Grant Woodward: Now Britain has become the true home of hyprocrisy

Jack Straw.

Jack Straw.

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SPRING is on its way, the snowdrops are starting to push through – and the unmistakeable stench of hypocrisy is in the air.

It’s hard to know where to start but let’s kick off with the Church of England, which has been loudly championing the introduction of a Living Wage of £7.85.

Straw and Rifkind insist they’ve done nothing against the rules – which just goes to show how morally bankrupt those rules are.

The only snag is they don’t actually think the Living Wage should apply to them. So some of their workers only get the minimum wage of £6.50 instead. Not very Christian, is it?

This, of course, is the noble institution which waged war on payday loan sharks – only for it to be revealed it had shares in Wonga.

Fingers crossed they’ve checked their records for any of those dodgy Swiss HSBC accounts.

Still, at least they’re finally moving into the 20th century by accepting women bishops – which now only leaves them one century behind everyone else.

Then there’s Hollywood, which is always good for a bit of hypocrisy. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth before this week’s Oscars about the absence of black nominees and the fact female stars still get paid less than the men.

What, so you mean those big movie studios churning out celluloid sermons about female empowerment and equality don’t actually practise what they preach?

I’m as shocked as Michael Keaton was when he hastily stuffed his acceptance speech back in his pocket after they called out Eddie Redmayne’s name instead of his for the best actor gong.

But the ones really taking the biscuit, as usual, are our good old MPs. Two of them in particular – and both former Foreign Secretaries to boot. Which is precisely what the nation would dearly love to give them right now.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw were stung by undercover reporters posing as representatives of a wealthy Chinese firm who wanted to buy their influence and contacts.

The pair of them insist they’ve done nothing against the rules – which just goes to show how morally bankrupt those rules are.

It’s Jack I’m most disappointed in. Brought up on a council estate, he went on to get a law degree at Leeds University and always seemed a decent man.

But rather than concerning himself with whether what he was doing was within the rules, he should have been asking himself whether it was right.

Charging £5,000 a day for access to contacts and leverage he’s built up over the course of a career that’s been funded by taxpayers earning a fraction of that each month stinks to high heaven.

The other week, Government regulator Ofgem was lecturing us plebs about taking packed lunches to work so we could afford our fuel bills.

Meanwhile, politicians are taking advantage of the positions we put in them to rake in fortunes we couldn’t even dream of.

I do feel sorry for poor old Sir Malcolm, though. He’s clearly suffering from memory loss.

He’s forgotten that he’s employed to represent the interests of the people who live in his constituency, never mind keeping the rest of us safe as chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee.

“I am self-employed, so nobody pays me a salary,” he told the undercover reporters as he justified charging them £8,000 a day. Um, so that £67,000 a year we pay you for being an MP doesn’t count then?

The good news, for everyone worrying how Sir Malcolm was going to fit this extra work in, is that he reassured the reporters/Chinese business people they’d “be surprised how much free time I have. I spend a lot of time reading, I spend a lot of time walking.”

Phew.

The rest of us would be doing the same as Mal, trouble is we’re too busy wrapping up our sandwiches before rushing to work to slog our guts out for nine or 10 hours.

Ain’t life grand in “We’re all in this together” Britain? Well, it certainly is for the likes of dear old Jack and Mal. Five to eight grand a day to be precise.

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