It all started as it’s gone on: David Cameron, full of pomp, arrogance and misplaced self confidence stood before the nation and announced a referendum on the UK’s membership to the European Union. Perhaps it even goes back further- but in that moment, and in several moments since, it’s become crystal clear that British democracy was fallible. And now the fraudulent claim of demonstrable choice is exposed for us all to see as another corrupt conservative MP escapes punishment for lobbying, mere days after a different conservative MP convicted of sexual harassment is welcomed back to parliament with open arms- all at the behest of Alexander Boris De Pfeffel Johnson. The swamp, far from being drained, soaks the carpets and seats of Westminster- and a compliant British public enables this lassitude, as those who are elected to power seize it, throttle it and force us to bite the curb.
If youre like me, you’ll have grown up with a family member or two reasonably invested in politics, who impressed upon you that British politics was, is and would always be a proud institution, where democracy was at the forefront of every gathering of politicians. Where the will of the people was followed to the T, even at the expense of parliamentarians – whose role was to oversee the fairness of political discourse, to put forward points in politics which made the path of progression clear for our nation.
All is ashes.
Despite today’s hurried, harried and flagrantly churlish U-turn, we are a country thrown deep end into a government unmoved by decency, by knowledge- and by the rule of law their own party line so touts.
The government were desperate to lay down a pathway towards MP’s being able to escape even meagre punishments for their corrupt actions. If you’re not familiar, a tory MP- already paid £85,000 by the British public to represent his constituents – already able to claim twice that in expenses, paid back by the British public- was paid three times his salary to do four hours work a week, to promote a company, Randox, to take on millions of pounds of publicly funded coronavirus contracts. Here’s a dispatches article about just how well that went- Hint, not well. Essentially this MP was paid an exorbitant salary to lobby for this company to take on work it could not do, and this was demonstrably proven- and he was rightly investigated and found to be in breach. Has he held his hands up and accepted he did wrong? Not quite- he’s disputed and disparaged the investigation, blamed them for his wife’s suicide and even in parliament yesterday reaffirmed that he would do it again.
We can kid ourselves that the tory party saw the flagrancy in their corruption and changed their mind because it was a bridge too far- but I think we all know that a daily mail headline critical of the result of last night’s vote will have caused this. When the media turns on the tories, they U turn. Because they are the party of populism, they are the party of “at least we’re not Labour”.
If this was an isolated incident this would be salacious enough- but corruption runs thick, deep and iron solid through the backs of the Conservatives.
Here is evidence that Michael Gove has been participating in meddling with PPE contracting awards.
Here is an article about how the Prime Minister has referred to minorities, including people like me as ” Tank topped bum boys”, comments which- to this day- he has refused to apologise for, stating that context is key. But no context exists to allow the sentient shoe buffer that claims office to refer to people like me in such salacious terms.
Here, we can read a story about how Rob Roberts, a tory MP, was welcomed back to the fold after a short suspension for provably sexually harassing members of staff.
The sleaze so oft referred to is not an aberration in British politics- it’s now become it’s backbone.
Peter Osborne’s “The assault on truth”, in my eyes, acts like this modern political movement is a sudden, juddering jolt from the politics of old- but the groundwork for this backlash was laid every time someone spoke out against racism, against homophobia… as the world became more willing to accommodate those who did not fit the mould of white, straight, cis and male, the rage of those who feel that sharing the stage is tantamount to their oppression have become more enraged- no longer allowed to continue their blithe disparagement of every minority with no pushback, their rage boiled over into a movement of people who feel like ignorance towards others is a legitimate lifestyle choice, and that their decision to not even do the bare minimum should be respected over the literal rights and liberties of others. Osborne’s regular jibes at “lefty” politics are ironic- his book is about the rise of a NEW moral barbarism- based around the endless lack of attention right wing figures pay to reality.
That we respected the Brexit referendum is something incontrovertible that was utterly foolish- I’ve tried many times to explain that a choice of the magnitude of leaving the EU should not have been given to the British public. An enormous amount of Brits think it’s their RIGHT to have had their say on EU membership- but upon questioning of even the basic intricacies of EU-UK Relations, can only repeat the faded lines handed to them by figureheads like Nigel Farage- “The Corrupt EU cabal” (of which we were an influencial member)… “make our own laws!” (we do, and we very rarely objected to EU legislation or law, and often when we did – they caved) “take back our sovereignty”- this one is the most ironic statement because since we left the EU, we’ve had a government feverishly pressing through authoritarian legislation to curtail human rights as basic as protest or- recently, with Priti Patel’s legislation against migrants at sea- survival.
Brexit should never have been in the hands of people ignorant of the heft of what they voted for, simply desperate to be rude to some imaginary enemy buried at the heart of Brussels.
But on we move to Johnson’s instalment as Prime Minister. Osborne’s book is right in that Johnson is the figurehead (though not the leader- he is simply not smart enough) of this new moral barbarism in the UK- but it’s fairly transparent that America had Trump’s horror ridden presidency, and the UK used this formula to improve on it’s framework. Now we see a figurehead trying- and by degrees, succeeding- in removing any meaningful way to challenge him.
From blaming the pandemic for increased cost of living and rising taxes, the pingdemic for food shortages instead of their own brexit deal (and as extra proof, the immediate complaints from Lord Frost- who negotiated the deal and immediately declared it “unserviceable”), Johnson’s ability to divert responsibility is the only thing I actually compliment him on. He exemplifies todays white cishet man – absolutely convinced he is not at fault in any situation no matter his involvement, blithely confused as to why he’s even in the conversation when he was the one who made the situation occur that the conversation describes.
Johnson’s desperation to alter the accountability process for MPs seems to stem from the fact that he, too, is up for scrutiny by the panel who found his MP (and by the way, personal friend) guilty of lobbying. As always, the foetid trail leads back to the ringleader and as always, his supporters simply clap like seals at his daffy hair and his smirking postulations on his positions.
The most frustrating part of the political landscape of the UK is not even the ever increasing obviousness that the Tories are, to turn a common phrase, bad people, poor politicians, corrupt, inept- it’s the continuing laissez faire dismissals of these incontrovertible truths by the public. With the rise of epic-scale disinformation campaigns like Q anon, with the alacrity of mistruths spreading across social media, it’s more difficult to fight lies- lies which politicians in the UK are now happy to weaponise, endorse and accept- but so too do the British public at large it seems.
So many people truly believe the nonsense that the public are out of control of politics (a temporary truth at the moment- but not one that cannot be changed) that abuses of power as flagrant as a vote to upend the ability to hold politicians to account simply rolls off their notice, like so much sewage filled floodwater off a duck’s feathered back. This- this is the greatest lie a politician ever told- that the public don’t have power. The voting masses of the UK outnumber tory supporters- and especially Tories- by a huge margin. And the urgency with which we need to exercise this margin grows every single time the Tories strip back another right like protesting, every time they hand friends huge packs of public money to issue sub standard PPE linked to deaths, whenever they deny the systemic problems of racism, transphobia, homophobia.
The irony is- this would even benefit the gammons who bluster at any attempt to address these problems. To finally acknowledge the problems festering at the feet of our beleaguered society, to flush out the sewage from our waterways AND our politics- would enable us as a society to move on from them, to close down the culture wars and make positive steps for everyone instead of those happy to live in ignorance of the discontent that surrounds them.
Until, though, the British public face up to the urgency of scrutiny against our political leaders- until we prevent their continual deflection of responsibility, we are doomed to watch as the Tories push and strain against the reins of accountability, finding the very furthest point they can reach without public backlash. Living in a country which allows politicians to walk up to the line, lean over it, draw another line and erase the old one is not a democracy- and it’s time we stopped pretending that we live in a democratic state with a government so enmired in corruption that other countries study us for tips on how NOT to operate.