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Sat Nov 21, 2020, 05:55 PM

The Tories' 'chumocracy' over Covid contracts is destroying public trust

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/21/tories-covid-contracts-public-trust-government


Lord Bethell and Dido Harding, Parliament Square, 17 September 2020: ‘As the junior health minister Lord Bethell recently told the House of Lords, the government relied on “informal arrangements” to fulfil urgent needs for PPE.’ Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images


Under the cover of an emergency, the government awarded £18bn in coronavirus-related contracts during the first six months of the pandemic, most with no competitive tendering processes. Meanwhile contracts totalling £1.5bn have gone to companies with connections to the Conservative party. Call it a “chumocracy” or straightforward incompetence: it’s clear there’s been a woeful lack of transparency when it comes to how taxpayers’ money is spent.

The more information we have about these contracts, the more complicated it becomes to piece them all together. As the junior health minister Lord Bethell recently told the House of Lords, the government relied on “informal arrangements” to fulfil urgent needs for PPE. One such informal arrangement was a phone call in April between Lord Bethell and Meller Designs, a company owned by a prominent Conservative party donor who has given more than £63,000 to the party. The company, which usually sells home and fashion accessories to retailers such as Marks & Spencer, was later awarded PPE contracts worth £163m.

This is by no means the only Covid contract with a whiff of cronyism about it. But it can be difficult to grasp the significance of these contracts unless you step back to see the bigger picture. As a political scientist with a background in maths, my first instinct was to start building a dataset. After all, even the most complex networks can be distilled to a list of nodes and the connections between them. A few lines of code are all that’s needed to bring that dataset to life, like a hi-tech version of the evidence board in Line of Duty. The result is an interactive graph that, tongue-in-cheek, I’ve named My Little Crony.

With this visualisation, we can explore a whole web of connections at once. Take, for example, Lord Feldman, a wealthy donor and former chair of the Conservative party who was elevated to the House of Lords by his old Oxford chum, David Cameron. Feldman began serving as an unpaid adviser to the Department of Health in March, and in that capacity attended meetings with a firm called Oxford Nanopore, which has been awarded government contracts for Covid testing. Shortly after Feldman left his role in government, his PR firm, Tulchan Communications, had taken on Oxford Nanopore as a paying client.

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Benji303 & Lee S. - Fuck The Tories (Sterling Moss & Mark EG Fuck The 303 Remix)

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Reply The Tories' 'chumocracy' over Covid contracts is destroying public trust (Original post)
Celerity Saturday OP
DBoon Saturday #1
Celerity Saturday #2
DBoon Saturday #3

Response to Celerity (Original post)

Sat Nov 21, 2020, 06:55 PM

1. Isn't "chum" something used to attract sharks?

Consisting of fish guts and blood and other stuff sharks find irresistible?

and "chumocracy" would be a type of governance based on sharks in a feeding frenzy?

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Response to DBoon (Reply #1)

Sat Nov 21, 2020, 07:08 PM

2. government characterised by the appointment to public office of friends, or those of similar social

background, of those in power

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Response to Celerity (Reply #2)

Sat Nov 21, 2020, 07:38 PM

3. I figured that, but the second meaning probably applies as well

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