"Stay at home and save lives". That was Boris Johnson’s signature message at the height of the pandemic. It has since been revealed that this rule was ignored by senior politicians, whose job it is to set an example to the country instead of disregarding the rules. And it’s not just Covid restrictions. The past year has shown that UK politicians do the exact opposite to what they urge the public to do, especially when it comes to climate change and COVID-19. Members of the Government (including the Prime Minister) are even hypocrites in the House of Commons; they set regulations for MPs which they themselves do not follow. Political hypocrisy is not new. It has been present for the last few decades. But the large-scale issues in today’s modern world have shed light on the hypocrisy of politicians and have made it no longer possible for the issue to be hidden.


Over the past two years, it has been Covid that has impacted the British population the most. Yes, it has brought the country together, but it has also caused people to make heavy sacrifices. Many didn’t go to funerals of their loved ones or haven’t seen them in over two years. Sadly, it has been revealed that government official has been unwilling to make these sacrifices, both individually and collectively. Dominic Cummings went to visit a castle 300 miles from London, at a time where people were only allowed to remain in their local area. Matt Hancock was filmed kissing his assistant at a time where people were asked to socially distance.  Even Stanley Johnson, Boris Johnson’s father, was seen in shops numerous times not wearing a mask. These were individual cases, where some would argue that individuals alone should be punished. But they weren’t. Both Hancock and Cummings resigned to divert attention from the government, but neither was fired.


Even worse, it has been revealed recently that the entire government broke COVID rules simultaneously. In December 2020, while family gatherings were cancelled, there were at least three parties at Downing Street containing at least 50 people. The hypocrisy of the government could not be more obvious. At the same time as the public was banned from gatherings and human contact, government officials were throwing parties and ignoring other COVID rules. It could be argued that the public was doing more to stop the spread of COVID rather than the government.


Climate change has been another issue where government hypocrisy has been rife. The government has urged other countries to step up plans to combat climate change, all while backing plans to build new oil and gas projects in the North Sea. Not only is oil a major greenhouse gas that is greatly responsible for climate change, but the North Sea also contains many animals which habitats will be destroyed because of warmer temperatures. The government also encourages other countries (especially less developed ones) to spend more money on preventing climate change. At the same time, the UK is spending more money buying vaccines than funding projects to decrease climate change. Foreign policies of the UK are seen as being hypocritical by other countries but there is also individual hypocrisy when it comes to this issue. While the government has introduced emission charges to discourage polluting cars, they themselves own several cars and private planes. Perhaps most ironically, Boris Johnson flew back to London from the COP26 summit on a private plane, instead of by train. Envision this: the Prime Minister comes back from a conference which promotes climate change action, in a vehicle that emits so many greenhouse gases. The hypocrisy of politicians is laughable at this point.


The government’s hypocrisy is even visible in the House of Commons, the very center of UK democracy. The government takes no time in criticizing or penalizing another MP's behavior. Such was the case of Stella Creasy, a Labour MP when she brought her child to the House of Commons. The Conservatives government immediately criticized her, and changed the rule book, banning children of any age from the House of Commons. The same cannot be said for the government’s own MPs. When the Conservative MP Owen Patterson was accused of illegal lobbying, the government wasted no time in defending him. Instead of suspending him for 6 weeks as the rulebook said, the government completely rewrote the rulebook on the practice of lobbying.

This not only showed the hypocrisy of government but also encouraged other Conservative MPs to break rules since they knew they wouldn’t be punished. No one should be exempt from their own rules.


There is no easy way to fix the hypocrisy of politics in this country. True, we can always vote the government out at the next election, but that will not be enough. Perhaps the next government will prove to be less hypocritical, but there is still a large possibility that individual politicians will be hypocrites when it comes to new laws. We cannot vote every politician out at the same time. We are left with only peaceful ways to show our discontent: protests, elections, and letters to MPs. This won’t suddenly stop the hypocrisy of government. But it will bring further awareness to the issue, and that’s a pretty good start.