Mr Johnson insists that Britain "is not a corrupt country"
. And if we translate that to mean, has relatively low levels of corruption in comparison to most places, then I would say he's not far wrong.
The trouble is that he'd like to remove some of the checks that keep Britain a relatively low corruption country, because he and his mates find them personally inconvenient.
Also we could do better. And doing better would be good for us. The wealthiest places in Europe are strongly correlated with the least corrupt, and it isn't a coincidence. So his attitude is is not conducive to making progress.
- There seems to be quite a lot of corrupt procurement at local authority level. Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised as the oversight organisation was closed down about a decade ago. The Audit Commission, which used to oversee that kind of thing, is no more. (Not to be confused with the National Audit Office which oversees central government.)
- FOI isn't strong enough - it has resulted in an extensive culture of publishing stuff which in the past wasn't published; but when they really don't like something being published, often because it does seem to be about misdeeds, they can dig their feet in and often get away with it.
- Whistleblower protection legislation doesn't work very well, resulting in whistleblowers still being punished for their actions, especially in parts of the public sector that can get away with applying their own different, even less effective, whistleblower arrangements - notably in the NHS. The police is an especially difficult place to be a whistleblower, and doubtless the more secretive security services would get rid of you if you tried.
- The police complaints system rarely seems to result in police misbehaviour being acknowledged and dealt with, even though we all know there is still a lot of police misbehaviour, even if it is much improved from 1970s levels.
- The arrangements for miscarriages of justice (which are often a consequence of a kind of corruption in the justice system), which were revised 5 or 10 years ago, has created such an extreme criterion for compensating the wrongly imprisoned, that it is now almost impossible to get compensation. It was rare enough before, but it is now practically extinct. This reduces the incentive to avoid miscarriages of justice. It is also unduly difficult to get your wrongful conviction reviewed.
- We sign up to international rules on standards of good behaviour by the military, and then try to prevent those standards being applied to our military, because whatever our military do can't possibly be wrong, or is the reasonable misjudgment of difficult situations, and any cases will just be sneaky foreigners hypocritically abusing the system to harass them.
- Financial corruption by financial institutions is rarely punished, so weak our our laws on that kind of thing, even when it involves rooking ordinary people on a large scale. But the people in that business pay a lot of money to politicians.
- Another kind of financial corruption that persists is that we continue to act as money-launderers to the oligarchs and kleptocrats of the world, who buy posh houses and football clubs here, use our libel laws to silence criticism and exposure, and give money to our politicians to keep it that way.
And I think preservation of influence is a kind of corruption. Thus the fact that Old Etonians still seem to be able to rule our country in such numbers is the consequence of failing to deal with an essentially corrupt system that preserves their influence a progenie in progenies (from generation to generation) et in saecula saeculorum (world without end), to quote some words Mr Johnson such people probably once knew well. As someone who went to another leading public school once said to me, uttered in a similar accent to Prince Charles: "Don't talk to me about mixed ability education, I had a mixed ability education. The only thing we had in common was we were all stinking rich."