Wednesday 17 August 2022

Another 'nasty piece of work' in Downing Street?

 It now seems all but certain that the Conservative party are about to elect another unprincipled opportunist as their leader and our prime minister.

Once a Lib Dem, now a Tory. Once a Remainer, now an arch-Brexiteer. A woman who wears flip-flops in her head, not on her feet. And as if all that isn’t bad enough, an out-and-out admirer – or so she says – of the King of Unprincipled Opportunists himself, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson himself.

He was, she says, an ‘excellent prime minister.’ He did ‘a fantastic job.’ Which tells us everything we need to know about the soundness of her judgement. She has positioned herself so far from the political mainstream that if the earth were flat, she’d be clinging onto the edge by her fingertips. (Come to think of it, if there were enough flat-earthers in the Tory party to win her the leadership, she’d emerge overnight as a flat-earther herself.)

You have to admire, though, her novel approach to winning the support of voters as they face the worst cost of living crisis in living memory. Call them bone idle shirkers, afraid of doing a decent day’s work. Accuse them of having the wrong attitude, especially if they have the misfortune to live outside London. Even Norman ‘Get on yer bike’ Tebbit didn’t go that far.

I bet it goes down a treat in the so-called Red Wall seats, where all those traditional Labour voters turned to the Tories in 2019 because they suddenly realised that Johnson, Rees-Mogg et al were horny-handed sons of toil who chanted ‘Up The Workers’ in their sleep.

Just as they cheered her to the rafters when she came up with the truly genius idea that teachers, nurses and police officers outside London should be paid less than their counterparts in the capital. So unbridled was their enthusiasm that she abandoned the policy within 24 hours. Truly, a woman of conviction.

I can see the election billboards now: ‘We’re a nation full of lazy buggers who don’t deserve what they’re paid. Vote Conservative.’

Thank goodness the man whom she admires so much knows the meaning of hard work and is still grafting away at his desk in Downing Street. Who could possibly believe the fake news that he’s jetted off on his second overseas holiday this month, even as the removal vans are pictured outside Number 10?

What do you mean you’ve seen photos of him shopping in a Greek supermarket? Don’t you know it was the media that forced him to quit? Surely you don’t buy all that stuff about dysfunctional government, rebellious ministers and ungrateful backbenchers? 

What is it about Conservative party members that so attracts them to obvious wrong ’uns? Are they all piling into bitcoins and non-fungible tokens, convinced that they have stumbled on the best sure-fire winner since Tulip Mania swept the Netherlands in the 17th century, when a single bulb was valued at 10,000 times the price of an average house? (Mind you, if NFTs are good enough for Mike Tyson, who am I to quibble?)

Liz Truss prides herself on her plain speaking. She is, she says, a proud Yorkshire woman, it apparently having slipped her mind that she was born in Oxford and went to primary school in Scotland before moving to Leeds and then to Canada. (She now represents a constituency in Norfolk, which last time I looked, isn’t in Yorkshire either.) 

She has learned well at the feet of her mentor. Not Margaret Thatcher, as she would have had us believe when she posed on board that British tank in Estonia. It is Boris Johnson, who developed the art of political shape-shifting so successfully, who has taught her everything she needed to know.

Always tell the punters what they want to hear. Insist that two plus two equal five if it seems politically expedient. Tomorrow, when you are forced to admit that they don’t, claim that it’s only because you always got the big decisions right and delivered on your promises. 

Back in 2013, my former BBC colleague Eddie Mair called Boris Johnson, to his face, ‘a nasty piece of work’. On all the available evidence, Liz Truss is another one.