Never before has the United Kingdom seen so many political scandals occur in such a short period of time. Politicians have arguably all had their fair share of controversial moments such as Ex-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to respond to claims of antisemitism, Ex-Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg breaking his pledge not to increase tuition fees, and the infamous 2009 Expenses Scandal where the Telegraph exposed the news that MPs from across all the political parties were falsely claiming expenses and misusing public taxpayers money. However, it is not very often that a whole government has experienced scandal after scandal. Yet across the pandemic the current Conservative party has been faced with so many issues of corruption and deceit that the public’s trust in politicians has been eroded.
The first major failure that the Conservatives were faced with was when Dominic Cummings, Chief Advisor to Prime Minister Boris Johnson infamously breached the Covid rules by driving to Barnard Castle in order to “test his eyesight”. He was forced to face up to his actions when he released a statement in the Downing Street Garden. There seemed to be a lack of remorse in his speech with him even claiming that he believed that he “behaved reasonably”. Consequently, Dominic Cummings resigned.
The next member of Boris Johnson’s government to be exposed was Matt Hancock. When Matt Hancock was Health Secretary it was exposed through CCTV footage, leaked by The Sun, that he was having an affair with his colleague and millionaire lobbyist, Gina Coladangeo, breaking his own COVID-19 rules. As a result of his actions, he resigned as Health Secretary. He also broke disclosure rules granting his old neighbour Alex Bourne £50 million worth of contracts for NHS test-and-trace supplies even though he had no experience of producing medical supplies. The Test and Trace service, established in 2020, has had many fatal flaws. In particular, the Test and Trace App and the ‘Pingdemic” that subsequently followed the release of the app, with more than half a million people asked to self-isolate in the week leading up to July 7th, 2021. Despite all of these issues, Hancock still remains a Backbencher in the House of Commons. Surely someone who has broken the rules that they have enforced should be deemed unfit for a career in politics.
At the end of November 2021 the UK erupted in outrage and uproar when it emerged that during Lockdown in 2020, No 10 staff hosted Christmas Party, despite the fact that at the time was London in tier 3 of restrictions. This meant that the law banned gatherings of two or more people indoors unless it was "reasonably necessary" for work. The leaked video from ITV News showed at a rehearsed press conference, Boris Johnson’s press secretary, Allegra Stratton laughing and joking about the parties saying that “This fictional party was a business meeting, and it was not socially distanced." Allegra Stratton resigned over her actions. It is not yet clear how many parties took place over the festive season however it is rumoured that Gavin Williamson hosted a party himself. This is even more shocking when you take into consideration how poorly he performed in his role of Education Secretary, which he lost during the September 2021 Cabinet Reshuffle. During his tenure, he cancelled A-Level and GCSE examinations for students and replaced the system with an algorithm that was designed to combat grade inflation. However, the public outcry made it apparent that the algorithm disadvantaged those from low socioeconomic backgrounds. In retaliation many protests took place from students up and down the country sharing their outrage.
Most recently, it has been revealed that Boris Johnson had been at these ‘Bring Your Own Booze’ parties after denying that they had happened. He claimed that he thought that it was a “work meeting”. As families around the country were grieving and mourning the death of their loved ones, the government were celebrating Boris Johnson’s birthday by having a party at a time when singing indoors was illegal. All of the members of the government should hold their heads in shame about their actions during the Pandemic.
Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, who had previously planned to privatise the NHS, commended the key workers. He clapped on his doorstep every week to show his appreciation but most importantly Boris Johnson praised the Doctors and Nurses who saved his life when he was hospitalised in April 2020 e. He even gave his son the middle names Lawrie and Nicholas to pay tribute to the staff that looked after him when he was in the Intensive Care Unit after being hospitalised with covid. However, when the NHS pay review body asked for a 12.5% increase, they only received a 3% from Health Secretary, Sajid Javid. Was all the appreciation and praise for the NHS just an act? To healthcare workers it seems as though it was. The treatment of the NHS staff during the Covid-19 pandemic has been found wanting and with all of the breaking of covid rules, it is an insult to the key workers and the members of the public who obeyed the rules.
The misconduct from these senior ministers makes it difficult to convince the public to follow the rules - why should they when those who make them can’t even abide by them? We live in a representative democracy, these are the people who are meant to represent us and yet they have a total disconnect with the general public and have broken the law without consequences. Boris Johnson, like many of his Ministers, should resign from his role. How can he govern a nation when he cannot control his own staff?