We think of political and institutional corruption as being characteristic of other countries particularly outside Europe: Africa, Latin America, etc.
Yet we in Britain got an awakening with the MPs’ expenses’ scandal.
And the residents in my previous neighourhood (in London Borough of Barnet) had no doubt that “money had changed hands” when the local council suddenly – really suddenly – in 2006, approved plans for 13 flats to be built just diagonally across the garden from my home – where building approval had failed on almost as many counts previously. The next step would have been to go to court, and most of my neighbours – who had fought the proposals up to that point, seemed unwilling to put money into litigation. So for the next year, we suffered the ordeal of a characterful period house being pulled down and replaced by a building which encroached on all possible space in all directions with maximisation of profit as the only motive. The pilings, vibrations, noise on our doorstep – even on bank holidays and weekends and outside legally-permitted hours, until a letter from our MP at least had the effect eventually of confining their activity to legally permitted hours and days. I could not bear to be in my home when the work was going on – even if I was ill.
Corruption in Britain – which brings me to my tale of the British “mafia”, and how it affected my mother.
When I published my earlier blog about my mother, (“Where the virulent anti-Semites lurk”) about how the Palestinian/Israeli medical system irradiated her brain when she was child, someone remarked on what “Israel did” to my mother. It wasn’t Israel, I responded, but a sector of the Israeli medical system at the time, and some politicians, who believed they were actually doing something beneficial.
Well, I think it is time to relate what “Britain did” to my mother when she was an adult. Only it wasn’t Britain, but just that British institution that serves as our “mafia”: the Inland Revenue.
My mother had recurring brain tumours and spent inordinate periods of time in hospital undergoing surgery and skin grafts. In the meantime she was unable to adequately manage her affairs, and as an effect of her illness, it seems she didn’t trust anyone to manage her financial affairs for her. So the Inland Revenue came to take a great interest in tax that was owing, and my mother’s assets. These consisted of a Company which owned eight flats in Richmond, of which my mother lived in one or two. Another two or so were kept vacant for when her children stayed, and those remaining tended to be let out.
The Inland Revenue didn’t have to take all eight flats – but they were entitled to legally. They could have let my mother remain in her home, but they weren’t obliged to legally. Their bailiffs forced entry into her home, and kicked her out with great pleasure and gusto, according to my siblings, aged between the approximate ages of 13 to 17 who witnessed the whole scene. She was moved into council accommodation in an area where she didn’t know anyone.
Not long after this, my brothers cycled across London to where she was living. I can’t remember how they got in – probably they had to call the police to break in. They didn’t know for how long she had been lying in bed unconscious. Her starving alsation was roaming her flat with glazed eyes, having jumped through and smashed a window in order to get out to find water to drink.
My mother didn’t survive surgery for her third brain tumour.
So this is what the British mafia “did” to my mother. Not as bad as irradiating a child’s brain, but they certainly finished off the job of killing my mother!
They were apparently legally entitled to forcibly evict her from her home, since it was part of the eight flats which formed her Company which they were apparently legally entitled to seize. But once they sold the eight flats and reclaimed whatever was owing to them and a whole lot more, all that was returned, after my mother’s death, was £24,000. Perhaps the value of one flat at the time (1982) – almost? One out of eight! So what about the value of the other seven? (Today, eight comparable flats in Richmond might fetch well in excess of £2,000,000. So the IR retained the equivalent of in excess of £1,750,000.) One thing my family was certain of was that given the value of the flats and the maximum possible amount of my mother’s debts, it seemed the flats had been sold off extremely cheaply (to themselves?) Certainly – to themselves!
Every line of investigation was blocked. But the Inland Revenue are Britain’s very own mafia – untouchable!