Cabinet should act to resolve UK leadership crisis
As the country faces enormous challenges, our political system has reached a breaking point. The Prime Minister has lost the confidence of voters and many Tory MPs (including myself) and Parliament seems to lack the ability, or perhaps even the will, to ensure that MPs abide by the codes of conduct that are held to acquired in all other workplaces. .
Stories of drug use and inappropriate behavior in Parliament are almost commonplace, and we seem unable to protect young people who want to work in politics from unwelcome and predatory behaviour. The independent complaint and grievance system is clearly not working. Parliament’s human resources practices are outdated and do not provide sufficient support to staff or Members. The Palace of Westminster is dangerous, infested with rats and mice and in desperate need of rewiring and asbestos removal. But we lack the determination to make the decision to rebuild.
We must do better. And, because in our democracy, we operate within a party system, we need to start by making sure the Conservative Party can provide the leadership our country needs.
In December 2019, the Conservative Party won a mandate for change. The prime minister’s charisma and campaign skills, and his promise to lead a government that would level the country and reap the benefits of Brexit, gave hope to Britain.
At the start of 2020, no one anticipated the scale of the challenge Covid-19 would place on Whitehall. A once-in-a-generation event has consumed the government, which naturally means plans for reform have been put on hold. The furlough scheme and the vaccine task force were truly innovative and world-leading responses for which the Prime Minister and Chancellor deserve great credit. Yet as the country followed Boris Johnson’s instruction to stay at home, there were parties in Downing Street. Those who made the laws did not follow them, and in the face of this behavior Parliament and the country were misled.
The government has lost its focus. Every move seems to be aimed at keeping enough Tory MPs on the Prime Minister’s side – more and more, it seems, regardless of what’s right or what’s true. Meanwhile, the real problems are piling up: inflation is over 10%, economic growth is the weakest in the G7, and while our doctors and nurses are doing a heroic job, the NHS administration is worse than ever . In my area there is a shortage of GPs, it is virtually impossible for new residents to find an NHS dentist and voters are losing their holidays while waiting for a new passport.
It’s no wonder Christmas 2019 hopes have turned to cynicism. I don’t underestimate Boris Johnson’s role in winning the last election, but neither do I overestimate the damage his leadership is currently doing to my party and the country. Latest polls show Labour’s lead widening, despite a lack of enthusiasm for Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership. The Tories should not underestimate the Labor threat under Starmer, nor the even greater danger of Labor under a new leader.
We can’t go on like this. Four weeks ago the Conservative Party had the opportunity to make a fresh start. Some 148 Conservative MPs voted for the change and I know many more were tempted to do so. Political reporters tell us that a combination of promises of jobs, honours, spending on pet projects – all done with a wink and a wink in age-old Westminster customs – was enough to save the post of Prime Minister. Of course, this will not be enough for long.
As a minister, it’s easy to think you should just keep your head down and support the prime minister. No one easily gives up a job they love or the ability to make big decisions.
Deep in their hearts, many cabinet ministers must know that the Prime Minister’s leadership is detrimental. I hope that collectively or individually, they will now find the will to act in the interest of the country and our party.
Just as it’s time for Cabinet leadership, it’s also time for the mysterious ‘usual channels’, which include the party’s chief whips, House leader and Speaker, to act with much more urgency. to address unacceptable behavior. , reform working practices and renew the parliamentary fabric.
I believe almost every MP is a good person who entered politics to make the country a better place. Few, if any, of us became MPs simply to climb the greasy ranks or enjoy the trappings of office. We chose public service to do what is right for the country and to protect and strengthen our democracy. It is time for all of us to act.
In the United States, faith in government by the people for the people is shaken. This is largely because of the Republican Party’s timidity in not questioning Trumpian ideology. In this country, the Conservative Party must take the lead in rooting out the rot that infects our politics, not only to give us a chance to win the next election, but, more importantly, to restore decent values and behaviors, protect our democratic institutions and renew public confidence in our politics.
Nick Gibb is the Conservative MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton