The sleaziness at the heart of Boris Johnson’s government should surprise nobody (It’s taken just 12 months for Boris Johnson to create a government of sleaze, 7 August). In the months leading up to his becoming leader of the Tory party, revelations about Johnson’s unreliability, dishonesty, self-interest and lack of concern for others filled many column inches in this paper and elsewhere.
But things are different now that he has his hands on the levers of power and an unassailable majority – secured off the back of not being Jeremy Corbyn and a promise to “level up” the regions. While success in the first objective was guaranteed, the prospect of rebalancing the relationship between London and the rest of the country was always likely to present a much bigger challenge – even before the pandemic.
While his chief adviser has roots in the Barnard Castle area, Johnson’s cluster of contacts – the “networkocracy” that he so depends on – are firmly rooted in the prosperous south, based on education, journalism and the Westminster coterie. There will be many more dodgy contracts like those uncovered by the Good Law Project, unless and until standard procurement processes are reinstated – an obvious job for a constructive opposition.
• I read Jonathan Freedland’s detailed and excellent summation of the way contracts and honours have been awarded in recent months by the government very shortly after I had emailed Anneliese Dodds precisely to urge the Labour party to do more to expose this pattern of behaviour.
I don’t understand why people still shy away from the word “corruption” in describing the awarding of contract after contract to friends, relatives and financial supporters of the government without any pretence of competitive tendering, or of checking the capacity and experience of the companies to carry out the work for which they are being paid. If this was any other country, corruption is the only word we would be using.
Rochdale, Greater Manchester
• Why are there no demonstrations – socially distanced or not – about the state of affairs so well described by Jonathan Freedland? Keir Starmer rightly avoids being drawn into the prime minister’s operatic style of politics, but in any case this is not just a party matter; it is a constitutional one. It is not for Dominic Cummings to justify his conduct to the public, but for his elected employer, Boris Johnson. However, as the latter’s refusal to produce the evidence exonerating Cummings of the latest accusation concerning lockdown rules shows once again, he treats parliament and the public with contempt. How then can there be any accountability?
Are there no respected figures, from any party or none, willing to get up and lead a principled, non-partisan protest against this greasepaint parody of democratic government? There must be enough people of integrity around who feel it is time to make a stand, even among the ruling party. Surely. No?
• Given the ever lengthening list of failed pandemic procurements, with the latest being the £156m wasted on 50m face masks unsuitable for the NHS, is it time to ask where that supposedly non-partisan body is that believes wasting taxpayers’ money is “unacceptable and immoral”? Just when the Taxpayers’ Alliance could have a role, it seems to have vanished.
Much Wenlock, Shropshire
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