Much has been written this week about Liam Fox, the now former defence minister and his friend/advisor/lobbyist/arms dealer? and I'm not really going to add to the column inches or gigabytes of material already on the internet about this other than to say it is right that he has resigned.
The thing that the whole episode highlights for me is a more general point about tory ministers; they seem think that they are somhow entitled to thier position. I'm sure they got to where they are with a little help from their friends and they think nothing of returning those favours. We heard earlier this year about internships being sold to the highest bidder at a dinner party with David Cameron and Clegg, doing a good impression of an old fasioned tory, subsequently stated that he saw 'nothing wrong' with helping his friends kids' get work experience in governmnent departments.
I remeber a conversation I had with a close friend of mine who is now a lawyer in the City of London. He was lucky enough to attend one of the best private schools in the country, and I was saying that I went to my local comprehensive then to University and now I have a job that (most of the time) I love. My question to him was, you went to school, University and you also have a similarly good job so where was the advantage in paying for education? He said that his teachers were top notch, fair enough, but most interestingly, he mentioned that the friends he has are influential. Now this friend is talented and works incredibly hard and I wouldn't for a minute suggest that he has not earned his position but for somone who needs to rise through the ranks of the Tory party having influential friends would hardly be a hindrance.
In getting a ministerial position a politician has reached the top of the political roller coaster, and it is difficult if not impossible to get to the top with out a helping hand or leg up. The problem is that you can't always take the friends who helped you along for the ride, especially if that ride is in the 1st class cabin of a plane flying to meetings with heads of state.
We all need a little help from our friends and having recieved that help we might hear ourselves ask 'what can I possibly do to repay you?' If the answer is 'how about a pint down the club?' then you will never get anywhere near breaching any ministerial code.