You know how you can feel looking at the news sometimes? Like it’s an avalanche of depressing stories? I feel a bit like that right now. I mean there really isn’t a lot to make you think otherwise. The continued revelations of potential sleaze and/or corruption coming out of Westminster continue to erode whatever confidence was left in our members of Parliament. This has only been exacerbated by Johnson skipping the debate on standards in the house for no reason at all, wandering around a hospital, without a face mask, rather than face up to what one of his own MPs had done. That has spiralled into other stories about possible conflicts of interest from second jobs that MPs may hold. It is a right royal mess, partly of the government’s own making when they came barrelling in trying to sweep the Owen Patterson report under the rug in an unbelievably ham-fisted fashion. People who are far more knowledgeable about the ins and outs of the system and what this all may mean going forward have written about this, so my opinion doesn’t really add much. I just think that this will simply undermine the public’s faith in our politicians even more.
The level of trust that people place in MPs has been decreasing for years. And that erosion of public trust is only damaging the country. With the cash for honours scandal, including rumours that Johnson’s government are doing something similar, and the enormous damage that the expenses scandal did, revealing the very worst of the exploitation of the system, that trust may well be at an all time low. Which is tragic for the country. When someone becomes an MP, they enter a contract of trust with their constituents to represent them and vote on issues on their behalf. That is not what was happening in Owen Patterson’s case, whether he did break the rules or not. The independent commissioner in charge of standards and ethics found that he had been in serious breach of the rules on lobbying. The government then came charging in like a bull in a china shop and tried to first of all ignore the recommended punishment and then tried to ram through changes to the rules that would benefit anyone who happened to be in power. Not to mention the fact that Johnson has several such investigations hanging over his head and serious questions to answer. Questions he is determined not to answer, quite possibly because he knows that he would be found guilty of a similar breach.
Then there is the shambolic situation unfolding at Yorkshire County Cricket Club. They are just continually digging themselves a bigger and bigger hole with the storm of allegations of racism hanging over them. They have handled the whole thing appallingly. From when Azeem Rafiq first made his allegations public to today. From refusing to hand over the report of the independent investigation, trying to downplay the abuse Rafiq suffered as ‘inappropriate behaviour’ and finally just straight up saying that no one would face punishment at all after admitting that the report had found that Azeem Rafiq was the victim of racial harassment. Questions need to be answered somewhere where the answers can be forced into the open. And that will be at the parliamentary inquiry. Parliamentary privilege will be invoked to either force answers to questions or to finally get the full, un-redacted report into the open. For all the progress at highlighting disgraceful incidents like this that has been made over recent years, it has become starkly clear that far more needs to be done to eradicate the very idea that this is acceptable behaviour at any level. And that goes through the whole structure. A couple of former youth players have come forward with allegations that they also suffered racist abuse when they were in the club’s academy. I don’t know what is to be done about this case, but something clearly does need to be done.
I didn’t really know what to write about this time. I like to pick subjects that I feel I have at least a modicum of knowledge in or an opinion to offer. But I had seen my opinion on the major news stories of the last few weeks articulated, so writing them up felt redundant. But there was one bit of news to lift my spirits at least. The new Football Manager was released this week.