Let’s be clear, in some people’s minds a bag full of cash need not be a bung, and fibbing isn’t necessarily lying.
Many people believe that all politicians are liars, and some do indeed tell porkies. When caught spinning a yarn, they deny, deny, deny, then double down, insisting they didn’t lie at all.
The British sense of fair play dislikes politicians who lie. I remember those B-Liar placards people waved at Tony Blair? His WMD’s were made-up nonsense, yet to this day, he and Alastair Campbell swear they were definitely out there somewhere.
Our MP, Bob Seely, has had a wretched fortnight. Like all Tory MPs, he faced a simple choice: back serial fibber Boris or remove him. When faced with this dilemma, MPs consider their moves carefully. If you ditch the leader, you need to be very sure who will replace them. Bob’s desperately ambitious for that coveted junior ministerial job yet, so far, he’s been repeatedly overlooked. The corridors of Westminster are full of such people, grumbling and endlessly speculating about who might replace the current incumbent should they succeed in toppling them. Their preferred new leader must be someone who rewards them, so promises are made in exchange for support. When the Tories dumped Theresa May, they all knew that Boris would replace her and ‘deliver Brexit.’ Because they had certainty; MPs acted decisively against her and were rewarded at the following election.
Bob’s unhappy with the leadership about several things – not just his dud career. Ukraine, housing targets, China, and then there’s that blasted Island deal. Bob said on his website that, before backing Boris, he considered that only he had ever promised the Island a bag full of extra cash. If he voted to replace him, would a new leader feel bound by Johnson’s (undelivered) Island deal pledge? Frankly, this mythical Island deal has been promised for so long that most liken it to a bag of magic beans, but Bob clearly hadn’t got any better offers from other leadership hopefuls.
Labour’s Lisa Nandy had been tipped off about the magic beans, and in parliament she mischievously asked the Secretary of State responsible if he’d known they had been promised again, in exchange for Bob’s leadership support? Bob was incandescent; he jumped to his feet; she must withdraw the claim that a bag full of beans in exchange for his precious Boris vote, sounded “awfully like corruption”. What a preposterous notion! Thankfully the Speaker was on hand to sort it all out, once Lisa Nandy conceded that it just “looked awfully dodgy.” Bob had to shut up.
Earlier, interviewed on LBC, Bob completely botched an attempt at loyalty to Boris. After repeating Number 10’s line that it’s time to move on, he didn’t appear to understand that people who made huge sacrifices during lockdowns, some denied the opportunity to say goodbye to dying loved ones, are angry that the Prime Minister lied about Partygate. Bob described it as “basically about cakes and a few drinks.” But then he stupidly added, “I think there are worse things to lie about.” The interviewer noticed his faux pas, asking “Do you think he [the Prime Minister] might have lied?” Bob was flummoxed; he didn’t know; he couldn’t “see inside his mind.”
Confirming his leader’s guilt was a blunder, even though he’d claimed it was only a minor fib about something not very important. Just half a lie, like, say, eating half a sausage at an illegal barbecue. Bob feigned indignation, accusing the interviewer of trying to catch him out, but it was too late; the damage was done.
When aspiring to high office, you must choose your words carefully, but that’s before you’re caught out, not afterwards Bob.