Peter Hoskin

Dirty money and dirtier politics

Dirty money and dirtier politics
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Busted.  Yep, that's the word which first sprung to mind when I read the Sunday Times's expose of MPs and their dirty lobbying work.  Hoon, Hewitt, Byers – they're all revealed as providing influence and access for cash, and a lot of cash at that.  But it's Byers who comes out of it the worst.  You can read his story here, but suffice to say that it involves boasts about successfully lobbying ministers to change policy, and about parading Tony Blair in front of his clients.  He even describes himself as "a bit like a sort of cab for hire".  I imagine he'll pick up fewer fares now.

Our democracy could hardly bear another major political scandal, but here we have one: as grubby, underhand and dispiriting as last year's expenses revelations.  The question now is whether it's as widespread.  Labour have born the brunt of things this morning, but there could well be more by the time Channel 4 screens its Dispatches programme based on these revelations.  The Tories, for their part, will be pleased that they've somewhat pre-empted this with David Cameron's warnings about lobbying last month.  But, either way, this is yet more fuel for the anti-politics bonfire.