If Boris Johnson’s premiership was pock-marked by allegations of fraud, sleaze and lies, the latest incarnation of Conservative government seems not much better. Hot on the heels of the disdainful incompetence of the Truss
years weeks, it seems we are in for more of the same.
Matt Hancock’s “experience of a lifetime” in the jungle has been presented as a publicity stunt to try and rehabilitate a minister whose credibility and credentials took a hit during lockdown. Lust or ‘being in love’ seems a paltry excuse for playing away from home when millions of teens were denied the chance to mix with their peers at the very time in their lives when doing so would be the norm.
And what would you say to a teen wanting to be forgiven for their errors of judgment during lockdown, just because they’d won some grub to share with some celebs in a bunch of humiliating bush-tucker trials?
Something doesn’t add up. And not just where Hancock is concerned, or Michael Gove wriggling over rogue landlords and trying to blame housing scandals on housing associations.
Oh no, not another!
This week, the Guardian reported on the comings and goings of Lady Mone who had denied any fast-track goodies flowing her way in respect of PPE. Not so, it would seem.
The Tories are fond of the dictum ‘Hard work brings rewards’ but this seems to be unfairly distributed. Nurses get claps. And while some other hard-working souls get to spend months on yachts with millions invested, others get to stand on picket lines because the government won’t negotiate a trivial pay rise.
The stench of hypocrisy gets more acrid by the hour.
Brexiters should be squirming but instead wallow in a splendidly peculiar interpretation of how the law is to be respected in their case. Former MP Owen Patterson resorts to the European Court of Human Rights to protect his rights, while apparently backing the government over stripping everyone else of the opportunity to do so.
And the latest home secretary, Suella Braverman, struggles to explain to Tim Laughton MP and the House of Commons scrutiny committee how a 16-year-old asylum seeker can legally claim asylum before arriving here when the UK says that it must be claimed when here. Proving the government’s ‘integrity, professionalism and accountability’ when asked by Lady Diana Johnson about the situation at Manston was no easy task for her either. But those policies are her responsibility.
Her predecessor Priti Patel might have retorted more pugnaciously, like her colleague Dominic Raab maybe? Both have had to face allegations of bullying behaviour, yet the charge of hypocrisy could fit them too. Like most Tory MPs, they’ve pretended that immigration must be cut now when it’s reached the highest ever numbers since 1945. And both have yet to admit that curbing freedom of movement for EU citizens has cost the UK dearly. The vast majority of relatively young, well-educated EU citizens here paid tax and did not draw benefits. An ever-higher proportion of new migrants are drawn to Britain and many have fewer educational qualifications. Talk about own goals.
Hedging their bets
Perhaps Conservative MPs complacently think the public won’t see through them; that they can carry on regardless because they do not have to consider the wellbeing of everyone rather than that of just a select few, such as the ones who went to the ‘right’ schools – those private, tax-exempt ones benefiting from £3bn a year owing to their charitable status, unlike state schools.
Hypocrisy seems to those in poverty to be the defining quality of those whose family and friends connections give a shoe-in to well-paid jobs, private health care, private jets, and privileged, fast-track access to lucrative government and/or private contracts perhaps.
It is legitimate to ask, if non-doms don’t pay tax, then why should workers on the minimum wage who do ‘jobs’ for their mates? Or why there are sanctions on those on minimum wage, universal credit, or zero-hour contracts who maybe fall ill or face family crisis, or the unemployed who miss a train or bus when they’re supposed to be at the job centre on time?
Isn’t there just a whiff of hypocrisy when those whose annual income is just above the £7,400 that entitles kids to free school meals know their kids will go hungry too, and at school, while MPs earning about that much per month get subsidised canteen meals, and expenses that allow them to claim £25 per night for food when away from home?
Anyone questioning this hypocrisy is arrogantly dismissed: Johnson and Sunak seem to prefer that to actually answering questions in the Commons. It’s taken a union leader to call out the trivialisation of hard facts. Mick Lynch asked media commentators why they preferred, it seems, to call him Mick Grinch instead of asking why negotiations had stalled. He explained that it’s unacceptable to ignore serious matters when they either don’t make easy game show type copy or contradict the government’s preferred narratives.
Strikes, hunger, reliance on food banks, inability to pay the uniquely astronomical energy costs facing the UK (but not EU countries) are government choice. It is tempting to blame strikers, brand them as uncaring and irresponsible when the hypocrites in charge seem content to see an escalating deterioration of the UK economy – predicted to be second worst in the OECD’s league table, just above Russia. As Lynch said, government could choose to do things differently.
As Jeremy Hunt said, the UK relies on close links with the EU for its prosperity and wellbeing. Brexit does not change that fact. But this week the government revealed its hypocrisy again with its bill to repeal EU laws and down-grade protective standards – on the environment, clean water, paid holiday and sick pay, and so on – and chose to deny parliament a right to vote on any law to replace those it dumped with any new rules that could raise standards or increase protections.
The hypocrites who had pretended the retained EU law (REUL) bill was about taking back control used it to slip in measures to deprive MPs of ‘control’ over the government’s excesses and prevent any future bills to improve standards and protection. Perhaps we should have expected the ‘brexit freedoms’ bill to be as ill-advised for business as everyone else too, as suggested by the Financial Times. Perhaps former PM Boris “f*ck-business” Johnson’s less than courteous comments should have been taken at face-value?
Brexit symbolises the rank hypocrisy of 12+ years of Conservative government saying one thing and doing the other for their own, narrow benefits. Hypocrisy seems to be their go-to default position.
Will winter mean redemption for Tories who openly lead the charge to begin improving UK-EU relations for the sake of the country?