Tories 4 Corruption

February 14, 2010

As of we didn’t know, but with a General Election poised to return the Tories to power in the UK, it helps to be reminded of just how corrupt, elitist and totally immune to the poverty of billions around the world. As the Independent reports, Tory MP Tony Baldry has been caught lobbying for a disgraced (and most likely massively criminal) ex-state governor in Nigeria, James Ibori.

Acting at the request of Ibori’s solicitor, Sarosh Zaiwalla, Baldry wrote a letter to Foreign Secretary David Milliband “expressing concern at the investigation into James Ibori and warning it could damage British business interests in Nigeria.” For his trouble, Baldry was paid £37,000 from Zaiwalla, an old crony whom Baldry had once recommended for a CBE after borrowing £5,000 from him.

As for Ibori, the former governor of oil rich Delta state in Nigeria, “had siphoned off state funds and laundered cash through British banks which he used to buy a private jet, a £4m house in London, a second home in Dorset and expensive cars.” That, on a basic salary of £12,000 per year. Of course, Ibori managed it by stealing money from his impoverished constituents, condemning the people of the region (who have been prompted in recent years to armed rebellion against continuing poverty and environmental degradation) to misery.

Baldry is not a throwback to the Tory party of the Pergau Dam affair. He is a natural confederate of the modern Tory Party’s sugar daddy Michael Ashcroft (who still refuses to divulge his tax status, much to the annoyance of some in the Tory hierarchy). And he is the product of a debauched political system which has allowed he and his fellow MPs to lose all sense of moral compass in a sea of cosy directorships and second homes. Indeed, Baldry was one of the MPs found recently to have overclaimed on his second house allowance – by some £12,000.

But it is his activities in Africa that are truly repugnant. Aside from trying to arrange for the exoneration of Ibori, Baldry has been accused of abusing his position as head of the House of Commons International Development Committee to secure privatization contracts and lobby for diamond concessions in Sierra Leone.

He is, in short, a symbol of the many things that are wrong with Britain’s political system, and a reminder of how not one of them will be improved – and many of them will get worse – when his party assumes power later this year.


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