Owen Paterson affair exposes Boris Johnson’s contempt for standards

Martin Kettle writes: “Just before the start of the Commons debate on Paterson, Downing Street invented a new doctrine: that an MP facing workplace discipline charges should always be entitled to an appeal” (Owen Paterson’s escape shows that the sleaze era is back, 3 November). It may be a new doctrine, but it is based on longstanding Johnsonian behaviour. The Boris Johnson-led government wishes to sanction institutionally the individual behaviour first called out by Johnson’s housemaster and classics teacher in a letter to his parents. The government acts as if both itself and MPs like Owen Paterson “should be free of the network of obligation which binds everyone else”.
Anthony Lawton
Church Lunatum, Leicestershire

Terwyl, natuurlik, the Paterson affair taints the whole Tory party with moral bankruptcy, it is surely not irrelevant to note what its cheerleaders have in common. Jacob Rees-Mogg (Eton) verdedig Owen Paterson (Radley) and Boris Johnson (Eton) demands party support, while Kwasi Kwarteng (Eton) attacks parliament’s standards commissioner. Surprised? An indulged sense of entitlement will always ride to the defence of those it recognises as its own, however indefensible the case. Public school loyalty requires it.
Paul McGilchrist
Colchester, Essex

When Paul Dacre proved to be unappointable to Ofcom, the culture secretary said “let’s have a new interview process”. When Priti Patel was found to have bullied her staff, the PM said “no case to answer”. When Owen Paterson was found to have egregiously breached parliamentary standards, the Conservative party said “let’s have a new system”. They will say these cases are all different, but to the average voter it just looks like sleaze and corruption. Did it ever go away? No wonder the government wants to curtail judicial review.
Peter Clark
Burton-in-Lonsdale, North Yorkshire

MPs in parliament have been strongly advised to wear face masks to protect each other and staff members. Might I now also recommend that the mask be held securely in place by a clothes peg on the nose to protect the wearer from the foul stench of the undiluted sleaze that is permeating the House of Commons chamber. I see what Jacob Rees-Mogg really means when he describes the “convivial, fraternal spirit” among Tories. It’s code for shamelessly closing ranks and bullying doubters.
Catherine Dornan
Llandrindod Wells, Powys

It’s Bullingdon Club Toryism – just do what you like and smash the place up if you don’t like the rules.
Claire Connor
Trowbridge, Wiltshire

Courageous and principled were those Conservative MPs who defied the whip and voted against the Leadsom amendment. Boris Johnson’s U-turn (Boris Johnson makes U-turn over anti-sleaze regime for MPs, 4 November) has made the rest look cowards and fools. Do they realise it? Have their constituents noticed?
Graham Webb
Saint-Mandé, Frankryk

Boris Johnson should follow Owen Paterson’s example and quit politics for the sake of his family and the rest of us (MP Owen Paterson resigns from ‘cruel world of politics’, 4 November).
Dominic Shelmerdine
Londen

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