This UK Tory government is engulfed in corruption and cronyism

From the ‘Text for contracts’ scandal in May to the Downing Street flat renovations, Boris Johnson’s Tory government is stumbling from one corruption scandal to the next.

This week alone, there have been two further examples of the ongoing corruption at the heart of this UK Tory government. The stench of Tory corruption and cronyism is unavoidable.

Tory ministers were misusing emergency COVID-19 contracts for constitutional campaigning

This week, it emerged that Michael Gove ordered officials to use an emergency COVID contract, publicly funded to tackle the pandemic, to conduct political research for Tory constitutional campaigning.

Michael Gove had already been found to have acted unlawfully in awarding the £560,000 emergency COVID contract to the market-research firm, owned by long-term associates James Frayne and Rachel Wolf, who both formerly worked for Mr Gove, which earlier this month High Court ruled “gave rise to apparent bias and was unlawful”.

The UK government has already been officially criticised for not publishing publicly funded research on attitudes to the Union. Still, we now find they were using public money meant to tackle the pandemic for this work.

This gross misuse of public money and emergency COVID contracts existed to tackle the pandemic. There must now be an inquiry, and those responsible must be held to account.

Tory cronyism at the heart of the UK government’s Department of Health

Also in the spotlight this week is Tory Health Secretary Matt Hancock, with recent revelations raising the serious possibility that he has broken the ministerial code.

It comes after questions emerged over how Gina Coladangelo, who is a director of a lobbying firm, and who was also a university friend of the Tory Health Secretary, was given a series of roles at the heart of Whitehall – including a £15,000 role on the board of his department.

Furthermore, it has been revealed that Gina Coladangelo’s brother, Roberto Coladangelo, is an executive at a private healthcare company that has won a series of NHS contracts.

The SNP’s Westminster Deputy leader Kirsten Oswald said, “The ministerial code makes clear the rules around conflicts of interests and partners and spouses. While aspects of this may be private, public appointments, use of taxpayers’ money and conflicts of interest warrant proper scrutiny.

“It would be a remarkable coincidence that Matt Hancock’s very close university friend just so happens to be the best person to be appointed to this influential position.”

This once again raises questions about why Tory friends and donors are given privileged access to public money.

Whether it’s unlawfully handing multi-million-pound contracts to friends, soliciting donations to redecorate the Downing Street flat, offering peerages to billionaire donors, organising tax breaks over text, or giving friends jobs at the heart of the UK government – many will conclude this Tory chumocracy shows Boris Johnson and his ministers are arrogantly abusing public office and are only in it for themselves.

Scotland must and will have the choice to escape this broken Westminster system

The Westminster system is rotten to the core and broken beyond repair. Instead of putting up with this farce, Scotland can shake off Westminster and build a fairer and more democratic future as an independent country.

Scotland faces that choice of two futures – Tory cronyism under the broken Westminster system or the opportunity to build a fairer future as an independent country through a post-pandemic referendum.

Once the COVID crisis is over, Scotland will have that choice.