It had, of course, become increasing clear during this year that Britain is being run by a ‘chumocracy’ of public schoolboys (and a few girls).
Nevertheless, it came as a shock to read the details of how the £18billion contracting process for buying PPE supplies for the Covid epidemic has actually been working. According to a report by the National Audit Office, they’ve set up a ‘high priority’ channel where bids were 10 times more likely to be successful, and that almost 500 suppliers with links to politicians or senior government officials were referred to the channel.(144 came from the private offices of Government Ministers!) That meant that their bids were automatically treated as credible by those in charge of procurement. That’s surely the opposite to what decent people expect – I’d be checking extra carefully!
Now, I know it was an emergency and things needed to move quickly back in the spring, but I clearly remember hearing interviews with frustrated manufacturers from the North who had long experience of manufacturing PPE, but whose bids were completely ignored.
Boris Johnson is desperate to woo the new ‘Red Wall’ Tory MPs, and has posed several times for photos with Lia Nici (most recently without a mask and standing too close, but that’s another story…) However, I don’t think voters will be at all impressed by this shocking tale of corruption, especially given the string of abject failures of so many of the PM’s plans to halt the virus. They are more likely to be thinking about what could have been done in their cash-starved communities with the mind-boggling amount of money paid out to the chumocracy’s cronies, without any proper tendering process.