The UK should be applauded if it follows Russia’s lead and bans parliamentarians from having any kind of foreign financial assets, but it would ultimately be counterproductive if it doesn’t issue a blanket ban and only prohibits ones from Russia and China.
The UK’s Sunday Times reported over the weekend that London was considering legislation banning so-called “red money” from Russia and China, which is the Mainstream Media’s fearmongering term of choice for describing parliamentarians’ financial assets in those two rival Great Powers, that the British government believes could represent a national security threat by means of placing official functionaries under the influence of foreign powers. In principle, banning parliamentarians from having any kind of foreign financial assets is a prudent move that was actually implemented by Russia back in mid-2013 out of fears that its legislators might be blackmailed by the mostly Western governments that hosted their investments and thus end up being more loyal to them than to their homeland. “Nationalizing” the elite was therefore seen as the only possible solution in order to preemptively offset this dark scenario, which couldn’t have come a moment too soon given that the New Cold War began only a few months afterwards with the onset of EuroMaidan.
It’s with this geostrategic context in mind that the UK is concerned about the potential influence of “red money” from Russia and China on members of the House of Lords and has recently begun an information campaign warning about this possible threat. Raising awareness about this scenario is a responsible policy in theory because all states have the right to safeguard their sovereignty from unwanted foreign influence, but the UK’s application of it in practice is problematic because it only singles out two countries and ignores the fact that foreign influence from its “allies” (especially those in the US and EU) might be even more pernicious to its independence than that from its geopolitical rivals. Moreover, British media recently ran three stories that RT picked up and reported on where notable outlets named and shamed several members of the House of Lords for their financial ties to Russia and China (“red money”), which reads more like a politically driven witch hunt than a principled drive to strengthen national security.
In the event that the UK goes forward with its crusade against “red money” and only bans members of the House of Lords from having foreign assets in Russia and China, then London wouldn’t be doing anything other than sending a hostile signal to those Great Powers since its national security would still be theoretically threatened by the foreign influence that other countries could exert on that chamber and its lower one through the investments that parliamentarians might have in any other states. Furthermore, it’s probable that the proposed ban would eventually extend from the House of Lords to the House of Commons prior to being implemented for all government officials of significance irrespective of whether they play a public role or not. It can’t be emphasized enough how positive of a development it would be if all countries passed legislation like Russia did to ban their parliamentarians from having any kind of foreign financial assets, but it becomes counterproductive when only a couple countries are singled out as forbidden like what the UK wants to do.
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