6 Tory cronyism allegations during the pandemic

The SNP has called for an inquiry into "rampant cronyism" in the Tory party

Tory activists

As the SNP has called for an inquiry into what they call “rampant cronyism” within the Conservative party during this pandemic, it’s worth looking at the allegations that have already been made.

‘Cronyism’ refers to the appointment of friends or associates to positions of authority without any real regard for their qualifications or suitability for the role.

SNP Westminster Depute Leader Kirsten Oswald MP said: “These shocking revelations add to the growing concerns over rampant cronyism at the heart of this Tory government, which has shown itself to be rotten to the core.

“There are serious questions for Boris Johnson to answer over the awarding of billions in public funds to companies with links to the Tory party, and the appearance that the Tory government has been handing out jobs for the boys to friends, relatives, donors and lobbyists.

“There must be a public inquiry into the scandalous way that public money, jobs and privileged access have been handed out by the Tory government during this crisis.

“This scandal demonstrates, yet again, that Westminster is broken beyond repair. It is clearer than ever that the best future for Scotland is to build a fairer, more equal and more democratic society as an independent country.”

A number of accusations of Tory cronyism during the pandemic have already been made. The following list shares just some of them as an example.

1. UK government awarded £1.5 billion to companies linked to Tories

The SNP’s inquiry calls come because of this new revelation that the Tory party has awarded £1.5bn to companies linked to them during the course of the pandemic.

And according to the Sunday Times, not one of these companies were prominent government supplies prior to this year.

2. George Pascoe-Watson made unpaid adviser to health minister

Mr Pascoe-Watson, UK chairman of lobbying firm Portland Communications, was recently made an unpaid adviser to a health minister without any public process or announcement.

Allegedly, he then sent sensitive information on lockdown policy to paying clients.

3. Former Tory chairman also gets job advising health minister

In a similar vain as point 2, Andrew Feldman, a former Tory chairman, got a job advising a health minister during the pandemic despite potential conflicts of interest with clients of the lobbying firm he runs.

4. Tory donator Globus Limited won a massive government contract to supply face masks

Health and Safety business, Globus (Shetland) Limited, has donated more than £400,000 to the Tory party since 2016.

Then, in September this year, it was reported that the company won a £93.8 million government contract to supply respirator face masks.

5. Admiral Associates hired for PR, where secretary is long-time business associate of Cummings’ father-in-law

Head of the Vaccine Taskforce, Kate Bingham last week hired PR consultants through a firm called Admiral Associates, spending £670,000 of taxpayers’ money.

It turns out that the secretary at this firm is a long time business associate of Dominic Cummings.

6. Two former Tories appointed to senior tourism jobs without experience

The Guardian reported that Sir Patrick McLoughlin, after stepping down as an MP following the December election, has been made chair of the British Tourist Authority. The role pays £40,000 for around two days of work a week. It appears he doesn’t have direct experience of the tourism industry.

Similarly Nick De Bois, MP for Enfield North from 2010 to 2015 and Dominic Raab’s chief of staff while he was Brexit secretary, has been made chair of the VisitEngland advisory board. Other than politics his background is in events and exhibitions. His new role pays up to £16,320 a year for a maximum of four days’ work a month.

As demonstrated by a detailed graphic created by a political science PhD student from Harvard, there are many more examples of cronyism within the Tory government.

Sophie Hill made the impressive graphic, which she named My Little Crony, using investigative reporting from a number of different outlets to put the map together.

Sharing her work on Twitter on November 9, she wrote: “The cronyism in this Tory government is so out-of-control that I honestly couldn’t keep track… so I combined my two main skills (puns and #Rstats) to create this interactive visualization. Introducing… My Little Crony!”

Lucy Skoulding is a freelance reporter at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter. 

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