He’s not the first stinker to be British prime minister but he’s the first to be publicly caught out, then press on refusing to answer any accusations
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ON MONDAY Boris Johnson told Britain it is “a moral duty” to reopen schools. Given his record you could be forgiven for thinking you had misread his injunction and it should have read “amoral”. In his case “amoral” is more appropriate.
It must be the first time he has used the word “moral”. He’s the last person to tell people what their moral duty is. His attempt to stand on the high ‘moral’ ground produced sniggers. Last year Dorothy Byrne, head of Channel 4 News, in a speech at the Edinburgh Festival, asked: “What do we [in news] do when a known liar becomes prime minister?” In the course of her speech she called him a “coward” for dodging interviews in the run-up to December’s general election. Other journalists have referred to Johnson’s record; leaving wives for younger women an fathering unspecified number of children, at least one of which he outrageously tried to deny in court.
Of course he’s not the first stinker to be British prime minister but he’s the first to be publicly caught out, then press on refusing to answer any accusations. The smell rising off his rotten government grows more rancid by the week. His appointment to the peerage of his brother and a Russian crony, son of a KGB man, who invites him to weekend parties produced a reaction between disbelief and contempt but Johnson’s not a pioneer in this matter. Lloyd George held the Lords in contempt – ‘500 people chosen from the ranks of the unemployed’, now 800 – and proceeded to sell peerages since his rival Asquith controlled Liberal party funds: a knighthood £10,000, a peerage £50,000, with Lloyd George and his agent Maundy Gregory creaming off a fortune. The result was the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925. (It didn’t work). Lloyd George managed to keep the scandal quiet by giving hereditary peerages to the editors of all the main British papers.
The difference with Johnson is that he doesn’t even try to keep his activities secret. His colleagues have now begun to copy his tactics. Since this government took office, the list of grown exponentially, aided substantially by the government’s panic actions during the pandemic. Last week we discovered they had shelled out £152 million on masks that are no use to a company which never produced masks or any PPE; money down the drain, like Matt Hancock’s tracing app that never worked. Contracts worth millions have been handed out with no tendering process to friends of ministers and advisers, sometimes people with no business experience at all in the area they won the contract. Now there’s a proposal from ‘Honest Bob’ Jenrick which, according to experts, will wreck the planning process and produce a developers’ charter.
By a strange coincidence developers have given the Tory party £11m since Johnson became prime minister last July. Much of the chicanery is being challenged by Jolyon Maugham QC through his Good Law project but that will take years to resolve. In the meantime Johnson and his Brexit government sail on invulnerable with their 80-seat majority. Which brings us back to Dorothy Byrne and her speech. Johnson cancelled interviews with Channel 4 News and ministers don’t appear. However, Byrne says: “If we don’t all agree that truth has a primacy in democratic debate, where do we end up?” That’s the nub of the matter. As Byrne says, no-one has told her that what she said wasn’t true but other editors don’t say it, maybe for fear of retribution. Again, Johnson and his government boycotted the BBC’s Today programme until the pandemic broke because they were asked hard questions. However, if you don’t disclose Johnson’s amoral behaviour, his lies, his cheating with statistics, his cronyism, and instead treat him as a prime minister worthy of respect and deference, then you become an accomplice to his frauds and charlatanry.
With many thanks to the: The Irish News and Brian Feeney for the original story