As I See It: Terry Murden
Just a week since the General Election and another week until Christmas and Boris Johnson has been playing political Santa Claus, handing out gift-wrapped jobs to his unelected allies as if the democratic process had suddenly gone out of fashion.
The Prime Minister spent a large part of the campaign touring the north of England constituencies, currying favour with voters in the former industrial heartlands urging them to abandon their traditional Labour ties and join him in his crusade to build a better Britain.
This week he fashioned his new administration the “People’s Government” and promised to repay the “trust” of those who had “lent” his party their votes. All this from a man who had been returned to Downing Street, apparently chastened by accusations of lying and failing to deliver on his word.
So what must be going through the minds of those northern voters, the ordinary hard-working folk in ordinary jobs in ordinary towns, when they hear that their new friend at the head of the Cabinet has handed out life peerages to two of his political chums so they can return to their former jobs in government?
The soon-to-be ennobled Nicky Morgan, who chose not to stand for re-election, stays on as Culture Secretary while Mr Johnson’s close pal Zac Goldsmith, who lost his Richmond seat in last week’s election, should have joined 46 other defeated MPs receiving a “winding up” budget to cover expenses until their salaries are stopped in February.
Instead, the son of billionaire businessman James Goldsmith, remains as Environment minister. Clearly there is no need to bother with all that messy business of seeking election when you have friends in high places.
The voters of Workington, Blyth Valley and Darlington were persuaded to back Mr Johnson because they could not trust Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. They did not expect the self-styled leader of the “People’s Government” to disregard the verdict of the voters in Richmond and offer a job to his wealthy pal who should be looking for alternative employment.
The Prime Minister’s bare-faced contempt for democracy shows that nothing much changes amongst Britain’s ruling elite. His disdainful treatment of his new friends in the north is also being tested by his commitment to increase the living wage only when “economic conditions allow”, and his backtracking on promises to enshrine workers’ rights and environmental safeguards into law ahead of Brexit.
These rapidly broken promises will not be forgotten next time he visits the northern constituencies and asks them to lend him their votes.