Tuesday was a big day for demonstrations of the ‘revolving door’ between UK politics and big business that persistently blights and weakens this country.
Matt Hancock appointed Tory peer Dido Harding to run the new public health body after the Tories wound up Public Health England as a scapegoat for their own incompetence. Harding has no experience in public health except for the disastrous test-and-trace fiasco and went through no selection process.
Harding’s husband is Tory MP John Penrose, Boris Johnson’s ‘anti-corruption champion’. He and Harding reportedly met while both worked for McKinsey, the giant consulting firm with a long history of involvement in UK health privatisation.
On the same day, the media reported that Sajid Javid had returned to finance giant JP Morgan, where he worked before joining Deutsche Bank and then moving into politics. He will remain an MP, in spite of concerns over obvious risks of conflicts of interest. The firm, which Tony Blair also joined when he stepped down from Parliament, has not disclosed the salary he will receive.
Also on Tuesday, the news broke – largely ignored by the ‘mainstream’ media – that former Labour leadership challenger Owen Smith had returned to ‘Big Pharma’, as a lobbyist for drugs giant Bristol Myers Squibb.
In his leadership bid, Smith hired private health lobbyists to help his campaign – and this tactic was copied by Keir Starmer, who employed Ben Nunn and then dodged questions during the campaign about how he could defend the NHS when he employed those who had promoted its privatisation. Nunn is now Starmer’s communications head.
Nunn also worked for Heidi Alexander when the ex-MP was Shadow Health Secretary.
The revolving door is well and truly alive and well. Sadly, as it goes round and round and round and round, that is more than can be said for this country’s politics.
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