Monday 20 March 2023

It's parliament that's on trial.

Johnson before the Privileges Committee It is a measure to which British politics has sunk that the media seem to believe that there is at lest a possibility that our ex Prime Minister Johnson might be exonerated by the House of Commons Privileges Committee when he appears before them on Wednesday to claim that he did not knowingly lie to the Commons when he said that that “all lockdown rules were observed” in Downing Street when the series of “Partygate “ events was held. What is at stake is far more than Johnsons reputation, which is soiled beyond repair in the eyes of most of us. It is that of parliament itself. If the committee of seven MPs, four Tories, two Labour and one SNP do not find Johnston guilty of lying, preferably unanimously but at least by a majority, and recommend a sufficiently severe sanction, then our claim to be a liberal democracy is beschmisched. Mr Johnson’s supporters tell the media, and they dutifully report, that he is confident he will receive a clean bill of health. This could be true, as he appears to be a master of self deception. However Andrew Rawlinson in yesterday's Observer (19/03/2300) details the history that shows the facts do not support the claim of confidence. Briefly they are: 1) While still Prime Minister, Johnson did his best to block the reference to the Privileges Committee; 2) When this ploy failed No 10 delayed for months submitting to the Committee the evidence (What’s App records etc) it had requested; 3) By persisting with its requests, the Committee was accused of conducting a “witch hunt”; 4) When the written evidence was eventually produced, it was redacted to such as extent as to be almost meaningless; 5) The Metropolitan Police, after their own investigation, issued 126 fines for breakages of the law, including one to Johnson; 6) When the civil servant Sue Gray was known to have accepted a post with the Labour Party, her report, which had been hailed as impartial, fair and factual, including by Johnson himself, wqas and is now claimed to be biased and unreliable. Mr johnson's presence at several paries is sevidenced by photographs. If ever there was an “open and shut” case, this must be it. Any claim that Johnson “did not know” that he was there, or that it was a "party" is risible. But Johnson has a reputation of being like a “greased piglet.” His attempts to wriggle free could provide material for our satirists for years to come - a fitting end to a “beyond awful” career in politics. We must hope.

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