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Cash for influence is not just "grubby", Lord Mandelson, it's odious

April 19, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Business secretary Peter Mandelson’s belief that the cash for influence scandal is ‘rather grubby’ was a striking understatement. The affair is, in every respect, odious. To safeguard our politics from its poisonous impact it is important to follow the trail right across Whitehall to all the countries visited by our Members of Parliament. It is not enough to single out visits to Gibraltar, the Maldives and Cyprus after previous investigations and reports have clearly drawn attention to the operations of the Zionist lobby at the heart of British politics. At least two of the names in the current scandal have an Israeli connection.

Stephen Byers is chair of the policy council of the Labour Friends of Israel and Andrew Dismore, now alleged to have broken parliamentary rules 90 times, is one of three vice-chairs of Labour Friends of Israel. According to his website, the Labour MP for Hendon “defended Israel’s position on the Goldstone report, in the debate in Parliament on 12th January”. Israel, you may recall, accused the UN appointed Judge Richard Goldstone and his team of bias after their report accused the Jewish state of committing war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity. That didn’t deter Israeli apologist Mr. Dismore, who said that he is “confident that Israel will get to the bottom of the [war crimes allegations] story.” He thinks that the alleged war criminal Tzipi Livni is a “legitimate politician” who wishes to discuss “the peace process”. Perhaps that’s why Livni said she was proud that the Israel Defence Forces had “gone wild” in Gaza last year.

Byers is a former Labour cabinet minister and is not the only one to make pretentious boasts about the influence he can wield. While attending the 10th Herzilya conference in Israel earlier this year, Tory peer Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones told the Jerusalem Post, “We will actively block the dissemination of extremist written material and speech. We will take down the Web sites that promote it. We will deny organizations that promote extremism political funding. We will monitor the charities. We will ensure that the Charity Commission which regulates the charities does not allow money to be transmitted through channels which ends up funding extremism violence and terrorism abroad.” Was she angling for more support from the Israel lobby in Britain, or merely letting her Israeli friends know that their investment in the British arm of the “hasbara” machine will have been well-spent if the Conservatives win the general election?

Getting to the bottom of yet another “cash for questions” affair is certainly important but in the given context it is also necessary to investigate the cavalier manner in which the parliamentary system, government machinery and judiciary have all been exploited to intimidate and silence pro-Palestine individuals, charities and organizations.

Try as they may, the Zionist lobby will find it extremely difficult to dismiss any link to those who stand accused in the latest scandal, especially as it comes so soon after Peter Oborne’s Channel 4 programme on “the pro-Israeli lobby in Britain”. The many questions raised in that documentary must inevitably resurface in light of these new revelations and the people involved.

It is pointless to pretend that this current episode is inconsequential. Many will recall that in April 1995 the former Conservative minister, Jonathan Aitken, promised to use the “sword of truth” to dispel reports made in the Guardian over his dealings with Saudi arms traders. Four years later, in 1999, he was jailed for perjury after it was revealed that he had lied repeatedly about the matter.

The Brown government has a penchant for private inquiries into matters of grave national concern. They only conceded to a public inquiry into the war on Iraq after Sir John Chilcot insisted that it should be conducted in public.

Whether a full, impartial and public inquiry into this latest scandal will be held before the general election is doubtful, but one thing can be said with certainty in the meantime: the culture of sleaze is as endemic today in the parliamentary system as it was before New Labour came to power in 1997. The full effect of this culture is unknown and the jury is still out. But if the truth is to be uncovered, the trail to Israel may be as good a place to begin as Gibraltar, the Maldives and Cyprus.