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Did this force Tory MP Patrick Mercer to resign?


12:31 pm - May 31st 2013

by Sunny Hundal    


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The lobbying scandal has just claimed another victim.

Patrick Mercer MP resigns over lobbying scandal, reports the Telegraph.

The Telegraph and the BBC’s Panorama have been investigating the former shadow minister over a major lobbying scandal and is poised to publish a series of revelations about Mr Mercer tomorrow.

Lobby hacks on Twitter today have been saying that Mercer has been stung by reporters posing as lobbyists on behalf of the country of Fiji, to set up an All-party parliamentary group.

It turns out Patrick Mercer MP has been asking questions in the House of Commons regarding Fiji.

According to TheyWorkForYou:

1) On 16th May Patrick Mercer MP wrote to ask:

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

(1) what discussions his Department has had with the government of Fiji about that country’s human rights record;

(2) what discussions his Department has had with the government of Fiji about the status of Fiji within the Commonwealth;

(3) what discussions his Department has had with the government of Fiji about the effects on Fiji of its suspension from the Commonwealth;

(4) what his policy is on the readmission of Fiji to the Commonwealth; and if he will make a statement.

2) On 20th May Patrick Mercer MP wrote to ask:

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the UK’s investment in public transport in Fiji; and if he will make a statement.

In adition, he also raised Early Day Motions.

An EDM on 26th March stated (ht @steveplrose):

That this House recognises that the government of Fiji is making all reasonable efforts to restore democracy; believes that in the light of ongoing hardship being endured by its businesses, there is no justification for Fiji’s continued suspension from the Commonwealth; and, therefore, urges the Government to arrange a ministerial visit in order to help prepare for and assist its readmission.

Oh dear…

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


1. ex-Labour voter

Nothing in the Queen’s Speech about creating a register of lobbyists.

We know a hit when we see one.

3. douglas clark

There is something, well, just wrong about any MP being in the pocket of lobbyists. It would be difficult to know where to draw the line, but payment would be a good red light.

SMfS will be along in a minute to tell me it is the very best thing….

4. Edward Lud

Channelling PJ O’Rourke, when politicians are allowed to decide what can be bought and sold the first thing that will bebought and sold is politicians.

5. So Much For Subtlety

3. douglas clark

There is something, well, just wrong about any MP being in the pocket of lobbyists. It would be difficult to know where to draw the line, but payment would be a good red light.

What is wrong with it? Politicians are safer when they can be bought than when they believe things.

Still, any harm done here? These are all good questions. I am glad someone asked them.

SMfS will be along in a minute to tell me it is the very best thing….

No, the very best thing would be for politicians to be so rich that they did not need to sell themselves cheap.

No, the very best thing would be for politicians to be so rich that they did not need to sell themselves cheap.

Hahaha

7. So Much For Subtlety

6. Sunny Hundal

Hahaha

And hereditary so they could consider the long term welfare of the entire nation, not just their chances of getting re-elected next year – or perhaps a sinecure if they don’t.

Can someone explain to me clearly just exactly where Patrick Mercer may have run foul of the rules? If he had declared his interests as a paid (? – i understand) advisor to this (as it turns out bogus) group, would he have been within the rules? Is it that he didn’t register it on his register of interests, or should he also have declared his interest every time he raised a question / EDM etc? If he had done either / both of these things, would he have been covered?

A register of lobbyists wouldn’t have changed anything here. The pay was under the table.

@Mung

The rule is “No paid advocacy”. Couldn’t be clearer.

11. Dissident

No, the very best thing would be for politicians to be so rich that they did not need to sell themselves cheap.

So a taker like Mitt Romney? How – Libertarian of you!

12. Dissident

And hereditary so they could consider the long term welfare of the entire nation, not just their chances of getting re-elected next year – or perhaps a sinecure if they don’t.

Like the aristocracy of old…

13. So Much For Subtlety

11. Dissident

So a taker like Mitt Romney? How – Libertarian of you!

I am not a libertarian. I am not even remotely a libertarian. Never claimed to be either. And it ought to be obvious to everyone that the best parts of the British constitution, the only parts that still work, are the hereditary ones. In fact I don’t think anyone would deny it. The House of Lords – the old House of Lords – did the only good job of holding legislation up to scrutiny and the executive to account. The Queen continues to do an excellent job. Year in and year out.

I would suggest the only constitutional reform that makes sense is the abolition of the non-hereditary parts.

That America could reject an excellent candidate like Mitt Romney in favour of a talentless empty suit like Obama is evidence of a country in terminal decline.

But unfortunately we are not much better.

14. Dissident

SMFS,

The only reason we know at all about Mitt is because of wealth he appropriated from various corporations, he was only talented as an accumulator, why do you think I call him a taker? Btw I’m not a libertarian either, if mitt and others like him are what it means!

The only reason why you might think hereditary peers might work is the purely random distribution of personality types. Are you a gambler? Because we all need to literally roll the dice in trusting a hereditary system. The fact that the dice would be loaded in favour of those born unto power is irrelevant of course. Presumably they are immune to the pernicious neurological effects of power and privilidge right?

15. So Much For Subtlety

14. Dissident

The only reason we know at all about Mitt is because of wealth he appropriated from various corporations, he was only talented as an accumulator, why do you think I call him a taker?

I think I prefer to remain quiet on why I think you think he is a taker. But of course in the real world, he took failing companies and restored them to health. He added greatly not only to his own wealth but to the wealth of his investors and to the wealth of the world as well. He is not even remotely a taker.

The only reason why you might think hereditary peers might work is the purely random distribution of personality types. Are you a gambler? Because we all need to literally roll the dice in trusting a hereditary system. The fact that the dice would be loaded in favour of those born unto power is irrelevant of course. Presumably they are immune to the pernicious neurological effects of power and privilidge right?

Well I do like the random distribution aspects, but actually, no I think there are neurological effects of power and privileged. One of them is thinking for the long term. Often it is competence too. There is no denying that the House of Lords used to do a vastly better job of looking at legislation than the House of Commons. Look at Blair’s efforts to make religious vilification a crime. By any measure we are ditching the only parts of our constitution that work for bits that don’t.

16. So Much For Subtlety

12. Dissident

Like the aristocracy of old…

Well it depends on the aristocrat. Some of them did not have a firm grasp on wealth and power so were the usual money grubbing leaches. Rather like the three Life “peers” who look like they are in hot water over payments this time around.

17. Dissident

“he took failing companies and restored them to health. He added greatly not only to his own wealth but to the wealth of his investors and to the wealth of the world as well. He is not even remotely a taker.”

By this you mean impose pay cuts and job losses through outsourcing imposed on the majority of said company’s workforce – and convert the money ‘saved’ into his personal pay check and big fat bonuses for other execs. A great many companies are having to reverse such short sighted policies now!

“Some of them did not have a firm grasp on wealth and power so were the usual money grubbing leaches.”

So the solution to money grubbing leeching is to have an even firmer grasp on wealth and power. Interesting, makes it sound like even aristocrats are too progressive a force. Why not go the whole hog and have an absolute monarch ruling all by divine right? So let’s rip up the Magna Carta as well as the post civil war aka revolutionary parliamentary representation. Because what we need is a strong leader right?

@McCurry – ‘the rule is no paid advocacy – couldn’t be clearer’.

But – and I’m not being deliberately thick here – they do it all the time. It’s been well documented that many parliamentarians are on the payroll of companies that will benefit from health privatisation (for example), and they speak up in favour of health privatisation. But they mutter a few words about their ‘registered interests’ and get away with it – how? Is it because they claim they are on the payroll to advise these companies but not to advocate on their behalf? When they clearly *are* advocating policies that will benefit a company that pays them, why is this not a problem, why is it accepted that this activity is incidental to what they are getting paid for? Seems Mercer could have registered his interests then no-one would have batted an eyelid, even though democracy is still clearly being bought?

19. thoughtful

just how is UK policy with regard to Fiji determined? Doesn’t it need the occasional blast of questions to help the process along?

20. littleox

i am betting that Sunny Hundal will make it through, and most of the commenters on this site will remain just commenters who have blogs no one reads and whos comments are way to long for a comments section.
just my view


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