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‘Playing the Blame Game: The Conservatives Love a Good Culprit’

It’s always someone else’s fault – according to the party that has been in power for 13 years (although not according to its cheerleaders), writes Iain Overton

Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg. Photo: Aaron Chown/PA/Alamy

Playing the Blame GameThe Conservatives Love a Good Culprit

It’s always someone else’s fault – according to the party that has been in power for 13 years (although not according to its cheerleaders), writes Iain Overton

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Jacob Rees-Mogg’s tweet this week about a Daily Mail article on 100,000 civil servants going on strike on 1 February was predictably judgy. “If they are not in the office will anyone notice?” wrote the multi-millionaire former Cabinet minister.

It showed not only a contempt for the Civil Service but also epitomised a persistent idea that, for the Conservatives, the current mess the country finds itself is in no way their fault but entirely down to the shortcomings of others.

This practice of deflection – attacks on the other for their failures – is a deep stream of belief that runs through Toryville. For Rees-Mogg, his obsession with getting civil servants behind their desks implies an almost Victorian mill-owner belief. If only the proles worked harder, longer and didn’t complain about getting paid less, then the country would be so much better.

Other Tories have other ‘others’. In fact, the list of who they want to throw shade at in order to deflect from criticism is pretty long.

The meltdown of the NHS has been blamed on flu. The damage to the economy – and the 2022 plummeting value of the pound – on “fast and loose” city boys. The rash of strikes have been pinned on Labour refusing “to put a stop to them”. 

Ambulance unions have been accused of having “taken a conscious choice to inflict harm on patients”. The cost of living crisis is laid at the doorstep of the invasion of Ukraine. And, of course, the many failures of Brexit are laid at the feet of the EU.

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Iain Overton

Other Conservative MPs have, in recent years, blamed Mel Gibson for increased support for Scottish independence; a lack of cooking skills for food poverty; the “gutter media and lefties” for disquiet over Suella Braverman’s shameless return to the Cabinet (a mere six days after she resigned over a security breach); home drainage systems for raw sewage dumped in the sea; striking teachers for being “commies and bolsheviks“; young men for committing crime, because film-makers have cast female leads in Doctor Who and Ghostbusters, ridding men of heroes.

Some pandemic deaths have been put down to Muslim and non-white communities not obeying lockdown rules (let’s not talk about our then Prime Minister, obviously); and the term ‘white privilege’ is railed against for under-performance in schools. In 2019, Sajid Javid even blamed Labour for homelessness.

Despite asylum applications being half what they were 20 years ago, one of the great ‘otherings’ of this Government is its obsession with immigrants. Conservative MPs have blamed “uncontrolled immigration” for shortages of GPs, school places and council houses – ignoring the impact that their own austerity policies had on such provisions. When challenged about what they have done to address immigration, some then state that their inaction is Labour’s fault.

But, more often than not, it’s lawyers who take a good punch in the face from the Conservatives. These ‘lefties’ have been blamed, in turn, for the Government’s failure to stop asylum seekers crossing the English Channel by boat and repeatedly for their failure to deport those people to Rwanda. As if this isn’t bad enough, they have been also blamed for preventing tougher sentences for serious sexual violent offenders and for being the cause of Britain’s broken-down legal system. Enemies of the People, indeed.

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Perhaps the greatest contempt, though, must lie back in the mouth of Jacob Rees-Mogg when he suggested that the victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster died because they lacked the “common sense” to flee the blazing building.

Of course, it is inevitable that some of them don’t even believe their own blaming – and so it is that the Conservatives have begun to turn on themselves.

‘Partygate’ has been listed by their own as the reason why Conservatives have lost seats in by-elections. Nadine Dorries’ obsession with Boris Johnson‘s return to the helm has been as embarrassing as it has been revelatory of the deep schisms in a party that not long ago was said to have run out of ideas (by the Telegraph, no less).

So desperate are the Conservatives to explain why their dreams of power never translated into effective government, that right-wing shills such as GB News employee Tom Harwood have even suggested that “saying the Tories have been in power for 13 years is a highly questionable claim”. If it wasn’t for the wasteland they have created, it would almost be funny.

But, at the end of the day, the Tories are right. We should blame someone else for the current state of the country. After all, the British public repeatedly voted them in. So, in a way, it’s all our fault.

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