Gazette Column, 8th June 2022
After the kind of hype more associated with Hollywood blockbusters, Sue Gray’s report on Partygate and the misconduct in public office by the Prime Minister and others was published.
Despite everything we know now about the countless parties held in Downing Street during the biggest public health emergency any of us have known, many of the new revelations were still shocking.
Security staff and cleaners who raised concerns about the behaviour of senior civil servants and political appointees were treated like dirt by their ‘superiors’.
While people in the real world were forced to miss major life events, whether that be the start of life or the end, the Number 10 crew were partying and fighting their way through the wee small hours.
The Sue Gray report confirms the moral bankruptcy and arrogance at the very heart of the Tory party and the government they control.
A party funded for years by Russian oligarchs’ dirty money, holding the electorate and the law in utter contempt, spending lockdown shoving booze down their throats at every opportunity while the rest of us were trying somehow to get through the days and weeks.
The sight of Tory cabinet ministers parroting their pre-prepared lines on social media asking us all to move on was as predictable as it was nauseating.
There are real, massive challenges facing the country and the government right now – but that shouldn’t distract from the behaviour sanctioned by the Prime Minister during the pandemic.
The cost of living crisis is spiralling out of control. Only last week the head of energy ‘regulator’ Ofgem told MPs the energy price cap is forecast to rise to £2,800 a year in October.
That means a 119% rise in home energy prices for most people over the last year. That simply isn’t sustainable for anyone, but particularly for the lower paid or people on a fixed income.
One look across to Europe shows what’s possible when governments want to act. In France the government capped price rises for all, while the Norwegian government stepped in with direct financial help with bills for every household in the country.
Meanwhile we are stuck with a UK Government that seems content to do the bare minimum to give the appearance of doing something, while the reality is households need real help now.
The minor measures announced by the Chancellor last week do nothing to tackle the broader soaring rates of inflation.
Inflation rates including the cost of housing are now at over 11%. Even excluding housing still leaves 9% increases. That’s the highest rate of inflation since 1982, and what’s more it’s expected that the UK’s rate of inflation will be higher, and stay high for longer than any other G7 country due to Brexit.
For many households, these increases are simply unaffordable. Across Scotland people will have to make the choice between heating and eating.
In a country as wealthy as ours, that is utterly shameful.
The plain fact is we are stuck with the Charlata
n-in-Chief sitting in Number 10 for the foreseeable future. The scores of Tory backbenchers who sit braying behind the front bench at Prime Minister’s Questions are either too craven or too detached from reality to knock him from his perch ahead of the next UK General Election.
I hope he and his party lose that election. But that is an awfully huge gamble for us in Scotland to take. If Labour fail in England, as they have done at four successive polls, we face the prospect of not only five more years of Tory rule, but also Boris Johnson presiding over a moral vacuum at the heart of the UK Government.
We will hopefully have an opportunity soon to rid ourselves of the spivs and chancers that make up the Westminster Government. For all our sakes, we need to seize that chance and secure the power we need for build a better and fairer Scotland for all.