Saturday 28 January 2023

Boris Johnson and Corruption

While Labour politicians, it used to be said, got themselves into trouble over money, Conservatives were brought low by sex. Characteristically, Boris Johnson combines both these foibles in his person. Last weekend, news broke about the £800k loan he took out while Prime Minister, which was facilitated by Richard Sharp - the man he coincidentally appointed BBC chair. Luckily for him, the below stairs briefing against Nadhim Zahawi by Johnson's friends won last weekend's coverage. Consider Rishi Sunak damaged. But it was only a matter of time and Johnson's financial chicanery has come to dominate this.

During the week Johnson and and Sharp denied there was any truth to the story, with both men going on the record - Sharp even appearing on "his" BBC - to deny it. Unfortunately for them, the text of a memo has been deposited in the hands of The Times. The note, from Cabinet Secretary Simon Case advised Johnson not to continue consulting with Sharp about his finances given his due appointment at the BBC. The ethics team also advised that it would be okay for Johnson to take out the loan, provided its guarantor, the Toronto-based businessman and Johnson cousin, Sam Blyth, had no UK interests. However, a month prior Blyth was mysteriously put forward as the lead candidate for the head of the British Council. If it looks, sounds, tastes, and feels like corruption, there can't really be any other conclusion.

Johnson lies as easily as he breathes. He's done so throughout his career, knowing the friendly press and other well-heeled allies could be relied on to pick him up following a stumble. And it was one lie too many that brought him down, when he denied knowing anything about sexual assault allegations against Christopher Pincher, his choice for deputy chief whip, when he appointed him. This from a (then) Prime Minister who'd previously referred to him as "Pincher by name, pincher by nature". The problem now for Johnson is that he's been caught in a lie yet again, this time with documentary proof. And that the Commons Privileges Committee are about to commence their inquiry into whether Johnson lied at the Dispatch Box about, more revelations about Johnson's basic dishonesty couldn't have come at a worst time. If that wasn't bad enough, Johnson was putting more effort into securing his £800k loan than mitigating the second, most fatal wave of Covid infections. This was December 2020 when he was busy accusing accusing Keir Starmer of trying to cancel Christmas rather than saving lives. Proof, as if it was needed, that the public health emergency was just a detail in the in tray left to roll over day after day, while what really mattered to Johnson was more money to finance his incontinent spending.

To get a little bit Freudian, Johnson can be thought of the incarnation of the Tory id. Sexual temptations, financial temptations, for a politician with a planet-sized ego he has precious little impulse control. A bit like the party of which, until recently, he was the personification. Given the choice between long-term planning and stability for British capitalism, often in the most crude and transparently sectional terms the Tories go for class war attacks each and every time. Johnson often got away with it. Liz Truss less so. Appropriate that his luck is running out just as the Tories' long-term decline is manifesting. Still, if he ends up getting turfed out of the Commons he'll console himself with the advance for his memoirs and those lucrative speaking tours. Time he should be spending paying for his criminal negligence and corruption instead of living it up.

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1 comment:

Shadeburst said...

This is a little embarrassing for you as it is well known by now that lockdowns, masking etc did nothing to save lives and in fact the upcoming recession is due to those lockdowns and the billions wasted on an ineffective vaccine. We all know that Bojo is a piece of female anatomy and it's easy enough to find factual evidence against him without making it up.