Cameron has been caught trying to orchestrate yet another inside job, but is the inquiry going to achieve anything?

Boris Johnson has ordered an inquiry into David Cameron’s lobbying actions

Transparency – Cameron’s current arch nemesis. Credit: CC

Just when you thought he’d slipped away, relatively unscathed from the power chase that gave the public a referendum on Brexit – Cameron is back. In what is becoming a very predictable sit-com, the ex-Tory leader has been busy trying to leverage his political prowess to get preferential treatment. In a desperate bid to secure Covid support loans for the now collapsed Greensill Capital, Cameron unashamedly skipped all formal channels and went straight to Rishi Sunak, Matt Hancock and a few other old chums directly. Having failed miserably, Cameron is now the subject of an “unprecedented public enquiry” ordered by Boris Johnson.

So. We have an inquest on our hands. But will anything actually come of it? Is this the point at which the tories take a long hard look at themselves and dismantle the mafiosa-esque inside deal fiasco or is it another distracting ruse?

Let’s pick this apart for a brief moment and be pragmatic. The upcoming inquiry will be led by Nigel Boardman, a corporate lawyer who sits on the board for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). So far so good. The problem is Boardman ran the review in December to assess conflict of interest in Covid contracts, and as far as we can see Matt Hancock has not been tried for his crimes yet… so what exactly happened?

It’s quite hard to read this report with your eyes rolling like a ferris wheel so we’ll save you the effort. What transcribed was an 18 page explanation of how the Cabinet Office can avoid conflict of interest in the future, without a single mention of misconduct. While there are some genuine procedural takeaways and suggestions from this conveniently blinkered lawyer, most of it is a painful box-ticking exercise. 

Some of our personal favourite suggestions include;

“A simple, standardised contract check sheet to ensure that the correct documentation and process has been considered from beginning to end.”

A tick sheet? Something like this maybe?

  1. Is the contractor a mate from the pub?
  2. Does the business exist or is my mate going to make it up? 
  3. Can I be bothered to find the best solution or… oh sod it mates-rates, it’s yours!

“Inviting proposals/presentations from a few suppliers, to establish which suppliers are best placed to provide the services and to verify that any suggested supplier is appropriate for the requirement.”

Governments procure services for everything all of the time, but someone better tell them to shop around and check the company can actually do what they say they can do – cheers Nigel.

“Cabinet Office should strengthen its model for the management of actual and perceived conflicts of interest in procurements, following the “identify, prevent, rectify” sequence.”

They already had a three word slogan? How could they not obey that? Three word slogans are the answer to modern day governance! 

So. David Cameron has been a naughty boy, but don’t expect too much. This report will probably be another tip toe around scandal, an exercise to enable the Tories to continue feverishly scratching each others backs – skipping into another decade in power.

Catch you next time on dodgy deals and half-arsed appeals.