'My Little Crony' map shows web of deals between Government, MPs and Tory donors

An MP has called for a public inquiry after a web of connections between Tory politicians and companies being awarded Government contracts was uncovered.

The ‘My Little Crony’ map shows how large numbers of contracts have been handed out to Conservative Party political donors, family members and employers during the coronavirus pandemic.

It uses reporting from the Byline Times, openDemocracy and other outlets to visually reveal what it calls the ‘scale of cronyism’ in Number 10.

For example, it was reported in September that Globus (Shetland) Limited, which has donated more than £400,000 to the Conservatives since 2016, won a £93.8 million Government contract for the supply of respirator face masks.

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Shadow Commons leader and Walsall South Labour MP, Valerie Vaz, called on the Government to publicly investigate the contracts awarded and their connections to the Tories.

Ms Vaz said: ‘I don’t know if [Mr Rees-Mogg] is aware of the interactive map “My Little Crony”, which has been created by Sophie Hill.

‘I raised all of the contracts that have been handed out to those connected to the Tory party last week and I didn’t get an answer – but it is well worth a look.

‘Because [Mr Rees-Mogg] will know that I think it might be time for a public inquiry, particularly on the £670,000 that has been allocated by the vaccine tsar for public relations.

‘Now if you look at the “My Little Crony” interactive map, it will link directly to the special, special adviser’s relation.’

She is referring to the news this week that head of the Vaccine Taskforce, Kate Bingham, spent £670,000 of taxpayers’ money hiring PR consultants through a firm called Admiral Associates.

And the secretary of the firm is a long-time business associate of chief advisor Dominic Cummings’ father-in-law.

‘It is interesting to know what they do because they are actually based in BEIS (the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) of which there are 100 communications staff,’ Ms Vaz added.

‘But if it is something about a vaccine, I’d rather [deputy chief medical officer] Dr [Jonathan] Van-Tam tell me about it than a public relations so-called expert.’

Sophie Hill, a British PhD student in Government at Harvard University, created the map.

She wrote on Twitter: ‘The cronyism in this Tory government is so out-of-control that I honestly couldn’t keep track… so I combined my two main skills (puns and Rstats) to create this interactive visualisation.

‘We all understand that the Government had to act quickly during the pandemic. But that is no excuse for cronyism and incompetence.’

‘Corruption and cronyism’

It comes after last month, Labour MP for Liverpool Walton Dan Carden accused the Government of ‘corruption’ and ‘cronyism’ in a powerful speech.

He said: ‘The anger and frustration isn’t just that the response is failing, but that it’s failing because the Government refused to enable and invest in local authorities and public health teams and instead chose to pump billions into scandal-ridden Government contractors that have a record of failure.

‘Under the cover of this pandemic, billions of public money handed to faceless corporations, including Tory-linked firms, without competition or transparency, without democratic accountability, or any accountability for that matter, to the public.

‘This is money that should’ve been invested into our National Health Service, that should’ve left a legacy for the British people by building up properly-funded public services that we can all rely on in the future.

‘But instead it was siphoned off.’

At the time, health secretary Matt Hancock defended the use of private firms like Serco, saying ‘private companies have been absolutely critical’ in operating the contract tracing system.

‘The test and trace system at a national level makes the immediate and very rapid first attempt at contact and if no contact is made then the local teams can go in. It’s the combination of the two that works best,’ he said in the Commons.

‘But I really think the opposition is making a mistake trying to divide people between public and private whereas actually people are working very hard to deliver, and to deliver the control of this virus.’

Mr Hancock added: ‘The private companies have been absolutely critical in the working and making sure the whole testing system can be built at the scale that it has.’

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer further slammed Boris Johnson at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, claiming £130 million has been spent on Government PR while charities have been struggling during the pandemic.

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