Monday, 7 February 2022

Ordering in the polish


According to reports yesterday, the PM has stated that it will take a whole Panzer division to remove him from Downing Street. Calling in the German army to do a job which Tory MPs are too spineless to do themselves seems a little on the extreme side, but if needs must… It wouldn’t exactly be the first time that England has looked to Germany to replace its ruler – England didn’t end up being ruled by the Hanoverians and the Saxe-Coburg-Gothas by accident.

Meanwhile, the attempt to prop up the unproppable, and defer the inevitable, continues with the announcement that Guto Harri is to return to the PM’s side to assist in digging him out of the largely self-excavated hole in which he finds himself. Given the descriptions which Harri has himself used of Johnson in recent years (to which Johnson’s would-be nemesis, Dominic Cummings, has delighted in drawing attention), no-one can argue that he’s going in blind. Indeed, many must have wondered what on earth can be going through his mind, even taking this job on at this stage (although there were reports suggesting that he’d initially taken a six-month leave of absence from the day job – hedging his bets, perhaps – before being required to resign). I can understand, however, why an experienced PR professional might see this as the turd-polishing challenge of a lifetime, and with minimal risk. If he pulls it off, he’ll become a celebrity in the PR world, able to command ever higher fees for his services. And if he doesn’t, future employers are more likely to give him credit for being willing to try than blame him for failing. It’s not as if there’s anyone in the field to whom the nature and scale of the ordure that he’s agreed to try and tackle are not obvious.

I’d guess that one of his first actions would be to take the spade away from self-appointed assistant digger-in-chief, Nadine Dorries. With Ministers like her prepared to go over the top and declare publicly that the PM tells the truth at all times in all circumstances, despite all the mere factual evidence to the contrary, the hole gets bigger daily. A six-month fact-finding trip to a location where there is no internet coverage would be even better than a spade-ectomy. What Harri might struggle with, most of all, is uncovering the full scale of the potential damage that he’s trying to manage. Cummings is hardly going to give him the whole story (he prefers the steady drip-drip to catch Johnson unawares) and Johnson himself doesn’t see anything wrong with anything he does, so has nothing to which he feels he needs to own up. The potential for new scandals, or new twists on the existing ones, to emerge is somewhere between high and astronomical. And the probability that either the spin doctor or his master will be allowed the time to build a strategy for recovery is diminishing with every new story.

As spectator sport, it’s worth following. If only Wales were indeed just a spectator…


dafis said...

Bit surprised to see Guto turn up at No10 especially after that recent S4C programme "Byd yn ei le" when he, Ben Lake and Hywel Williams ( an old school Tory) had a good old dig at Boris. So is Guto a man of many faces ? or just a guy who likes the limelight and in this case the fat salary that goes with it ?

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know what the Welsh government (and cohorts Plaid Cymru) is doing to ensure that after a successful vote for independence pensions will continue to be paid in full.

This is now major problem for the SNP in Scotland, pensions are paid out of current tax receipts, there is no retrospective allocation for historic financial sums paid. In other words, a newly independent Scotland would have to cover all it's own pension liabilities from day one of independence.

My suspicion is that here in Wales we are ignoring the issue. If so, it rather suggests no-one is serious about moving towards an independent Wales.

John Dixon said...


I have posted on pensions in the past and may do so again in the future, so only a brief response here. In essence, however, 1) The Welsh Government is not planning for independence and is therefore doing nothing; 2) pensions would be paid out of current revenue as they are now unless and until an independent government decided to change the system; 3) although they are paid out of current revenue, they are paid on the basis of past contributions to the UK Treasury, on which basis the UK Treasury has already accepted (in the case of Scotland) a liability for future pensions in respect of entitlement built up before independence, akin to the way in which it accepts liability for pensions for people who no longer live in the UK. In truth, the whole situation is, of course, rather more complex than that, but this isn't the place to debate it.

dafis said...

JD +Anon The Pensions question is quite important especially for those of us who are now dependent or will shortly become dependent. As you say JD not much thought has been given to the matter by the Bay regime as it does not anticipate or plan for separation.

Forget the Bay regime for a moment, is anyone else engaging in anything more than superficial planning for that most positive of outcomes - total independence ? or are we all playing at being radical and revolutionary while swapping yarns over posh coffees in those quaint bars and salons so favoured by our chic and not so chic political class ?

Oddly enough I think that Mark Drakeford is the man best equipped to think that one through, how to disengage our pension and other entitlements from the frozen grip of the dying UK and keep it running until such time as we can afford to up the rate from its current paltry level. Is anybody out there who can claim to have done some in depth evaluation of all this ?