Jack Lesgrin’s week: Hypocritical hype

by Jack Lesgrin

Hypocritical hype

The last two weeks have been about dashed sporting dreams. We know all about the football and everything surrounding the final. But the week before last, on Monday, the BBC’s Wimbledon team, led by the normally calm and collected Clare Balding, carried out a morning after analysis of Emma Radecanu’s unsettling exit from the quarter finals. Brows were furrowed, foreheads scratched and all wore a stupefied, concerned demeanour. They pondered whether the enormity of the occasion had perhaps got too much. But just what could have caused this? Lots of suggestions were forthcoming, but one they omitted to mention was the previous day’s pre-match BBC Sport trail for the match which the Beeb had clearly worked hard on. It was glitzy, edgy, projected excitement and even had the name “Radecanu” emblazoned across the screen like an advert. One might even describe this as an unnecessary, somewhat exploitative example of hyping up to the nth degree a great British hope, out of all proportion and without thought about the interests of the object if the hype. But naturally, the BBC presenters weren’t ready to admit their own role in all this.

Guilty of being not guilty

Readers will know that this column has an editorial stance on whether there are checks and balances at play regarding this or any government. ‘Told you so’ is an annoying thing to read, so apologies, but a classic of the genre of the establishment pretending that it holds the executive to account occurred last Wednesday when the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Kathryn Stone, issued a report that found the Prime Minister to have been in breach of the Code of Conduct regarding his declaration on the Register of Members’ Financial Interests about holiday accommodation provided to him on the island of Mustique in St Vincent and the Grenadines between 26 December 2019 and 5 January 2020. She found ‘Mr Johnson in breach of paragraph 14 of the Code because he did not “make sufficient inquiries to establish the full facts about the funding arrangements for his free accommodation, either before his holiday, as he should have done, or in 2020”.’

Sounds damning, but by some quirk of good fortune and happenstance, the happy outcome of which top legal counsel would normally be needed to generate, apparent inaction in investigating the origin of this holiday assistance, meant that the authorities couldn’t even rule on what the entry in the Register should have included. The report notes that: ‘The Commissioner stated that she was unable to establish the arrangements, if any, for funding the accommodation. The Commissioner did not conclude that Mr Johnson’s Register entry was inaccurate since, as she notes, she was unable to conclude what Mr Johnson’s Register entry should have contained.’

But it gets better for the PM. What good fortune! You see it’s the Committee on Standards itself, comprised of MPs, that has the final say on these matters. Despite Ms Stone finding the PM in breach, the committee itself ‘concluded it did not have sufficient evidence to reach a determination as to whether there had been a breach of the Code…The Committee therefore found that Mr Johnson’s Register entry was accurate and complete, and found no breach by Mr Johnson of paragraph 14 of the Code.’

Hey presto folks! A sitting PM with a large majority is found in breach yet is not in breach. Only in the UK, or perhaps a banana republic.

We need a Triple Lock for youth not pensioners

Last Thursday saw talk of a slight weakening of the government’s commitment on the ‘Triple Lock for people who vote Tory’, sorry, I mean pensioners. Would the biggest crisis since WW2 perhaps weaken the commitment of successive governments to feather the collective beds of pensioners while simultaneously under-investing in our nation’s youth? For a nano second it seemed to be the case. However, the Triple Lock, the mechanism through which the basic state pension is guaranteed to rise by a minimum of either 2.5%, the rate of inflation or average earnings growth, whichever is largest, is similar in nature to home-building for Tories. They admit that they must build more homes but not in any of their voters’ back yards or in a way that reduces property values. Namely: never.

How about a triple lock or pledge for young people instead of for pensioners. How about a pledge to do three things for all young people funded by a transfer of wealth from well off people over the age of 40. We could pledge to provide a youth worker in each ward. Or provide an educational voucher of £1000 for every teenager, each year until the age of 18, to pay for any kind of skills development including sport and the creative arts. Or how about a pledge to reduce income tax for young people who volunteer in their community? Or seed funding for their entrepreneurial ideas, funded by a small windfall tax on the City (small by their standards; huge for young people). In principle, a Triple Lock/Pledge for Youth  this is a good idea, which is probably why it won’t happen.


This column imagined a while back that excellent Guardian journalist Sonia Sodha may have written her column about the right of women to express gender critical views in a slightly circumspect manner due to a fear about the consequences of nailing her colours to the mast. Who can know quite what is going on, but the Spectator suggested last Saturday that she may be at risk of being sacked in connection with what she wrote. As I argued, she didn’t actually write about her own views, and yet it seems her caution was justified.

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11 Responses to “Jack Lesgrin’s week: Hypocritical hype”

  1. Alf says:

    Sonia Sodha is a Tory. She should be sacked and expelled from the Labour party. There should be no safe space in Labour for Tories.

  2. John Reid says:

    wasn’t their a labour uncut article why doesn’t jeremy corbyn just go off and join the tories a few years ago

  3. Tafia says:

    Boris is in Breach but not in Breach because the people that wrote the standards don’t have any idea what they are doing (they were mostly written in late Labour/early Tory timee and government lawyers as a rule are not very good. The big money is corportae law not slumming it for the civil service), like most cretinous apparatus of government, they don’t write rules from the position of a rule-breaker, which means they are nearly always fundemantlly flawed and largely ineffective and easy to circumnavigate.

    They wwre also approved by Parliament with cross-party support. Given the number of MPs we have who hold law degrees, it doesn’t actually say much about their capabilities and probably explains why they went into politics as opposed to practice law.

    Mr Johnson sought and was offered the use of a villa owned by Mr David Ross, a friend of Mr Johnson and a political supporter of the Conservative Party, on the island of Mustique, for him and his partner between 26 December 2019 and 5 January 2020.

    In the event Mr Ross’s villa was unavailable for those dates, but another villa on the island, Indigo, which was not owned by Mr Ross, was provided. This was the villa in which Mr Johnson and his partner stayed during the period. Mr Johnson did not pay any accommodation costs for his stay, although he met all other costs.

    Mr Johnson named Mr Ross as the donor in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. The Commissioner agreed that Mr Johnson was correct to include the name of Mr Ross, since he was the person who facilitated the visit.

    She found, however, that if another person had provided funds or a benefit in kind, Mr Johnson should also have given the details of whoever funded his holiday accommodation in the first instance. The Commissioner stated that she was unable to establish the arrangements, if any, for funding the accommodation.

    The Commissioner did not conclude that Mr Johnson’s Register entry was inaccurate since, as she notes, she was unable to conclude what Mr Johnson’s Register entry should have contained.

    blah blah etc etc

    During her investigation, the Commissioner considered whether £15,000 was an accurate value of the accommodation provided. Based on the evidence provided to her during the investigation, she concluded that she had no reason to dispute the valuation.


  4. Tafia says:

    An Iraqi war criminal who executed 35 prisoners under Saddam Hussein has won his battle to stay in the UK.

    The 55-year-old, who cannot be named, pleaded human rights grounds to stay in Britain despite slaughtering POWs during Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. The government was left with no option other than to back down after a 20-year legal ­battle, despite accepting he was responsible for ordering the executions. His claim – that he would face inhuman or degrading treatment if sent home, was accepted by Judge Stephen Smith.

    The war criminal came to Britain in 2001, claiming he was in danger from Kurdish collaborators. His claims were rejected in 2003, 2007 and again in 2014 as his story changed, until he finally launched an appeal under the Human Rights Act.

  5. Anne says:

    Regarding Johnson – tried to sneak out the information that the refurbishment of his flat was indeed funded by Tory donors- no matter how much time has passed since this was news – a lie is still a lie.

  6. Tafia says:

    Anne, can you prove it’s lie or are you lying?

  7. John P Reid says:

    Tafia, The Iraqi murderer in the U.K. story should be repeated everywhere

  8. A.J. says:

    A quick glance at The Guardian and The Independent will soon remind you of why the average person will carry on holding their noses and voting for the so-called ‘Conservative Party’ under their current clown of a leader. I sometimes feel as if I’m living in the world of Peter Simple. I’m sure my wife – university graduate with First Class honours (Warwick), former NALGO shop steward, grandfather who was a Liverpool docker – still finds herself startled by putting her cross in the box marked ‘Conservative’. I’m convinced that both my daughters will be voting the same way at the next General Election, in spite of having voted Liberal Democrat or Labour in the past.

  9. John P Reid says:

    Well said AJ

    20 days into the month The prediction that the opinion polls will be the same as june( by the end of July) a 10% Tory lead are still on

  10. Anne says:

    The bizarre funding chain of Johnson’s flat was finally confirmed in the fourth footnote on the 208th page of the Cabinet Office annual report. The Electoral Commission is investigating whether the original donation broke the law.
    Perhaps we should ask Carrie – she seems to be ruling the roost since Cummings demise.

  11. andy williams says:

    Anne The bizarre funding chain of Johnson’s flat was finally confirmed in the fourth footnote on the 208th page of the Cabinet Office annual report.

    You don’t actually understand the workings of all this in the slightest do you. The only thing that matters is the Standards Committee’s ruling. And for you to continue to think the way you do means you think Chris Bryant and Chris Elmore (the Labour members of the committee), are incompetent halfwits, liars or both.

    The Electoral Commission is looking at a different thing, with different powers (certainly none over matters like this that would make an MP break sweat let alone a PM). Currently, Labour believe the Electoral Commission are rubbish and not fit for purpose (mainly because it’s them and the Remainers who have been turned over by them most of the last few years, at great aexpense to both of them morally and financially).

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