"THE senior leadership at the centre, both political and official, must bear responsibility for this culture,” states the final line of the third paragraph of the conclusions of Sue Gray’s report into the countless parties that took place at Number 10 throughout various lockdowns.

If it’s not already clear, the “senior leadership at the centre” is the Prime Minister. He bears responsibility for the culture at Number 10 and it is absolutely dumbfounding that he is being let off the hook by Tory MPs.

A few have shown some backbone. In fact, as I was writing this column my phone buzzed to let me know that an MP with a ministerial role in the Home Office, Paul Holmes, had quit. But the vast majority are keeping shtum, or quoting scripture on Twitter, or – in the ridiculous case of the leader of the Scottish Tories, Douglas Ross – saying Boris Johnson should be sacked but not until the war in Ukraine has finished.

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So, what else did the Sue Gray report tell us? It describes a series of events that took place in 10 Downing Street that were all very clearly in violation of the rules. But we knew that long before the report came out, mostly because hundreds of fines were handed out by the police to the attendees of these parties just a short time ago.

What really stands out in the Sue Gray report is the culture it describes. There are descriptions of cleaners and security staff being mistreated by drunk staffers and talk of a staffer whiteying because they drank so much at one of the parties. Cleaners being left to deal with red wine that somehow ends up all over the walls. A swing set for kids was broken by drunk adults.

A short while ago, when the culture at Westminster was being discussed a lot in the news, an MP was quoted as saying that the 2019 intake of politicians had been living one long extended freshers’ week in the Parliament pubs since they’d been elected.

If you need to know where they got the idea that it’s acceptable to act like this in the workplace, you need only look to Number 10. The culture cultivated at the top seeps all the way down to the backbenchers. And as is typical of this government, because they had a scandal on their hands they decided to do a big policy announcement to distract for their failings.

In my column about the Chancellor’s latest Budget, I said I was pretty sure the government was holding back the help people desperately need to get through the cost-of-living crisis until a more politically opportune time arose to use it. The announcement from the Chancellor this week shows I was right.

I had hoped that when they decided to finally do something, they would at least have a comprehensive plan. What we got was a half-hearted, cobbled-together-in-a- desperate-panic set of proposals that don’t go nearly far enough.

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There are good bits to the package, don’t get me wrong. The Chancellor finally listened and made the energy loan a grant. The package is to be funded by a tax on the energy companies, which are reporting massive profits while normal people choose between paying for heating or paying for food.

What it doesn’t do is reverse the regressive National Insurance hike that came into place last month. It doesn’t reverse the £1000 Universal Credit cut. It doesn’t suspend VAT on household energy bills.

The estimates are that the Chancellor has around £30 billion to spend to help people through this crisis. The package he announced is around half of that. So, what is he doing with the rest?

Well, we already know don’t we? The Tories will allow their cost of living crisis to worsen, and squeeze people’s incomes until they are once again choosing between heating and food. Then when the next scandal hits (and there will be another), maybe Boris Johnson will deign to use the rest to help.

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Most insidious of all is that the PM is not even attempting to hide his indifference to the criticism he is facing. In his statement to the House he went from saying how sorry he was, to then calling Keir Starmer “Beer Korma” in the next sentence.

He has since watered down the Ministerial Code (which he has broken, meaning he should therefore resign) and has removed from the foreword the seven Nolan principles of public life; integrity, objectivity, accountability, transparency, honesty, and leadership in the public interest.

He blocked calls from his ethics advisor to be given the power to launch investigations into behaviour. He has removed the Ministerial Code stating that Ministers must “uphold the very highest standards of propriety”

The political cynicism is impossible to swallow until you remember that this is a man who will destroy anything and everything to satisfy his own ego.