The truth is, of course, that business has for years influenced government policy - under Labour and Tory governments - even without money changing hands. For example:
- Because businessmen decide on investment and hiring - and thus determine economic growth - governments are keen to maintain “confidence”. And this, as Kalecki said almost 70 years ago, “gives to the capitalists a powerful indirect control over government policy.”
- Businessmen can exaggerate the extent to which capital and “managerial talent” are internationally mobile, and thus demand low taxes.
- Capitalists have long had the knack of giving the impression that their interests and the national interest coincide, whereas workers and the left have made “demands“. Capitalists have thus presented themselves as more reasonable.
- Bosses present themselves as leaders and wealth creators, capable of transforming complex organizations. Politicians, wanting to learn this managerialist ju-ju themselves, have therefore deferred to the boss class.
Viewed from this perspective, the outrage in the reaction to “cash for Cameron” - insofar as it is genuine, which I doubt - is rather naïve. It reflects a belief that the state should somehow not defer to the interests of the rich. But it does.