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By Jo Phillips

By Jo Phillips

Double or quits

Politicians are humans and flawed like everyone else. People make mistakes and will often pay a high price for them. But not this lot because what’ so shocking is they don’t seem to know they’ve made a mistake in the first place...

What’s the harm in a little flutter? What’s so wrong about parking on double yellow lines just for a couple of minutes with the flashers on? Where’s the damage in having a couple of drinks with colleagues after work? It’s a bit of harmless banter, no insults intended. You’ve got a mate who can deliver that contract, let’s just get on with it and bugger the usual processes. If that all sounds familiar it’s because for the last decade that attitude has pervaded and corrupted politics and the Conservative party particularly.

You would have thought after Partygate, the Covid contracts for mates, the Number 10 refurb, the plum jobs and peerages for party donors that there might have been some level of self-awareness, some sense of behaving properly, at least during an election campaign. But no, the latest scandal involving betting on the date of the election, or in Labour’s ex candidate Kevin Craig’s case, the outcome in his constituency, shows there is something so rotten at the heart of politics that some people simply don’t know what’s right and wrong any more.

The sense of entitlement and getting away with it runs through the modern Tory party like a stick of seaside rock. Of course, there’s been appalling behaviour across the political parties – expenses, dodgy donors, second jobs and dubious connections but rarely has there been anything so venal, greedy and hypocritical. The Tories seeking to win another term in office are very keen to crackdown on benefit claimants, to bring in tough new laws on anything that’s creating a social media storm or infuriating the Daily Mail or GB News at any given moment. That could be claims that Labour’s using drones to spy on homeowners, planning to increase recycling bins so no one will ever be able to get out of their front door, crazy theories that 15 minute cities are a plot to keep us corralled in certain areas and Gary Lineker to become Britain’s ambassador for woke to the UN.

We might laugh, because most of us can see through the fake news, the scares and smears that the increasingly desperate Tories and their supporters are churning out but when Rishi Sunak talks about the future, it’s chilling that he doesn’t recognise the past and his part in it. He stood on the steps of Number 10 and promised integrity yet refuses to return the £5m donation from Frank Hester whose racist and misogynist remarks are forever on record, refuses to acknowledge that it was Marcus Rashford who forced the government into a U turn over free school meals during Covid, refuses to recognise that his government’s record on health, housing, the environment, transport and education is an out and out F for fail.  

Politicians are humans and flawed like everyone else. People make mistakes and will often pay a high price for them. But not this lot because what’ so shocking is they don’t seem to know they’ve made a mistake in the first place… and that is a contagion that came from the leadership (if you can all it that) of Boris Johnson and the arrogance of a political party that ditched Theresa May and gave us Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak.

Nobody’s perfect and if Labour win power next week, they will face dealing with wronguns too but it’s how you deal with them, how you change a culture from getting away with it by being held accountable. That’s the difference – serving the public or turning a blind eye to bad behaviour because you simply can’t see why it’s bad.

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