The smell of corruption

In 2020, I wrote in The Times that, if the pattern continued of the Johnson government refusing to be held to account, “corruption – both political and financial – will seep into the national bloodstream”

Today you can smell corruption in the words and deeds of far too many of the Conservative Party. Not just financial corruption (on which others have written plenty), but the corruption of power.

We’re in a dangerous place when it's so ubiquitous that you barely notice it, that you “price it in”. And, most disturbingly, when you start to realise that the people displaying signs of it don’t even realise that that's what they’re doing.

That what seems clearly wrong to the rest of the world, and would have done to traditional Conservatives, is seen as perfectly acceptable by many in the party today.

When the Prime Minister lies systematically and repeatedly, and his party do nothing to force him out, that smells of corruption.

When a senior ally of the Prime Ministers calls on the Metropolitan Police to use their discretion because they shouldn’t be “deciding who the next prime minister is”, that smells of corruption.

When the Attorney General obfuscates about whether the Prime Minister should face consequences if he has broken the law, that smells of corruption.

When a Conservative MP implies to the Mayor of Greater Manchester that he shouldn’t criticise the Government if he's in receipt of public money and wants some more, that smells of corruption.

When Conservative whips are alleged to have said that an MP’s voting record will affect money for their constituency, that smells of corruption.

When the Conservatives attach their logo to a message about how they’ve spent public money, that smells of corruption.

When even the slightest hint is given to a Conservative MP or donor about knighthoods or peerages in exchange for favours, that smells of corruption.

So, yes, this sort of corruption IS in the bloodstream now, slowly poisoning our politics and society. We need those Tories who know it to find some courage (and it takes courage to be a lone voice amongst your peers) and to start calling it out. There’s no time to lose.

Originally tweeted by Richard Haviland (@rfhaviland) on 12/02/2022.