Every time the deputy Prime Minister Demonic, sorry, Dominic Raab appears on the telly I can’t help but think about one of those crime dramas in which an arrogant area sales manager with a terrible temper and a permanent smirk is spied on by his neighbours in the dead of night, pouring concrete for a new patio shortly after his put upon wife has just gone off ‘for a visit to her parents.’
It might be Raab’s political career which is shortly buried under a hastily built patio, as Rishi Sunak appears to be distancing himself from Raab, who is mired in multiple allegations of bullying and demeaning junior staff in various government departments. Earlier this week ‘Integrity’ Sunak insisted he was not aware of any complaints about Raab’s behaviour when he appointed Raab as deputy Prime Minister in October. A senior civil servant told the press that Raab “has zero self-awareness of what he’s doing, or the impact he is having on the civil servants who have to work with him.” This is a supremely arrogant man, who is both incompetent and inadequate, living off the wits of his subordinates, and making everyone’s life a misery with his furious insecurity. He seems like the kind of boss whose idea of staff motivation is to give them a wedgie and hold their head down the toilet, which may well be how he persuaded Rishi Sunak to give him a job.
However despite his previous denials it now transpires that Sunak was warned about concerns about Raab’s behaviour in his previous departments long before giving him a senior role in his government. Sunak has the same relationship to the truth as his predecessor Boris Johnson, a man whose lies and deceit Sunak was happy to enable for some years only moving against him when he thought he had a chance of taking the top job for himself and Sunak is seeking refuge in a weaselly definition of ‘formal complaint.’ Sunak was not aware of any ‘formal complaints’ against Raab even though he was warned that Raab was the Tory party version Biff Tannen from Back to the Future.
Sunak appointed Suella Braverman even though he knew that she had broken the ministerial code, he appointed Nadhim Zahawi even though he knew there were questions about Zahawi’s tax affairs. He appointed Gavin Williamson, another smirking area sales manager even though allegations about Williamson’s bullying ways were common knowledge on the Conservative benches. And he appointed Dominic Raab despite being warned of allegations about Raab’s behaviour, a man who as foreign secretary refused to return from holiday as the Taliban were approaching Kabul and who denied that he had been paddle boarding as Kabul fell, because he claimed, “The sea was closed.”
Yet Sunak does nothing because he is too weak to act, a hostage to the plotting factions who war with one another on the Conservative back benches. Meanwhile Johnson swans around as though he were still Prime Minister, biding his time until he can plunge a knife into Sunak’s back as Sunak did to him. This is why Sunak is so weak, so afraid to take action about the misbehaviour of his ministers. He is too afraid of gifting Johnson a powerful ally on the back benches.
So Sunak’s government drifts along rudderless and buffeted by one scandal after another, desperately clinging to power in the hope that something might turn up which can turn the Conservatives’ dire polling figures around.
When not refusing to do anything about the appalling behaviour of members of his government and then trying to assure us with all the self confidence of a business consultant whose power point presentation has unaccountably started to display images from the tractor porn pages of Porn Hub that he has acted decisively, Sunak spends his time making equally unconvincing declarations that Brexit has absolutely “nothing to do” with the UK’s ongoing cost-of-living crisis despite figures which show that the UK’s economic outlook is worse than that of similarly sized countries, countries which do not have the benefit of substantial domestic reserves of oil and gas.
However Sunak on Wednesday at PMQs Sunak insisted that the “number one cause” of the cost of living crisis was inflation created by the rise in energy prices as a result of the war in Ukraine, conveniently ignoring the fact that every other country in Europe is also affected by the war in Ukraine, many of them were considerably more dependent on Russian oil and gas than the UK was yet they still have lower inflation than the UK does. Germany’s inflation rate in January was 7.9%, the USA’s was 6.5%, France’s was 6.7%, Italy’s was 10.1%, all of which are lower than the 10.5% reported for the UK.
This week The International Monetary Fund reported that the UK economy will shrink and continue to perform worse than that of other advanced economies, even including Russia, as the cost of living continues to hit households,. The IMF said the economy will contract by 0.6% in 2023, rather than grow slightly as previously predicted, the main cause of this is British Government policy, which perpetuates the economic self-harm of Brexit and which protects the profiteering of the energy companies over protecting households from the rising cost of energy. There is money to invest in public services and in wages for public sector workers, but this government prefers to see it go offshore into the already bloated tax haven bank accounts of the obscenely wealthy. The truth is that the UK does not have a cost of living crisis, it has a cost of Tory crisis.
But then the Labour leader Keir Starmer is quite happy to give a free ride to Sunak over his Brexit denialism because Starmer is equally keen to pander to the pro-Brexit prejudices of voters in the Midlands and North of England. We are all being held hostage to that minority of the electorate which laps up the scare mongering nonsense of the right wing gutter press.
Demonic Raab will most likely be ousted sooner rather than later and another Conservative scandal will be along to take his place in the headlines. Meanwhile both Labour and the Tories will conspire to avoid blaming the B word for the ills which assail the British economy. The only consensus in British politics these days is a consensus of delusion. The Tories would rather burn the entire UK down as they cling to power than call an election and lose office with dignity. The only sane option for Scotland when an election finally comes is to use it to vote for independence.
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