Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Political nepotism

There's a bit of a humdinger in today's Guardian by our old friend Zoe Williams.
Thanks to Boris Johnson, political nepotism is making a comeback
The hook for this accusation is that Stanley Johnson, Boris's dad, was invited to a discussion of environmental matters by the Chinese ambassador, and then emailed various bods in Government to pass on a message for Boris. This is embarrassing only because he accidentally copied in a BBC journo.

It ought to go without saying that there's nothing obviously nepotistic about this - Johnson Sr had no official role, was not there on the Govt's behalf, and is pretty obviously not on the make. Further, as Zoe recognises:
Stanley Johnson does, in fact, have considerable experience negotiating the environmental policies of the EU
But, more widely, has Boris Johnson inspired political nepotism? I can't see that the article even begins to make this case. I mean, this:
Five years ago, it would have been highly unusual to find a leader’s family involved in government. You wouldn’t have expected a prime minister’s dad, for instance, to be anywhere near the political arena.
This may be explained by the fact that in 2015 the PM's dad had been dead for five years.

The charge of nepotism clearly, obviously sticks when made against Donald Trump - that's the easiest target imaginable. But it equally obviously fails to land against Boris Johnson. But it's not as if British politics is a target-free environment. On the contrary, we have an example of the son of a party leader getting a billet as chief of staff for the deputy, the son of a former deputy leader getting protected from extremely serious allegations by virtue of his birth, and the former lover of the most senior Trade Unionist rising to the top of her party.

Oddly, however, Labour doesn't get a mention.

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