Bang to rights. But his pals want him to be let off
You read that right. Paterson, whose behaviour is reminiscent of the “cash for questions” scandal that did for disgraced former Tory MP Mostyn Neil Hamilton, described by the late George Carmen QC as “on the make, and on the take”, has decided that it’s all so unfair on Himself Personally Now. Now his fellow Tories want sleaze to be normalised.
Brown envelopes stuffed with used notes? The corruption followed by perjury that did for the likes of Jonathan Aitken? The disgrace of Liam Fox? And talking of the disgraced former minister Liam Fox, he is one of those who has put their name to an amendment introduced by former failed leadership candidate Andrea Leadsom.
Corrupt press rather likes the idea of corruption No Shock Horror
Dan Bloom of the Mirror noted “This means Tory MPs will line up tomorrow to block the suspension of one of their own over 'egregious' breaches of Commons rules. 59 have signed it and the [Telegraph] reports Tory whips have told MPs to back it”. The Tel’s front page report is authored by Christopher “No” Hope of New Royal Yacht Compulsion infamy, and Camilla Tominey, who smeared the Duchess of Sussex with a fake terrorism “link”.
The amendment sets out the Tories’ favoured course of action: a Select Committee loaded in their favour and chaired by John Whittingdale. That’s the same John Whittingdale who claimed to have met two women on Match Dot Com who turned out to be sex workers, one of whom he brought along to a bash within the Palace of Westminster.
So who’s signed on to the Leadsom Amendment? There’s Bob “Permanently intoxicated and very inappropriate with women” Stewart, the disgraced Liam Fox, Lee “Facebook page a cesspool of racism” Anderson, Ben “Cultural Marxism” Bradley, Bob “the bigot” Blackman, Mark François (note cedilla under the c), the legendarily dishonest Iain Duncan Cough, wacko Desmond Swayne, and Dehenna “not really far right” Davison, for instance.
Shadow leader of the house Thangam Debbonaire has asserted that this would mean a return to the worst of early 1990s Tory sleaze. But she got that one wrong: in the early 90s, Tories actually did the right thing and resigned when caught. What is being proposed is to make sure no-one resigns, however egregious their corrupt behaviour.
As Henry Mance of the FT has put it, “Don’t like election rules? Weaken the Electoral Commission … don’t like impartial news reporting? Weaken the BBC … don’t like your mates being punished for breaking lobbying rules? Propose a ridiculous replacement system on the same day a Tory MP is due to be suspended”.
One can imagine updating that scene from The Italian Job: Mr Bridger orders Camp Freddie to obtain the services of a Tory MP. He protests “What if our Tory MP isn’t bent?” to which Mr Bridger responds “Freddie, everybody in the Parliamentary Conservative Party is bent”. Except that was funny, and what is now being done is not. Sleaze on steroids.
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