May Sir Gavin Williamson’s third exit be the last we see of him in Government - Jayne Dowle

I’m tempted to say that we shouldn’t waste precious column inches on the embarrassment that was (Sir) Gavin Williamson. Now we’ve all learnt the unedifying truth about the Scarborough-born Conservative MP for South Staffordshire, forced to resign from the Cabinet this week as allegations about his bullying behaviour towards colleagues could no longer be ignored by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, we might be inclined to draw a line under the whole sorry affair.

The man is a failure, that is true. He once confused the Premier League footballer and free school meals campaigner Marcus Rashford with the rugby player Maro Itoje, but now he’s scored his own hat trick, of ignominy. This is his third leaving, and may it be the last.

He was sacked as Defence Secretary by former PM Theresa May, after a furore over a reported leaked memo regarding China’s involvement with rolling out the UK 5G network.

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And sent down as Education Secretary by an exasperated Boris Johnson in September last year. Williamson’s series of debacles in this department, including his ill-fated algorithm which mucked up countless A Level results during the pandemic, leaving students distraught, made Johnson look positively competent in post.

Gavin Williamson was previously sacked as Education Secretary and Defence Secretary. PIC: John Sibley - WPA Pool/Getty ImagesGavin Williamson was previously sacked as Education Secretary and Defence Secretary. PIC: John Sibley - WPA Pool/Getty Images
Gavin Williamson was previously sacked as Education Secretary and Defence Secretary. PIC: John Sibley - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Perhaps that’s why he lasted so long, to make the boss look better. But two years in charge of our children’s futures with no significant progress to show for it where it mattered, in the classroom? No wonder teachers and school leaders became ever more perplexed and angry and went on strike.

Who knows? When Williamson received a knighthood shortly after his last departure, eyebrows were raised that he’d done nothing to deserve such an honour.

Now we’re hearing about his appetite for salacious gossip and no-holds barred bitching, exemplified by his expletive-filled exchange with Tory Chief Whip Wendy Morton when he discovered that he wasn’t invited to the Queen’s funeral, it makes you wonder.

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Much as he’s not worth affording the oxygen of publicity, it’s important that Williamson doesn’t go down, and hopefully out, without reminding ourselves why this must never happen again.

One man - who kept a red-legged tarantula spider on his desk for heaven’s sake - should never again be allowed to run so rampant through rules, regulations, respect for colleagues and sticking to the standards of decent behaviour in public life.

And it all comes down to one word: ‘entitlement’. It’s not often I find myself agreeing with Nadine ‘I’m A Celebrity’ Dorries, but the straight-talking Liverpudlian Conservative member for Mid-Bedfordshire is absolutely spot-on.

“Entitlement is a despicable quality” she tweeted at the weekend, when news of Williamson’s nadir began to break.

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And she is absolutely right. Even if I was more than a very amateur psychologist, I could probably never really get to grips with how this son of public services-employed Labour voters, a former fireplace salesman, with a social studies degree from the University of Bradford, ended up behaving like a Machiavelli in a Marks & Spencer suit.

Again, who knows? Who knows why he came across in public like a latter-day Frank Spencer, the hapless husband and father of 1970s TV sitcom fame, yet in private, ‘friends’ have said, he fancied himself as Francis Urquhart, the scheming fulcrum of the British political drama House of Cards? And actually, who really cares?

What is far more important was that he was allowed to get away with it for so long.

Successive Conservative Prime Ministers have failed to stamp it out, and may even, it’s sad to say, have enabled it. Theresa May fell victim herself; set an impossible brief, she was hounded out by the bullies who thought they could do a better job themselves of extracting the United Kingdom from the European Union.

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You only have to cast your mind back to the tactics of ‘Gaslighters Anonymous’, sorry, most members of the Cabinet, led by a hypocritical Boris Johnson, during the pandemic lockdowns to be reminded of the kind of duplicity that has been allowed to run riot at the heart of government for the last decade or more.

We hear so much waffle about ‘transparency’ and ‘accountability’, and at the same time those in charge of the country are thumbing their noses at us and doing exactly what they think they are entitled to.

Anyone who is paid out of taxpayers’ money – and Matt Hancock, yes, I’m looking at you too – to represent the interests of the public should take a long, hard look at themselves this week.

Let Gavin Williamson stand as a warning, because he clearly never stood for anything else, except his own self-interest and grubby ambitions.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​