Wednesday 20 July 2022

Johnson is not as lacking in skills as some suggest


When I saw this headline, my first thought was that it must have something to do with Liz Truss and Brexit dividends. In the early days after the Brexit vote, the then Trade Minister, Liam Fox, came up with the brilliant idea that the damage caused to the UK economy could be rectified by selling innovative jams to France, and given Truss’s preoccupation with cheese imports, maybe innovative cheeses was going to be the next big thing. Disappointingly for fans of the sort of innovative food products which membership of the EU allegedly prevented us from making, it turns out that it’s only the factory which is innovative, not the cheese. It made me wonder whether poor old Liam Fox, not always known for the most coherent turn of phrase, had been misunderstood all those years ago. Perhaps he had intended to refer to jam produced in innovative factories rather than innovative jam, but had been misquoted by a bemused reporter. Just for a bit of fun.

There was, though, no such confusion surrounding the infamous cheese speech. That was pure, unadulterated Truss, something we’re likely to see more of if the bookies’ predictions are realised. A few days ago, the Guardian’s sketch writer, John Crace, expressed the hope that the Tories would unite around Truss, not because she’d be brilliant at the job (spoiler: she would not), but because whoever they choose “…we’re f**ked regardless. So we may as well go down with a laugh.” That’s what counts as optimism these days. The Guardian’s live news feed from yesterday had the final lap of the race down to a question of deciding not who would be the best candidate, but which candidate would be best to stop the one they least want, telling us that “… ‘Stop Mordaunt’ may be a more powerful voting incentive than ‘Stop Truss’. The ‘Stop Mordaunt’ vote might also be a ‘Stop Sunak’ vote, if MPs are assuming that Truss would beat Sunak, but Sunak would beat Mordaunt”, as though the whole thing is reduced to a giant game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Although, on second thoughts, that might be a better way of choosing the winner, reflecting the ultimate shallowness of the whole charade.

In the meantime, it seems that whoever wins – but especially if it’s Sunak – the current incumbent is planning to be hovering in the wings trying to frustrate any attempt to do anything that he wouldn’t do (not that that actually represents much of a restriction), and heavily invested in ensuring the failure of whoever emerges as winner. It’s not as if he lacks ability or experience in this particular quest – after all, he has almost singlehandedly brought down the last three Tory Prime Ministers, even if the third (himself) was more by accident than design. Why not aim for a fourth? Or even a fifth – they could probably just about fit another one in before the next election can be postponed no longer. History may record that bringing down Conservative PMs is the one undoubted skill which he possesses.

No comments: