Like me, you probably cannot BELIEVE that after hubris comes nemesis. If only there’d been some clue to this in all that Ancient Greek stuff Boris Johnson is forever wanging on about.
In elk geval. The prime minister woke this morning in a pre-title sequence set in a silent bedroom. We see the detritus of many discarded lateral flow tests. We see something nasty on the bedsheets. (Less of a horse’s head, more of a Kendall Roy special.) We see a couple of rats slink out of his hair and think: Christ, if that’s what’s front-facing, the picture in his attic must now be technically classed as a biological weapon. Skielik, the eerie silence is punctured. Ambulance sirens rend the air outside, while in the bedroom, multiple phones start ringing. Somewhere in the house, a baby begins screaming, while the frozen expression on the prime minister’s face simply says: “What just happened?!”
Cut to black. CAPTION: “45 DAYS EARLIER …”
Aan 2 November, bubbly British premier Boris Johnson was flying back from Cop26 on a private plane, laughing off world-beatingly high Covid transmission rates at a time when light interventions would have reduced them, and nicely set for dinner with mid-Mesozoic influencer Charles Moore at the all-male Garrick Club. At this fateful repast with his former boss, the newspaper columnist who runs Britain cemented a plot to stop Owen Paterson - rule-breaking MP for ultra-safe North Shropshire - from having to serve a mere 30-day suspension from parliament, apparently on the basis that Johnson’s people can do whatever they like.
This morning, North Shropshire has fallen to the Liberal Democrats with the third-biggest swing against the Tories since 1945, with the many, many rule-breaking Christmas parties held last year by Johnson’s people turning out to be a nuclear issue on the doorstep. What can you say? I strongly recommend laughing over spilt milk.
Unable to pass legislation on the biggest issue of his premiership and the era without Labour support, Johnson has lost control of the voters who voted to take back control, to say nothing of his batshit backbenchers. His Downing Street lectern reads “Get boosted now”, but might as well say “BEHOLD YOUR WEAKLING KING”. At a Downing Street briefing this week, the chief medical officer explained: “What we’ve got is two epidemics on top of each other.” Yeah, and two press conferences on top of each other. One is being held by Chris Whitty; the other is being gibbered through by a knock-off Richard II, surrounded by useless cronies and unsuccessfully begging parliament for money. (Put that in your Shakespeare book, mate.) “Don’t mix with people you don’t have to,” advised Whitty, who agonisingly has to mix with Boris Johnson.
As for the aforementioned backbenchers, of COURSE all the Tory free-speech nuts are now demanding Whitty be silenced, at the same time as refusing to believe that the NHS is under the sort of meaningful pressure that might require even plan B. When they become the last to know about the mind-bending Omicron numbers, and cancer services and so on get even further screwed for the coming year, do remember to thank the likes of Steve Baker for their endless fricking “vision”. The rest of us will mildly observe that the Conservative party is yet again under the control of its bastards. Aside from the New Labour interregnum, the Tory party has been chained to these lunatics and their political ancestors since the early 90s. And so, by uitbreiding, has the country.
But listen: don’t worry. Because of course – OF COURSE – there is renewed chatter about a leadership contest. A standout report for me this week had Rishi Sunak “quietly letting it be known to Tory MPs that he argued against the introduction of plan B at this stage”. Presumably he let this be known from California, where the chancellor of “the party of business” is twatting about while the hospitality trade collapses. Intussen, foreign secretary Liz Truss is “hosting drinks receptions for potential supporters at a discreet private members’ club in Mayfair”.
Adorable. What’s not to love about this traditional moment in the Conservative snuff movie cycle? All you have to remember is that no matter how terrible the horrors raining down on the nation, the party will always find time for homicidal self-pleasure, in the form of a mooted leadership contest. We could be standing in the post-apocalyptic ruins of our country, with said apocalypse even caused by the last leader they decided had “special sauce”, and the likes of Liz Truss would still be hosting receptions for supporters at discreet clearings in the rubble. “If you want a drink, you’ll have to distil your own urine - and all I’ll say about the canapés is that you need to catch them first. In elk geval: MY VISION.”
Speaking of canapés, the prime minister was this week still standing by his allegedly rule-breaking staff, defending them on the basis that they “have worked blindingly hard for a very long time in cooperation with people around the government and across the whole of the public services to do our very best to keep people safe”.
What self-pitying bollocks. Is there anything more pathetic than this idea that desk johnnies in Westminster work harder than anyone else in this country? Do me a favour. It’s not going down a mine, is it? It’s not evacuating people from Afghanistan. More to the point, it’s hardly working in an ICU. You don’t actually have to wash public service down with cheese and wine when no one else is allowed to. Eerlik, they all want to be in the room where it happens, and when they are, they moan about the hours. So as we seemingly stare down the barrel of another grim and restrictive winter - in which no one has done more to undermine their own public health message than they themselves – Downing Street staff, from the prime minister downwards, are reminded that there is a very easy solution to all this. Other jobs are available – why not start looking around?