The recent High Court ruling against the ruling Conservative Party has once again highlighted the impact of money over politics. The High Court case raised by the not-for-profit Good Law Project has seen a judge rule that the government had breached what has been called the “vital public function” of transparency over “vast quantities” of taxpayers’ money.
Investigations since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic have revealed a cesspit of cronyism where a “chumocracy” has made friends, family and contacts of ministers, MPs, peers and public servants ten times more likely to win contracts for personal protective equipment. Never mind the fact that the contracts were a stitchup behind closed doors, the pricing of PPE went astronomically high, with even the bereaved families not being spared as the price of body bags went up fourteen fold.
All this has been accompanied by silence and secrecy from political leaders, with demands for the details of those high-priority suppliers, their favoured sponsors, and prices paid, being thus far flatly refused. The reluctance by government to come clean, shows a lack of humility, especially considering around £2 billion has been poured down the drain in these shady contracts. Clearly, one does not have to go as far as the stereotypical third world dictatorship to witness open corruption..
Before the PPE scandal, there was the notorious Cash-for-Honours scandal, where a life peerage in the House of Lords was available for the cost of a political donation, all received in the form of commercial loans to avoid declaring this as a matter for public record- a loophole in electoral law that was exploited to full effect by the Tories and Labour.
We witnessed early last year, unlawful approval of a contentious property scheme in the East End of London by Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing; a decision which overturned rejections by the local council and the independent planning inspectorate, and came a day before changes to the system which would have cost the developer Richard Desmond an additional £30-50 million. How was this accomplished? it seems a £12,000 cash donation to the Conservatives a few days prior did the trick. Only after a legal challenge in the High Court by the council, did the minister accept he had been unlawful and quashed the decision.
It comes as no surprise that politicians legislate in favour of big business in societies where money and material pleasure are the end goal in life. These symptoms are inherent under capitalism, regardless of whether the state is in the West or our Muslim lands, where capitalist thinking has been exported to and is the cause of much misery.
We as Muslims must realise that the alternative to all these ills is within our reach, for it is the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (saw) that has shown us Islam is a complete system of life; a system that establishes a balance in society between seeking wealth and material pleasure on the one hand – and fulfilment of spiritual and moral values on the other. It does not deny a person’s desire for material pleasure but regulates it in a way that does not cause strife in society. The economic system of the Deen encourages business to ensure money circulates in society rather than being hoarded by the rich.
Lastly and most importantly, The Islamic political system is one where the laws of the Shariah bind the rulers, such that they cannot be influenced to legislate for the benefit of the few. It obliges the people to elect and account their rulers according to the standards set by the Shariah.
This is what we should seek and strive to re-establish for the benefit of all mankind, to offer them hope of a better life, in this world and the next.
أَقِمِ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَأْمُرْ بِٱلْمَعْرُوفِ وَٱنْهَ عَنِ ٱلْمُنكَرِ وَٱصْبِرْ عَلَىٰ مَآ أَصَابَكَ ۖ إِنَّ ذَٰلِكَ مِنْ عَزْمِ ٱلْأُمُورِ
“… Establish salah; command what is right; forbid what is wrong; bear anything that happens to you steadfastly; these are things to be aspired to.” [TMQ Surah Luqman 31:17-19]