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Is the democracy of the UK for sale? A select group of financiers and adults have made significant donations, some worth £ 250,000, and membership of a only an invitation club, known as the Advisory Board which has the ear of the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak. What is discussed is not recorded. Who a member is is not clear. The existence of the council is not documented, which is exactly the issue: there is a shady world of privileged access. This is a problem for good government and good governance, which increases the perceptions of cronyism and sluggishness.
In addition to the so-called council, which consists of some of the most generous benefactors of the Conservative Party, the Financial Times explained that donors of the The real estate sector amounts to around £ 18 million in Tory’s coffers since Johnson became prime minister in 2019. Homebuilders have long enjoyed strong ties with the party, where a faith article claims voters are more likely to vote for Tory than they are homeowners. But the amount of money the party supports from the real estate sector has risen to a quarter of all donations in recent years, from the previous high of 12 percent of party revenue enjoyed by Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May.
Alarm clock should then sound while Johnson is trying to carry out a controversial revision of planning rules aimed at building 300,000 homes a year; a policy that will benefit the party’s greatest support. Britain undoubtedly has a housing crisis, and a years-long shortage of supply partly supports it. However, Johnson’s planned liberalization is runs the risk of alienating other fans of the party from green belt areas, as well as to get in tension with the government’s goal of improving biodiversity. This is another dilemma caused by large donations from a single sector: even if Johnson truly believes in the policy, his motives will be questioned. The party insists that donations have no bearing on policy.
The party’s improved finances has a lot to do with his co-chair, Ben Elliot. The cousin of the Duchess of Cornwall brought the community into contact with the concierge service. It’s good for a business to ask for money to meet the whims of the rich. Allowing wealth to facilitate access is less convenient in the heart of government.
Even without Elliot, it is not surprising that donors have extended their greatness to this government: the smell of chumocracy run the risk of becoming overwhelming, whether it be pandemic-related contracts for close contacts, a former prime minister conducting an investigation on behalf of an enterprise, or a housing minister approving a scheme after sitting down with a developer at dinner before rushing to reverse his decision. Donors can be forgiven for thinking they are pushing against an already open door.
Donors deny paying for influence. But if an impression of such leverage were to be observed, it would not be a new, nor just a Tory rust. Consider the cash-for-peer scandal under Tony Blair. But Johnson – whose personal finances are chaotic and who initially struggled to explain how he funded a holiday in the Caribbean and decorating his Downing Street apartment – has a particular donor problem, and with it questions to whom he debt can debt.
There is no suggestion that some donors or the advisory board have violated any rules. But it indicates a system that is itself broken. There must be at least transparency as to whether and under what conditions the deepest pockets can gain access to the corridors of power.