Nadhim Zahawi is quitting Parliament so let's remember his godawful career

Nadhim Zahawi is quitting Parliament so let’s remember his godawful career

Nadhim Zahawi is quitting Parliament so let’s remember his godawful career.

He has represented Stratford-upon-Avon since the disastrous 2010 general election that allowed the Tories to slither back into office in coalition with Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats who have never recovered electorally.

He is the 64th Conservative to announce he is quitting at the next general election, and the 104th MP.

His Parliamentary career has been characterised by corruption and poor decisions, and the best This Writer can say about him is that he admitted in his statement on X that “my mistakes have been mine”.

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He first came to This Writer’s attention in 2013 when he had to apologise for claiming Parliamentary expenses for electricity to heat his stables.

Then in early 2018, when he was Minister for Children and Families, Zahawi attended the elite, men-only Presidents Club charity dinner that became the centre of a huge furore after guests were alleged to have groped and sexually propositioned women employed at the event. He was given a “dressing down” (is that appropriate?) by then-prime minister Theresa May, but this was challenged as disproportionate in comparison with Labour Lord Mendelsohn’s treatment after attending the same event; he was told to step down from a frontbench job, simply for attending.

In Covid-ridden 2020, he stuck his oar into the debate on whether the provision of meals to poverty-stricken children during school holidays should be blocked – on the wrong side; he reckoned they were more interested in football than food:

Days later he was caught trying to tell us there was a £63 million fund to feed poor children over school holidays – failing to mention that it had all been spent weeks previously and came to only a few hundred thousand pounds per council. When the Tories had provided the cash in July 2020, it was on the proviso that it all had to be spent in 12 weeks.

In November 2020 he tried to justify the government’s attitude to self-employed people during the Covid crisis in an interview with Naga Munchetty on BBC Breakfast. It was a car crash:

That month, he was appointed as vaccines minister. I had this to say about it at the time:

Do you really want a National Health Service profiteer and expenses cheat running the deployment of Covid-19 vaccines?

Nadhim Zahawi was among 24 Tory MPs and lords who were found to have links with 15 private healthcare firms that received £1.5 billion of NHS money due to privatisation, between 2012 and 2014.

Before that, in November 2013, it was reported that he had claimed £5,822 expenses for electricity for his riding school stables and a yard manager’s mobile home.

In 2015, he helped ensure that energy companies would not have to pass on price cuts to consumers when wholesale prices fall – meaning your bills stayed high, inflating profits for the bosses of our privatised energy firms.

Three months later he tried to use the time when all people aged over 50 were set to be fully vaccinated as a yardstick for opening schools – and got it completely wrong:

I explained at the time:

Firstly, it is entirely arbitrary to use the vaccination of the over-50s as a trigger for the reopening of schools. Why not over-40s? Over-30s? Or indeed, over-20s? All are just as likely to be affected.

Secondly – and I come to this last because it’s a biggie! – March 8 is not three weeks after mid-April. That would be May 8. March 8 is around five weeks before mid-April.

So by his own calculations, the minister for Covid-19 vaccination is telling is that his government is planning to reopen schools an entire two months prematurely.

In September 2021, Zahawi was appointed Education Secretary. I had something to say about that:

Zahawi wants everyone to think that he has made a great success of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout – he is the Vaccines Minister, after all – but there’s just one problem: it has been run entirely by the NHS.

He’s just the figurehead. His other duties include trying to avoid explaining his prime minister’s financial irregularities, like the Downing Street flat refurbishment:

How about when he had to explain why Johnson had said vaccinations had broken the link between Covid infection and hospitalisation?

He has a second job working for an oil company – a conflict of interest at a time when pressure will be put on such firms to green up their act. [This second job came back to bite him – and in fact end his Cabinet career – later.]

He used a mortgage lender based in a tax haven.

He objected to Donald Trump’s travel ban against Muslims – but only when his own family were affected.

Two months later he put his foot in his mouth while discussing the Owen Paterson scandal, in which a Tory MP was found to have used his privileged position to benefit two companies for which he was a paid advisor. Zahawi voted for Paterson to retain his Parliamentary seat – then had to admit he had not read the report on the case:

At the time I said it seemed Zahawi had been told to support Paterson, and had done as he had been told.

In January 2022, after Covid infections skyrocketed during the Christmas period and with schools facing an acute shortage of teachers, Zahawi’s solution was for “head teachers to consider merging classes (to ensure that pupils who may not be infected have a chance to catch Covid from those who are?) or sending groups of pupils home if staff absences reach critical levels.”

In May that year, he caused chaos when he insisted that officials at the Department for Education must “immediately” return to “pre-Covid working” after an audit found that the DfE had the lowest attendance of any Government department, at a quarter capacity.

As I explained:

It turns out that, before the pandemic, the DfE only had an occupancy rate of 60 to 70 per cent because of the department’s flexible working policy.

And changes to the department’s estate, such as giving up space at the DfE’s London headquarters, has meant there are fewer desks than previously – 4,200 to accommodate 8,009 staff.

So after the department’s top civil servant, permanent secretary Susan Acland-Hood, was joined by ministers to tell officials to work 80 per cent of their week in the office, chaos ensued:

Civil servants at the Department for Education have been forced to work in corridors and canteens.

Whole teams have been turned away from some offices because of overcrowding.

The following July, as MPs resigned en masse from Boris Johnson’s Cabinet in protest at Pinchergate, Zahawi was made Chancellor of the Exchequer…

… and almost immediately urged his boss to resign.

After Liz Truss replaced Johnson, Zahawi became Equalities Minister and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in September 2022 – his third Cabinet job that year.

In December 2022, now as Minister Without Portfolio, he asked nurses to take a pay cut “to send a message to Putin” that the UK will not accept his attempt to dictate to us using energy prices:

I wrote:

Firstly, this is a non-sequitur. Nurses’ pay has nothing to do with energy prices or what has happened to them because of the war in Ukraine. What message would Putin really take from the UK government denying its underpaid nurses a decent pay rise?

Secondly, let us remember that this is the Tory MP who claimed a large amount of money – on expenses, so it came from the public purse – in order to keep his horses warm during the winter by heating his stables.

He has no right at all to preach to people who are having to go to food banks, simply to be able to eat.

What is he having to go without, to aid the resistance against Putin?

In January 2023, Zahawi was found to have underpaid millions of pounds in tax. Rather than be prosecuted for it like any normal UK citizen, he was permitted to pay what he owed. Notice the problem with this: he only agreed to pay back the money after he had been caught, failing to pay it in the first place. He had previously tried to use a so-called SLAPP lawsuit to silence a journalist investigating his tax affairs.

He was fired by the latest – and still (just) current prime minister, Rishi Sunak – shortly afterwards. Here’s a video clip explaining the affair:

Commentators said it was impossible to envision a circumstance in which Zahawi will return to frontline politics.

And now he is leaving Parliament altogether.

Good riddance, eh? The sooner, the better.

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One Comment

  1. Baz May 10, 2024 at 8:09 am - Reply

    Lower than VERMIN, SCUM.

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