If the allegations are to be believed, then Priti Patel – “intentionally” or not – is a bully. And that’s terrible – it truly is – but given everything we know about her, should we be surprised?
I’d say not. I’d also argue that bullying civil servants is at the lesser end of her faults. The only surprising thing is that people in the media expected her to lose her job given the behaviour that put her there in the first place.
The life and should-be-crimes of Priti Patel
Gal-dem put together a handy guide to Patel’s greatest misdeeds/atrocities. Before her career in politics, Patel worked as a spin doctor on behalf of British American Tobacco (BAT). If you’re unfamiliar with tobacco, it’s a plant that, when smoked, causes:
If that wasn’t bad enough, tobacco companies actually charge their victims for the pleasure of being slowly made impotent/dead. If that wasn’t bad enough, Patel got paid hundreds of thousands to improve BAT’s image after its “joint venture with one of the world’s most brutal military regimes”.
Her lax attitude towards dubious foreign powers continued in office. Most notably, Theresa May had to fire her as international development secretary in 2017 because Patel was conducting secret meetings with Israeli ministers and business people. Given her record as development secretary, we can assume she wasn’t there solely to regale them with stories of how she spun the enrichment of a military dictatorship. Speaking on her time in the role, gal-dem wrote:
- Priti leveraged an £11bn aid budget as a trade incentive to make business deals with other countries in time for Brexit. It is illegal for the UK to explicitly use aid funds in this way, but that didn’t stop the former IDS from using the government funds to “further national interest”.
- Her legacy as IDS also includes using the same money to support big business and the comfortable middle class in foreign countries. She funnelled hundreds of millions of pounds worth of the UK’s aid budget into corporate ventures. This includes setting up five-star luxury hotels and shopping malls in Nigeria and investing in Chinese online gambling and restaurant chains.
Out of border
A collection of other positions she’s held in office include:
- Voting against same-sex marriage in 2013.
- Voting “against banning the detention of pregnant women”.
- Supporting the death penalty to “deter crime”. She later backtracked on this position – possibly because she found out how we historically dealt with those who collude with foreign powers.
Recently, Patel has made waves as the home secretary, although thankfully not literally. The Bond-villain-esque proposals she’s considered include:
- Using wave-making pumps to splash refugees back to France.
- Erecting floating walls in the middle of the sea.
- Shipping people 4,000 miles away to a remote island in the Atlantic Ocean.
While she avoided turning the English Channel into a vast murderscape that combined the worst elements of Waterworld and The Purge, the policies and rhetoric she’s enacted haven’t been much better. Largely they’ve revolved around failing to learn the lessons of Windrush. They’ve also seen her waging war on the “lefty lawyers” who had the nerve to expect her to obey the law.
The shock. The horror.
Make no mistake – the alleged bullying that Patel is accused of should have seen her fired. In any ordinary government it would have done, but this is no ordinary government. Patel isn’t in her position despite being a bully; she’s there because of it. When you employ a person to be Darth Vader, you don’t fire them because they were rude to the rebels.
This isn’t to say we shouldn’t hammer the government for Johnson’s decision. It is to say that media types who ignore all of the above shouldn’t be surprised when Johnson ignores a code of conduct.
The outcome here is very, very messy and it's unlikely that the opposition will let things rest here – the ministerial code, signed by the PM clearly says there must be no bullying
— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) November 20, 2020
Oh shit – did it ‘clearly say there must be no bullying’? It’s almost like these parasites have the same level of disdain for procedure as they do the human beings they want to wave to death in the English Channel.
Bully for them
The establishment types weren’t horrified that Patel kept her job despite being a bully; they were horrified that she kept her job despite breaking a rule. This is where we are, though. We keep pointing out the horrible shit the Tories do, and the media keep acting like we’re the weirdoes for banging on about it.
If you’re thinking, “well at least it will wake these people up”, it won’t. All it means is that the next time a minister makes a civil servant cry, Robert Peston will say something like:
Ah, so although this sounds dubious, there is actually precedent for ministers behaving like a cross between Cruella de Vil and Joe Exotic.
A month from now, the media will be back to normalising whatever nonsense Patel is up to. When that happens, remind yourself and everyone around you that Patel may be a bully, but like another infamous spin doctor, she’s also “so much worse than that”.
Featured image via Richard Townshend – Wikimedia
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