When explaining the selective outrage that pervades across the Tory leadership and its rank-and-file members, the term hypocrisy comes to mind. However, all politician across the wide-ranging spectrum have been accused of hypocrisy throughout their careers. With conservatives anxiously scrambling to retain power in parliament and Downing Street, their blatant hypocritical manoeuvres are doing worse damage.
The rise of Boris Johnson to the prime ministerial position has seen the Tory party delve into a proxy Brexit war. To silence his critics with a sheer abomination of democracy, Johnson decided to prorogue parliament for the unnerving period of 5 weeks. Although prorogation is an absolute calamity in itself, recently demanded unlawful and now considered null and void by the Supreme Court, one can only imagine immense outrage if the opposition did the same.
Jeremy Corbyn, disavowed by many of his right-wing counterparts as a communist and “loony leftie”, would face utter excoriation if he took the proroguing step. Conservatives would be frothing at the mouth if prorogation happened whilst they were on the opposition benches. Corbyn would be vilified for pushing the country towards a Soviet-style reckoning intent on demolishing democracy for his own socialist alignment. The right-wing would be mightily unified to thwart a socialist government under Corbyn and his cronies. Instead, when they are the ones who prorogue, only 21 are willing to stand and counter-argue the dangers of suspension in delivering Brexit. Only 21 are willing to sacrifice their positions in a party moving full speed ahead towards the far right. Furthermore, now Boris Johnson is at the helm of a new unelected government, he stills holds on to a 15-point lead over Labour in a general election poll.
The suspension of parliament and its dire ramifications are not the sole example of selective outrage in politics right now. With a surge in racism across the landscape, both the Labour and Conservative parties have had their fair share of racist incidents taking place amongst their membership. The issue of antisemitism and Labour’s handling of it has caused widespread condemnation from the mainstream media and the Tories. The suspension, re-introduction and then permanent expulsion of former Labour MP, Chris Williamson, has attracted vast news coverage in contrast to the revolting Islamophobia that is seeping from conservative ranks.
Yes, Chris Williamson was tone deaf to an ongoing scandal when he remarked that Labour were “too apologetic” towards their antisemitic accusations. His brief reinstatement as parliamentarian received more revulsion than the 15 Conservative party members who were allowed to return to the party after gross allegations of anti-Islam social media posts were made against them. Also, in a recent poll of Tory members, around 56% were surveyed to have said that Islam was a genuine threat to the British way of life. No prominent conservative politician or cabinet member rebuked the result of the poll, but why would they when the party’s elected leader has compared Muslim women in full-face veils as “bank robbers”?
To say Corbyn has been mute on allegations of anti-Semitism would be intellectually dishonest. He has deplored the disgusting antisemitic smears as an affront to his party’s anti-racist stance. He has formally adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s clear definitions for antisemitism. The same can’t be said for the Conservative party in regards to their increasing Islamophobic rhetoric.
Every politician has been tarnished with the hypocrite brush before. The Tories go one step further by brandishing a Corbyn-led Labour party as chaotic and entirely unelectable whilst governing a warring and fractured party that has just lost its last holding majority in parliament. To attack your opponents is natural, but to nit-pick and strategically choose what you abhor enters a dangerous territory in the political quest for power.