What we need like a hole in the head right now is the distraction of Government having to return to Parliament to refresh its legislative mandate for coronavirus regulations more often than once every six months, as some MPs and commentators, such as Henry Hill, have argued.
Look what happened last time Parliament sought to dictate government’s timetable and actions, we got into a complete and utter mess simply to pander to the egos of a few remoaners in cahoots with the Opposition and the then Speaker, John Bercow. We saw Parliament at its dysfunctional and self-aggrandising worst, the worst it has ever been during my lifetime, for sure.
Confidence in the Prime Minister
I don’t profess to be a constitutional expert, but if Conservative backbenchers are now saying in rising numbers that they have no confidence in the Prime Minister and his government’s handling of the pandemic, they should put up by moving a motion of no confidence, or shut up.
We have a system of government where the Leader of the largest single party in Westminster is invited to form Her Majesty’s Government, and then appoints their Cabinet team who share collective responsibility for the policies and actions of that government. If they cannot support those policies and actions, they are free to resign, but even in their wildest fantasies the “unlockers” don’t delude themselves that Cabinet members are so disillusioned that they would want to bring down the government.
An overdose of scrutiny
And Henry Hill’s claims of a lack of scrutiny just don’t hold water. Almost every departmental select committee in the Commons has run and/or is running an inquiry into the detail of the government’s response to the pandemic. Health Committee, Education Committee, Foreign Affairs Committee, Home Affairs Committee, the Science and Technology Committee, the Transport Committee, the Women and Equalities Committee, the Work and Pensions Committee – heck, even the Digital Culture Media and Sport Committee and the Defence Select Committee have all piled in to tie up the nation’s experts in the glue of answering their questions and challenges. Never has so much scrutiny power been deployed to garner, examine and opine on information and government policies, and that’s to say nothing of committee work in the Lords and the amount of time given over to debates in both Houses.
Like anybody working in politics, and particularly those who have served the Conservative Party for many decades (nearly 40 years in my case), I have the greatest respect for the officers of the 1922 and the Covid Recovery Group, but they are there principally to support the Government, to enable it to function smoothly, and to support it in delivering a Conservative agenda by informing its considerations, not to make it swim through a sea of treacle in the midst of a global pandemic, and in the midst of such a pandemic is where we are, and will be for a long time to come.
Trust the experts
There are otherwise sensible Conservative Members of Parliament who are seriously currently advocating a view that parliamentary and/or party arithmetic should prevail over public health considerations, and that he who shouts loudest politically should be heard above the measured tones of Chief Scientists, Chief Medical Doctors, Chief Executives of NHS England, and the raft of public servants who have distinguished themselves by their openness during the pandemic, and a team of government ministers who are showing how Britain can lead the world in science, health promotion, and vaccination.
Lockdown is clearly not a walk in the park, though that is now on the horizon, but the extent to which close confinement has made some commentators and politicians stir crazy, beggars belief.
by Chris Whitehouse, Chairman & Managing Director