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9 May, 2013 18:42

Her Majesty's annual gothic horror movie

Her Majesty's annual gothic horror movie

For people all over the world, it symbolizes the unwillingness of the British establishment to face up to the loss of empire. The archaic hour-long ceremony that is the annual British State Opening of Parliament does have one spark of light relief.

In this tradition, elected MPs in the House of Commons are 'summoned' to the House of Lords to hear the Queen announcing the government's forthcoming plans. But a lone voice has broken the silence to challenge the feudal juggernaut that is Queen Elizabeth II's unelected authority.

Left-wing Labour MP Dennis Skinner, 'the beast of Bolsover,' never fails to come up with a witty quip, and never fails to strike a nerve. Take his taunts of the government's proposals to sell off the national postal service to the highest bidder: "Royal Mail for sale. Queen's head privatized."

The nerve he struck there is the unprincipled epidemic of privatization that has run through all colors of British government blood since the 1980s. Though it's long been known to deliver a worse deal for the Treasury, and the public, it still ploughs on regardless – when you have no morals or principles, money talks.

It is not just the loss of empire which gives the state opening a puffed-up appearance, it's that the establishment's unofficial policy is looting what is left of the family silver for them and their friends, before the national economy and credibility go up in flames, as all dying empires do.

British Member of Parliament (MP) Dennis Skinner. (Reuters)

Like the Russian oligarchs, enormous profits come to establishment cronies when they get their private hands on the national infrastructure. If you own a service everybody needs, you charge what you like, and that impresses the shareholders. The fact that it impoverishes the weak, the poor, the disabled and divides the electorate doesn't matter to those who only care about the bottom line.

Before he won the 2010 election, Prime Minister David Cameron called this lobbying "the next big scandal." He solemnly promised to end the “far-too-cozy relationship between politics, government, business and money,” pledging for those that voted Conservative a compulsory register to make firms reveal their clients.

But lobbyist-turned-personal adviser to the PM Lynton Crosby has reportedly persuaded Cameron to leave the lobbyists be. Given a free rein, possibly seeing their number may soon be up, the lobbyists have been busier than ever.

So this was the big promise that helped Cameron get elected, which he has now dropped like a stone. A double betrayal, because two weeks ago after much private healthcare lobbying, every part of Britain's crowning glory, the free National Health Service (NHS), was opened up to private bidders – something he had expressly promised not to do.

Meanwhile, at the sharp end, European arms manufacturers, including the former state owned BAE Systems, have been in talks with the Ministry of Defense to take ownership of UK defense procurement. Yes, managing the process by which public money is spent on – wait for it – the country’s own military hardware.

Now the foxes really are inside the henhouse. Might BAE Systems turn themselves down when contracts worth billions for defense equipment are handed out? Perhaps not.

Bribery is a strong term to use, but British members of parliament are not only available to be hired by fair-weather friendly firms with their beady eyes on public assets, but by anyone in the world who has the requisite cash, no questions asked. Even if you represent a regime Amnesty International's cited as one of the worst human rights abusers in the world? Well, yes.


On April 3, Conservative European MEP Daniel Hannan tweeted, "I'm not comfortable with the way they've [the Saudi royal family] have bought so many MPs and officials involved with defense." Presumably, he was referring to a recent trip by Plymouth MP Oliver Colvile and Bristol MP Jack Lopresti – with the blessing of the UK Defense Forum – to Saudi Arabia.

Public beheadings in Riyadh were postponed as the heir to the British throne Prince Charles lunched, toured and dined in the Kingdom earlier this year, but public executions and punishment by 'medical paralysis' continue in this 'friendly' Gulf state.

No questions asked this time by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) which has an inglorious track record of kicking Saudi Al-Yamamah and SangCom bribery investigations into the long grass. No one will care or perhaps even know if large sums of money end up in the personal pockets of the deal-breakers who have armed unelected tyrants to the teeth.

So, the British state’s opening of parliament, rather than being a proud tradition, has become the sort of wooden self-parody portrayed by British author Mervyn Peake in his ‘Gormenghast’ Gothic horror novels. Like a Harold Pinter play, more significant for promises that uncomfortably remain ignored and unsaid.

Like the ruined castle of a failed line of despots, today's ritual threatens to dominate and suffocate all life within the once-proud kingdom, as young men are sent out to die in wars for the nation's unspoken paymasters the lobbyists.

As the arms companies grow in influence, the danger increases. Inch by inch, yard by yard, Britain creeps closer than we dare believe to George Orwell's diabolical sham of a democracy portrayed in 1984.

As the British establishment reasserts its ‘God-given' right to pawn off the nation's wealth, today we can thank that same God that at least one voice rings out for justice to be done. One who pokes fun at the pomposity of an establishment that demands the penniless pay for its failings and quietly sells off its reputation to the highest bidder, no questions asked.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.