There’s been an awful lot of political noise over the past week or so. Boris Johnson’s honours list; his resignation; the findings of the Privileges Committee that he did deliberately mislead parliament; all have all meant that we are once again furiously debating the importance of standards in public life.
Over the last few days, the point has been made by some that this Conservative psychodrama doesn’t matter to the general public – it’s a ‘Westminster Bubble’ story that doesn’t affect people’s day to day lives.
I couldn’t disagree more, and I think it’s important to set out why. When I was elected by the people of Tameside, I was chosen to represent them in Parliament. But democratic representation only works if we have functioning democratic institutions, where debates are held with the correct information and politicians are held to account.
What Boris Johnson did was give incorrect information to the House of Commons. He did so knowingly and repeatedly chose not to correct the record. If we let this slide and dismissed it as ‘Boris being Boris’, we would be setting a dangerous precedent that lying in Parliament doesn’t matter.
The similar is true of the honours system. Boris Johnson has handed out various peerages to his friends, some of whom are under 30-years-old and others who boasted about getting away with breaching Covid restrictions in Number 10. A peerage is not just a flashy title, it means that for the rest of your life you are given a seat in the House of Lords, making and scrutinising laws directly effecting ordinary people. That this privilege should be given out to the pals of a disgraced former Prime Minister makes me incredibly angry, and I suspect I am not alone.
So yes, there is an enormous amount to focus on across the country at the moment, but if we let someone ride roughshod over our democratic institutions then we all suffer. I sincerely hope that the current Prime Minister takes a stand against this kind of behaviour, and sends a message that integrity, honesty and accountability are absolutely essential to modern political life in Britain.
If he is too weak to do so, then he should do the decent thing and call a General Election so that the British people can put an end to this Conservative soap opera once and for all.