Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006

News Shorts & Other Busyness

Westmaladminister Council

Squall 6, Spring 1994, pg. 34.

So, a recent national opinion pole suggests that only 12% of the population believe that politicians are trustworthy. Some MPs immediately sought scapegoats, suggesting that it was the cynicism of the media that was leading people to lose respect for MPs and their political representatives.

Unfortunately for these apologists, the district auditor released a provisional report on Westminster Council’s Housing Policy only a couple of weeks later. The report accused the council of “improper and disgraceful” manipulation of the sale of empty council houses to potential Tory voters.

“Westminster is one of the Tory’s stunning successes.... a source of cheer for every conservative,” proclaimed David Hunt, the Employment Secretary in 1990. No one is lining up to support them now however, as the shit will be hitting the fan when the full report is published soon. It will almost certainly surcharge the 10 council officials responsible for their “unlawful” activity, to the tune of £21-25 million. The majority of this surcharge may end up on the shoulders of Tesco heiress Dame Shirley Porter, leader of Westminster Council, who has £60 million stashed in her bank account According to the provisional report Barry Legg, Tory MP for Milton Keynes, will also face a surcharge for helping to devise the scheme that “removed homeless people from Westminster” and selling council houses cheaply to people in return for votes.

Since the publication of the auditor’s provisional report, two members of the incriminated officials have resigned and one has committed suicide. The remaining seven officials, including Shirley Porter, claim that the independent auditor is biased and is not telling the truth.

Wandsworth, another Tory flagship council, have been similarly accused of manipulating the vote with council house sales and are now the subject of another inquiry by the district auditor.

In fact, it is a wonder that even 12% of the population still trust politicians after this, the latest example of our great hypocrisy. The backbench MPs who bleated that the public perception of the integrity of politicians had been poisoned, the media have been silenced. Michael Portillo, the Treasury Minister, tried to have us believe that a “cynicism” and “pessimism” spreading in this country was mistakenly leading us to “ridicule of our national institutions and the House of Commons debating chamber.” The source of this dissatisfaction, according to Portillo is that we “allow ourselves to to fall prey to cynics, egalitarians and socialists.”

The source of the pessimism, according to reality, is more and more evidence of creeping manipulations that have had 14 years to refine themselves.

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Westmaladminister City Council - new bribery allegations surface from district auditor's report. Squall 9, Jan/feb 1995.