Thursday 27 October 2022

Humpty-Dumpty for PM


In defence of the PM’s decision to reappoint as Home Secretary an individual who has breached security rules and the ministerial code, government ministers went on the airwaves yesterday to claim that she had made a mistake, accepted the fact, and apologised, and that her re-appointment was therefore entirely acceptable. Sunak himself said much the same: “The home secretary made an error of judgement but she recognised that she raised the matter and she accepted her mistake”, before going on to say that she would be cracking down on criminals, such as burglars. Bearing in mind the fact that she deliberately shared a confidential document with someone who had no right to see it, to say nothing of the widespread suggestions that this was actually a pattern of behaviour rather than a one-off, it could presage a whole new approach to crime and punishment. Just imagine the savings for the criminal justice system if the criminals being cracked down upon had merely to admit a mistake, apologise, and resume their criminal activity unhindered. Sunak’s definition of ‘integrity’ seems to differ little from that of Johnson.

Then we have his approach to answering questions in the Commons. There is an old party game in which one person gives the answer to a question and the rest have to work out what the question was – my favourite was “9W”, which was apparently a response to the question, “Mr Wagner, do you spell your name with a ‘V’?”. The idea is that there is at least some possibility of working out how the answer related to the question, but Sunak (like both of his predecessors) seems determined to take it to a new level. According to Hansard, the question to which “I was pleased to have a call last night with the First Minister of Scotland” is the response was “…will he admit his mistake and sack the Home Secretary without delay”. It’s not at all clear that he has understood the rules of the game, but it certainly fits the Tory definition of ‘accountability’. To say nothing of underlining the utter pointlessness of Prime Minister’s Questions.

It shows, though, that he is, at heart, a party animal, always willing to have what passes in his life for fun and games. He’s also joined in the great pensions hokey-cokey. Whether the government is or is not in favour of the triple lock currently seems to change by the hour. It was certainly in the 2019 manifesto, and he’s committed to that manifesto, but was unwilling to commit to this part of it yesterday. His chancellor was unwilling to commit to it just over a week ago, then was, according to last week’s outgoing PM, completely committed to it, but this week is unsure again. It's all part of the Tory definition of creating ‘certainty’.

Integrity, accountability, certainty – three keywords which mean exactly what Sunak wants them to mean. No more, no less. Inside Sunak lurks none other than Humpty-Dumpty.

1 comment:

dafis said...

If this regime of Sunak's, and its immediate predecessors, stopped playing to various unspecified galleries they might get around to addressing real issues rather than symptoms. The triple lock produced an anomaly during Covid mainly due to the recovery of average wages ( in 2021, or was it early 22 ?) As far as I was concerned it was a fair choice to ignore that anomaly and allow one of the other factors to drive the increase. However this current crisis is a different set of circumstances altogether. Triple lock should apply as should indexation of all wages and state benefits. If they wish to exclude certain groups then apply the exclusion to those bankers and other big earners, like politicians, who seem to be immune from any of the harsh conditions inflicted on the rest of us deliberately or by the negligence of our governments institutions and big corporates.