... does not actually care a damn about law and order. An obligatory rant on the current state of Westminster.
We've seen how rank-and-file Tory members can be stark raving mad before. Like how they were willing to implement some form of Brexit even at the cost of the destruction of their own political party, a bonkers but at least perversely principled stance*.
*Whether they would actually follow through on their professed stance is another matter, but personally I highly doubt it.
Now we're seeing a desperate attempt to cling to power purely for its own sake, with no higher calling or motivation whatsoever. The Prime Minister broke the rules ? Perhaps the rules were too harsh, says Jacob Rees Mogg. He's apologised, so we need to move on, says Liz Truss. Right, so breaking the law is irrelevant then. Taking responsibility now means nothing more than that you have to apologise for your offences and not actually suffer any real consequences at all. That kind of responsibility is for the little people, not, ironically, the people who have to make the rules themselves.
I do not believe in the absolute nature of the law. That is not to say that it should be applied arbitrarily, and it especially doesn't mean it should apply differently to someone based on their major demographics : ethnicity, age, gender, religion, wealth etc. should have no bearing on punishment... except wherein any such features are actually pertinent to the law being broken. A rich criminal could, perhaps, expect a judge to deliver them a harsher sentence for the repeated theft of money than a very poor one stealing for the first time out of desperation. But refining and generalising on this is a task for another day.
For now, it is enough to realise that there is no inconsistency or hypocrisy in saying that those who are setting the rules should be held to a higher standard than the rest of us. It's not about their wealth or class, but about their unique level of power. Proportionately, those with the most power of all should be held the highest standards possible. This is not to say that all mitigating circumstances should be ignored completely, just that they count for less. If you make the rules, you should make a special effort to adhere to them and lead by example.
What beggars belief to me is not so much that the Tories broke the lockdown rules - lots of people did that, and were rightly fined for it. Even for this they should suffer harsher penalties than the man in the street, but what really gets me is the storm of lies and gaslighting by which they seek to escape the fate of the little people. It's a bad thing to break laws designed to protect public health, but in some ways I find it far, far worse that those holding high office would choose to lie about their behaviour afterwards. How can you be said to be "taking responsibility" if you first put forth a series of lies, evasions and denials before being compelled to offer a paltry non-apology and declare that that's the end of it ?
What I do not understand is how anyone could actively want a known serial liar to be at the heart of government. To me this just makes no sense at all, but plenty of Tories - even if Boris is indeed eventually forced out - are willing to declare this openly. I don't get it. If someone has proven themselves untrustworthy, how can you possibly trust them ? And if you can't trust them, how can you possibly think them worthy to decide rules which affect your own life ? Do the rules just not matter at all to you ? What in the hell is it about Boris that you like so much ? Is his piss-poor tendency to deceive (because he is not at all good at it) actually somehow an asset ? Do you admire his strength of character in putting himself before the truth ?
This is bordering on a fascist level of elitism. The Tory party has always been a lot more morally flexible and more concerned about winning than ethical principles, but Boris is taking this to new levels. At least previously when they were found out, most of them had the decency to resign. Most of them realised that you can't be seen as a party of law and order if you yourselves do not obey the law. That's not to say that things were any better behind closed doors than they are now, but at least they had the modicum of decency not to openly flout the law in full view of the public and brazenly try to excuse the inexcusable. And least they didn't rub their elitism in people's faces. At least they tried to pretend that there was a line that was not to be crossed. There was a social contract of sorts, even if it was very one-sided.
If the Tory party suffers from a total lack of moral backbone, Labour if anything is beset by too much. It is straightforwardly absurd to compare Keir Starmer's drink with his evening meal in a protracted meeting with the multitude of pre-planned Tory socials. It was never about the fact that Tory MPs had alcohol, but the explicitly and exclusively social nature of the gatherings - be they after work or entirely separate from it. Nobody ever said, "no alcohol in private meetings". Nobody ever said, "no food during work meetings". Nobody said, "you must split up for every moment you're not discussing work."
Tory attempts to deflect here are gaslighting and whataboutism, which are somewhat bizarrely trying to paint their opponent as being far more interesting than even his most ardent supporters would ever suspect. They know their own behaviour did not merely bend the rules but abjectly and repeatedly broke them, so they're trying to distract. This is ridiculous. Labour didn't even come close to breaking the rules, and anyway it's the government who are in charge, not the opposition - so the importance of establishing what the Tories were up to is much, much more important. And yes, if it did come to light that Labour had behaved similarly, I would want similar consequences. As it is, this looks a bit like saying, "Yes, I'm a murderer, but that man said a rude word, so we're basically just as bad as each other". Even if we lived in a bizarre word where that was true, it wouldn't excuse the murder.
What's worrying is where this goes next. Will the Tory party clean itself off and at least try and get back its veneer of respectability, or will it go into Trumpian levels of populism ?
Right now, it's screaming towards the latter. And yes, actually there are respectable Tory MPs, but that the self-proclaimed party of law and order doesn't immediately eject its lying, gaslighting, evasive, cowardly, scumbag of a leader is damning. For all that the law can't be absolute, there are clear examples of black and white in amongst all the shades of grey. A party that does not realise that breaches of the law this egregious, this frequent, and this callous, are unacceptable in a functioning democracy is not a political party at all. It's a mob.