Richard Pierce

Life, Politics

Day 148

When the Tories won the UK general election in 2010 and formed a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats, we warned that democracy would come under threat.

When Cameron and Osborne implemented their austerity programme shortly thereafter, we warned that democracy was already under threat, and that the killing of the poor had started.

When the advisory EU referendum was won by the right-wing Leavers, we warned that democracy was hanging on by a mere thread.

When the 2017 general election resulted in a hung parliament, we thought there was hope.

When the Tories won an 80-seat majority in the general election in 2019, we warned that this might have been the last free election this country would see. I was laughed at.

Covid-19 came and conquered. The 80-seat majority allowed the Tories to mismanage the health and welfare of the nation without accountability. Tens of thousands of people died unnecessarily whilst the friends of those in power enriched themselves. Those in power broke the laws they themselves had made. They considered themselves invincible.

Yesterday, faced by the threat of being investigated and castigated and punished by Parliament’s Privileges Committee, Boris Johnson – he who led the country into the Covid-19 crisis, he who partied with the worst of them, he who used donors’ money to redecorate the grace and favour flat he has in Downing Street, he who lied to the constitutional monarch (however irrelevant the monarchy be), he who was found to have broken the law with his prorogation of Parliament, he who has caused, and doesn’t care about, the cost-of-living crisis which is killing even more of the poor and ill, he who has factually been shown to have lied to Parliament – decided to rewrite the Ministerial Code, which governs the behaviour of those in the highest seats of power, and remove from it all references to honesty, integrity, transparency and accountability, decided to rewrite it in such a way that he can no longer be punished by the Privileges Committee for all the sins of lies and omission he has evidently and factually committed. Unilaterally rewritten Let that sink in. He now puts himself above the law. He is now the equivalent of Putin, and any other dictator you wish to name.

On hearing this news, I wrote to my Member of Parliament, Chloe Smith (for the sake of completeness, a Tory):

Dear Ms Smith,

I find myself having to once again having to write to you to bring to your attention my grave concerns regarding Boris Johnson.

Not only has he been shown in the Gray Report to undoubtedly have lied to Parliament regarding breaches of covid-19 legislation, as well as having been at parties for which others have been fined and he inexplicably hasn’t, and not only has he shown scant regard or concern for those bereaved by covid-19, and those having to deal with the cost-of-living crisis, but he has now rewritten the Ministerial Code.

This is really unacceptable, and an open attack on democracy, especially as he has removed, in his foreword, all reference to honesty, integrity, transparency, and accountability, as well as removing the requirement for any minister to resign if they break the code.

I would really be interested if you can still support the Prime Minister after the Gray Report, and if so, why. I would also like to know if you support this unilateral rewriting of the Ministerial Code just as the Prime Minister is about to be investigated by the Privileges Committee for breaches of the Code. If you do support this rewriting of the Code, and if you do continue to support the Prime Minister, then it is very obvious that you are choosing to act without honesty, integrity, transparency, and accountability, and therefore should not be a Member of Parliament.

I look forward to hearing from you.

I don’t expect to hear back from her. I very rarely hear back from her. She is one of those MPs who spinelessly tow the line with no regard for the health and welfare of her constituents whilst posturing as someone who cares. O, my eldest, said my letter was like “pissing in the wind.” He’s probably right, but it is important for me to register my dissent, my disapproval, and the more people do so, the more pressure there will be on MPs to right the wrongs that are being done to this country right now. A groundswell of opinion. The only question is – will they listen?

We warned about the death of democracy. We are now now standing by its deathbed watching the priest of lies give it the last rites with a vial of poison.



No trance has ever been this intense before, this all-encompassing, this numbing. Aggie shakes her head. She feels slow and out of control. Was it real, that vision, of Cassandra, her arms around Putin, her blades in the chest of the oppressor, the blood, the smile, the vanishing? She shakes her head again. It can’t have been.

The door is slightly open. Aggie curses under her breath, curses herself, curses her imagination, her loss of control, curses Anna, sits up, stretches her legs. They’re shaking. This has never happened before. All she can do is be grateful they didn’t come under attack while she was so incapacitated, so helpless, so unobservant. She adjusts her eyes to the new light, gets up, tenses her leg muscles to feel her knife nestling down there against her bare skin inside her boot, under her trousers. She moves slowly, carefully, needs to make sure she is fully operational before she takes any big steps, needs to be ready again for anything that might face her out there. The hallway is dark, and she centres her vision on the threadbareness of the carpet that leads to the stairs. Eyes down, the path clear. She senses that her strength, her reflexes are returning, takes a deep silent breath to refresh herself. Address the failure later. Recalibrate. Click back into normality, back into battle readiness. It’s almost physical now, inside her head, the search for and discovery of that small space she has set aside for herself, the one which tempers her reflexes with grace and humility and empathy and goodness. The small glow of happiness in there, away from anything else. She’s relieved to find it.

The stairs, miraculously, don’t creak under her weight, under the tread of her outsized boots, and she walks down them without having to hold on to the walls, without risking knocking any of Robert’s innumerable ancient trinkets onto the floor, without risking making a noise and waking up the whole house. She’s a floor down now, where they should all me asleep. Her internal clock tells her over an hour has passed since she turned the light out, since she started succumbing to something that was neither flashback nor memory nor soothsaying. She stands stock still. Cassandra, in her brain? Could Madam (the phrase crashes into her from nowhere) have the power to influence her thoughts, to penetrate into her brain, into the wiring that makes Aggie Aggie? She shakes away the thought as an impossibility.

There. A noise. Muffled. She tenses, hands blurring in motion, stiletto now in hand. Zav’s room. There. Ahead. Low voices. No words. She creeps forward to it, stops just short of the door. Giggles. The waft of loose sheets. A creak. A succession of creaks. Gathering speed. Fast breaths. Slow sighs. Aggie understands and can’t help grinning. She turns away, and goes down the next set of stairs. The lights down here are still on, and the strains of Robert’s hymn drift into the hall.

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