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Parliament vs Parliament or Parliament vs Boris?

Yesterday, we had the spectacle of the Privileges Committee interviewing Boris Johnson to decide whether he knowingly misled parliament, following on from Boris' written submission where he accepted that he had unwittingly misled. We should bear in mind that in misleading Parliament, he was also misleading us. What is disappointing is that individual's stated opinion seems not to be about the facts of the matter, but rather what their views of Boris Johnson are.

I try not to do that, but I do find it difficult as far as Boris is concerned. I am very much in in the “don’t like Boris” camp and I found it worrying that there were people still willing to go out and defend him after the evidence he gave. A large part of his defence was that he felt that 'leaving dos' were acceptable. If you go back to the time of lockdown and reflect on the nature and tone of the advice we were given, there are no circumstances in which us as mere citizens would have been allowed to indulge in a culture where a leaving do of any sort was accepted. One of the reasons that politics likes to delay investigations and analyses is because they hope that time diminishes the memory of the past; I suspect that is part of what Boris is relying on to keep his supporters happy (for that is his aim - it is not about being found innocent, it is about his supporters continuing to believe he is a victim).

However, whilst I have a view about Boris, that is not really my main issue with the select committee investigation, it is the notion of politicians investigating politicians. Sadly, this investigation has become far more than just a matter of balancing facts. Most people's views about what the outcome should be are based on whether you believe Boris is a good un, or a bad un – and that includes within Parliament. Any vote on sanctions will be a political one, with those supporting Boris undermining the very investigation rather than commenting and voting on its findings.

It reinforces my view that Parliament should not have responsibility for overseeing the conduct of its own members. The investigation into whether Parliament was misled should be independently led by a judge - someone who has spent a significant amount of his life balancing evidence. The one thang that would have to be accepted is that a judge would have to operate based on a legal framework set in law by parliament. The point about changing Parliament's obsession with self-governance is reinforced by the sordid Owen Patterson affair which was one of the issues that began the downfall of Boris as a Prime Minister.

Some may see this as a minor issue, but it is not. For Parliament to function and take difficult decisions whilst keeping the support of the electorate, that same electorate must have confidence in the body itself; that cannot happen while it investigates itself and when those investigations are inevitably accompanied by the sort of political interference that is taking place at the moment.

Changing the arrangements where Parliament governs itself is a fundamental part of the political renewal that Change from the Centre is calling for.


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