Matthew Parris was always on the wet side of the Conservative Party. But as time has gone on and the Tory left has tightened its stranglehold on the rest of the party, Parris has become increasingly hydrated. The rise of Cameron has seen Parris graduate from walking past a mist spray to ‘bombing’ into the deep end of the pool off the high board. He is now so sopping wet his previous good sense on many matters of principle have been consigned to the dustbin.
This explains why such an exceptionally talented writer now turns out so much claptrap in his column. Parris is, in my humble opinion, one of the best columnists in years. But being a great author does not render the man immune from possessing questionable values and a warped sense of what is right and wrong – something that is very much in evidence in Parris’ missive in The Times about the David Laws affair, in which he tries to shoot the messenger rather than the wrongdoer, as he opens thus:
There’s something sick about this country. We’ve spent a weekend arguing about whether David Laws should go when we should have been trying desperately to persuade him to stay.
There is indeed something sick about this country. It is the endemic corrosion of values that sees people, like Parris and so many others in the political class, incapable of recognising wrongdoing for what it is. It is the inability to differentiate right from wrong and subsequent wailing about a supposed unfairness of appropriate consequences being applied to a wrongdoer. It is the sickness of hypocrisy and double standards that surface from within the political to defend the deceit, cheating and theft by one of their own, after they have spoken gravely of the need for the severest punishment for ordinary mortals who similarly cheat the system for their own ends. A crass self service where theft is downgraded for political purposes as ‘an error of judgement’.
David Laws’ actions were not a mere cock up as Parris would have his readers believe. This was a genuine conspiracy. It was a well thought out and executed plan to hide his personal circumstances. To pull it off Laws needed to claim money to which his true personal circumstances meant he was not entitled. He knew it, but he put his self interest before doing what was right and in so doing claimed hard earned taxpayers’ money which he gave to his long time partner – a man who was not his landlord, but his lover. The public purse was used to further Laws’ ongoing cover up of his realtionship and sexuality. Neither were our business, until he wrongly took our money. But, wails Parris, it was within the rules. How many times will we hear that defence of the indefensible? Where do the public have any say over those rules?
The problem is that many people follow the line set by those such as Parris, because they consider such commentators to be wisened sages. But Parris’ views of the matter are anything but wise. Rarely can I remember a time when so many people who had been wronged had been manipulated into stepping forward to defend the wrongdoer who took from them. But then, fools and money are easily parted, which perhaps explains why these people seem comfortable with the idea that although David Laws cheated the system, diddled them out of the tax pounds, for nothing more than vested self interest, he should have remained in post without consequence or punishment.
When Parris speaks selectively of ‘foul hypocrisy’ he should take a look in the mirror. Some vicious morons have tried to make it such, but this matter isn’t about gay or straight, it is about the misuse of public money. Period. It is about this sense among many in the political class that because we fork over our tax pounds they are in some way entitled to them to make their oh-so-difficult lives more bearable without dipping into their own pockets. Despite Parris’ hysterical moral outrage, it is he who is an example of this country’s declining morals and values. He should learn to recognise the difference between right and wrong before lecturing us.