Monday 24 October 2022

Three narrow escapes

Britain is in a huge mess, not thanks to Brexit but thanks to the Conservative party. 

But there are three things for which to be grateful.

First that Theresa May did not win the 2017 election. That would have been fatal for everyone.

Second that Liz Truss announced her resignation as Prime Minister after six weeks.

Third that Boris gave up his leadership ambitions, for now, last night.

I wanted to get away from the news this weekend but failed. I tried to give up the news completely at the start of the year but 2022 was a bad year to do this.

My head said Boris would probably pass the threshold of a hundred nominations from MPs and could then, perhaps narrowly, win the members' ballot. My heart told me he wouldn't stand again and my intuition was right. 

If he's offered the job and cares about Ukraine he should become Foreign Secretary, but I doubt he'd be interested. 

Public service is not what motivates him.

Why is it that the BBC now talks about people running for election? Americanisation, of course, which is why many people think a new Prime Minister requires a new election.

Here are some things I read over the weekend I thought interesting.

Miriam Cates, MP:

Boris is a brilliant campaigner, but the main tenets of our mandate – to take control of our borders, push back against cultural destruction and restore prosperity to the regions – still hang in the balance. As skilled as Boris is at connecting with voters, his time in office saw the highest immigration levels on record, a failure to take on cultural battles and the highest rate of family breakdown in the West. 

Paul Goodman, to whom Boris submitted copy late at the Telegraph:

No rational observer would be surprised were the next episode of the Johnson comedy to be a by-election in his Uxbridge seat forced by a Parliamentary inquiry which had declared him a liar.

Could he win? What if he did so, and then faced “letters”? What he faced letters anyway? What if he lost the by-election – and the Party girded itself up for its fifth leadership election in some seven years? What figure do you think the Conservative poll rating would settle at?

Do those 2019 Red Wallers backing Johnson now think it would be different in their seats? How many Party members understand that the Johnson joke is on them?

This is the logical destination of the Totentanz, the Conservative dance of death – as Johnson, like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, flutes Tory MPs, donors and activists to their doom. The Rishi Sunak candidacy is not exactly unproblematic. But on nothing like the scale of this.

“When, lo, as they reached the mountain’s side, / A wondrous portal opened wide, / As if a cavern was suddenly hollowed; / And the Piper advanced and the children follow’d, / And when all were in to the very last, / The door in the mountain side shut fast.”
Camilla Long:

How can they forget that, actually, it wasn’t the parties that was the worst thing about him? It was the vital Cobra meetings that he skipped to write his Shakespeare book. It was the careers of decent people that he crushed to advance his trivial greed, like the loans for carpets and holidays, perhaps even the holiday he has just been on.

It was the self-obsession that consumed everything, meaning that in January 2020, instead of reading up on boring Covid, he spent hours obsessing about the “Big Ben bongs” leading up to Brexit and “looking at maps” to decide where things could be built in his honour. It was the divisive, chaotic horror he put us through, not because he believed it would make things better but because he couldn’t see any way to be the sort of person to whom statues might be built without lying.

He has killed his party, killed Conservative politics, killed an entire generation of politicians by screwing a party over so comprehensively it simply cannot function. He took up so much of everyone’s time with the twists and turns of his shoddy personal soap opera that no policies could be executed; no decent people were hired or promoted; no one could think straight. He has denuded the party of its principles and its talent, which is the real crime. He cannot come back now.

Just look at what is left: Rishi Sunak, who couldn’t even beat Boris-lite, Liz Truss; and Penny Mordaunt, a bale of cooing pigeon hair, defence secretary for less than three months — why is she even a thing? Truss failed because she wasn’t up to it, and Johnson was well aware of this but still backed her because he knew it would benefit him.

[I strongly agree with the last paragraph. Why is Penny a thing? Because British politics is becoming Americanised, I suppose.]

I don’t think you can believe a word that comes out of the camp without verification … but sadly that’s not surprising…

[It turns out that Boris was telling the truth.]

Compare the US & UK. US Republicans still in tune with the realignment. In 2024 polls, uni grads favour Biden by 20 pts while (much larger number of) working-class voters back Trump by 16 pts. But in UK Labour now has 20+ pt lead among workers. Tories totally blown realignment.

Mail on Sunday news story:

Another source also claimed that [Cabinet Secretary] Mr Case had been concerned about Ms Truss's morale, telling colleagues that 'while all Prime Ministers end up lonely in office, it has happened at warp speed to Liz'. The source said: 'He grew very, very concerned.'

Downing Street staff were in tears as Ms Truss prepared her resignation but she reassured them: 'Don't worry, I'm relieved it's over,' before adding, 'At least I've been Prime Minister.'

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