Left & Right, Greed & Corruption

Many of us hold government is low regard when it comes to both ethics and economic competence. The odd whiff (or more) of corruption rarely surprises us. Trade Unions, on the other hand, we hold in higher regard. Looking after workers’ and members’ interests, having keen regard for health and safety, always quick to call out managerial ineptitude or shareholder greed, the labour unions have been, and ought to be, better models of virtue. Yet the Financial Times reports this month that Unite, one of Britain’s biggest unions, is having its affairs reviewed by police on account of alleged corruption.

An expert valuation has suggested that a Birmingham hotel and conference centre built by the union is worth much less than the amount spent developing the site. The initial £57 million cost is dwarfed by the now expected £100 million. Perhaps the union had very good reasons to build itself a hotel and conference centre, but why has it overspent so much of its members’ money? A report claims that one company was awarded a contract worth £100,000 a month for eight years, totalling nearly £10 million.

It is too early to say if this has come about by corruption or incompetence; the police and Crown will determine for themselves if there are grounds for prosecution. Whether one is right wing or left wing, a Tory grandee or a union agitator, greed always stalks the human heart. We may be divided by class, education, economics and culture, but we are united in our corruption. Thankfully, we can also be united in redemption:

And [Christ] is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:2