New Conservative party deputy chairman Lee Anderson's attitude to questions about dishonesty risks tarnishing Rishi Sunak's promise of integrity – Scotsman comment

As Boris Johnson eventually discovered, there is an expectation that politicians should be honest.

However, Lee Anderson, the new Conservative party deputy chairman, appears to have suggested that this no longer matters.

On being asked by BBC Radio Nottingham’s Verity Cowley whether he had been dishonest when, during the 2019 election campaign, “you asked a friend to pose as an anti-Labour swing voter” while being followed by a film crew, Anderson responded by repeatedly asking Cowley whether she had ever lied.

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Anderson could have sought to defend his actions – he was recorded telling the voter not to admit to the film crew that he was a friend when they knocked on his door – but he did not. Instead, after Cowley said she sometimes told “false truths” to protect people, he told her “we've established you're dishonest and you tell lies”. He then said he had been elected as the first-ever Conservative MP for Ashfield, with an 8,000-vote majority, “so that's what the people of Ashfield think and that's all that matters to me”.

One wonders what Anderson would have said if the former Labour MP and cocaine-user Jared O’Mara, jailed yesterday for fraud, a form of dishonesty, had sought to defend himself by asking if the judge had ever told a lie.

Rishi Sunak pledged a new era of integrity. Unless Anderson somehow manages to explain why his actions were not dishonest or apologises for a lapse of judgment, the impression he created – that it’s acceptable for politicians to deceive because other people are not always strictly honest – and his appointment as deputy chairman will make that promise seem empty.



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