Government Sleaze and Corruption

Kate’s latest column for the Shields Gazette:

Boris Johnson has embroiled his Government in a new low in Tory corruption, cronyism and sleaze.

Last Wednesday, Tory MPs voted through rules to let one of their own MPs off the hook after a standards watchdog ruled Owen Paterson had broken lobbying rules. 

It comes as no surprise that there was a huge public backlash, forcing the Conservative Government into yet another humiliating U-turn.

We have been here before, haven’t we? It’s certainly not the first time the Tories have been left trying to justify this dubious behaviour.

Indeed, throughout Boris Johnson’s two-year plus tenure as Prime Minister, there has been a “one rule for them and one rule for everyone else” an attitude which shows how out of touch he and his Government really are. 

Just over two years ago, Johnson wasn’t even a month into his dream job, before he arrogantly asked the Queen to close Parliament for five weeks, at the height of the Brexit crisis. 

The Supreme Court ruled that the Prime Minister’s advice to the Queen that Parliament should be prorogued for five weeks was unlawful and should remain open. 

The Prime Minister has also been heavily accused of handing out public sector contracts to friends and donors, particularly during the pandemic.

Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock stood on a podium and told the nation during the pandemic that it was very important that we must all follow covid rules to reduce the spread of the virus and to save lives.

In May 2021, the Government announced that we all had to social distance, restaurants and pubs were only allowed outdoor seating and separate households were not allowed to mix indoors.

Just weeks later, while these very same social distancing rules were in place, he was embarrassingly forced to resign after breaking them in such a public way.

Rather than immediately firing him – Johnson allowed Hancock to dilly-dally over whether to resign while the public anger reached fever pitch.

In response, the Prime Minister even said Hancock “should leave office very proud of what you have achieved – not just in tackling the pandemic, but even before Covid-19 struck us”. 

Now just months later here we are again with yet more embarrassing Conservative controversies.

The aim of the Tories in the whole sorry Owen Paterson saga seems to be removing the Standards Commissioner and side-lining the Standards Committee.

The rumbling controversy about the refurbishment of Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat shows no sign of going away.

 In recent days, Labour has also called for a standards investigation into a possible rule breach by Sir Geoffrey Cox – after a clip allegedly appeared to show him using his MP’s office to carry out private work for the British Virgin Islands inquiry.

Corruption has no place at all in a healthy democracy.

It wasn’t the Prime Minister who backed down on the Paterson fiasco.  It wasn’t his Millionaire Ministers on the Cabinet.  It was, by and large, the overwhelming public outrage that reminded this shameful and arrogant Tory leader that basic standards of public decency apply to his Government too.

This Government is rotten to the core and always have been throughout their 11-plus years in office.  We will continue to keep exposing their shameful running of this country and put pressure on them to do the right thing, such as keeping the safeguards that protect us from corruption in public life.