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"When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging"

April 15, 2022 8:58 PM

Michael Fabricant ()
Lichfield's MP, Michael Fabricant, seems never to have taken note of the advice above. He has made himself, and by extension, the constituency of Lichfield, a laughing-stock throughout the country.

On Twitter and indeed on national broadcast and print media, his attempts to defend the Prime Minister's breaking of the rules have met with disgust and incredulity. Indeed, many people believed that Mr Fabricant was in fact a comedy parody account along the lines of "Sir Michael Take CBE"'s over-the-top praise of Mr Johnson, and were surprised to find that he is indeed a real person and an elected representative, who excuses the Prime Minister on the grounds that key workers such as nurses and teachers were enjoying drinks together after their shifts.

In answer to this attempted defence of the indefensible, professional bodies representing those accused by Mr Fabricant of breaking the rules pointed out that teachers and nurses at the end of their exhausting shifts had neither the energy nor the inclination to indulge in the kind of partying confirmed to have taken place in Downing Street on Mr Johnson's watch. Many teachers and nurses used Twitter to point out that in their places of work the consumption of alcohol in school staff rooms and in hospital rest rooms was against all regulations - pandemic or no pandemic.

Mr Fabricant's response, rather than being an apology, was a doubling-down of his accusations, saying that he had been informed by unnamed "whistleblowers" that such socialising had taken place with a minority of the key workers he had accused of breaking the law (which raises the question as to why he, as a professed supporter of the rule of law, did nothing).

It would be wrong to say that the Lichfield and Burntwood Liberal Democrats were surprised by Mr Fabricant's intervention in support of his prime minister and his response to criticism. It's rather what we have come to expect, given his past behaviour on similar occasions. However, our faith in the people of Lichfield and Burntwood was restored by the comments on the local news website, Lichfield Live, almost universally condemnatory of Mr Fabricant, with many calling for his resignation. Even so, there has been a deafening silence from the local Conservative association and from the Conservative leadership of both Lichfield City and District Councils. We are left wondering whether Party loyalty is stronger for those people than loyalty to basic ethical principles and the rule of law.

We should also remind them that Prime Minister Johnson has repeatedly misled the House of Commons in his answers to questions on this subject. To suggest, as Mr Fabricant did, that Mr Johnson was unaware that he was breaking the rules that he himself made, and repeatedly urged the rest of us to follow, is nonsense - unless, of course, Mr Fabricant meant to imply that Mr Johnson is too stupid to be Prime Minister. An apology from Mr Johnson is insufficient - the Ministerial Code states that a Minister who knowingly misleads Parliament is expected to offer his or her resignation.

In conclusion, Lichfield and Burntwood Liberal Democrats unequivocally condemn Mr Fabricant's unsubstantiated and derogatory remarks regarding key workers, his continued defence of actions which have been regarded as illegal following investigations by the police and his unwavering support for a prime minister who seems to make a habit of misleading Parliament and refusing to correct the record. We wait for the local Conservatives to do the same, but we are not holding our breath.

Hugh Ashton Lichfield City Councillor for Garrick Road Ward