Instead of Smearing Corbyn Tory MP Andrew Bridgen Should Get His Own Party In Order

Andrew Bridgen, the Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire, is engaged in yet another cynical attack on the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (“Andrew Bridgen calls for Parliament watchdog to investigate Jeremy Corbyn’s trip to wreath laying ceremony,” Leicester Mercury, August 15).

This political attack comes from the same man who used his last Mercury editorial (June 22) to misrepresent the government’s new (and hated) welfare reforms Universal Credit. Bridgen did this by dredging up statistics that were three years out-of-date, thereby ignoring up-to-date criticisms released by the Office for Budget Responsibility and the National Audit Office.

So now Bridgen has the cheek to smear Jeremy Corbyn, one of Britain’s most ethical politicians, by stating he is guilty of not registering his 2014 trip to Tunisia with Parliament. This is despite the fact that the value of the visit (which Corbyn wrote about at the time) was well below the threshold that is needed for declaration.

If Bridgen were genuinely concerned about politicians causing “significant damage to the House of Commons and its members” he should turn his attention to the activities of Alan Duncan, the Conservative MP for Rutland and Melton. Duncan’s oily record certainly makes for interesting reading.

Andrew Bridgen Leicestershire

In 2016 Duncan earned just short of £100,000 after serving for five months as the chairman of Fujairah Refining, an oil company whose major shareholder is Vitol – a company that goes to great lengths to avoid paying tax in Britain (“The Truth about Vitol’s tax affairs,” The Independent, September 29, 2016).

Vitol is the company that in 2007 had previously pleaded guilty to grand larceny after paying $13million in ‘secret kickbacks’ to the Iraqi government in exchange for oil under the United Nations’ oil-for-food program.

In the 1990s, Vitol also “paid $1 million to Arkan, a war criminal, to act as a fixer on a business deal in Slobodan Milosevic’s Serbia that had collapsed.” (Daily Telegraph, September 2, 2011) At the time Arkan was better known as ‘the butcher of Vukovar.’

Duncan of course has a longstanding monetary relationship with Vitol, dating back to before he was an MP. Between 2008 and early 2009 he had served on the board of directors of another Vitol offshoot called Arawak Energy.

Bridgen might also recall that in 2010 a BBC investigation revealed that Alan Duncan and 21 other MPs (nine Tories, four Lib-Dem’s, and eight from Labour) breached rules in relation to registering and declaring overseas trips paid for by foreign governments. In that instance Duncan was guilty of lobbying for the interests of Oman in Parliament, after undertaking numerous undeclared trips paid for in whole or in part by the government of Oman. Corbyn, as one might expect, was not among their number.

When will the Tories (and for that matter Blairite) hypocrisy ever end you might ask? Hopefully when a Corbyn-led Labour government comes to power within the next year.

andrew bridgen

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