Fṛm Đ Gardịn: Don’t call it sleaze, call it corruption – why scandal haunts Boris Johnson’s government

The behaviour of Boris Johnson’s government does not bear comparison with the scandals that felled the Major administration – it is much, much worse. Composite: Guardian/Getty Images
Ɖ bhevyr v Boris Jonsn’z guvnmnt dz nt ber cmparisn wɖ ɖ scandlz ɖt fld ɖ Mejr admiṇstreśn – it z mć, mć wrs. Comṗ̣zit: Gardịn/Geti Iṃjz

D’nt cōl it slīz, cōl it c’rupśn – ẃ scandl hōnts Boris Jonsn’z guvnmnt

(Transcription of an article published in the Guardian on 16 December 2021)

Fṛm contracts fr mêts t flat mc-ovrz n ilisit partiz, bérli a de pasz wɖt a crîsis at Nu 10. Bt yzñ ɖ tablôd lanḡj v ɖ 90z dz’nt scrać ɖ srfis v ɖs guvnmnt’s sinz

Jonathan Freedland

Joṇʈn Frīdḷnd, Ʈrzde 16 Dsmbr 2021

Ʈnc v boncñ. Nt ɖ activti, bt ɖ wrd. Az a śorthand fr sx, it wz popyḷrîzd, f nt invntd, bî ɖ tablôd pres in ɖ 90z – bac ɖen, “Boncñ Boris” rfŕd t a formr Wimbldn ćampịn rɖr ɖn a fyćr prim̦inistr. Y cn si ẃ it apild. “Boncñ” slipt īẓli undr ɖ bar pṛhibtñ xplītivz in faṃli nyzpeprz; it sǎndd fun rɖr ɖn porṇgrafic. It wz clir n d’rect, yt hd ol ɖ advantjz v yḟmizm.

Nǎ ʈnc v slīz. Az it hapnz, ɖt wrd pformd a similr rǒl in ɖ sem pirịd. It cd b hrld at poḷtiśnz – sṗsificli ɖ Cnsrṿtiv guvnmnt v Jon Mejr – reḷtivli fri v līgl risc. Y cd se a MP or ministr wz “mîrd in slīz” wɖt hvñ t pruv ɖt ɖe hd brocn a sṗsific lw. It wz handi.

N it dd gret srvis in ɖ 1990z. It bcem a cać-ol fr evrʈñ fṛm criminl roñduwñ t an xtṛmaṛtl “ʈri-in-a-bed romp” – t dplô anɖr tablôd frêz v ɖ ej – n sjstd moṛl dce in a Tori parti ɖt hd bn in pǎr fr ɖ bst part v tū decedz. It leid ɖ grǎnd fr ɖ landslîd Lebr vicṭri v 1997, in part bî sjstñ ɖt it wz nt onli tîm fr a ćenj v guvnmnt, bt tîm fr a clir-ǎt, īvn a clenzñ v ǎr public lîf.

Nǎ “slīz” z bac. “ŚEMLIS MPz SNC BAC INTU SLĪZ,” rord ɖ Dêli Meil in rli Nvmbr (ɖo tecñ cer nt t mnśn ɖ MPz’ parti afilieśn: ɖ pepr wz nt yt redi t spīc v “Tori slīz”). Wns agn, az it wz a qortr-snć̣ri ago, slīz z an umbreḷwrd, undr ẃć cn śltr a fl renj v sinz. It xtndz fṛm Boris Jonsn’z wōlpepr t ɖ multibiłn-pǎnd PPI contracts handd ǎt t poḷtiśnz’ mêts, fṛm a prim̦iṇstirịl hoḷde in Marbella t ɖ insṭleśn v Tori alîz in ci public jobz.

Bt it’s ɖ roñ wrd.

Ɖ xpḷneśn fr ẃ it’s roñ, n ẃ ɖt roñnis matrz, z a têl v modn Britn, fl v leyrz n loyrz, v ćīts n ćansrz, v poḷtiśnz on ɖ mc n on ɖ tec, v sīcrit luv’ferz, mstirịs midlmen n ɖ p’reńl tmteśnz v pǎr, muni n sx. It’s a stori ɖt rvilz hǎ mć ɖ poḷtics v ɖs cuntri n its dominnt parti hv ćenjd – n hǎ ɖ crîmz v ɖ past hv cm t lc olmst qent nxt t ɖ mć gretr crîmz cmitd in ɖ hir n nǎ.

It starts in 1993 wɖ Mejr’z clozñ’dres t ɖ Cnsrṿtiv parti confṛns in Blacpūl. Ɖ parti hd bn roct bî Blac Wnzde a yir rlịr, a cuṛnsicrîsis ɖt śc ɖ public’s feʈ in ẃt hd bn ɖ Tōriz’ strongist sūt: ɖer repyteśn fr ic̣nomic compitns. “Ɖ cabiṇt wr ʈncñ, ‘Ẃt cn w d t bolstr ǎr cṛdnślz, ptiklrli wɖ ǎr ǒn ppl?’” Edwīna Cúri, a formr ministr, ɖen on ɖ bac-bnćz, tlz m. Ɖ ansr wz a rtrn t Cnsrṿtiv frst prínsiplz.

From left: Matt Hancock, Neil Hamilton and Jonathan Aitken. Composite: Guardian/PA/Getty Images
Fṛm left: Mát Hancoc, Nìl Hamiltn n Joṇʈn Etcn. Comṗ̣zit: Gardịn/PA/Geti Iṃjz

“Ɖ old valyz – nebrlinis, dīsnsi, crṭsi – ɖ’r stl alîv, ɖ’r stl ɖ bst v Britn,” Mejr tld hiz ōdịns. “Ɖe hv’nt ćenjd, n yt smhǎ ppl fīl imbaṛst bî ɖm. W śd’nt b. It z tîm t rtrn t ɖoz old cor valyz, tîm t gt bac t besics, t slf-diṣplin n rspct fr ɖ lw, t cnsiḍreśn fr uɖrz, t axptñ a rsponsbiḷti fr yrslf n yr faṃli n nt śuḟlñ of on uɖr ppl n ɖ stet.”

Ɖr wz no mnśn v sx or sngl-peṛnt faṃliz, bt ɖ tōc v “rsponsbiḷti” n “faṃli” wz inuf t enśur ɖ frêz “bac t besics” wz hŕd az a cōl fr a rtrn t Victorịn standdz v prsnl mraḷti. It mnt eni dīvieśn fṛm ɖt standd wz evidns v hipocṛsi, n ɖrfr ɖ l’jitiṃt subjict v jrṇlistic inqîri. Ɖ prim̦inistr mt az wel hv snt ǎt stif, imbost cardz t Flīt Strīt’s tablôd editrz, invîtñ ɖm t rumij in ɖ prîṿt lîvz v hiz MPz.

Cúri smîlz at ɖ meṃri v it. Ś sz ɖt ẃn “bac t besics” wz bròt t ɖ cabiṇt – ś sspcts it wz ɖ invnśn v Jon Redwŭd – ɖ PM’z rspons śd hv bn imīɉt. “Ẃt Jon Mejr śd hv dn wz lc arnd ɖ tebl wɖ a slîtli rezd îbrǎ n se, ‘Wel, handz p evrbdi hir hu’z prfict, huz prsnl lîf z prfict.’” H wd nt hv bn ebl t rêz hiz ǒn hand: in ɖ lêt 80z, h hd hd a for-yir xtṛmaṛtl afer v hiz ǒn wɖ, az it hapnd, Edwīna Cúri. “Ɖt’s ẃt’s cōld slf-dspśn,” ś sz nǎ.

A fy munʈs lêtr, Mejr wz despṛtli insistñ ɖt “bac t besics” wz nt “a crūsed abt prsnl mraḷti”, bt bî ɖen it wz tù lêt. Fṛm ɖ momnt h hd got t hiz fīt in Blacpūl, rît untl ɖ ilex́n v 1997, it wz opn sīzn. Ć wīc sīmd t brñ anɖr reṿleśn v ɖ gap btwn ɖ Cnsrṿtivz’ public reṭric n ɖ prîṿt riaḷti.

It mt b ɖ nyz ɖt jūńr trnsportministr Stīv Noris hd bn hvñ simlteńs aferz wɖ ʈri difṛnt wimin, in adiśn t ɖ tū loñ-trm “mistṛsz” at hiz sîd bfr ɖt, a sićueśn capćrd bî ɖ red-top hedlîn: YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, MINISTR!!! Or it cd b ɖ reṿleśn ɖt invîrnmntministr Tim Yo hd faɖrd a ćîld ǎtsd marij, īvn az h hd spocn pubḷcli v ɖ nīd t rdys ɖ numbr v sngl peṛnts.

Hipocṛsi wz ɖ ʈred ɖt ran ʈru n cnctd evrwn v ɖz eṗsodz. Ɖ Tōriz wr ɖ parti v Sx́n 28, pṛhibtñ ɖ “pṛmośn v hoṃsx́uaḷti” in scūlz. Yt ɖ tablôdz faund ɖt Devid Aśbi MP hd śerd a hotel bed wɖ a man on a rugbitur, Jeri Héiz MP hd hd a rleśnśp wɖ a mć yungr man n Rićd Sprñ MP hd bn còt in bed wɖ bʈ a man n ɖt man’z grlfrend. Fr a ẃl in ɖ mid-1990z, it bcem a Súnde rićl: opn p ɖ Nyz v ɖ Wrld n si ẃć Tori hd bn xpozd az a rejñ hiṗcrit.

In amñ ol ɖt wr reṿleśnz v roñduwñ v a qt difṛnt nećr. Ɖ Gardịn dscuvrd ɖt Nìl Hamiltn MP wz biyñ sīcṛtli peid bî a lobiist, n ɖt h hd rsivd ʈǎznd v pǎndz – in caś, stuft intu enṿlops – fṛm Haṛdz ǒnr Mhamid Al Fîed, in rtrn fr ascñ qsćnz fevṛbl t Haṛdz on ɖ flor v ɖ Hǎs v Comnz. Uɖr MPz wr in ɖ caś-fr-qsćnz biznis, tù, bt Hamiltn sn bcem ɖ fes v ɖ scandl, nt līst bcz h traid t dnî it.

Lêtr Hamiltn wz jônd in noṭrayti bî Joṇʈn Etcn, hu hd alaud eidz v ɖ Sǎdi royl faṃli t pe hiz £1,000 bil fr a ste at ɖ Paris Ríts in Sptmbr 1993 – a gift ɖt wz fbidn, gvn ɖt h wz ɖ ministr in ćarj v dfnspṛkrmnt at ɖ tîm, n wz ɖrfr bánd fṛm rsivñ fevrz ɖt mt ples him undr an obḷgeśn. Lîc Hamiltn, h dnaid ɖ Gardịn’z acǎnt v ivnts, n wz ivnć̣li jeld fr prɉri.

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Ol v ɖz storiz wr capćrd bî ɖ sngl wrd “slīz”, n ɖe set ɖ tyn fr ɖ 1997 campen ɖt swept Toni Bler t pǎr. N yt tōc nǎ t Aḷster Cambl, hu srvd ɖen az Bler’z preșecṛtri, n y’l hír him se tū arestñ ʈñz abt ɖ hol biznis.

Ɖ frst z ɖt Bler wz a rluctnt worịr agnst slīz. “Toni wz olwz wurid abt gwñ on ɖs,” h sz. Nt jst ɖ sx́l stuf, bt īvn ɖ fnanśl roñduwñ. “F ol y g on z slīz, ɖ public wl ʈnc ɖt’s ol y cer abt.” Cambl b’livz, inṣdnṭli, ɖt ɖr’z a lésn hir fr Cir Starmr: Bler cept himslf slîtli abv ɖ fre, līvñ ɖ slīztōc t uɖrz, alawñ ɖ līdr t foc̣s on Lebr’z cor meṣjz on crîm, jobz n edyceśn.

Bt hiz secnd obẓveśn z ɖ importnt wn. “Ẃt ɖs lot r dwñ z in a difṛnt līg fṛm Jon Mejr n hiz lot.”

H’z rît. “Slīz” z nt ɖ rît lebl fr ɖ bhevyr v Boris Jonsn’z guvnmnt, ćīfli bcz ɖt bhevyr dz nt ber cmparisn wɖ ɖ scandlz ɖt fld ɖ Mejr admiṇstreśn. Nt bcz, az ɖ Tori ćirlīdrz at ɖ Teḷgraf or Xpres wd hv y b’liv, tde’z msconduct z nt az bad bt, on ɖ contrri, bcz it z mć, mć wrs. Yes, ɖ sx́l reṿleśnz v ɖ 1990z xpozd a florid hipocṛsi, ẃl ɖ Hamiltn n Etcn aferz involvd a sirịs btreyl v ɖ public trust. Bt ɖ ćarjśīt agnst Jonsn z on a difṛnt scel. Hipocṛsi z a ʈīm wns agn, v cors, tiṗfaid bî ɖ Barnard Casl n Dǎnñ Strīt Crisṃs parti rǎz – ɖ guvnmnt brecñ ɖ rūlz it hd impozd on evrwn els, in ɖ latr ces nocñ bac ɖ būz n pleyñ gemz ẃl ɖ rest v ɖ cuntri wz loct dǎn n, ofn, alon. Bt bgin wɖ ɖ mîldist akześnz agnst ɖ prim̦inistr – ẃć, paṛdoxicli, r olso ɖ wnz ɖt hv cut ʈru most śarpli t ɖ public. Ẃt’s sgnificnt z ɖt ɖe rlet nt t no-marc bac-bnćrz or prīvịsli uņoun jūńr ministrz, az most v ɖ 90z storiz dd, bt t ɖ man at ɖ top.

Ɖ matr v hu peid fr Jonsn’z £840-a-rol dzînrwōlpepr fr hiz apartmnt in Dǎnñ Strīt, or fr hiz hoḷdez in Mustique or Marbella, me sīm trivịl, bt it gz t an importnt qsćn, ɖ sem wn ɖt pruvd Etcn’z unduwñ. F eni ministr, includñ ɖ prim̦inistr, rsivz smʈñ v valy, ɖen w’nt ɖe fīl bholdn t ɖer beṇfactr? N f ɖe d, ɖen hu, ultiṃtli, wl ɖe b srvñ – ɖ public inṭrest or ɖ prsn ɖe o?

Jonsn’z loñ rfyzl t dscloz ɖ îdntti v hiz jenṛs frendz – onli rvilñ undr intns preśr ɖt ɖ Nu 10 refurb hd bn fundd bî Tori donr Lord Brǎnlo or ɖt ɖ pṛvîdr v hiz lux̣́ri Spaniś vila wz ɖ faṃli v Tori pir Zac Goldsmiʈ – adz t ɖ cnsrn. Ẃ ɖ rluctns t cm clīn f ɖr’z nʈñ t hîd?

Bac in ɖ 1990z, ɖr wr no sć qsćnz asct abt ɖ PM himslf: it wz ol abt hiz sborḍnets. Indd – n ɖs z ɖ secnd ci difṛns btwn nǎ n ɖen – ẃn hiz ministrz wr faund t hv brocn ɖ rūlz, Mejr ʈrù ɖ bc at ɖm, ivnć̣li setñ p a ny standdzproses ɖt hz indyrd t ɖs de. Bt ẃn ɖ ardnt Brexitr n formr cabiṇtministr Own Paṭsn wz faund t hv ingejd in ẃt wz a fbidn, rićli rwordd n “igrījs ces v peid advc̣si”, t qot ɖ Comnz invstgeśn intu hiz lobiyñ, Jonsn’z rspons wz ɖ vri oṗzit: h dd’nt ʈro ɖ rūl-bc at Paṭsn bt dmandd hiz MPz vot t rip it p. H wontd t let Paṭsn of ɖ hc. Onli a naśnl ǎtcrî forst him t bac dǎn.

Mejr himslf drù ɖ contrast ẃn, in a rer inṭvnśn last munʈ, h spouc v ɖ “pen n anḡś” h hd indyrd ovr slīz mor ɖn 25 yirz ago. “Ɖ strîcñ difṛns z ɖs: in ɖ 1990z I set p a cmiti t tacl ɖs sort v bhevyr,” h tld ɖ Tde program. “Ovr ɖ last fy dez w hv sìn tde’z guvnmnt trayñ t dfnd ɖs sort v bhevyr … It nīdz t b stopt.”

Stl, ẃt pts ɖ conduct v ɖ cuṛnt admiṇstreśn intu an intîrli difṛnt caṭgri – wn il-sūtd t so jntl a trm az slīz – rlets nt t ɖ doji bhevyr v indivijlz, bt t ɖ conduct v ɖ guvnmnt itslf. Ẃn y lc at ɖt, y riylîz ɖ wrd “slīz” wl nt d – ɖt it miṇmîzz ɖ probḷm, ɖt it pts ẃt z haṗ̣nñ nǎ on a par wɖ a Tori ministr sucñ ɖ toz v hiz actris-luvr ẃl wẹrñ fl Ćlsi strip (t sáit tū dītelz v ɖ scandl ɖt hlpt dfeṇstret ɖen heṛtijsecṛtri, Devid Melr, bʈ dītelz invntd ǎt v hol cloʈ bî pubḷsist Max Cliḟd).

Y lc at ɖt n y ʈnc: d’nt cōl ɖs slīz, cōl it ẃt it z – c’rupśn.

From left: David Cameron, Geoffrey Cox and Owen Paterson. Composite: Guardian/Getty Images/Reuters/Sportsphoto/Allstar
Fṛm left: Devid Camṛn, Jefri Cox n Own Paṭsn. Comṗ̣zit: Gardịn/Geti Iṃjz/Rôtrz/Sportsfoto/Olstar

T si ɖ probḷm clirli, it pez t stér hard at ɖ guvnmnt’s rspons t ɖ globl pandemic ɖt struc wīcs aftr Jonsn’z big ilex́nwin in Dsmbr 2019. In ɖoz frst, panict dez v Covid, ministrz scrambld t gt hold v ɖ prsnl pṛtctiv iqipmnt (PPI) doctrz n nrsz nīdd t ste sef: gluvz, gǎnz, mascs. T ɖ public it lct lîc a wortîm reqziśndrîv, wɖ Ẃîthōl rîtli strećñ evri siny t enśur ɖ fruntlîn wz proprli pṛtctd.

Bt ẃt ɖ public dd’nt si wz ɖt, t ɖoz in ɖ nǒ, ɖt frst srj v ɖ vîṛs wz a goldruś. Ontṛpṛnŕz stampīdd t rīć ny t’ren ɖt hld apaṛntli unliṃtd rzrvz v taxpeyrz’ muni. Ẃt’s mor, axes t ɖoz rićz dd nt rqîr eni nǒhǎ or tracrecord in PPI mańfacćr, bt simpli cnx́nz t ɖ Cnsrṿtiv parti.

Ɖ sṗsific cesz r î-popñ, bròt intu ɖ dêlît bî, amñ uɖrz, ɖ Gd Lw Project, an iniṣ́tiv fǎndd n run bî ɖ Twitr-frendli formr taxloyr Jolịn Mōm. Hvñ md a tîdi fortyn dfndñ ɖ ofn ilabṛt tax’renjmnts v ɖ wlʈi, Mōm nǎ tecs a saḷri ɖt h dscrîbz az a “sngl-dijit psntij” v hiz formr rnñz in rtrn fr xpozñ roñduwñ bî guvnmnt.

Graɉli, cretlodz v dokmnts hv cm hiz we. Ẃɖr ʈru līcs fṛm ẃislblowrz, fṛm wɖn Ẃîthōl or fṛm cumṗniz hu lost ǎt on contracts, or handd t him az part v ɖ līgl proses v suwñ ɖ guvnmnt, h hz, h sz, obtend inuf pìsz v ɖ jigsw “t mc a priti gd ges at ɖ picćr”. N ẃt a picćr.

Tec ɖ ces v publandlord Alix Bōrn, hu feṃsli wnt fṛm pŭlñ pînts at Mát Hancoc’s locl t landñ a slîs v a £40m contract t mc medicl iqipmnt, īvn ɖo h hd no xpirịns in ɖ fīld. Rlịr ɖs munʈ, Hancoc dsmist ɖ stori az a “fabṛceśn pśt bî ɖ Lebr parti”. Bt ɖen it imrjd ɖt Bōrn’z luci brec hd simpli bn wel hidn. Ɖ Dpartmnt v Hlʈ hd sînd a contract wɖ a difṛnt entti, Alfa L’boṛtriz. Bt in ɖ smōl print ɖr wz a stipyleśn ɖt ɖ mańfacćrñ v ɖ gdz hd t b dn bî Bōrn’z ǎtfit. Nîs wrc f y cn gt it.

Or ɖr wz ɖ dīl ɖt sw at līst £156m v taxpeyrz’ muni westd on 50m fesmascs ivnć̣li dīmd unsūṭbl fr ɖ NHS. Ɖe wr bòt fṛm a prîṿt-eqti frm ʈru a cumṗni ɖt hd nvr pṛdyst a sngl îtm v PPI – or indd enʈñ fr ɖt matr – n ɖt hd a śercapitl v jst £100. Bt ɖs cumṗni, Prosṗmil, hd a crūśl asit. It wz coǒnd bî wn Andru Milz, advîzr t ɖ guvnmnt, stōnć Brexitr n alî v ɖ cabiṇtministr Liz Trus.

Smhǎ Prosṗmil manijd t pswed ɖ guvnmnt t part wɖ £252m ovr-ol, bostñ ɖt it hd s’krd xclūsiv rîts ovr a PPI facṭri in Ćîna. Ɖr wz jst wn probḷm: ɖ mascs it pṛdyst yzd irlūps, ẃn onli mascs s’krd arnd ɖ hed wr dīmd sūṭbl fr NHS staf. In ɖ fît agnst Covid, ɖe wr yslis.

Ɖ guvnmnt’s ǒn figrz esṭmet ɖt sm £2.8bn wz westd ɖs we, splaśt ǎt on gdz n srṿsz ɖt dd’nt wrc. Ɖ guvnmnt’s dfns z, in ifct, ɖt ɖr wz a wor on – ɖt ẃn fest wɖ ɖ rjnt tasc v fîtñ a mstirịs pandemic, ɖr wz no tîm fr nîṣtiz. No tîm fr cmpettiv tnḍrñ or forml pṛkrmntprosesz: y nīdd t gt ɖ cit t ɖ fruntlîn n dám ɖ dītelz.

In Mōm’z vy, wns ɖt dsiźn hd bn tecn, wns ɖ yźl pṛkrmntrūlz – dmandñ ɖt rîvl s’playrz priznt cmpitñ bidz t b asest fr qoḷti n valy fr muni – wr sspndd, c’rupśn wz olwz bǎnd t folo. “F y dić proses, y’r gwñ t hv c’rupśn,” h sz. “Ɖt’s jst inevitbl.” Ẃt md ɖ Covid bnanza difṛnt wz ɖt ɖ guvnmnt dd nt onli mc c’rupśn inevitbl, it “insttyśṇlîzd ɖt c’rupśn”.

Ɖt’s nt reṭric, bt an akṛt dscripśn v ẃt hapnd. Ministrz crietd a VIP len fr ɖer “contacts”, grantñ frendz or partidonrz a fast trac intu ɖ pṛkrmntproses n a ples at ɖ hed v ɖ cȳ fr ɖoz jūsi contracts. Arnd 50 cumṗniz hv bn nemd az hvñ beṇfitd fṛm ɖ VIP len, wɖ Mîcl Gov, Grant Śaps, Hancoc n uɖrz amñ ɖ poḷtiśnz hu lent a hlpñ hand in ɖ form v an ol-importnt rfŕṛl. No les ɖn £1.6bn wrʈ v contracts wr awordd az a rzult v rfŕṛlz fṛm jst 10 Tori poḷtiśnz. Ɖoz rfŕṛlz wr goldn: f y got wn, n faund yrslf in ɖ ćumz’ club, y wr mor ɖn 10 tîmz mor lîcli t bag a contract ɖn ɖoz cumṗniz left ǎtsd.

N ɖr wz sirịs muni t b md. Wn pandemic start-up, PPI Medpro, wún tū contracts wrʈ £200m a matr v wīcs aftr it wz born: its fǎndr wz a formr biznis’sośiet v Tori pir Báṛnes Mǒn. Melr Dzînz, ɖen ɖ frm v Tori donr Devid Melr, bagd ovr £160m in PPI dīlz, aftr a rfŕṛl intu ɖ VIP len fṛm Gov. Cabiṇt ofis ministr Lord Agny wz an ispeṣ́li ysfl frend t hv in hî plesz. Tū cumṗniz rfŕd bî him wún contracts ɖt wr, btwn ɖm, wrʈ mor ɖn £500m.

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Sm mt śrug at ol ɖs, wunḍrñ f it riyli matrz f poḷtiśnz’ palz dd wel ǎt v ɖ pandemic, so loñ az Britiś hospitlz got ɖ cit ɖe nīdd. Bt ɖr’z stroñ evidns ɖt Brítnz wr ript of – wɖ dokmnts sjstñ ɖt sm VIP bidz wr ćozn īvn ẃn ɖe wr ćarjñ we abv marcitrets, n ɖt guvnmnt bòt p iqipmnt in far gretr qonttiz ɖn wz nīdd, īvn ẃn ɖ panic v ɖ frst wev hd pást. Ɖt wz gret fr ɖ luci cumṗniz wɖ hî-pǎrd frendz, nt so gret fr ɖ taxpeyr. Indd, Mōm esṭmets ɖt ɖ guvnmnt spent £12.5bn on PPI ɖt it cd hv got fr £4.5bn. “W’r tōcñ vast amǎnts v west,” h sz. It dd’nt hv t b ɖs we. “It’s nt ɖ inevitbl c’rupśn ɖt cmz ẃn, at ɖ tîm v naśnl imrjnsi, y pt asd proses in ɖ inṭrest v spīd. It’s ɖ insttyśṇlîześn v c’rupśn t beṇfit yr frendz.”

H nots ɖt ɖ guvnmnt’s ǒn Cǎntrfrōd tīm hz asest ẃt it dscrîbz az a “hî risc v frōd in ɖ pṛkrmnt v PPI”, ẃć promts a qsćn: ẃ r ɖ p’līs nt invstgetñ?

Bt ɖ VIP len z nt ɖ onli xampl v public gdz biyñ handd ǎt t partifrendz. Not ɖ astoṇśñ run ɖt hz sìn nîn v ɖ parti’z formr treẓ́rrz gvn a sīt in ɖ Lordz sins 2010, wɖ ć v ɖoz apôntd sins 2014 hvñ dnetd at līst £3m t particofrz. In wn ces, ɖ ŕmin wz handd ǎt in dfayns v ɖ advîs v ɖ Lordz apôntmntsbodi, ẃć dīmd Tori donr Pītr Cruḍs unwrɖi v a sīt in ɖ upr hǎs – bt Jonsn inobld him enwe. Y cn fgiv Aḷster Cambl fr smartñ az h rmembrz ɖ caś-fr-onrz invstgeśn intu ɖ last Lebr guvnmnt – ẃć sw sevṛl līdñ Lebr figrz, includñ Bler, inṭvyd bî p’līs, bt no ćarjz bròt agnst eni v ɖm – n contmplets ɖ lac v ax́n, or īvn cuṿrij, tde. “F ɖs hd bn s, it wd hv bn on ɖ nyz de aftr de aftr de.”

Cambl mnśnz ɖ Brni Eclstn afer, ẃn it imrjd ɖt ɖ Forḿla Wn bos hd dnetd £1m t ɖ Lebr parti in 1997, nt loñ bfr ɖ Bler guvnmnt xmtd ɖ sport fṛm a ban on tbaco advtîzñ. Bler wz forst t g on teḷviźn t aśur vywrz ɖt ɖr hd bn no qid pro qo, no “caś fr poḷsi” dīl; ɖt h wz, instd, a “priti stret sort v gai”. Cambl insists ɖt ɖ Eclstn afer wz agṛvetd in part bî a Lebr dzîr nt t repḷcet Tori msconduct: Dǎnñ Strīt dlibṛtli avôdd telñ ɖen hlʈsecṛtri Franc Dobsn abt ɖ dneśn, “bcz w dd’nt wont ɖt afctñ hiz jujmnt” ẃn drw̃ p ɖ tbacoban. Ol ɖ sem, h admits Lebr got it roñ – n ɖt it śd hv bn “p frunt” abt ɖ muni fṛm ɖ start. In ɖ end, Lebr gev ɖ £1m bac t Eclstn, hvñ sòt ɖ advîs v ɖ standdz woćdog.

Ɖt hz nt qt bn ɖ aproć v ɖ Jonsn admiṇstreśn. On ɖ contrri, ẃt adz t ɖ graṿti v ɖ ćarjz agnst it z its atmt t pt itslf bynd ɖ rīć v acǎntbiḷti or īvn ɖ lw. It hz md rpitd eḟts t wìcn or cntrol ɖoz insttyśnz ɖt mt rstren its pǎr. Most d’rect r its sirịl ʈrets t crtel jdiśl rvy, liṃtñ ɖ corts’ abiḷti t ćec dsiźnz v guvnmnt. Rli Dsmbr bròt wrd, uncnvinsñli dnaid, v an iminnt drîv t gv ministrz ny pǎrz in sć cesz t ʈro ǎt jdiśl jujmnts ɖt ɖe dd’nt lîc. Ẃɖr or nt ɖs z born v Jonsn’z dzîr t gt īvn fr ɖ hymilieśn ɖ s’prīm cort inflictd on him in 2019 – ynaniṃsli dfitñ ɖ PM’z proṛgeśn v parḷmnt – it lcs lîc a clir eḟt t rmuv a crb on hiz mît.

Ɖ reğlr swîps at ɖ BBC, n ɖ apôntmnt v a loñtîm eṇmi v ɖ corṗreśn, Nedīn Dōriz, az culćrsecṛtri, śd b sìn ɖ sem we: az an eḟt t intiṃdet or cǎ a scrūṭnîzñ insttyśn ɖt wd orḍneṛli b ǎtsd guvnmntcntrol. Ɖ sem gz fr its pṛpozd “rformz” v ɖ Ilectṛl Cmiśn, plesñ a hand arnd ɖ ʈrot v dmocṛsi’z reḟrī. Atacs on ɖ rît t pṛtst, ćenjz t ɖ Ofiśl-Sīcrits Act tarġtñ jrṇlists n ẃislblowrz, ɖ unveild campen t ples îdịlojicli loyl Tori alîz intu ci public pziśnz – jst bcz ɖe dd nt s’xid in instōlñ formr Dêli Meil editr Pōl Dêcr az ɖ ćer v Ofcom śd nt obskr hǎ hard ɖe traid – r ol part v ɖ sem patn.

Ɖ em z t c’rod ɖ ćecs n baḷnsz ɖt mc dmocṛsi fuñśn, t alǎ ɖ guvnmnt t d ẃt it lîcs, fr itslf n fr its alîz, bî inśurñ ɖoz hu mt hold it t acǎnt – ẃɖr jujz, pres or pṛtstrz – r tù wìc t stop ɖm. It endz in a guvnmnt ɖt z, in ifct, bynd ɖ lw. Ɖs z ẃ Cambl sz, wɖ sm viymns, “It’s nt ‘croniizm’ or ‘ćumocṛsi’ or ‘slīz’. It’s c’rupśn.”

Ɖr’z so mć v it, ẃɖr it’s Jonsn yzñ hiz public ofis t advans ɖ biznis inṭrests v hiz ɖen luvr Jenifr Arcŭri, Own Paṭsn tecñ muni fṛm Randox – hu lêtr wún tū fat contracts fr Covid tstñ, wrʈ a cmbînd totl v olmst £480m, nɖr v ẃć wr advtîzd or opn t comṗtiśn – or ministrz’ fondnis fr yzñ ẂtsAp or prîṿt īmeilz, cnvińntli ivedñ scrūṭni.

Bt ɖr z a krịs paṛdox hir. Ol ɖs z so mć mor sirịs ɖn ɖ boncñstoriz v a jeṇreśn ago, mor sirịs ɖn Hamiltn n Etcn trǎẓrñ a fy grand or a nît in ɖ Rits n ɖen layñ abt it – Mōm sz 90z slīz z “qt swīt” bî cmparisn; “it’s Feṃs Fîv Dz C’rupśn” – n yt it struglz t brec ʈru. Phps mć v it z tù compḷcetd t folo, tù abstract. Phps, pvrsli, ɖ sumz v muni r tù larj: mbi it’s īzịr t grasp ɖ imij v a Haṛdz enṿlop buljñ wɖ caś ɖn it z t picćr biłnz sîfnd awe via ɖ VIP len. It’s notisbl ɖt it hz bn sm v Jonsn’z lesr, bt mor concrīt, ax́nz ɖt hv rīćt ɖ fruntpejz: ɖ wōlpepr n ɖ hoḷdez, rɖr ɖn ɖ insttyśṇlîzd c’rupśn n ɖ dsmantlñ v ǎr deṃcratic scafldñ.

Īvn last munʈ’z rǎ abt Jefri Cox, huz lūcṛtiv līgl practis sw him besñ himslf in ɖ Caṛbiyn, far awe fṛm hiz cnstitẏnts in Devn, z an xampl v a cnd v misdirex́n. Mōm sz ɖs wz a ces v “tecñ ɖ pis”, rɖr ɖn c’rupśn, n yt it atractd mor public ǎtrej ɖn Paṭsn’z wrc fr Randox – az f ɖ lceśn v MPz’ xtṛḿṛl wrc wz ɖ probḷm, rɖr ɖn ɖ sspiśn v inflụnspéḍlñ. Smhǎ w gt dstractd, ǎr gêz foc̣sñ on ɖ roñ ples.

Bt it’s nt jst a fełr v public atnśn. “Slīz” còt fîr in ɖ 1990z in part bcz it wz nt onli left t ɖ Mirr n ɖ Gardịn. Ɖ Tori peprz ran wɖ it tù, drwn t storiz ɖt wr jst tù jūsi t rzist, n cnvinst ɖt Mejr n ɖ Cnsrṿtivz wr wośt p enwe. Ɖe hv nt yt dfiṇtivli rīćt ɖt cncluźn abt ɖs guvnmnt: ɖ Tōriz hv bn in fr a deced rɖr ɖn a deced n a haf, n Jonsn hz onli bn in Dǎnñ Strīt fr tū yirz. Ɖe hv bn, mostli, wilñ t gv him a pas – olɖo ɖ līct vidio v eidz at Nu 10 giġlñ az ɖe apaṛntli rcōld partiyñ in dfayns v Covid rūlz, n rports ɖt sevṛl sć partiz hapnd in ɖ prim̦inistr’z rezidns, hv pśt ɖt peśns t its limits. Ɖt matrz bcz, in Britn’z mīdia īcosistm, f ɖ rîtwñ peprz d’nt cuvr a stori, ɖ brōdcastrz tnd t stir clir v it, tù.

Ɖr’z wn last factr: śem. Slīz bcem a subjict v naśnl cnsrn in ɖ 1990z in part bcz ɖ prim̦inistr rgardd it ɖt we. Atacs on ɖ integṛti v ɖ Tori parti got undr Jon Mejr’z scin bcz h xpirịnst ɖm az atacs on hiz ǒn integṛti, ẃć h valyd. Cúri rcōlz ɖt Marġ̣rit Ʈaćr wz so fstidịs ɖt ẃn ministrz met t tōc poḷtics, ɖ PM insistd ɖe ćip in a fy pǎndz fṛm ɖer ǒn pocits t pe fr ɖ sanẉjz. Boris Jonsn z md v difṛnt stuf. (So, olɖo h wz betr at dsgîzñ it, wz Devid Camṛn. Hvñ wornd in 2010 ɖt “ɖ far-tù-cozi rleśnśp btwn poḷtics, guvnmnt, biznis n muni” wz “ɖ nxt big scandl wêtñ t hapn”, ɖ formr PM tc ɖt cozinis t a ny levl: ćuṃli txtñ xcolīgz, includñ ćanslr Riśi Sŭnac, az h hōct ɖ srṿsz v Grīnsil Capitl, ɖ banc ɖt c’lapst intu admiṇstreśn rlịr ɖs yir, dprîvñ Camṛn v ɖ $70m pe-ǎt h hd rportidli hopt fr.) V Jonsn, Cúri sz h hz “no moṛl fîbr ẃtsvr”. Īvn ɖ Tōriz’ canddet in ɖ Norʈ Śropśr bîilex́n, hld t fînd a s’xesr fr Paṭsn, ẃn asct for tîmz ẃɖr h rgardd ɖ prim̦inistr az a man v “oṇsti n integṛti”, cd nt se yes.

So v cors ɖ ǎtrej wl nt cm fṛm Dǎnñ Strīt, bcz ɖ ʈret cmz fṛm Dǎnñ Strīt. Ɖ ǎtrej wl hv t cm fṛm ɖ public, ɖ votrz – n it bginz bî cōlñ ɖs menis t ǎr deṃcratic lîf bî its nem. D’nt cōl it slīz. Cōl it c’rupśn.

Instroduction to Ñspel

19/12/2021

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