IF the political class wants to know why voter disillusionment and apathy is high, look no further than the actions of two former Cabinet beasts this week.
Exhibit A, M’lud: former Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi peddling the age-old I’m-not-corrupt-I’m-just-incompetent line when he breached the ministerial code seven times by not being open about his tax affairs and an HMRC fine of more than £1million.
5Nadhim Zahawi is the latest reason why voter apathy may be highCredit: Getty5But at least he’s not going to resort to the lows of Matt HancockCredit: GettyIt was a “careless error” he mitigated.
“Yes,” wrote one wry voter at the weekend, “we all carelessly put shares in an offshore company owned by an offshore trust owned by our father and then deny we benefit from it, while getting payments from it and coincidentally receiving a £26million loan from an undisclosed source.
“Virtually everyone I know does that now and again.”
The electorate isn’t stupid and knows something off when they sniff it.
Then, Exhibit B, M’lud: Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s car crash appearance on GMB yesterday when, faced with several awkward questions about his actions both during the Covid crisis and since, kept replying that the answers were “in my book”.
In other words, his appearance wasn’t an altruistic attempt to face the music over various Covid decisions made during his time in government. It was to further swell the coffers of Matt Hancock Inc.
This is on top of receiving a £320,000 fee for I’m A Celebrity while simultaneously still receiving his MP salary, then donating just £10k to charity.
However hard he tried to spin this paltry sum, there’s no getting away from the fact that the biggest beneficiary of Matt Hancock’s time in government is the man himself.
Crisis wrecked lives
For the record, I don’t hold him responsible for the Covid crisis and deaths.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and he probably did the best he could at the time.
But his actions since leaving government (after being caught canoodling his mistress while telling everyone else to keep their distance) play straight into people’s suspicions that the majority of today’s politicians are merely careerists in it just for themselves.
How else to interpret his appearances in I’m A Celeb, Celebrity SAS (filmed but yet to be aired) and now a book giving his side of the story?
Note that when GMB presenter Richard Madeley asked about the proceeds, Hancock said the royalties would go to charity.
But no mention of the presumably hefty advance he was paid and that no royalties will be forthcoming until that has been recouped.
Everyone has to earn a living, but what jars about the former Health Secretary is that he just doesn’t seem to get why some people are angry that he’s making money from his position at the top table during a crisis that wrecked so many lives.
And, judging by Zahawi’s dig at the media in his resignation statement, he fails to get why his actions have upset people too.
Still, as he’s already a multi-millionaire, hopefully we’ll be spared the sight of him eating kangaroo anus for money any time soon.
But the message that comes across from both is that they have been misjudged.
It has the air of “rules are for the little people who should do as we say, not as we do”.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he wants “to restore the integrity back into politics”.
He’s got his work cut out.
CALL A TRUCE FOR MA
RIFTS between siblings are commonplace in ordinary life and no less so when it comes to celebrities or even royals.
Princes Harry and William’s fall-out is simmering slowly, Britney Spears is at very public loggerheads with sister Jamie, and even the cutesy, harmonising Andrews Sisters of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy fame had a decade-long feud.
5All the Gallaghers’ mum Julie wants is for the brothers to make up – but who knows if they’ll be able to make it happenCredit: GettyAnd, of course, there’s the Charlton brothers, who hugged after winning the World Cup in 1966 then fell out over their wives and never really reconciled.
For all of them, it’s personal, but for their wider family, it’s painful because they are affected too.
Now rumour has it that Peggy – the mother of feuding Oasis brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher – has said the only gift she wants for her 80th birthday is for them to make up.
Given they haven’t spoken since 2009, it’s a tall order.
But who knows? Perhaps age, and the sentiment that their mum won’t be around for ever, has mellowed them?
Let’s hope it happens. After all, it would be lovely for Peggy and highly entertaining for the rest of us when they inevitably fall out again five minutes later.
ACTOR Alan Cumming says he has returned the OBE he was awarded 14 years ago because he “does not want to be associated with the ‘toxicity of the Empire’.”
Hmmm. There’s no new information now that wasn’t around in 2009, when he declared himself “shocked and delighted” to receive the honour from Princess Anne, enjoyed a lovely day at the Palace and got his photo in the papers.
So all he’s done is loudly hand back a gong that was probably just gathering dust in the attic anyway.
Unlike the supercool David Bowie who quietly refused a gong and, only after a list of refusers was leaked in 2003, quietly and humbly explained: “I seriously don’t know what it’s for. It’s just not for me.”
DATING app Grazer has gone mainstream with a £500k boost from private investors.
The USP? It’s for people searching for a “plant-based lover” – i.e. vegans.
“Most vegans wouldn’t date a meat eater,” says the app’s co-founder Lewis Foster.
“Kissing can be tricky, especially if they’ve just had a bacon sandwich. It’s not ideal.”
Cripes. Apparently, three per cent of the UK population now follow a meat and dairy-free diet, but presumably the majority of them are young people who still have hormones, collagen and the luxury of choice at the deep end of the dating pool.
For the over-40s wallowing in the shallow end, the thought of putting “vegans only” as a preference means they’d doubtless never date again.
It’s all a far cry from my junior reporting days when, while asking a woman celebrating her golden wedding what she’d first seen in her husband, she replied: “He had nice hair and his own teeth so I thought, ‘he’ll do’.”
It’s gladrags to riches . . .
CHECK out the line-up to promote the forthcoming series of Britain’s Got Talent.
Stage left are Amanda Holden and Alesha Dixon, looking knockout with coiffed hair, professionally applied make-up and carefully curated designer outfits, alongside new judge Bruno Tonioli, a well-groomed gay man with a penchant for fake tan and sequins.
5Can you believe that the glam Amanda, Alesha, and Bruno aren’t earning as much as their co-stars on the right?Credit: Peter JordanTen out of ten to all three for pulling out all the glam stops.
Meanwhile, stage right, we have three middle-aged, straight men who appear to have covered themselves in glue and run through a charity shop.
And guess which trio is earning the most money from the experience?
But hey, thaaaat’s showbiz.
OSCAR NOD IS DUE TO TALENT
A HOLLYWOOD “probe” is reportedly under way into whether any rules were broken leading up to the “surprise” best actress nomination of British actress Andrea Riseborough for her role in small indie film To Leslie.
Er, why? Anyone who has seen Riseborough in anything will tell you that she is a superb actor of the highest order.
5Andrea Riseborough’s performance was one of the best out there – so why are people surprised she’s been nominated for best actress?Credit: BackGridSo much so that a host of other female movie stars, including Kate Winslet, Susan Sarandon, Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow, were so blown away by her performance that they publicly voiced support for her to be nominated.
Yet this rare show of colleague solidarity in the cut-throat movie world is now being viewed through the prism of potential “direct solicitation” of votes – which is against the rules.
Oh puh-lease. The pre-Oscar circus of movie studios throwing millions behind marketing campaigns and schmoozing for voting favours is notorious in Hollywood.
To Leslie has taken just £22k at the box office and has no funds for such campaigns, so there’s just one explanation for Riseborough’s nomination.
She has given one of the best performances of the past year.
And surely, that’s who awards should be given to?
Tub stunt doesn’t wash . . .SO let’s get this straight.
To illustrate how two people couldn’t fit in the bath at Ghislaine Maxwell’s mews house where Virginia Giuffre reportedly frolicked with Prince Andrew, two people posed in the bath at Ghislaine Maxwell’s mews house where Virginia Giuffre reportedly frolicked with Prince Andrew?
Well. Done. Everyone.
Story Credit: thesun.co.uk