Our political editor, WALTER CRONXITE, wonders when Chris Philp is going to deny that he was lying on behalf of Boris Johnson’s government
Chris Philp, a junior minister in lying Boris Johnson’s Tory government and the occasional MP for Croydon South, was given a hosing by union leader Mick Lynch on national television last night.
On the eve of the biggest national rail strike for 30 years, Philp was wheeled out once again to try to push the Conservatives’ line.
Within a few months of his arriving in parliament, Philp was quick to acquire an entirely justified reputation as being an ever-willing brown noser for his party leader.
For months now, Philp has played the ever-eager government stooge, appearing on radio or TV to defend the indefensible over Partygate and the Prime Minister’s lies. Most of the time this year, Philp has managed to peddle Downing Street’s booze-addled version of reality without any real challenge.
Not on this occasion.
What Philp did not bargain for when he agreed to appear on BBC’s Newsnight was that while he was being interviewed by Kirsty Wark, just a few feet away, on the other side of the studio desk would be Lynch, the general secretary of the RMT union.
Lynch took it upon himself to nail the latest set of Tory lies.
Over the course of just 90seconds of the minister’s interview, Lynch said, calmly, sotto voce, but just loud enough to be picked up on his lapel microphone, the words “lie”, “lied”, “direct lie”, “lying” or “he’s a liar” on at least 16 occasions (we’ve logged it several times, and we can’t be sure it wasn’t said more than that).
It was a coruscating takedown of a government minister, the likes of which probably has not been seen on a BBC programme since the days of Jeremy Paxman, or even Robin Day.
On this occasion, unlike John Nott 40 years ago, Philp did not get up and walk out of the studio in high dudgeon.
Lynch, though, had made his point.
“People are just making stuff up for the sake of it,” he said of earlier remarks by the Prime Minister which referred to Victorian era working practices on the railways.
Johnson’s latest lie is so obviously untrue that even fall-guy Philp managed, no doubt unwittingly, to demonstrate that himself when referring to agreements which date back to 1919 – a mere 18 years after the old Queen had popped her clogs.
As Lynch was able to point out, most of the RMT’s members are in fact working according to agreements with their employers which were agreed under Conservative governments in the last decade or so.
Philp, for his part, does appear to be living in the past somewhat. Despite he being a minister in the DCMS for “cutting edge” tech and the digital economy, Philp more than once during the interview referred to Lynch having given a TV interview on “video tape”, which as any fool would know is a technology which most major broadcasters stopped using around a quarter of a century ago (get with the kids, Chris! It’s all digital these days!).
The line over the rail strikes that Philp was at pains to stress also opened him up to accusations of rank hypocrisy, too.
“If we’re going to see pay increases in any sector, that needs to be backed by improvements in productivity, which means modernisation. It means using more technology… it just means moving with modern times,” Boris Johnson’s mouthpiece spurted.
This was not an argument Philp or any of his parliamentary colleagues pursued when they were handed their latest in a series of generous, publicly-funded pay rises.
Since he was first elected to parliament in 2015, Philp’s already generous MP’s salary has gone up by £10,000. What’s he done to earn it? The Houses of Commons are still run on the kind of Victorian practices that Johnson imagines or decries elsewhere, while “innovations” such as working normal office hours and using modern methods of remote or secret voting are still forbidden.
With the Tory government refusing to play a part in the rail negotiations directly, while pulling the strings of Network Rail and 13 rail operators involved in the dispute, today has seen the first of three days of strike action on the railway network planned for this week. More could be coming down the track if the intransigence of the government – which provides the bulk of the funding for the railways – continues.
In his Newsnight interview last night, Lynch revealed that as he left negotiations with Network Rail yesterday, he was handed a letter which expressed the intention for widescale compulsory redundancies from July 1 – with people now losing their jobs who the transport minister Grant Shapps was hailing as public service heroes during lockdown just a few months ago.
The union says members deserve recognition for work that “kept the country moving through the pandemic”, and argues that they are simply seeking to protect their existing terms and minimise the real-term pay cut caused by inflation.
The RMT strike involves 40,000 signallers, maintenance and train staff working for 13 train operators and Network Rail – which is responsible for infrastructure such as track, stations and level crossings. Their stoppages are happening today, Thursday and Saturday, with a separate London Underground strike also today.
Commuter habits that changed over lockdown have not fully returned to normal, meaning rail income has been reduced. The industry says it needs to act to reach a “sustainable footing”.
But the RMT says Network Rail is threatening to cut safety-critical jobs while also increasing working hours. And against an inflation rate heading towards 11per cent, after two years of no pay rises, the union is seeking an increase of 7per cent. They have already rejected a Network Rail offer of a 2per cent rise with a further 1per cent tied to job cuts.
Forty years ago, when John Nott stormed out of a BBC studio because his interviewer cast doubt over whether he was to be believed, he lost his ministerial position soon after and, within months, had also stood down as an MP. Nott’s autobiography was duly titled Here Today, Gone Tomorrow.
Last night, Philp faced a far worse barrage of questions about his own truthfulness.
Yet never once did Philp seek to rebut or deny Lynch’s accusations that he was lying.
Perhaps he didn’t because he knew he couldn’t. Or perhaps Philp figures that lying has not harmed Boris Johnson’s political career.
Or perhaps Lynch was being too kind. Maybe Croydon South’s MP isn’t a liar, but just a fool.
From the archive: MP Philp: ‘Brown-nosing is first, second and third nature’
Read more: Trams join national train drivers’ disputes in summer of strikes
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Sine lockdown they have slashed the number of peak time trains from Sanderstead and south Croydon. They haven’t brought them back despite telling me I should be in the office again. Why do the people of this constituency keep voting for an empty vessel whose only interest is his own reflection?
Well Chris “the tape recorder” Philp is always pre-recorded in advance and switched on by remote control in his role as Chief Government stoolie. They have not managed to program him/it to actually spontaneously reply to anything outside the transcript, but that is no surprise for an android that was manufactured in the previous century.
I enjoyed that.
I see Mr Philp has also been covering himself in glory elsewhere, on the Next Door Wandle Park website, bigging-up his party and himself and himself and Jason Perry, for 3 planning applications in South Croydon being turned down. I don’t know the merits of these applications, perhaps they deserved being kicked into touch, but to use a neighbourhood forum which is better suited to reporting lost cats to both score political points and exhort us to vote for the new Tory candidate for the seat left vacant by Perry, is a bit sickening. God knows the Scott Planning Committee regime was awful enough but it seems there is no escape from Chris Philp’s political opportunism. So refreshing to hear he got a metaphorical kick in the teeth from the R.M.T.
Shame Philp or then counsellor Pollard weren’t prepared to get so involved in a property being built to Completion in a small cul de sac, totally out of character……… without approved planning consent…….along with the corruption of Croydon Council giving the Property an address and a permit (for road closure) to all allow electricity to be installed……..without Planning Consent………the dustmen even commentated at the the time, ‘there must have been some serious brown envelopes being passed around for planning permission to be passed for that………..What is it?? a Community Centre???’, as a resident of the cul-de-sac I explained it didn’t have planning permission and it was apparently a Chalet Bungalow’.
In that clip Philp said “it’s up to the employers to negotiate with the trades unions.” So why has he gone on national television? In doing so he’s made it clear that the government are calling the shots. The man’s a pillock
Anyone who defends Boris Johnson’s government will be open to ridicule. This is a PM who’s strategy for staying in power is to align himself to an armed struggle in another country. Where opportunity knocks ………..Chris, you are wasting your time and ruining your reputation.
To be frank Mr Philp does not have a reputation to tarnish. Ever since his time at Oxford he has been known as a dodgy opportunist who does not have a scintilla of integrity..
Strange that most of the press is blaming the Unions. From evidence to date one would think this was a manufactured dispute with the intent to pick a fight with the Unions for the dual purpose of breaking those unions whilst at the same time getting rid of railway employee’s on the cheap with compulsory redundancies avoiding all those 1919 agreements made in the 21st Century and added to every year.
I have to admit some surprise at Mr Philp and his lack of both knowledge and understanding. The crass gamesmanship in purporting a video out of context is also a tad demeaning and reminiscent of a playground bully caught and stood up to. So how come there was no DfT person?
A sensible business would acknowledge the issues and be honest and seek to make reasonable terms and agreements within its gift and it would be unlikely to have strikes occur especially not to the fourth emergency service. But they are not allowed to as the Government is dictating and picking a fight.
This Government has again has thrown the people of Great Britain out of the trains and under the bus and again seeks to blame others for its actions.
I appreciate Mr Philp will never write to the 1922 committee but I really hope that the honorable majority of the Conservative and Unionist Party members of Great Britain continue to campaign to get rid of dishonest disreputable and sleazy representatives at all levels.
If there’s one thing that can be relied on from our local greasy pole climber it’s that he will faithfully read from today’s script without deviation, hesitation, and with much repetition.
He’s especially good at the repetition, persisting in repeating stuff ad nauseam even when he knows the game is up and he breaks into his famous smirk. But on he ploughs his lonely furrow, his puppet master’s dream patsy. Just don’t mention the ongoing ‘use of facilities [Parliamentary email address] provided from the public purse’ investigation. I seem to remember a.n.other ‘Local Conservative’ now ex-MP having knuckles wrapped over a similar issue – didn’t seem to dent his political ‘career’?
Clearly IC’s readers aren’t impressed with our Chris Philp. But he isn’t Croydon’s only ‘greasy pole climber’ – Steve Reed and Sarah Jones are shadow ministers which qualifies them as climbers
We do seem to be a bit unlucky with recent MPs – but Ms Jones has worked very hard in quiet to get things done and I would not say she was climbing anything except putting in dedicated work and is an actual Croydonion born and bred. I would not compare her to Philp who has a unique and interesting relationship with veracity along with being a bit of a media lover.
But we do not have to go too far back to remember a perfect example of a public and private person that gave two decades of dedicated and unselfish service to Croydon.
The Right Honorable Malcolm Wicks. A very clever and honest person who worked diligently on peoples behalf and would not have allowed cuts to those most in need to go unchallenged. A great and untimely loss for his family most of all.
My comment is only to avoid IC becoming a bit of a Cadwalladr-style echo chamber. Keep the great work
Cadwalladr won her libel case. She acted in the public interest. Steve Reed doesn’t exactly get a warm welcome in the pages of Inside Croydon from what I can hear, but perhaps you are just locked in a different echo chamber.
I’m no great fan of Chris Philp, but I thought that Mick Lynch made a complete fool of himself by his behaviour in that video clip.
I don’t know enough about the RMT’s claim – except that any trade union which demands job guarantees for its members is still living in the last century … and the EARLIER half of that! There isn’t a worker in this country that can have a guarantee of “no voluntary redundancies” because there’s not an employer whose guarantee is (as they say) worth the paper it’s written on.
Lynch just doesn’t come across as a viable leader of men, and his “motto voce” contributions to that interview simply don’t cut the mustard.
Job security, and the need of it, is as relevant in 2022 as it was in 1922, Martin.
If a union does not use the collective bargaining abilities of the workforce on behalf of their members to seek to protect them from the threat of compulsory redundancies, then they are not doing their job.
It is odd that the Tory government, which subsidises the railway network, has never sought to reduce the vast amount of public money it hands over to bolster the bottom line of the overseas-owned firms that operate the rail companies, nor sought to rein back on the six-figure salaries of those rail operator bosses.
The specific ‘modernisation’ required mainly involves track inspection staff being replaced by an unproven ‘technology’ – with clear safety issues involved.
And booking office staff are being pretty much totally dismissed in favour of online booking – again with clear issues for some of the travelling public who don’t have access to online facilities.
Equally, Shapps et al dress this up as a greedy pay claim. In fact they are seeking something less than the cost of living increases, 8% as opposed to 10%. The deceit used is that the “average median” pay of strikers is already around £55k a year, where it is nearer £35k.
Shapps reaches his figures by including the ASLEF drivers pay who are in the top echelon of earners but are not actually on strike!
The intermittent strikers have gone from Covid hero to pay busting zero, thanks to biased media and political commentators who will never let the facts get in the way of a campaign to distract the public away from the misdemeanours of Boris and his acolytes like Chris Philp and Grant Shapps.
How useful that the voters in Tiverton and Wakefield have given their verdict this morning.