Parliament Sleaze – Scotsman Article – 11 November 2021


Boris Johnson has certainly been damaged by his handling of the Owen Paterson scandal. How long term that’ll be is hard to say but it’s exposed the self-seeking charlatan that lies beneath the veneer of “jolly buffoonery”. Patersons crime was flagrant and the chicanery in trying to save him deplorable, it’s the cover up that gets, you as they say.  

The Tories behaviour in seeking to change a system brought in after a past expenses scandal was worsened by many of the main cheerleaders being guilty of past offences and some of them pretty scandalous.  

All parties have individuals who err and shame their cause, politicians are human after all. But what’s clear is that overwhelmingly those exposed in Parliament have been Tories. The air of kleptocracy that surrounds this administration and the spivs and chancers who’ve taken them over and pushed Brexit have made it endemic.  

Harold Macmillan’s phrase “you’ve never had it so good” was meant to apply to the country not Tory MPs with their snouts in the trough. There are of course good and principled Tories, and Sir John Major’s one and he rightly and waspishly condemned this new regime. But they’re in deep and the days of John Major are passing. Some political behaviour, especially within parties and institutions is cultural, and when actions become normalised or even just accepted it can be a long road back. I fear those decent Tories have their work cut out.  

It’s not just Johnson but democracy that’s damaged. Politicians are all the same becomes a mantra from some, when they’re self-evidently not. It doesn’t just undermine the portals of Westminster but all democratic institutions. Holyrood and councils will be accused of similar corruption when the opportunity rarely applies there.  

There’s council elections next year. Being a councillor’s a hard enough shift with long hours and little reward without accusations of simply wanting to line your own pocket. With the murder of David Amess and Paterson’s graft its democracy that suffers. We need good and decent people in political life. Not only protecting them, rooting out corruptions essential.