SARAH VINE: If Priti Patel was Labour, the left would be shouting ‘it’s racism’
Imagine if Priti Patel was a Labour Minister – the reaction to Sir Alex Allan’s inquiry into her conduct at the Home Office would be very different.
The entire liberal establishment, from The Guardian to Twitter to the BBC, would have ridden out in her defence, shutting down any objections with furious cries of ‘racism’.
Meanwhile, her accusers would have been dismissed as small-minded bigots, intimidated by the idea of not only a woman, but a woman of colour, the daughter of Ugandan-Indian immigrants, daring to tell them how to do their jobs.
She would have been held up as a shining example of courage in the face of both conscious and unconscious bias, and all doubts dismissed as prejudice.
Imagine if Priti Patel (pictured) was a Labour Minister – the reaction to Sir Alex Allan’s inquiry into her conduct at the Home Office would be very different
But no. Because she is a Conservative, and not only that, a Conservative on the Right of the party, she has been shredded.
And that’s because, as far as the Left is concerned, she is a traitor to her kind.
If there’s a special place in Hell reserved for Tories, there is an even more exotic torture-chamber set aside for black, Asian and other ethnic-minority Tories.
Labour thinks they own this demographic, and woe betide anyone who fails to fall in line.
It’s not just Priti; it’s Rishi Sunak, it’s Sajid Javid, it’s Shaun Bailey, who’s running for Mayor in London.
The double standards are sickening. And anyone who has even the slightest understanding about the Civil Service, and in particular the Home Office, cannot fail to see the irony in all this.
The place is run – and has always been run – by white, privately educated upper-class elites, predominately male.
Precisely the kind of people equality champions are usually so keen to expunge from public life.
It’s not just Priti; it’s Rishi Sunak (pictured), it’s Sajid Javid, it’s Shaun Bailey, who’s running for Mayor in London. The double standards are sickening
You’d have thought they’d welcome someone like Patel putting a load of entitled Oxbridge-educated mandarins in their place.
But again, no. It doesn’t compute because, politically, Priti doesn’t belong to the correct tribe.
There’s another problem. Intellectual snobbery. Patel doesn’t speak the language of the metropolitan liberal elite.
She went to Keele University, not Oxford or Cambridge. She isn’t schooled in the art of sugaring pills.
If she thinks someone is getting it wrong, she just tells them to their face. If she doesn’t think they’re up to the job, ditto.
That’s because she comes from a very different place than most senior civil servants.
Growing up as a child of immigrants in Britain in the Seventies and Eighties, she would have had to learn to deal with brickbats at a young age.
That kind of upbringing breeds resilience. Patel will have encountered barriers at every turn.
And she will have had to work twice as hard as any white person to overcome them. Perhaps that is why she doesn’t suffer incompetence gladly.
And – trust me – that incompetence is real. The Home Office has not been fit for purpose for a long time.
Successive Home Secretaries have tried to bring it up to scratch, but have always been brought down by the giant bureaucratic vampire squid at the heart of it.
It chews up and spits out Ministers of all political hues, including – in no particular order – Beverley Hughes, Charles Clarke, David Blunkett and, most recently, Amber Rudd, who carried the can for the Windrush scandal.
Even though the report into that outrage found that Home Office officials gave her the wrong information.
So yes. Maybe Priti can be demanding and heavy-handed. Maybe she does use ‘forceful expression’.
Maybe she is ‘action-orientated and direct’. Maybe she does lack a certain gloss when it comes to soothing the delicate egos of cosseted elites.
But maybe also she just wants to get things done, for a change.
And maybe – just maybe – the institutionally incompetent mess of a department that is the Home Office has, at long last, met its match.
The Ministerial Code, under which Priti Patel was investigated, is 31 pages long.
The Civil Service Code, by contrast, fits neatly into one page on the Government website. Make of that what you will.
According to a survey, my husband is Britain’s least sexy male politician, earning 23 per cent of the vote.
Second on the list was Matt Hancock (20 per cent).
Still, every cloud. The poll was conducted among users of adultery site Illicit Encounters. So that’s one less thing to worry about…
Warning sign for Mrs West
I’ve very much been Team Mrs West in the ongoing saga of Dominic West and THAT scooter ride (not a euphemism) with young Lily James.
But seeing this picture from a magazine shoot four years ago of her gazing across a piano at him in all her undeniable gorgeousness, I have to say: even I’m starting to see the problem.
He is, after all, only human.
But seeing this picture from a magazine shoot four years ago of her gazing across a piano at him in all her undeniable gorgeousness, I have to say: even I’m starting to see the problem
My toast tip wards off vampires
I’d never compare myself to the goddess that is Nigella Lawson.
But following last week’s thrilling ‘twice-buttered toast’ debate (in which she explained how toast should have one layer of butter applied as soon as it comes out of the toaster, then another after it has cooled slightly, followed by the addition of a little sea salt), I would like to offer my own ‘recipe’.
I like to cut a clove of garlic in half and rub it on the toast, before drizzling some olive oil on top and, like Nigella, adding sea salt.
It goes particularly well with a fried egg. Keeps the vampires away, too.
Why is everyone being such a massive baby about ‘Saving Christmas’?
I mean, I like Christmas as much as the next person (actually I don’t, but I go through the motions anyway), but the idea that not seeing the rellies on December 25 represents some kind of national tragedy is absurd.
If it’s a choice between three days with the in-laws and lockdown-free January, I know which one I’d choose.
At a time when so many people are struggling, the sight of Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy, two pampered footballers’ wives, bickering in the High Court is repellent.
So far the case has racked up tens of thousands of pounds in costs alone. I don’t care whose fault it is – they both look like shallow, self-obsessed fools.
Why Crown’s so dangerous
The problem with The Crown is not that it’s hokum dressed up as history; it’s that the settings and set pieces are all so familiar (Charles and Di’s infamous ‘whatever love means’ interview and so on), it feels like you’re watching old newsreels, not drama.
And therefore the bits of it that are inaccurate or just plain wrong are skilfully passed off as fact by the makers.
Which is one thing when you’re dealing with long-dead figures such as Henry VIII or Queen Victoria; quite another when the protagonists are alive – and kicking up a fuss.
The problem with The Crown is that the settings and set pieces are all so familiar (Charles and Di’s infamous ‘whatever love means’ interview and so on)
Congratulations to the Queen and Prince Philip on their 73rd wedding anniversary. Quite a feat.
Mind you, it helps when you’ve got six homes and about 300 bedrooms between you.
If the BBC really wants to crack down on offensive content, how about removing Martin Bashir’s turn on CBBC’s Celebrity Supply Teacher, in which he instructs budding young reporters to ‘start recording the facts and telling your story’.
Strangely, he makes no mention of how to forge a bank statement.
Typical, isn’t it: you wait ages for a coronavirus vaccine, then three come along at once.
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