Just as embattled prime minister Boris Johnson averted political decapitation, he stumbles into yet more scandal, corruption and crisis—a toxic cocktail of his own making. Johnson was staring down the barrel of by-elections in Wakefield and Tiverton set for Thursday of this week.
The circumstances of both by-elections expose who represents Johnson’s Tory party. In Wakefield voters will replace Tory Imran Ahmed Khan, who in April was found guilty of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old. And in Tiverton and Honiton the electorate are finding a replacement for Neil Parish. He resigned after he was caught watching pornography in parliament.
Meanwhile, Johnson has been rumbled by historic revelations that date back to when he was foreign secretary. It’s emerged he tried to bag a job for his then-lover Carrie Symonds as his chief of staff on a salary of at least £100,000 a year. Yet instead of jumping on this explosive and highly damaging revelation, some journalists seemed oddly reluctant to run with it.
The Daily Mail newspaper was offered the exclusive but turned it down. The person who supplied the story was told it didn’t accord with the newspaper’s “general point of view”. Rupert Murdoch’s Times was next. Its journalist Simon Walters investigated, and promptly identified four allies of Johnson who confirmed it. Walters quoted one of Johnson’s senior foreign office staffers as saying, “An illicit relationship with Carrie was none of our business. Making her chief of staff was definitely our business.”
Three of Johnson’s aides—including Ben Gascoigne, now one of his deputy chiefs of staff—threatened to resign over the proposed appointment. Walters got the story into the Times on page five last Saturday. MailOnline, conscious that it couldn’t ignore such a big issue once it was public, duly followed it up. Johnson was in Kiev, Ukraine, when he heard that the story was about to break and quickly forgot all about president Volodymyr Zelensky’s problems.
He got his staff on the case and the story was removed from later editions of Saturday’s Times. The story promptly disappeared from MailOnline too. The lives of ordinary people can seem a million miles away from the deceit and corruption of the scum at the top of society. But they do impact each other.
The sleaze dripping from every pore of the Tory Party should infuse a spirit of resistance from below, which can deliver a punch back at those who lord it over us. And the sight of tens of thousands of rail workers shutting down one of the central arteries of British society will terrify the government. United working class action is a way to fight back to improve individual jobs, pay and conditions. It is also the way to fight back against our Conservative Party enemies.
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