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Thursday 9 April 2020

Priti Patel - Too Important for Democracy

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.
With law and order problems during the lockdown, visa extensions for non-British NHS staff, and Covid-19 rampaging through the prison system, it might have been thought that Ms Patel would be only too keen to be seen leading her team. But that thought would have been misplaced: not only is she apparently reluctant to be seen leading from the front, she’s also not too keen to be held accountable by her peers.

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”.
Ms Patel has, it seems, tried to fob Ms Cooper off with a briefing instead: “On 7 April, Patel wrote to Cooper defending the [briefing] proposal, which she argued ‘strikes an important balance between ensuring the department receives that vital scrutiny, while ensuring the committee can receive operationally sensitive, and sometimes classified, updates at this time of national emergency”. But there is a problem with this approach.

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.
Instead, Ms Patel, currently under fire over charges of bullying, is trying to play the victim, telling Ms Cooper “I am disappointed at the increasingly adversarial tone of our exchanges”. Considering that she failed to reply to at least four of the six requests made to her, that, as the late John Smith might have put it, is a bit rich.

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.
Holding the Government to account is Ms Cooper’s job, and she does it with the full approval and backing of her party leader. Or, as Anand Menon put it, “Priceless. Spend more time in your constituency and less trying to, er, scrutinise what the government is doing”. Priti Patel is frit. Frit of scrutiny. And therefore frit of democracy.

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.
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Steve Woods said...

Essential reading for the elusive MS Patel: the UK-specific section of Wikipedia's page on contempt of parliament.

Anonymous said...

Never trust anybody with an arse as fat as hers.

You could stack chairs on it.

Still, gammons were stupid enough to vote her in. So now they don't matter.

Arnold said...

To be fair, her permanent smirk doesn't go with announcing bad news. A plastic surgeon might be working on the problem right now.

AndyC said...

Whilst her arrogant refusal to appear is wholly in character, and she is clearly afraid to have her inadequacies exposed even more, there can be little doubt that her non-appearance at the SC or daily televised briefings is more down to the rest of the bunch knowing her smirking, disdainful and shallow persona would be a disaster during these times when even a semblance of empathy and sympathy is required from members of the govt who are on show to the public.

rob said...

T#would appear that Twitter is more interested in whataboutery as it's Yvette Copper that is trending and brought all the right wing (and possibly a few lefties too?)trolls out in force.

Nevertheless the Streisand Effect may have unintended consequences!

Anonymous said...

Ugli and Cooper are cut from the same cloth.

The only difference is the Hunt-Shapps-type rictus grin.

rob said...

I see all those who used to accuse others of not supporting the elected dear leader are now not supporting the appointments made by the newly elected dear leader.

But not really surprising as the Labour Party is still a broad church with those on one wing entirely hostile to those on the other.

Will those who advised those who didn't agree withn the old leader or his policies to leave the Party or support the new leader, who has only just arrived, take their own advice?

To continue to be a broad church or dissolve into it's various factions?

The funny old world of Labour Politics!

Anonymous said...

Fuck off ya sad twat.