This government is very good at the things it does well. Sleaze. Empty slogans. The whiff of corruption – or worse. It is less good at running the country without creating chaos.
Careless actions, careless talk
The risk of corruption has been particularly marked in the BBC. This used to be an organisation that was fiercely proud of being politically independent. Now it is under the oversight of a chairperson who helped Boris Johnson to borrow £800,000 a few days before he was appointed. He had also donated large sums to the Conservatives. Which doesn’t exactly inspire great public confidence in impartiality and freedom from government interference.
The rest of the press had been reporting the latest scandal surrounding Nadim Zahawi’s tax affairs for about three days before it began to feature on the BBC website. It is a beauty.
It turns out that Zahawi set up an offshore account. Carelessly. Transferred millions of pounds of assets into that account in the name of his father. Carelessly. Negotiated the amount that he would have to pay in tax and penalties while working as chancellor of the Exchequer. Carelessly. And instructed lawyers to write letters denying there was any truth in any of the accusations. Carelessly.
If the leaders of our country think we will gullibly swallow tales like that then it explains why they have pumped out slogan after slogan which completely contradict the reality of what they are doing. They clearly think the British public are a bit thick.
Who holds the purse strings?
They want us to believe that ‘The NHS is safe in our hands’. Yet they have presided over the worst set of strikes in its history, the worst staff shortages, the longest waiting lists, and an emergency service that takes an hour to turn up if you have just had a stroke. The former health minister Sajid Javid thinks he has found a solution. He wants to charge £20 for a visit to a GP and £66 if you need to go to A&E. Not exactly a universal service free at the point of use.
They want us to believe that they are levelling up the country. Yet in round two of their levelling up funding they awarded more money per head to the South East than to Yorkshire. I say ‘awarded’, but what is actually happening is political control over funding allocations that ought to be coming to local areas as of right. This is money that used to come via Brussels and be subject to strict contract allocation procedures. When this government got themselves free from all that they devised a process that resulted in the bulk of the money going to marginal political constituencies. Where it could be used to maximum propaganda advantage.
Not forgetting Brexit
Above all, they want us to believe that Brexit is a huge success, that it is paving the way for a bright future and was never about a race to the bottom that would leave Britain desperately trying to compete by having lower standards than the rest of Europe. Now we know the reality. They are busy passing legislation that will allow ministers to dump hundreds of laws that we shared with the EU and which are, therefore, necessary if we want British exporters to be able to compete effectively on European markets. Those laws will not be removed via an act of Parliament. Instead, MPs are being asked to hand the right to dump protections that were written into EU laws over to the whims of a cabinet minister.
We were told that Brexit was all about restoring parliamentary sovereignty. Now we know the reality. The decision making powers of a strong and independent British parliament are being removed. To be replaced by a cabinet minister changing the law in the quiet of a back room. You remember cabinet ministers. Those are the ones who threaten journalists if they start to uncover a little too much of the truth for comfort.
To give them their due this government really are ‘Getting Brexit Done’. Provided that it means weakening the economy, weakening the British parliament, letting investment bankers go back to risky gambling with other people’s money and signing up to trade deals that will force British farmers to compete with mass produced, chemical-soaked food imports.
A country in chaos
Which leads us to the biggest lie of all. They want us to believe that the economy is safe in their hands and that Rishi Sunak is working hard to restore the Conservative Party’s reputation for responsible government. Which might be plausible. Unless of course you want to use the trains, need a doctor, or need your pay to keep up with the cost of living. In which case you will already know the value of their empty slogans.
We have a country in chaos. The people who created that chaos are incapable of curing it.