Categories: News

Martin spoke in the House of Commons Debate on the Privileges Committee report into the conduct of ex-Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Here is an extract of his speech transcribed via Hansard:

Martin Docherty-Hughes MP (SNP, West Dunbartonshire): Yesterday I spent some time with my dad, who is about to enter his 90th year, but too many people across Clydebank, Dumbarton and the Vale of Leven did not get time to spend with their dad yesterday.

I am sure there will be many people in this House who took that opportunity and who have constituents whose fathers, mothers, brothers or sisters are not around because of covid-19. How many disabled people were locked in their homes because they listened to what the Government had to say? My nephew, in a wheelchair in his own home, was unable to go out because of covid-19 and a British Prime Minister who told him what to do but broke the rules himself. My sister, who is a constituent and a kidney transplant patient, sat in her own room unable to go about the house with the rest of her family, just like other constituents across Clydebank, Dumbarton and the Vale of Leven.

This is personal. It is personal for every constituent that I represent, and I am sure it is personal for every other constituent represented by Members of this House. But I am afraid the House has to take a lesson. While I commend the report and all the members of the Committee, including the Chair, and I commend all the Clerks who helped, the report does not answer some fundamental questions that the House will need to consider in the long term. How is it possible that Boris Johnson walks out the door and earns millions within days and all we can say—I will quote from the report—is:

“In view of the fact that Mr Johnson is no longer a Member, we recommend that he should not be granted a former Member’s pass”?

How ridiculous we look, yet the Committee is hamstrung by the very regulations of this place.

The report is not a panacea for democratic practice in the House of Commons for the British state. It is not an answer, but it does contain evidence about the former Member for Uxbridge, who lied through their teeth and partied on while our constituents were dying. As the hon. Member for Weaver Vale (Mike Amesbury) talked about, there were people in working-class communities the length and breadth of these islands—ambulance drivers, paramedics, orderlies in hospitals—who could not get personal protective equipment, even though we have seen it dumped in fields in the shires of England in the last couple of days. How ridiculous that communities like mine had to suffer the indignity of that buffoon sitting in Downing Street while our families were dying.

Some Conservative Members said they saw no evidence. Well guess what? Here’s the evidence! It is in the report. They might as well read it for a change.

Another former Prime Minister, David Cameron, said at the covid inquiry today that

“from all my experience of chairing COBRs…the system works…but the system works better when the Prime Minister is in the chair”.

The Conservative party removed the right hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs May). While we may disagree, I have every confidence that she would have been at every Cobra meeting during covid-19, unlike the person they replaced her with. That is the ridiculous proposition that David Cameron came up with today. He agrees that that idiot—if that is not parliamentary, I will retract it, but I think it is—missed five covid-19 Cobra meetings. People were dying, it was the greatest tragedy since the blitz, and he could not be bothered to turn up. My constituents turned up. They had to go to work; they drove ambulances; they were working as porters in hospitals. What do they get told? I will say it again: that the former Member for Uxbridge gets his pass taken off him. That actually sounds quite pathetic, but those are the limitations that have been given to us in this report. They are the limitations placed on the Privileges Committee itself.

Back on 9 December 2021—because we had heard about Christmas parties in 2020; you might remember that, Mr Speaker—I asked whether the then Paymaster General, the right hon. and learned Member for Northampton North (Sir Michael Ellis), agreed

“that if something looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and it is at a Christmas party, it is usually a duck.”—[Official Report, 9 December 2021; Vol. 705, c. 563.]

It seems that the duck was also a liar, and that liar said that those parties never took place. On the issue that my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow East (David Linden) talked about, that of the rights and privileges of the former Member for Uxbridge now that they have left, do not give him a damn thing. Do not allow a single honour that he has sought the monarch’s approval for to go through. I am no monarchist, but I believe that the monarch—the Head of State—or the advisers to the monarchy have the ability to say that the person is not befitting the honour. That whole goddamn list is not befitting any honour. Every single one of them should be withdrawn.

But that brings us back to the crux of the whole issue: the limitations on the House. We are giving out honours left, right and centre to people who sit as legislators who broke the law. The report expunges them: they are lawbreakers, but through privilege, we are allowing them to sit in the other place. We are forcing the Head of State, the monarch—through the Prime Minister, in practice—to make sure that those people go to the other place to dictate law to us and our constituents. What an absolute laughing stock!

Finally, there is the issue of those who see the report as some sort of panacea that will allow the House of Commons, this mother of Parliaments, to move forward. Democracy is imperfect, and I think the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) was the first Member to talk about the issue of truth in our politics and how far it goes back. I am afraid that this report will not answer why Boris Johnson came about. It will not answer the questions about the dark money that funded his campaign for Brexit. It will not answer the issues around Scottish limited partnerships that funnel money—issues that so many Members know about and that we have talked about consistently, but which the Government do nothing about. That is why this report exists: we have allowed it to happen.

I hope to God—I am a doubting Thomas when it comes to that; I am an imperfect Christian—that Members on all sides of the House will go through the Lobby tonight to support the report, with all its limitations. However, it does not answer the question that my constituents want answered as to why Boris Johnson is not at the Bar, being held in contempt as a stranger. Some people may say that that is a bit of an arcane process, but he was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is the first time that a Prime Minister has been held in contempt of the House, and this is all we have got to say to him. How ridiculous this place must seem to our constituents; how ridiculous it must seem to the people of Clydebank, Dumbarton and the Vale that this ex-Prime Minister swans off while they are living in the traumas of the modern age. What an absolute parcel of rogues in a nation.

Watch the debate in full here.

Share this post:
Website issued by Martin Docherty-Hughes MP, Member of Parliament for West Dunbartonshire (SNP)

This website is funded by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) for the purpose of assisting Martin Docherty-Hughes MP in the performance of their Parliamentary duties. 
Formal feedback about website content should be sent to martin.docherty.mp@parliament.uk.
The UK Parliament has no responsibility for the content of externally-linked sites

Titan Enterprise Centre, Suite 1-11, 1 Aurora Avenue, 1 Queens Quay, Clydebank G81 1BF

Contact form

0141 952 2988 Local office

Privacy / Cookies & IPs

Site build: cms.scot

Newsletter sign-up

Leave this field blank