While the Coronavirus pandemic has been raging, a variety of ministers from the Tory top team has been put before the public: designated deputy to the Prime Minister Dominic Raab, Michael “Oiky” Gove, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, Health Secretary Matt Hancock and others such as Robert Jenrick have all featured. But there has been one notable exception, and that has been Home Secretary Priti Patel.
Peers like the home affairs select committee, from whom Ms Patel has been hiding since the end of January. As the Guardian has reported, “Yvette Cooper, the chair of the home affairs select committee, has written to Patel six times - most recently in a letter issued on Wednesday - in an attempt to fix a date for the home secretary to give evidence in public to the committee, but a date for a hearing has not been confirmed”.
And that is the minor point that a briefing cuts out those inconvenient things called questions. Questioning ministers is the whole point of having them appear before select committees. It is a key element of Parliamentary democracy, that ministers are not only accountable, but seen to be accountable - warts and all.
What is yet more rich is the hatchet job performed by a “Tory source” that gives the impression of being rather close to Ms Patel: “It's a shame Yvette hasn't adopted the collegiate attitude of her new leader, maybe thats why she didn't get a shad cab job - with a majority as slim as hers, she should probably spend more time speaking to her constituents and less time chasing Guardian headlines”. Sneer. Smear. Smirk.
Anyone might conclude that she was also frightened of being shown up as a gobby lightweight, a bullshitter, and not on top of her brief. I’ll just leave that one there.