Editor: Time to stop joking around and call it what it really is

What does sleaze even mean? I was quite surprised to be asked that question by one of my children, until I took a bit of time to think about it.

Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 12:48 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 12:49 pm
Prime minister Boris Johnson yesterday - not at the debate in the House of Commons

It is one of those words that is only used in one context so why would we expect young folk to have it in their vocabulary?

Worse, it is a word that is used to soften the blow of something that is far worse than this rather gentle word implies. It is used to describe actions which in any other circumstance would be called corruption, rule or even law breaking.

Indeed, the dictionary definition is ‘immoral, sordid, and corrupt behaviour or activities’.

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You might wonder how we have allowed those who are paid handsomely to represent us to sink to such low levels that nothing they do actually shocks voters any more, let alone the almost half of the population who never bother to turn out for elections. Can you blame them these days?

Prime minister Boris Johnson didn’t bother to show up to ‘sleaze’ debate in Parliament yesterday and is refusing to apologise for the Owen Paterson row.

Now don’t choke on your cuppa reading this but Downing Street said the Prime Minister would instead be making a ‘long-standing’ visit to the north east. I’m glad to see the north is such a burning priority for him because that isn’t so clearly visible when he is handing out cash.

I wish he’d had to do something rather more dramatic, perhaps like actually levelling up rather than using the phrase as an election gimmick, to avoid the three-hour grilling in the Commons.

Schools in Sheffield teach our children to apologise, to face up to what they’ve done – to be open and honest, even when it isn’t easy. Why do we expect less of our politicians – across all parties – and how can democracy thrive in the dark?

When working families collect benefits they are often labelled scroungers. There are plenty of people who have to work two jobs to feed their children because salaries are so low and we look down our noses at them. Yet our MPs get away with several including eye-watering salaries, even having their own special word to downplay it. What word would you use? And make it suitable for a family newspaper please!