former defence ministers George Robertson and John Reid. They did a double act with a security firm called GSL. The company was owned by investment firm Englefield Capital, which employs Robertson.

Englefield then sold GSL to Group 4, which employs Reid.

Did the two former Labour ministers push this private prisons firm in a liberal direction?

Apparently not.

A recent inquest in Australia found GSL responsible for boiling a prisoner to death. Mr Ward, an Aborigine man arrested on a driving offence, was transported by GSL to court. He was left to die without water or care in incredible temperatures in the back of one of the firm’s vans. He was found to have third-degree burns.

This video from Australia says about itself:

Marc Newhouse from Deaths in Custody Watch Committee doing media interview

Marc being interviewed by media including ABC, SBS and the West Australian at the May 14 rally at GSL office 140 Abernethy Road in Belmont.

Purnell quits politics: here.

USA: Where Are They Now?: Ex-Bush Loyalists Cash In: here.

10 thoughts on “British “New” “Labour” politicians in big business

  1. Blairite Purnell utters ‘S’ word

    Politics: Labour must set out a clear ideological platform for reining in both the state and the markets and handing power to the people, former Cabinet minister James Purnell has said.

    Describing the outlines of the ideology he favours, the renowned Blairite told an audience from think-tank Demos: “One could almost call it socialism.”

    Mr Purnell quit the government last year but had previously pursued a vicious policy directing welfare cuts at some of society’s most vulnerable.


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