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THE PALACE OF WESTMINSTER- A HOUSE OF CARDS.
So, what do you get when you have an agreement by handshake almost, that relies on honour and good manners? Chaos, scandals, lies, deceit… that’s what. A string of scandals that has meant the big dawg’s behind was left unclean because let’s face it, there is only so much covering of arses that can be done by ministers who continually refuse to believe this was always going to be the eventual end. If there is one thing Boris Johnson is good at, it is fighting and living to fight another day because there will always be a scandal lurking that calls into question his leadership, morality or sense of judgement. He was a cat with nine lives, but even a cat eventually met a sticky end because of its curiosity. Make of that what you will, but this isn’t a scandal that was borne out of curiosity, it was out of sheer carelessness, recklessness, a false sense of Teflon, and entitlement.
It started with the Owen Patterson affair, (or maybe it was the prorogation of parliament and purported falsehoods to the monarch), when members wanted to change the rules to get an unrepentant Patterson off the hook but then the public got wind of it and MPs inboxes flooded with messages from an enraged public that let them know in no uncertain terms, what hell there would be to pay if they voted to defend a change in the parliamentary rules in order to get their mate off. It would take about twenty-four hours before that move hit a snag and the conservative party rolled back their tone and decided it wasn’t worth the trouble from the public. Especially considering that Patterson himself, showed no remorse; he would resign and walk away from it all.
Still the fissures were there, and the regular chip, chip was set to create a crack that would give way and topple the house from its foundation.
The thing about British Politics is sometimes, the public’s ire is so resounding, it forces MPs to behave. It is one of the glorious things about it. The other side of that is the role of the media and its ability to create such hysteria that can distract the public from the other more serious issues, like slowly eroding our freedoms; see right to protest bill for one.
After Owen Patterson, it was party gate that rolled on for months because the police refused to step in at first then, the Sue Gray was tasked with the job of getting down to the truth of the matter… never has a name been so invoked by MPs you’d have thought it was their own name. Then at the ninety-ninth hour, the police stepped in and granted a little bit of a reprieve. The fallout from party gate rumbled on for months and slowly MPs began to call for the PM to resign. The public was made to wait for months to determine whether there were parties at number 10, whether an unopened cake constituted as a party, what defined a workplace, and what constituted as households… it was a long and arduous spring and again, the PM survived that or appeared to survive. In between we had wallpaper gate, before this, way before was Barnard Castle gate… a lot of gates that hid the scandals behind them.
Remember what I said about chip, chip and drip, drip? His supporters keep touting that line; he got the big calls right. Pardon me from yelling but, THAT IS HIS JOB. HIS ONE JOB. To get the big calls right. If not him, then who will? Your Nan? This is why you are elected to the highest office in the land; to get the big calls and the small calls and not so little not so large calls, right.
Somebody wiser than me once said, the best thing about incompetent people is to put them in positions of power and watch them unravel under pressure, as sins of their past and evidence of their incompetence come to light. It was always going to be that way with Boris Johnson, he was always, always, going to be the architect of his own downfall. We saw it when he was Mayor of London, in his various articles as a journalist, in his role as chief Brexit campaigner, as foreign secretary, and now, but not for long, as Prime Minister.
For some, his boyish bumbling demeanour made him someone you would want to hang out with, someone you would want to have a drink with at the pub, who would regale you with cheeky stories and silly innuendos. Being a Prime Minister is not the same as being Mayor of London; they are two vastly different roles with varying degrees of expectations and responsibility. Maybe that carefree attitude was suited to the office of Mayor, but as Prime Minister of the country, the Kingdom at large, it demanded an attitude shift. One that never really came with the current occupier of number 10. There was a sense that this position was received with a sense of entitlement, after all, his was the prerequisite upbringing of most Prime Ministers; Eton educated, Oxford Graduated, private club members, speaks with weird phrases, throw in a little Latin; all perfectly orchestrated to land them in the house with the black door.
For most, this is the dream, certainly for those who came before him, even the scandal ridden ones, you got the sense that there was at least a grown up in the room. But with this administration, there were no grown-ups around the table. They bounced from scandal to palaver, parties to prorogation; they simply never caught a break to do the business of the day. The latest scandal was one a long time coming which the press has christened; Pinchergate. Chris Pincher, deputy chief whip of the party and so appointed by Boris after his alleged role in saving the PM’s skin in the wake of party gate. Pincher was able to whip the party in favour of the PM and for that he was given the position of the Deputy Chief Whip, after advisors allegedly talked the PM down from appointing him as Chief Whip because of his history; history that could take them down if it came to light. Pincher should have never been anywhere near government, let alone, a man charged with MPs welfare. This tawdry secret was well known amongst political circles; he can’t keep his hands to himself after a few bottles, so much so, he had to have a handler with him to make sure he did not misbehave.
Ladies and gentlemen these are our elected officials; if they are not watching porn in the House of Commons, a la Neil Parrish, they are touching people unsolicited in clubs and getting legless.
And I thought my life was a shit show.
For days the PM denied knowing of the allegations against Pincher, then the story changed to specific allegations, then following a letter that outrightly contradicted Number 10’s version of events and denials, the PM was forced to tell the truth of what he knew, when… and then the dam burst as minister after minister quit in protest. As the PM sat being questioned by the Liaison Committee, where came to light even more troubling details of his relationship with Russian Oligarchs, more resignations came through. It quickly became inevitable that he would not survive this new gate-crash; the collision was in-coming straight to his doorstep. Then his Secretary of State for Health resigned and seven minutes later, the Chancellor of the Exchequer resigned, and then the whole house of cards came tumbling down. PPS’s and junior ministers quit the government, each sighting the current state of affairs that has brought dishonour to the office of the right honourable member and PM.
When you watch PMQs and the rambunctious goings on, one must wonder if they know exactly what they have done to the state of politics and the trust of the public in the government. Electing a person and interacting with them in the House of Parliament is based on conventions of honour and good manners; the old good chap/chapess principles. An unwritten principle of decency and honesty each person is governed by hence we cannot have anyone called a liar in the House of Commons… because members of these offices simply should not lie. The past few months have been coloured with dishonourable goings on from the highest echelons in government, it is why we are here now.
No honour amongst lairs…
In the UK, we do not elect a person, we elect a party. The only constituency that elects the prime minister is his constituency. Ours is not politics based on personalities, but on policies and party principles. The Conservative and Unionist party is one of low taxes and small government, but we never really got that with this government, never really got a sense of what they stood for. Taxes have been raised 15 times, are the highest for 70 years, interest-rates have risen, we have a cost-of-living crisis, energy prices are through the roof, food prices are astronomical, families are having to choose between heating an eating, we have a supply chain issue, we are now faced with a summer of discontent as different public sector employees vote to strike, and BREXIT, BREXIT, FUCKING BREXIT… all under a conservative government of twelve years and counting.
Over the coming weeks there will be race for a new leader of the conservative party thus office of Prime Minister, but our choices will be from the crop of those who propped up the problematic incumbent for months, rolling out his lie after lie, after lie. We are left with two choices of the old establishment; one who does not know the difference between the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea but was Foreign Secretary and the other who raised those taxes and has signed off the loss of twelve billion as no big deal.
But, governing and government is a big deal; you are required to preside over the lives of a population living through the most stringent of times, grappling with issues you, as PM would have never had to for the most part, but will need to understand how to solve. It is quite simply, a matter of thriving and surviving; life and death. Our infrastructures are on their last legs; we need hope and prayer and more important someone who can do the job; the choices presented to us, fill us with no confidence because they are a part of an administration that toppled the palace of honours like a falling house of cards.