Should we accept Patel’s apology, Johnson’s over-boiled Christmas pud and that £21m PPE prezzie?

SOMETIMES the word if acts as a hinge. When Home Secretary Priti Patel says she is sorry if her behaviour has upset people, that tips the apology seesaw in the other direction, laying the blame on those who are said to have suffered from the sharp edge of her sweary tongue.

If they are such sensitive flowers as to be upset by her shouting, she’ll just have to apologise through gritted smirk.

Not having been there, none of can say for certain. Even saying it sure fits the look of her doesn’t quite scoop the murk.

Still, as Sir Alex Allan, who led the Cabinet Office inquiry, concluded that Patel had been guilty of “behaviour that can be described as bullying”, perhaps the Home Secretary is not as sweet as she seems. That noise you can hear is the ringing of the heavy irony claxon.

Boris Johnson refuses to accept the report into Patel’s alleged bullying, so Sir Alex has resigned, having, according to The Times, come under pressure to change the tone of what he’d written.

A small detail that says a lot came from a leaked WhatsApp group message in which Johnson urged everyone to “form a square around the Prittster”. Two points grate about this. One, ordering MPs to parrot partisan prattle in defence of Patel is itself a sort of bullying. Two, that matey epithet: what dreadful public schoolboy humour to bestow silly nicknames all around.

Endless forgettable MPs stuck up for Patel, missing the point that how she treats them is irrelevant: it’s how she treats those below her that counts.

The Sun today gives logic a spin and says that the bullied should have “raised their game”. Another pivot, passing the buck to the victim, which is lovely.

And if it’s true as reported that Priti Patel was going around shouting at Civil Service minions because they wouldn’t allow her to be as cruel and unreasonable to migrants as she wished, no one should be surprised.

Sometimes ‘if’ works as a bribe, as in if we all behave we can still have Christmas – although we may have to pay for it by locking-down for all of January.

As has been pointed out by various people, Jewish people have already missed their two holiest holidays of the year, Muslims saw Eid shutdown on the day and Diwali was written off. So why are we expecting the whole country to knuckle down to ‘save Christmas’?

It’s a political game, as shown yesterday by a typical lickspittle headline in the Daily Express: “Boris battles experts to save Christmas.” God, do you think Johnson actually writes those headlines himself?

Casting yourself in the Churchillian mould just to ‘save Christmas’ is an over-boiled pudding of a policy. Like many others, I love seeing friends and family at Christmas, but we’ve all been ground down to accepting it won’t happen  as usual this year. So why wave the tinsel now?

Better to have a low-key Christmas and escape with January intact.

Sometimes if acts as a sharp reminder, as in if you are not offended by this, what’s the matter with you? I had one of those moments this week on seeing that a Spanish middleman was paid £21m for PPE contracts for the NHS, according to a report by the BBC.

This ties in with the so-called ‘chumocracy’ – what a splendid coining that is – of assorted pals of the government apparently getting special treatment in the queue to earn easy millions by providing PPE.

There’s a story that should be getting higher billing. Remember those vanished taxpayers’ millions next time you see a headline attacking those ‘scroungers’ who depend on the pittance paid by the benefits system.

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