Sunday, January 29, 2023

Nadhim Zahawi: The Importance of Ministering Justice to Ministers.

This morning, Nadhim Zahawi - the Member of Parliament who was Chairman of the Parliamentary Conservative Party who is also constituency MP for Stratford-on-Avon (namely the constituency that I live and work in),  was fired by the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak.


Nadhim Zahawi, MP for Stratford-upon Avon

It was found that he had breached several aspects of the Ministerial Code including misleading HMRC over his tac affairs. This was discovered during his short tenure as Chancellor of Exchequer - the very role that has oversight over matters of taxation policy within the UK. Previously it had been claimed that Mr Zahawi's "mistake" was "careless" and not "deliberate". The subsequent probe found his activities and inactivies made this an impossible line to maintain though, and action had to be taken.

It is not the first time that Mr Zahawi has gotten into hot water over his poor offic. In 2018 at the height of the #metoo movement, he was serving as Children & Families Minister and was caught attending a gala at the scandal-hit President's Club. It was only when he was tipped off that the optics of his attendance were not great, that he made his excuses and left the gala.

Then there was his involvement in the downfall of Boris Johnson. Now I'm not a hypocrite... I'm very grateful that Johnson is political toast, but it should be noted that Mr Zahawi used the opportunity to wrangle up through the ranks and secuiring the position of Chancellor of the Exchequer from the then Prime Minister before promptly turnimg on him and stabbing him squarely in the front. Now you might say that this doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things - he was in that post for under two months. However, the fact remains that by virtue of serving in role AT ALL, he is granted a pension for being in that role.

We also have his role in the expenses scandal some time back, where he notoriously charged the taxpayer his expenses for keeping his stables warm.

When he has been caught out in these findings, his modus operandi seems to be that it's all an embarrassing but honest mistake which he will pay for and do better next time.

It was the author Ian Fleming who once noted in his James Bond book "Goldfinger":

“Mr Bond, they have a saying in Chicago: 'Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it's enemy action'.”

I put it to you that Mr Zahawi's history of actions goes far beyond happenchance, and coincidence... ad should be classed as enemy action. You might consider that he has received his punishment from the Government - having been consigned to the backbenches at least for now. But as his constituent, I'm not happy to leave the matter there. So what should be done?

Well ironically, Mr Zahawi provides the suggestion himself in a blog on his own website, written in April 2010, entitled - People Power. kicking out bad MPs:

However our People Power manifesto changes that introducing a right to recall if a Member of Parliament is found guilty of wrongdoing. So unlike in the current system whereby MPs, who have broken the rules and have been officially sanctioned by parliament and the Standards and Privileges committee, can continue to represent a constituency until the next election, we will give constituents the right to recall their Member of Parliament. Under a conservative government if an MP is found guilty of any wrong-doing then a right to recall will be offered to his or her constituents. This process will begin with the filing of a notice-of-intent-to recall petition to be signed by at least 100 constituents and submitted to the local returning officers. A recall petition will then be circulated within the constituency. If this petition has been signed by more than 10% of the electorate (in the case of Stratford by 6,936 people) within 90 days then a by-election will be triggered. This is a radical change, and a change that is truly needed, it removes the concept of the “safe seat” and makes MPs directly answerable to their constituents over the whole, parliament not just every five years. Most importantly it will force MPs to remember who they are are there to represent first, their constituents.

I remember that Mr Zahawi was a vehement supporter of Brexit and yes indeed, my constituency sadly voted for it. However, during the debate the major employers in his seat (most notably the National Farmers Union), spoke out against it. Whatever your views on Brexit, I'm forced to consider that his position in the debate was just another case of the pattern - the enemy action. One does not simply ignore the most important voices  you have a mandate in your tenure to represent. For me, this all points to a potential personal agenda and that for me seals the deal. Mr Zahawi should go on trial locally for the future of his political seat.

Indeed I believe that the Recall of MPs act as limited as its scope unfortunately is, does contain the remit in clause 3 to do this:

If an MP is convicted of providing false or misleading expenses claims, regardless of whether they are imprisoned.

It seems to me that this has been satisfied, so my appeal to my fellow constituentts is to get om this... because the betrayal (though internal) is to my mind as bad as that other Stratfordian MP of old's (John Profumo), external one.

Or perhaps to put it in the words of Stratford's favourite historical son William Shakespeare:

For this revolt of thine, methinks, is like another fall of man.



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