Newcastle North MP, Catherine McKinnell, spoke during a debate in Parliament on standards in public life highlighting concerns thatthe Prime Minister and his Government have repeatedly undermined democracy and accountability, following a series of recent scandals that have engulfed the Prime Minister and his Government.

In her contribution Catherine made clear her concerns that the current issues did not start with the Owen Paterson case, pointing to the Prime Minister’s long and concerning track-record of flouting conventions on standards and avoiding responsibility for policy failures.

She pointed out that although the Prime Minister claims to believe in high standards in public life, he ignored the findings of his own adviser on standards when the Home Secretary was accused of bullying civil servants, protected the then Education Secretary over last Summer’s GCSE and A-Level fiasco, and backed the former Health Secretary when he was found to have flouted the COVID rules.

Speaking during the debate, Catherine commented:

“In our system of parliamentary government, it has, quite rightly, been the convention that Ministers are accountable to Parliament for the actions of their Departments. But the current Conservative Government seem to take a somewhat different view. They have been content to close ranks to protect political allies from accountability and see no problem in hanging departmental officials out to dry for policy failures, deflecting blame and avoiding ministerial responsibility.

She continued:

“It is difficult to imagine, 10 or 20 years ago, a Government unlawfully proroguing Parliament without even the Prime Minister and the Leader of the House resigning, or at least having the decency to admit that they were wrong. It is unclear what the Prime Minister thinks that he, his Ministers and sometimes his MPs should be held accountable for, if anything at all.”

Catherine concluded:

“…Parliamentary democracy in its present form has not been around for long at all. It is fragile and precious, and must be protected from Governments who seek to undermine it for their own short-term gain..”

“I will finish by quoting President Lyndon Johnson, who famously said, “It takes a carpenter to build a barn, but any jackass can knock it down”. I know that I am not alone in my deep concerns about the long-term impact on our democracy of a Government who all too frequently act with no sense of decency, dignity or shame.”