In the looking-glass world of today’s Tory politics, Priti Patel, sacked by Theresa May after it was revealed that she was conducing her own foreign policy independently of the Foreign Office, has been appointed Home Secretary. It is the kind of move which has made even Diane Abbott’s most vicious detractors stop and think. Sadly, Ms Patel’s elevation to one of the great offices of state has not improved her memory.
So it was that she told the Daily Mail last month “that she has never supported the death penalty”. Even the Mail was not having that, and pointed out that she gave an interview to its sister paper, the Mail on Sunday, shortly after being selected as a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, where she had said something very different.
Indeed, the interview with the MoS, under the by-line of Simon Walters, was headlined “'Restore death penalty and never scrap the pound' says Priti Patel”. The article went on to tell “The woman chosen as the Tories' first female Asian candidate has revealed how she fought off her rivals - by pledging to restore the death penalty”. Mind you, it also claimed “Ms Patel, whose parents were driven out of Uganda by Idi Amin”, which they weren’t.
Walters continued “She won cheers at the selection meeting by saying she backed restoring capital punishment … ‘The punishment must fit the crime and yes, I do support capital punishment’”. She also claimed, in an infamous Question Time appearance - the one where Private Eye editor Ian Hislop took apart her argument in short order - “I would support the reintroduction of capital punishment to serve as a deterrent”.
And so it came to pass that our new Home Secretary appeared on yesterday’s edition of The Andy Marr Show™. And, at the end of the interview, the inevitable question was pitched. “At a press conference this week that you said you had never supported capital punishment … It’s absolutely fine to change your mind on something but let’s be straight with us and honest with us about why you did” offered Marr.
Ms Patel responded with an unforced error. “Actually what I said on Monday is that I’ve never in my time as a Member of Parliament been an advocate of it, so that is fundamentally different”. But she was an MP when she appeared on Question Time and said she supported the reintroduction of capital punishment “as a deterrent”.
She then conceded to Marr that she had changed her mind. But once again, there was an unforced error: “But on this particular issue I have never in my time as a Member of Parliament been an advocate at all of that”. Except she was.
Priti Patel lied to the Daily Mail - and even the Daily Mail felt the need to point out her dishonesty, although the L-Word was omitted. She then lied to Andrew Marr, live on BBC1. Peter Oborne said yesterday that he was “Looking into this one for the dossier” - to perhaps add Ms Patel’s exhibition of dishonesty to his rapidly growing list of political lying.
Well, he now has the green light to go right ahead and add it in. Because Ms Patel has shamelessly lied about her past support for the death penalty. Twice.
That makes her ideal material for Bozo The Clown’s cabinet. I’ll just leave that one there.
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