By Dr. Abdul Wahid
“Do we have the determination to confront the slow-motion moral collapse that has taken place in parts of our country these past few generations?” David Cameron
“No!” must be the answer to this question asked by British Prime Minister David Cameron in response to the riots that affected the UK this summer.
It is easy to point the finger at ‘feral’ youth who are rioting instead of addressing the moral collapse at the top of society – not least in the worlds of politics and finance that today dominate the fate of people in Britain, Europe and elsewhere.
But what needs to be understood by people is that such situations do not merely arise due to a lack of moral values in politicians or leaders (though undoubtedly there will be some driven by personal ambition or material gain). They do not only arise due to a lack of checks and balances (though the bypassing of the parliamentary standards commissioner in this affair show how easy it is to manipulate the regulatory mechanisms).
They arise, in large part, due to the poisonous relationship between politics and business, which this episode has exposed. It is a relationship that democratic government unintentionally but inevitably encourages.
Government “of the people, by the people, for the people” is something the world has become conditioned to believe is a panacea for governance. Yet even a superficial cursory review of this system shows some inherent weaknesses. One of those weaknesses is how the voices of the rich and powerful utterly dwarf the voices of millions of others, so rendering the system as one of government for the rich and powerful, by their friends and proxies.
Government for a few of the people
The Fox affair shows just one way in which the rich and powerful from the world of business have had strong ties that push their preferred policies before ministers.
Adam Werritty, Liam Fox’s now infamous friend, was part funded by a group of business people who were pro-American and pro-Israel. Poju Zabludowicz is a billionaire ‘Anglo-Israeli’ businessman whose father built the family business around an Israeli defence contracting company. He is the chairman of BICOM – the Britain-Israel Communications and Research Centre. Also involved with Mr Werritty was the former deputy of this organisation Michael Lewis – head of an international investment company. Similarly, Michael Hintze was a former Goldman Sachs executive who now manages his own fund.
Some of Mr Werritty’s contacts were also backers of Liam Fox for his leadership of the Conservative party, and several are leading donors to the Conservative party.
The Fox-Werritty affair also shed a light on how senior policy makers mix in circles with people from the arms and military industry, with Fox and Werritty both attending a $500 ticket-a- head funding raising dinner where they could mix with US-based defence industry lobbyists.
What also emerged was Fox’s connection with John Falk of Kestral-USA, a Pakistan based company that specialises in military logistics and private security but which reports mention that has been contracted by the USA to fight in Pakistan. It has contracts with Xe – formerly known as Blackwater – the infamous US private security firm with contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Falk has also worked for firms that have lobbied U.S. government officials on subjects including defence.
All of this raises serious questions about what defines Britain’s military policies. What is it that defines where successive British governments send their troops to kill and be killed? What are the numerous conflicting interests that no one hears about that exist when Britain enters into its military ventures?
But this is not unique to the Fox-Werritty case; nor is it confined to defence matters.
Information from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in September 2011 revealed that the Conservative party received over a quarter of their millions of pounds donations from hedge funds, financiers and private equity firms.
It is impossible to believe that their policy making will be in the ‘national’ interest as defined by what is in the interests of people – as opposed to the interests of the powerful financial lobby.
Indeed, the policies of successive governments have been firmly focussed on improving the climate for the financial sector. Such is the stranglehold that this sector has on politicians that it is well recognised that the fear of losing them from London is such that much needed financial sector reform has been postponed or diluted to appease this lobby.
It is not, therefore, surprising that former Prime Minister Tony Blair is an advisor to JP Morgan; and his predecessor John Major is the European Chairman of the US global asset firm the Carlyle group; or that the newly appointed Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood has recently worked for Morgan Stanley.
The fundamental contradiction between Islam and democracy is not in having elected leaders – for Islam practiced the electing of leaders at the time of Khilafah Rashidah and it remains the position of normative Islam that the ruler must be chosen by and not enforced upon the people. It is not in the accounting of government – for Islam obliges this upon its adherents. It is not in an independent media that can scrutinise government, for this is a part of Islam’s call for accountability. It is that Islam demands adhering to Shariah sources in adopting laws rather than allowing laws to be adopted on a whim.
Yet, whilst it is unsurprising that people who don’t believe in Islam would adopt a method of governance that was based around the ‘people’ making the laws, what is so perverse is that oligarchies are presented to the masses as democracy, because the system allows it to be so. And the Fox affair is yet another sad proof of that.
Dr. Abdul Wahid is a regular contributor to New Civilisation. He is currently the Chairman of the UK-Executive Committee of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Britain. He has been published in The Times Higher Educational Supplement and on the websites of Foreign Affairs, Open Democracy and Prospect magazine. He can be followed on Twitter @abdulwahidht or emailed at [email protected]