The moral vacuum that is Johnson’s Westminster

As the Conservative sleaze scandal and the controversy surrounding second jobs for MPs, or in the case of Douglas Ross, third and fourth jobs, rumbles on, it has come to light that the Conservative MP for Moray, list MSP for the Highlands and Islands, leader of the Scottish Tories, and linesman for the SFA managed to “forget” annual extracurricular earnings of over £28,000 a year which he failed to declare to the Westminster register of financial interests. In total his annual additional earnings on top of his MP’s salary of £81,932 before expenses is £32,835.

This would be the Douglas Ross who recently claimed that he and his party were more authentic and in touch voices for working class people in Scotland than the First Minister and the SNP. There are not many working class people in Scotland who manage to forget about annual earnings of over £28,000. Those are people who struggle to do without the £20 a week in Universal Credit that Douglas Ross voted to take away from them while he was forgetting about an extra £540 per week that he receives on top of his weekly income of £1575from his MP’s salary.

There certainly are not many working class people who bring home well over £100,000 a year. However when you represent a party led by a man who once described the £250,000 a year he earned on his side gig as “chicken feed”, your understanding of the financial constraints that working class people are under is probably as warped as a Conservative MP’s grasp of what constitutes moral and financial probity in public office.

The real issue isn’t the fact that Douglas Ross has a side gig as a linesman for the fitba, it’s that many of his colleagues in the Conservative party have extremely well paid side jobs representing financial and commercial interests which potentially conflict with their duties and privileges as legislators who are supposed to be speaking up for the interests of their constituents. Public confidence in the institutions of the British state is not helped by the fact that the Conservative party is far more assiduous in taking steps to neuter independent oversight of MPs’ outside financial interests than it is in ensuring that MPs are kept to the high standards that the public has the right to expect of people who make our laws and shape public policy. And all the while the allegations keep piling up.

Over the weekend here were fresh allegations that leading Tory Jacob Rees-Mogg failed to declare director’s loans totalling £6 million that he received from his company Saliston Limited between 2018 and 2020. Additionally Labour is demanding that new information from American businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri about her relationship with Boris Johnson while he was mayor of London should be investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct. Earlier this year Johnson avoided a criminal investigation into his relationship with Arcuri after the IOP ruled there was no evidence Johnson had influenced the payment of thousands of pounds of public money to Arcuri or secured her participation in foreign trade trips he led.

The disquiet created by Boris Johnson’s attempts in the wake of the Owen Paterson lobbying scandal to abolish the independent Parliamentary Commissioner’s role in investigating allegations of wrong doing made against MPs in order to replace it with a sham committee of his chums is compounded by the many recent scandals about alleged wrong doing in the awarding of lucrative government contracts. A number of senior government figures including former Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Home Secretary Priti Patel, and Michael Gove have been found to have been in breach of the ministerial code or to have acted unlawfully. None of them have faced any consequences as a result.

There is now a widespread and entirely accurate perception that members of the British Government and the Conservative party operate in a moral vacuum where they will never have to answer for their actions and behaviour.

All this came to a head during the COP26 conference which this sleazy and corrupt British Government shut the Scottish Government out of. The eyes of the world saw a British Government desperately trying to evade democratic scrutiny and oversight as it helped to water down vital resolutions on the future of the planet in order to benefit the same kind of business interests whose shilling Conservative MPs are so eager to accept.

They also saw a Scottish Government which despite being shut out of any official role by that same British Government, showed itself to be the face of an honest, co-operative, and sincere nation, willing to deal fairly with other nations. It was a very far cry from the British exceptionalism, lies, and deceit of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, a man who can’t even be honest about his own given name.

With her face to face meetings with other leaders, the First Minister still managed to effectively wield Scotland’s soft power, despite the best efforts of a jealous and insecure Johnson to keep her as far away from the limelight as possible. They all know that she believes in Scottish independence, it didn’t need to be explicitly spelled out just, as it didn’t need to be explicitly spelled out that an independent Scotland would be a much more reliable and trustworthy partner than the Brexit Britain of the Tories. The lesson was plain to see and all the more effective for being made implicitly and subtly.

During the 2014 referendum there was a lot of ignorance internationally about why Scotland sought independence. Many in other nations were perplexed by why Scotland sought independence from what they believed to be a well governed and stable democracy that was at the heart of the EU. The Conservatives and the Better Together campaign capitalised on that in order to rustle up a series of European and world politicians who were happy to do the British Government a favour and make a statement which was helpful to the anti-independence cause.

The Conservatives have now trashed the UK’s international reputation, and those European and global leaders attending COP were left in no doubt that Scotland’s rejection of Brexit and its desire to have a closer and more cooperative relationship with the EU is a major factor driving support for independence. With its constant lies and deceit over Brexit negotiations the British Government has proven it can’t be trusted to act in good faith.

As we go into a second independence referendum the reasons for Scottish independence are much clearer and easier to understand for the rest of the world. There is also, crucially, far more sympathy internationally for the idea of an independent Scotland than there was in 2014. The Conservatives and their allies are going to find it much more difficult next time round to find international statespeople who are willing to do the British Government a favour by speaking out against Scottish independence. Likewise international figures are going to be more willing to speak up in favour of an independent Scotland. And this is all due to the moral vacuum that is the Conservative controlled Westminster.

I’m still a bit delicate here, the fatigue has lifted for the most part but now I’ve come down with a stomach bug. Isn’t life a joy?  I will try to blog as normal but the pace may be reduced this week.

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57 comments on “The moral vacuum that is Johnson’s Westminster

  1. 2p3rf3ct says:

    It’s actually hard to quantify how much I hate Tories, how much I despise them, and how worrying it is that people vote Tory – when the evidence shows they are simply in it for themselves and nothing else.

  2. Hamish100 says:

    Good to see you back.

    I suppose the question politically is how we can capitalise with the doubters to see that independence is one route out from the unaccountable tories and unionist sleaze.
    From the dark money to jobs for the boys and some girls the bbc are trying to show labour are the acceptable face of unionism. We saw the English exceptionalism at work at COP. Trying to push us “natives” into our box. Only the private jetters allowed to speak. As the bbc “ real journalists” pack their bags to head south we are left with what?

    The realism that we can do better than them, that we have a moral and social compass better than them should, I hope, persuade the doubters that corrupt Westminster ways can be removed by voting Independence.🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

    • grizebard says:

      Shamelessly egregious as Tory sleaze and anti-democratic finaglings are, I don’t expect that this will move many minds towards independence, that all being somewhat abstract. Labourites in particular will hope, especially if Tories in England take a poll hit, to get their party Buggins’ Turn in power in London again, however futile a hope that might turn out to be.

      The major determinant of those yet to be convinced will remain (as it has been all along) how they feel that their personal economic situation will be with independence vs staying in the Union, and Tory sleaze has only an incidental influence on that.

      The best we can hope for at the moment is perhaps that public disaffection with Tory greed for money and power will neutralise their anti-SG posturing as provided courtesy of the BBC, etc. And maybe make people a little more willing to give the SNP a listen, not least after Nicola Sturgeon’s astute handling of the COP assembly.

      • P Harvey says:

        I have more faith in the Scottish people to see through Tory propaganda
        For independence will continue to cancel increase despite MSM lies

        • P Harvey says:


        • grizebard says:

          The (unjustified, as events proved) mud-slinging against Nicola Sturgeon in the lead-up to the last Holyrood elections has likely had some temporary collateral dampening effect on the steady rise in support for independence, so it is possible that Tory sleaze will have some reverse effect in support for that party if public feeling persists until the coming local elections. But it won’t necessarily rebound on Unionism as a whole. Some of those votes may simply shift to Labour or FibDem instead.

          Perhaps the best that can be hoped for is that things like WM sleaze slowly and insidiously dissolve away some of the rebar holding the Unionist house together. Nothing immediately visible, but as evidence accumulates, given some suitable push the whole thing suddenly collapses in a cloud of dust. I think it could happen like that, all of a sudden, unexpectedly. But we shouldn’t be complacent, Tory sleaze is not the prime driver of what most ordinary folk care about. They have much more pressing concerns and expectations, and it is those we will have to be prepared to address when the inevitable showdown comes.

  3. Welsh_Siôn says:

    Meanwhile, in the Western Colonies:

    Tory opposed to Welsh Gov’s second homes plan won seat with financial support of family’s holiday cottage business

    14 Nov 2021 5 minute Read

    Female employee of disgraced Delyn MP Rob Roberts quits, becoming third staff member to leave

    14 Nov 2021 3 minute Read

  4. James Mills says:

    The next time , and every time after that , when DRoss stands up in Holyrood and starts his pathetic whining about ANYTHING , Nicola Sturgeon need only quietly ask :

    ” Are you sure you have declared ALL your earnings for this month , Douglas ? ”

  5. Capella says:

    The MET refuses to investigate the cash for honours scandal that is all over the press. In their reply to Pete Wishart’s complaint they claim there is “insufficient evidence” to investigate. But if more evidence appears then they will investigate. Surely it is the job of the police to investigate alleged criminal activity. They have the power and authority to demand access to papers and interview witnesses. Corruption seems to permeate the entire Westminster establishment.

    • Legerwood says:

      I always thought that the point of an investigation was to find evidence. There certainly seems to be plenty of circumstantial evidence to warrant an investigation that would presumably look for hard evidence.

      Or is the whole point of the ‘not enough evidence’ to allow the sleazeaholics time to shred the evidence?

      • Alex Clark says:

        Absolutely, the job of the police is to investigate any allegation of criminal behaviour reported to them and to find evidence if it exists and to then pass that evidence to the Procurator Fiscal or to dismiss the allegation as being without foundation.

        The point being, that you cannot decide that there is “insufficient evidence” until you have conducted an investigation into the original complaint. In a case as serious as this, that involves the integrity of the government that has been made by a Member of Parliament, then to brush it off as the Met have done without any apparent scrutiny at all ranks of incompetence at best and corruption at worst.

        Who polices the police?

  6. bringiton says:

    Tory MPs are claiming that to counter the “need” for them to have second or third jobs,they should be paid equivalent to a fully qualified medical doctor.
    How many qualifications or experience is required to hang around the Commons bars before staggering into the lobby to vote for whatever the whips have instructed?
    What are the pre- requisites to becoming a Tory MP?
    Presumably a bung to the local party constituency chairman.
    Despicable bunch of mendacious chancers.

  7. Dr Jim says:

    My reckoning is that DRoss was a self sacrificial lamb ” I am guilty look at me and my wee £thousands and not at them and their £millions” kind of deal, these pretendy Scottish Tories would give their blood to protect their masters

    DRoss, the blood sacrificing squirrel of the day

    • grizebard says:

      Still, it makes all that BBC Jokeland promotion of the Forres Gump look particularly inept. Collateral damage, what?

  8. Capella says:

    Cash for peerages not going away – “TWO SNP politicians have written to the Metropolitan Police after being told that they had decided not to investigate the “cash for peerages” allegations.

    Aberdeen Central MSP Kevin Stewart and Stephen Flynn, MP for Aberdeen South, wrote to Detective Inspector Trevor Normoyle, the operational head of the Special Enquiry Team, after he told them there was “insufficient information” on which to launch a criminal investigation.”
    from The National.

    • Alex Clark says:

      This has to be investigated, the Met cannot just ignore the concerns of 3 members of parliament over allegations of abuse of power and illegality. Blair didn’t get away with it and was questioned “under caution” three times, so why should Johnson, May and Cameron get away with it?

    • Welsh_Siôn says:

      Have not of further developments following Adam Price MS and Liz Savile Roberts MP’s letter to the Met about the same thing. (Plaid Cymru Leaders in the Senedd and at Westminster.)

      Will keep you posted as necessary.

  9. Capella says:

    The Labour party are publishing lists of Tory MSPs with second jobs such as Alexander Burnett, Donald Cameron and Edward Mountain. However, they are not breaking any rules by having a second job. Only if they participate in decisions which would benefit them can they be accused of cheating. But how to police that?
    From The National.

  10. Not-My-Real-Name says:

    Good post Paul.

  11. scottish skier says:

    How gloriously ironic, but an entirely logical result of brexit.

    Brexit has made it easier for small boat crossings to reach UK, refugees say

    Refugees living in northern France say Brexit has made it easier for them to reach the UK in small boats, as it emerged that record numbers of people crossed the Channel in one day…

    …Previously, when the UK was part of the EU, under a mechanism known as Dublin the UK could ask other EU countries to take back people they could prove had passed through safe European countries before reaching the UK.

    The UK could make “take charge” requests and officials were often able to prove that asylum seekers had passed through other countries thanks to the Eurodac fingerprint database. But since Brexit the UK no longer has access to that database, so it is harder to prove definitively which other European countries small boat arrivals to the UK have previously passed through.

    The UK has not so far struck any bilateral agreements with other EU countries to enable it to replicate the Dublin arrangement. Instead officials have labelled many claims where they suspect people have passed through other European countries before reaching the UK as “inadmissible”.

    So, ‘illegal immigration’ shooting up while skilled EU workers flood out the exit gates in their 100’s of k’s while tourist numbers to the land of barbed wire border posts, empty shelves, fuel rations and sewage covered beaches plummet.


  12. James Mills says:

    Is anyone really surprised that The Met have refused to do their job and investigate complaints of ”Cash for Peerages ” against this Tory Government ?
    Remember who is running The Met – Dame Cressida Dick !

    Her tenure has been an unmitigated disaster yet she remains in post . Why ? The Home Secretary , Patel , has her in the palm of her hand and can squash her at any time .
    So The Met , under her control , will do as they are told !

  13. scottish skier says:

    The UK is so utterly screwed with such a complete racist imbecile at the helm.

    How can someone with this lack of awareness be expected to make any sort of sensible decision on anything?

    Loathsome as he is too, such stories just back up what Cummings has been saying about Johnson’s utter incompetence.

    Boris Johnson mocked after saying COP26 was held in Edinburgh

    BORIS Johnson has been ridiculed after claiming that COP26 was held in Edinburgh – when it was held in Glasgow.

    ..Responding to a question about the UN secretary-general’s reaction to the summit, Johnson said he would not want people to think “we cracked it here at COP in Edinburgh” amid criticism from activists and politicians that it did not go far enough.

    The Prime Minister said: “I don’t think Antonio Guterres, the secretary-general of the UN, would want people to think that we cracked it here at COP in Edinburgh. Of course not.”

  14. Capella says:

    The Financial Times, of all papers, has an article on the 92 hereditary peers who still sit in the House of Lords. When one dies they “elect” a replacement. So much for Tony Blair’s reforms.
    I blame the Normans.
    But if we become independent we will be free of this anti-democratic abomination.

    • grizebard says:

      Amen to that. The extraordinary persistence of that non-democratic abomination is proof positive – if any were still needed – that reform of governance isn’t on the agenda of any political party in England. (In fact, under BoJo sleaze it has even gone into reverse.) It’s the realisation of that indisputable fact which convinced me that the only way reform can be achieved is in fact absurdly simple: independence. We get to start afresh, and the ensuing political shock waves in England of “losing Scotland” is about the only thing that could and will start the necessary re-evaluation there. We get to come out of it friends as proper equals into the bargain. It’s a win-win, really.

    • Hamish100 says:

      You blame the normans?
      “Norman” wisdom was underrated in my view. “Norman” Collier, well……🕵🏻‍♂️

  15. scottish skier says:

    Good to know we can watch England play for free on STV tonight.

    But if we want to watch our country play, we’d need to pay for Sky Sports.

    Now if we didn’t have to pay £159/yr to the state broadcaster of people of a different nationality / from a different country (British / English) on pain of arrest by their gestapo, that could be eminently affordable.

    There would have been uproar in England/Britainshire if the EU had tried to take control of broadcasting and force people in the UK to pay for ‘EU State TV’ run by Brussels, sending stasi vans over the channel to arrest non-compliers. But the English/British doing that to Scots is fine apparently.

  16. Naina Tal says:

    Posted by Christopher Rosindale on a previous thread:

    Might have contributed to the idea of English Independence but when I read it:
    Oh dear! oh dear! oh dear! Where to start? 90 billion of English taxpayers’money paid out to Scotland every year? Hope they get their Indy Ref though!

    • scottish skier says:

      If this fictional charitable ‘subsidy’ from the amazingly generous English Tories did exist, it would be to unionists in Scotland, not indy supporters obviously. It’s only unionists that could be ‘subsidy’ junkies. I voted Yes in 2014 so it’s impossible to call me that; same for Sturgeon et al.

      Beats me how unionists take such abuse from their supposed ‘precious British family’ across the border. Douglas Ross is a ‘subsidy junkie’ according to English Tories, yet he still wants to shine their shoes.

      • Naina Tal says:

        Of course the majority of people in Scotland know the truth. We all pay taxes in one form or another. In Englandshire this myth is perpetuated and many think it is true. I’d be happy to encourage them in their illusions, but myths don’t stop at the border and there is a substantial minority in Scotland who are only too happy to latch on to these smears.
        The geezer says he spent 38 years in Scotland and was subject to racial abuse. Reading his diatribe, his attitude may well have had something to do with that!

        • scottish skier says:

          Aye, beats me why unionists take such abuse. As noted, the subsidy junkie insult is directed purely at No voters, so it’s never bothered me.

          I guess maybe the likes of Sarwar, Ross etc are actually lazy subsidy junkies themselves, hence don’t want to refute that? That could make sense.

          It’s that or they don’t actually consider themselves Scottish, but British only, and so the see the insults directed at Scots, not them as ‘North British’.

    • Dr Jim says:

      You’ve gotta laugh though, England actually is an Independent country no different to they’ve always been, they control everything and decide everything from constitutions to banking, military, and international trade, the rest of us in the British isles live in colonies

      The Union is a fiction for the masses to believe they’re part of something that they’re not, Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland serve and wait at Englands pleasure

      • scottish skier says:

        Nope, England is too scared of independence. Or at least their government is. Hence ‘no Section 30’. Cowards terrified of having to work for a living rather than live off subsidies from Scotland.

        By contrast, people nationally identifying as Scottish in whole or in part voted Yes in majority in 2014, as they have the baws to stand on their own two feet.

  17. Alex Montrose says:

    Yesterday at the Cenotaph and Memorials around the UK folks turned out in their thousands to pay their respects to the fallen, the old vets and pensioners among them proudly marching along to the pipe and brass bands.

    Today, most pensioners must be disappointed to hear the Tories have a 3 line whip on the vote tonight, to scrap the triple lock on our pensions.

    I’ll be amazed if any of the so called Scottish Tories vote any other way, than they are told to.

  18. Hamish100 says:

    …., I see the GMB have accepted the pay rise in Glasgow which was already accepted by other trades unions and elsewhere in Scotland. Remember this.
    The pretendy union leader trying to be a latter day Tommy Sheridan but without the panazz or intelligence.
    I can only assume COP has ended and the pied piper has removed all rats from the City.

    Well not quite, labour still remain.

    • grizebard says:

      Yes, magic how that ended. Obviously nothing much to do with workers rights unique to Glasgow, just hoary old 1970s-style posturing by a few that achieved FA for workers but does damage the standing of trade unionism in the eyes of the citizenry. Lose-lose for the sake of a few rabble-rousing attention-seekers.

  19. scottish skier says:

    On the topic of incompetent, subsidy junkie countries.

    What actually happened to Scotland’s trillions in North Sea oil boom?

    …Last year, our [British/English] total revenue from the North Sea [particularly Scottish waters] was just £0.2 billion – 300 miles to the north east, to Norway and Stavanger, the country’s oil twin with Aberdeen producing almost exactly the same amount of oil, total revenue was £9bn.

    The North Sea oil fields are geographically and equally divided between the UK [Scotland actually, with 90% or so] and Norway. In 1990, when we [the British/English] were spending the windfall [we pickpocketed from the Scots], [the vastly more intelligent people of] Norway began to tuck away its cash into a rainy-day fund – what we would call nowadays a sovereign wealth fund –called the Oljefondet, more formally the Government Pension Fund Global. It began to invest in international markets, in property – a wedge of Regent Street in London and some of the best property in Paris.

    The $1.3 trillion fund…

    ….So, where did the lost billions go? According to Hawksworth: “The logical answer is that the oil money enabled non-oil taxes [for the English] to be kept lower [so subsidising the lazy and feckless in England, allowing them to live the high life on other people’s money].”

    Based on these numbers, England / Britain must be the biggest subsidy junkie nation in human history. Maybe the most feckless too.

    Hell, even if we had ended up with a ‘British’ sovereign wealth fund, just imagine how that could be put to good use now aiding the energy transition. But no, the lazy, feckless subsidy junkie Tories like Bozo pissed it all up against a wall.

    If you want your country to lose trillions, elect the Tories. The most economically illiterate people on earth. Brexit is just the latest example of this.

    • stewartb says:

      Thanks for helping to keep this important information to the fore. The legacy of oil & gas for independent Norway and that for ‘dependent’ Scotland could not be more stark despite broadly comparable natural resources.

      Examining the details of Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global makes this crystal clear. See for lots of interesting, revealing statistics.

      Current market value = 12,165 billion NOK (c. £1,040 billion)

      ‘The Norwegian government first transferred capital to the fund in May 1996. By the end of the first half 2021, the fund has received a total of 2,942 billion kroner, while the fund’s cumulative return was 7,417 billion kroner.’

      This huge opportunity for Scotland is gone but the lesson – the benefit of having agency – is clear.

      • grizebard says:

        Absolutely. But when you tell that to the resolutely hopeless Unionist, they’ll reply “well, it’s all gone anyway, no point looking back, it’s not going to be any use to us now, so we’re stuck”. I’m sure we’ve all heard something like that.

        To which typical passive shoulder-shrugging, the appropriate response is that we have plenty enough yet to bootstrap to renewables in a socially just way, but the whole world is starting to sense that opportunity now, so high time we got involved to reap the immense new economic benefits – far better even than oil, energy resources that never run out – while we’re relatively ahead of the game. And do it right this time.

        For which we need… (yes you’ve got it!)…

  20. yesindyref2 says:

    I’d forgotten this, and it’s why you can see England on STV but not you Scotland:

    Nationwide Building Society
    Sponsors coverage of England football

    I’m guessing Nationwide only do business in England …

    • yesindyref2 says:

      on STV live that is, I just saw some highlights on STV.

    • yesindyref2 says:

      So basically speaking, none of the big companies that make money out of Scotland are prepared to put their hands in their pockets to give something back and sponsor live coverage of Scotland football.

      What a surprise.

    • scottish skier says:

      I guess if you were wondering which ‘nation’ they served ‘wide’, this should help.

  21. Statgeek says:

    I await with bated breath for the Scottish news and the Twitterati to go hell for leather at the Tories, in the same way they’ve banged the drum at the SNP’s ‘missing monies’.

  22. Capella says:

    Washington Post hails Nicola Sturgeon making a role for herself at COP26, The National tells us. Their American readers are better informed than any n the UK (except national readers of course). Good to see that the independence issue is well understood by our friends around the world.

  23. Capella says:

    The Scottish newspaper front pages have disappeared from the BBC website. You can still see the Nov 15th front pages. I have no idea why. Could The National front page be the problem?

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