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The Post Office Scandal: A Window Into Tory Exploitation

Ah, the post office. That indispensable public service, fulfilling such duties as sending and sorting mail, money exchange - and influencing elections? That's right, humble reader; your average postie is secretly pulling the strings of our electoral system!

Obviously, I joke, but it is a serious situation, which led to lives being destroyed and, in some cases, lost. Unless you've been living as a hermit recently, you will be aware of the Post Office Scandal, one of the biggest domestic headlines to hit our news cycle, taking both it and public opinion by storm. This scandal is nothing new. In fact, it happened over a decade ago, occurring between 1999 and 2015. What has brought it back into the limelight, you may ask? Well, dear reader, the scandal has finally entered its final stretch, and yes, it only took until 2024.

After years of campaigning and being told, "no, it's too expensive", victims of that scandal - all 736 wrongly prosecuted sub-postmasters - are finally being listened to! The government elected "for the people and by the people" took notice and finally announced they would bring forward legislation to rescind their convictions and offer compensation. A victory for sure; however, as much as I would like to say this was a result of the system working for the people, it is instead a shameless exploitation of a situation by the current floundering and soon-to-be former Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Now, we have already had an article on Europinion regarding this topic, penned by my fantastic colleague Dan Sillet. In his piece, he rightfully talks about the impact of this resolution on the next general election, one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in British history, on the Tories. However, considering that it is, yes, I will say it again, one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in British History, I feel he glossed over the shameless and exploitative nature of this move. To such an end, this piece is my attempt to set the record straight.

In his article, Dan states that this scandal "might not seem like a political topic", but I would disagree. The scandal became a political topic from the moment campaigners began demanding a fairer outcome. Now, in 2024, with his poll ratings sunk (in the mid-twenties) and the party divided, Rishi Sunak has shamelessly exploited this scandal, grounding it firmly in the political arena. Both Dan and I agree that it is certainly a bleak day when something this significant is only brought to public attention after becoming the 'plot' for a TV drama. However, from this same TV drama, an overriding sense of public outrage and a demand for action was born. Sunak, witnessing this, saw a chance to gain some easy, positive poll ratings. After only a short period following the ITV drama's release, Sunak announced that those wrongly convicted would be "swiftly exonerated and compensated". Now, am I saying I disagree with the decision made to exonerate and finally fix this miscarriage of justice? Most definitely not - in fact, it's long overdue - however, it's abhorrent to use it for political gain.

This isn't the first time the Tories have shamelessly exploited a national tragedy, scandal or otherwise, to their own electoral advantage. They have a history of such underhanded political tactics and manoeuvring. One need only look back over the last 13 years for countless examples. They have abused the war in Ukraine by using it to boost their own image domestically. Furthermore, the Conservatives have consistently exploited the migrant crisis through systematic scapegoating of migrants and asylum seekers. Hell, even individual tories have exploited crises for their gain. Need we mention the internal politicking and bloodletting in their own party or the blatant corruption during the pandemic of the "VIP Lane" for PPE procurement?

All of this just compounds the already quite clear picture of the real Conservative Party. It is a party of the rich, the aristocrat, the liar and the conman (perhaps a perfect description of Boris Johnson? No wonder he was a Tory leader). Now, not all conservatives fall into this broad category. Some conservatives, in fact, stand out for their honour and their heart; MP Dr Luke Evans springs to mind. But the fact that this is an exception to the rule shows what sort of party the Conservatives have become. If you ask me, they are no better than that of the Republican party in the US, out for themselves, for their own political skins.

Now, if reading this has depressed you as much as it has me when writing it, fear not, for I have a solution! We vote them out! Simple right? The Tories have proven they don't care, so let's show them what having a rock for a heart gets them. In the end, it's clear: the Post Office Scandal is just another chapter in the sordid tale of Tory opportunism. So, together, let us turn the page on this sorry saga at the next election and write a new story – one where integrity, not exploitation, is the hallmark of our leadership.

Image: Alamy/via LBC

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