by Peter Cook
Wherever power exists in this country, there exudes the stench of corruption, like putrefaction from a rotting corpse.
I apologise if I have lapsed into the English habit of understatement, but Britain is now officially corrupt.
Like an early West African republic, we expect the national wealth to be creamed off by an oligarchy. If we were Egyptian, or even French, there would be riots in the streets.
But we are not. We are British, and in many cases English.
So perhaps the best way to deal with the avarice of those who run our country is, like a reluctant bride, to just lie back and enjoy it. Fight it with biting humour. After all there’s not much else we can do.
The first of the great British institutions to whiff of the gangrene of corruption was of course the banking sector represented by the City of London.
Why were we surprised? Greed is firmly incorporated in the DNA of bankers and is written into their job descriptions.
Next to riffle the nostrils were our elected representatives, who for some reason just could not understand why it was dishonest to falsely claim expenses for their duck houses, moat cleaning and second homes.
If they can’t work that one out how can they possibly run the country? Nevertheless they are shortly to be given another whacking great pay rise.
We soon became aware of a stomach churning pong emanating from the national newspapers, or some of them. Are we really surprised that they would hack into the telephone conversations of innocent people whose children had been murdered, or of celebrities whose sex lives had not been strictly conventional. All under the banner of “freedom”.
And so we come to the police – the Hillsborough cover up? The shameless selling of stories to newspapers? The Lawrence scandal?
Of course there is the perpetual corruption of those who dishonestly claim benefits. But this pales into insignificance against the stupendous greed of companies and individuals who evade tax through offshore bank accounts. They will claim they are breaking no laws and that it’s the tax system that is to blame. Come on!
These colossally rich people with their expensively-employed accountants devise schemes so intricate no tax system could ever keep abreast of it all. Tax is a moral issue. Failing to pay what’s due is theft from the rest of society.
We’ve had insurance scandals, dirty doings in the NHS, rip offs by energy companies – wherever you look there is self-seeking and dishonesty. Greed begets greed.
And now we have the disclosure that the government of the United States is tapping into our internet accounts, with the collusion of our own government!
We’re told this is for our safety and that honest citizens have nothing to worry about. Do we believe it? Do we believe anything that anyone in authority tells anymore? I don’t!
But I don’t know what we do about it. I hear that Bhutan, a landlocked country in the far Himalayas, rates success by happiness rather than wealth. How we get from the quagmire of corruption to the clean mountain air of Bhutanese purity I don’t know.
Perhaps those of us who care should just ignore the greedy bunch of self seekers at the top, leave them to fester in their own filth, and just plough our furrows as best we can.