Socialist Worker

Fall of Priti Patel brings vile Tory government one step closer to the brink

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2580

Former international development secretary Priti Patel

Former international development secretary Priti Patel (Pic: Policy Exchange)


Two cabinet ministers have now resigned from their posts in the space of a week. Disgracefully both remain as MPs. The government is in an even deeper crisis.

Defence secretary Michael Fallon went last Wednesday amid allegations of sexual harassment.

The scandal of Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights is bigger than Priti Patel
The scandal of Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights is bigger than Priti Patel
  Read More

Now Priti Patel has resigned as international development secretary after details emerged of her 14 unauthorised meetings with Israeli politicians, officials and organisations. They took place during a “family holiday” in August.

Patel was accompanied by Lord Polak, honorary president of the Conservative Friends of Israel lobby group, which has given the Tories almost £400,000.

On her return, Patel pressed British officials to divert British aid money to the Israeli army to support operations in the Golan Heights which was seized from Syria in 1967. This was the same war that saw Israel begin its occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

Patel’s departure will not calm the government’s crisis. It accelerates it.

Patel was a champion of the hard right in the cabinet and her demise will be bitterly resented by those Tories who are already suspicious that May is “betraying Britain” over Brexit.

The Financial Times newspaper wrote, “Ms Patel was a leading figure in the pro-Brexit campaign and is likely to be a dangerous opponent on the backbenches.”

Until recently Patel was considered as a possible successor to May.

Before becoming an MP, Patel worked for consultancy firm Weber Shandwick where her clients included British American Tobacco (BAT). She was part of a team of spin doctors paid hundreds of thousands of pounds to help BAT counter negative publicity, including that surrounding its joint venture with the Myanmar military regime.

At one time Patel was on the political council of the right wing and Islamophobic British “think tank” the Henry Jackson Society.

Hardline

Her hardline Tory views on immigration, the return of the death penalty and much more meant the Daily Mail, in its sexist way, oozed its admiration for her in an interview last year.

“Her long dark hair is silkily clean, her French manicured nails are immaculate, her crisp blouse is almost as white as her dazzling teeth and her fuchsia skirt matches the fake tulips on her desk.

“If the British people vote Leave, she says: ‘We might be looking at a future with really powerful hair-dryers and vacuum cleaners! All women want both, I’m convinced of that!’”

Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage tweeted that Patel’s resignation was “very sad. She’s a good woman and a leading Brexiteer in the Cabinet”.

Patel’s gone, but why hasn’t Boris Johnson? His reckless comments in the Commons may have doubled the jail term for a British woman in Iran.

And May’s deputy Damian Green faces allegations he behaved inappropriately with a female Tory activist and kept “extreme porn” on a computer in his office.

May’s regime is falling apart. But she staggers on. And every day the Tories inflict more pain. Real lives get wrecked because of their continuing rule.

In the same week that Fallon resigned a grieving mother wrote on Facebook about the death of Elaine Morrall.

Claimants speak out - ‘Tory Universal Credit means I have no money to buy food’
Claimants speak out - ‘Tory Universal Credit means I have no money to buy food’
  Read More

“My daughter died on 2 November, 2017 at home on her own. In the cold with her coat and scarf on.

"Because she wouldn’t put her heating on until her kids came home from school. Why?? Because she couldn’t afford it.

“Because she was severely depressed. Suffered from eating disorder and many other problems for many years.

“But she was deemed not ill enough for ESA [Employment and Support Allowance]. Had her benefits stopped numerous times, which in turn stopped her housing benefit.

“No income but expected to be able to pay full rent. Was told being in intensive care was not sufficient reason for failing to attend a Universal Credit interview.

“I went to the job centre to inform them that she couldn’t attend. But benefits stopped again.”

This rotten government has to go now. Instead of just watching the Tories’ torments, Labour and the trade unions should be calling protests and strikes to get them out.


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