The Conservative Party’s Sleaze Problem
Another week, another government scandal. Only the Conservative Party may not be able to sweep this one under the rug.
MP Owen Paterson was found guilty two years ago to have broken lobbying rules, having been paid at least £500,000 from two companies to lobby his fellow MPs on their behalf.
So, how did the government deal with this? By changing the rules because a grown man couldn’t handle a 30-day suspension from one of his jobs. Then he resigned.
After all, that jumping his entire party did, with the whip supposedly ordering every Conservative MP to vote in his favour, and Mr Paterson resigned.
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Now, the Conservatives have found themselves in a pickle because now everyone is asking why they defended Paterson so fervently.
How many others have second jobs, or are breaking lobbying rules?
By defending Mr Paterson, they exposed themselves to more scrutiny than they would have if they just accepted the suspension.
On Monday, there was a debate in the Commons on lobbying rules and corruption. Boris Johnson ran away from it to visit a hospital in Hexham, creating his own scandal. Never one to be outdone, our Prime Minister.
This left Jacob Rees-Mogg to roll his eyes on his own as Keir Starmer finally became Leader of the Opposition, tearing into the government, saying the Prime Minister gave the “green light to corruption”.
Former prime minister John Major also had harsh words for his party, calling the current administration “politically corrupt”.
There are also cash for honours scandals to deal with after the Met Police were called by an SNP MP to investigate peerage appointments.
A Sunday Times report revealed that 15 of 16 Conservative Party treasures have been offered a seat in the House of Lords after donating £3 million or more to the Party.
It’s like an advent calendar of corruption – every day, another job pops up for a Tory MP.
Scandals like this aren’t new in politics: every party has a few people who have broken the lobbying rules or paid for a seat in the house of Lords.
What is different is how unashamed the Tories seem to be in doing so. This isn’t me advocating for political corruption, but politicians used to be more discreet when doing so. This is just sloppy.
More so, no one in the party can seem to agree on a line – the cabinet is both condemning and defending the party every day on the morning news.
But perhaps the confusion isn’t just in the Conservative Party. They didn’t expect the public to care so much.
They aren’t the only ones to have MPs who have been in trouble for lobbying or breaking the law, but at least Claudia Webbe was removed from Labour.
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Britain has had a year and a half of a pandemic in which people had lost their jobs, livelihoods and loved ones. MPs complaining their £82,000 salary isn’t enough to live on and friends of the PM giving his Party £3m like its spare change isn’t exactly something the public are going to be happy to hear.
The Tory party have been campaigning on working for the people but it’s more if you give them a spare £3 million or another job, then they will most definitely work for you.
Not as catching a slogan as ‘Build Back Better’ – but more honest.