Labour MP Dan Carden has lambasted the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, saying profiteering and cronyism have become “the hallmark” of their response.
The Liverpool politician said of the £17.3 billion handed out to private sector supplies, £10.5 billion was awarded without any competition.
It comes after the National Audit Office exposed chronic mishandling, major conflicts of interest and warned of a serious squandering of public money in a landmark report.
According to Carden it could be “just the tip of the iceberg”, with emergency exemption to procurement laws allowing the government to award contracts without having to give different companies a chance to bid for them.
Obscene profiteering and cronyism has been the hallmark of the Government’s response to COVID-19. pic.twitter.com/mTbZroYPpB— Dan Carden MP (@DanCardenMP) December 9, 2020
Last week it emerged that a friend and former neighbour of Matt Hancock was able to supply tens of millions of vials for NHS Covid-19 tests – despite having no previous experience of making medical supplies.
Alex Bourne, who used to run a pub near to the health secretary’s former home in his Suffolk constituency, said he offered his services several months ago – by sending Hancock a personal WhatsApp message.
And he certainly hasn’t been alone.
In October it was revealed a seven week-old firm with links to a Conservative peer landed a £122 million PPE contract despite having no obvious qualification beyond links to very substantial donors to, you guessed it, the Conservative Party.
A small, loss-making firm run by a Conservative councillor was also revealed to have been handed a £156 million contract to import PPE without any competition in the same month, a deal that one person said “reeks of cronyism”.
My Little Crony
Such is the proliferation of cronyism since the pandemic broke out an online map has been created showing the scores of government contracts handed to political donors, family members and employers.
‘My Little Crony’ uses reporting from the Byline Times, openDemocracy and other outlets to visually reveal what it calls the ‘scale of cronyism’ in Number 10.
The resource was put to Jacob Rees-Mogg in parliament by Valerie Vaz, who told him it was “well worth a look”.
Needless to say it didn’t go down well.
Thanks for the shout out, @Valerie_VazMP!— Sophie Hill (@sophie_e_hill) November 12, 2020
We all understand that the government had to act quickly during the pandemic. But that is no excuse for cronyism and incompetence.
Explore the map and decide for yourself: https://t.co/hooKR4dBx0 pic.twitter.com/mRSHZLEeUY