Will someone please save us from this political hellscape?
If you thought living through a global pandemic wasn’t bad enough, enter: Boris Johnson and the Tories. While COVID saw UK citizens experience a wave of financial hardships, death of loved ones, uncertainty, and isolation, the government took their opportunity to see how idiotically they could handle the mess (remember Eat Out to Help Out?).
With the Conservative government’s management of the pandemic centred on a surge of corruption – featuring social distancing breaches, the continuous overlooking of public health experts, unethical contracts funding Tory-linked organisations, affairs, and more… you have to ask: how are the Tories still running the country?
As a photo of Matt Hancock snogging his millionaire mistress and adviser Gina Coladangelo is exposed, here’s your Dazed guide to all the corrupt things the Tories have done during the pandemic. Lucky us.
DOMINIC CUMMINGS BREAKING LOCKDOWN
Sure, this one isn’t technically corruption, but it did basically set the tone for the Tory government’s relentless incompetence throughout the entire pandemic, so let’s start here. In March 2020 – only days after Boris Johnson announced the first stay-at-home order – former chief advisor to the PM Dominic Cummings (long before he exposed BoJo’s “wtf do we do” leak) travelled to Durham despite him and his wife suspecting they had COVID. Days later, in the midst of his symptoms, the former chief advisor was spotted 30 miles from Durham at Barnard Castle. According to Cummings, this was to “test his eyes” after facing visual symptoms from the virus – because, obviously, getting behind the wheel of a moving vehicle is the most logical way to make sure your vision isn’t impaired. Surprise, surprise, Cummings did not receive any repercussions for breaking the lockdown restrictions. He did, however, offer a belated apology last month, stating: “I wish I’d never heard of Barnard Castle, and I wish I’d never gone.” OK.
GIVING CONTRACTS TO MATES
Despite the UK having the highest coronavirus death rate in Europe, the Tories have time and time again leant on personal friends and Conservative-linked organisations to solve the country’s crisis. Who needs public health experts anyways? Further, Transparency International UK reported that one in five government COVID contracts from between February and November 2020 “raised red flags” and could be corrupted – resulting in the usual: no action taken.
In January, photos of “disgusting” government-funded free meals provided to low-income children went viral on Twitter. The ‘meals’ – which were supposedly worth £30 –consisted of canned beans, seran-wrapped half-bananas, and slices of cheese on bread (see: Fyre Fest). Days later, word spread that Compass Group, which provided the rubbish meals, was owned by Tory donor Paul Walsh. With the government doing the absolute bare minimum to feed hungry children, individuals and grassroots organisations were left to do their bit. “Then imagine we expect the children to engage in learning from home. Not to mention the parents who, at times, have to teach them who probably haven’t eaten at all so their children can,” said footballer Marcus Rashford, who urged the government to re-evaluate the meals.
According to the Transparency International UK report, the Tory government displayed “apparent systemic biases in the award of PPE contracts that favoured those with political connections to the party of government in Westminster“. Besides the Conservative party’s never-ending denial of the fact, £2.1 billion of PPE contracts went to Conservative-linked firms. But when front-line NHS workers experienced a PPE shortage crisis towards the beginning of the pandemic, hospitals were directed to an automated hotline with little other help. I wonder... why?
We all know the dreaded track and trace app, which despite receiving £37 billion in funding, failed to log over 600 million COVID tests and showed no evidence of diminishing spread. So efficient! Besides its failure to do its actual job, the app seems to be another example of the Tories’ incessant cronyism. Serco, the company which was awarded up to £410 million in contracts for test and trace, was previously fined £19.2 million for misconduct from a different contract. If you couldn’t guess, health minister Edward Argar is a former lobbyist at Serco and the company’s CEO Robert Soames is the brother of a former Tory MP.
BORIS JOHNSON’S FLAT RENOVATION
With yet another embarrassment for Boris Johnson, the prime minister was investigated in May for spending £200k on redesigns for his Downing Street flat, which exceeds the allocated £30k per year to be spent on renovations. The investigation escalated during Dominic Cumming’s exposé when the former chief advisor accused Johnson of “unethical, foolish, (and) possibly illegal” behaviour, claiming that the prime minister intended to fund the renovations with money from Conservative Party donors. Johnson claimed to have received the money from Tory donor Lord Brownlow. TBH, nothing quite shows ignorance to people’s financial struggles from the pandemic like buying £840 per roll of gold wallpaper which reportedly “keeps falling down”. Sob.
CHEATING AND BREAKING LOCKDOWN
Why Matt Hancock should resign:— Zarah Sultana MP (@zarahsultana) June 25, 2021
• 10,000s avoidable Covid deaths
• PPE scandal & failure to protect NHS workers
• Discharged people into care homes without tests
• Unlawful Covid contracts & deals to mates
• £37 billion on privatised Test & Trace system that doesn't work
Today (June 25), the most recent news of Tory corruption came – along with perhaps the most cursed image we’ve ever been had to look at. Exposed by The S*n in a CCTV image from last month, health secretary Matt Hancock was captured cheating on his wife with Gina Coladangelo in an uncomfortable snog. Not only is Cladangelo a literal millionaire married to Oliver Bonas (yes, of the homeware store) and the sister of Roberto Coladangelo (strategy director at Partnering Limited which has received multiple NHS contracts), but she also was hired as an adviser by Hancock on taxpayers money. The image also shows Hancock’s blatant disregard for social distancing rules amid the rise in COVID cases. “I accept that I breached the social distancing guidance in these circumstances,” said Hancock, stating that he would be keeping his position. Last May, the health secretary denounced epidemiologist Neil Ferguson – who advised Johnson to lock down the UK – for inviting his mistress over despite social distancing rules. After Ferguson resigned, Hancock said: “I think he took the right decision.” Your turn then, hun.
This follows last March’s news of Boris Johnson’s affair with US businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri, who the PM gave access to top-level business events in a potential breach of the Mayor of London’s code of conduct.
THIS IS JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG
As we all know, COVID is not the only time the Tory government has been corrupt. Former prime minister and notorious Tory sleaze, David Cameron, was exposed for lobbying ministers and officials to get financial company Greensill Capital to join the Corporate COVID Financing Facility, which would allow the company to issue personal loans to firms. Otherwise, news from last year exposed that Arconic, the company which made Grenfell Tower’s flammable cladding, which resulted in the death of 72 people, was also linked to the Tories – donating £25k to Boris Johnson in 2017. Like we said, can someone please come save us from this hellscape?