A raft of legislation curtailing the rights of UK citizens sailed through parliament last week on the will of a rogue with barely a murmur from a compliant media that chose instead to focus on the wave of salacious scandals swamping Westminster.
This rogues’ parliament was prorogued on Thursday by the biggest rogue of all – a law-breaking prime minister who lied to the queen, lied to parliament, lied to the British people and yet still occupies the highest office of the land.
Boris Johnson has set the standard so low it’s little wonder his MPs feel free to watch porn in a parliament where tax-payer subsidised bars and toilets throughout the Palace of Westminster are dusted with cocaine. A place where staff are bullied and guilty ministers, such as Priti Patel, get away with it and are emboldened by their leader. A place where 56 MPs face sexual misconduct claims while a Tory peer has her home raided by police probing dodgy PPE contracts and cronyism.
The so-called party of law and order is led by a man fined by the police for law-breaking while his cheerleaders in his cabinet, the right wing press and across the country still back him. The question is why?
Last week’s rush to pass legislation – so effectively obscured by a cloud of scandals thickened by manufactured smears such as ‘#growlergate’ and ‘#beergate’ – provides something of an answer. The new laws have very little, if indeed anything at all to do with the rogue’s so-called ‘levelling-up’ policy given the legislations’ focus is so much about curtailing freedoms and limiting democracy to facilitate the biggest transfer of wealth in history.
The rogue Johnson’s autocratic want
Just nine days after returning from Easter recess, parliamentarians rose again with Thursday’s (April 28) proroguing and they won’t be back until the Queen’s Speech on May 10. But before they returned to their constituencies, ahead of Thursday’s local elections, parliamentarians passed laws that only confirm fears about Johnson’s autocratic want.
Among the highly contentious and controversial pieces of legislation to make it onto the statute book was the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, which restricts the democratic right to peacefully protest. Under the new law, it will now be a criminal offence to cause “serious distress, serious annoyance or serious inconvenience” without “reasonable excuse”. Police have also been handed powers to restrict protests whose “noise” may “cause serious disruption” to nearby organisations. What effective protest in history did not at the very least cause some noise or disruption?
The Judicial Review and Courts Act that passed last week saw MPs voting against a Lords amendment that would have granted bereaved families publicly-funded legal representation at inquests involving public organisations. It means enquiries such as Hillsborough will no longer be possible, thereby protecting the establishment from scrutiny and denying justice to victims.
Johnson’s government also denied journalist’s appeals to include provisions for open justice and transparency in reporting court cases, another alarm bell for anyone concerned with the democratic and just process of law.
Also passed was the Elections Act, part of which will require British voters to show photo-id in order to cast their ballot. Campaigners against the change have argued that it’s a case of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut given how miniscule the issue of voter-fraud is in the UK. Voters without photo-id – largely the poorest members of society – will be disenfranchised. It is hardly levelling up.
The Nationality and Borders Act, to the cheering of right-wing extremists on social media, also passed. The act, infamously, includes powers to send asylum seekers to Rwanda in order to be processed.
The Health and Social Care Bill also progressed through parliament, despite the discord over the highly contentious £86,000 cap on individual contributions towards social care costs. Labour said it is another measure that will hit the poorest members of society hardest, arguing it is “the opposite of levelling up”, because: “Somebody with assets of £100,000 will lose almost everything, while someone with assets of over £1 million will keep almost everything.”
Like a limpet Johnson clings on to power
At any other time in history such a prime minister would be long gone. Indeed, such a rogue as Johnson would never have been elevated to leading the country in the forst place. And yet, despite the UK experiencing its lowest standard of living for decades, its highest tax rate for 70 years, inflation soaring, shop shortages, tax rises, Covid deaths, the Brexit disaster and a cost of living crisis kicking in on top of crises in health, social care, policing, education and everywhere else his government is responsible for, Johnson is still there. He is still in Number 10 with the backing of his party and the UK’s right wing press that’s more concerned about being anti-woke and culture wars than improving life for people.
Like a limpet Johnson clings on to power. The series of sex scandals, misogyny, sleaze, drug use, fraud and of course the partygate furore that have stolen the headlines, epitomises the depths to which standards in the UK have plummeted.