Thursday 18 November 2021

Looking for the simplest explanation


As is customary and expected with any sudden change of course by the PM, he has failed to think through the implications of his attempt to undermine Labour by proposing some tinkering with the rules on outside earnings by MPs. The Guardian has pointed out that, of all the MPs who have second jobs, only around 10 would be impacted by the changes which the PM has proposed. Once again, appearances have been given more prominence than substance and, once again, his words fall apart as soon as they are subjected to any analysis.

His words in describing the case of Owen Paterson as “a sad case” in which Paterson “had fallen foul of the rules” as though it was some sort of accidental transgression suggest that he still does not understand quite how egregious Paterson’s actions were. As additional evidence for that conclusion, the Guardian points out that his new proposals (although they have been described as some sort of ‘ban’) would probably not even have covered the case of Owen Paterson. The Chair of the Commons Standards Committee, Chris Bryant, has said today that the PM’s proposals are “not very well thought through”. If there were any evidence of competence or thought on the part of Johnson, I’d almost be tempted to disagree. Proposing a ‘clean-up’ which would have exonerated Paterson, and actually leave more freedom for his MPs to enrich themselves on the side by lobbying than current standards allow might start to look like a cunning plan. It’s either so cunning that even the intended beneficiaries don’t understand it, or else it’s as silly and unworkable as it appears. Occam’s razor applies.

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