Friday 24 May 2024

Climbing on to a sinking ship


Like many idioms and sayings, the old adage about rats and sinking ships has an underlying truth to it. Because rats, in the good old days at least, tended to live in the lowest part of ships, they were often the first to notice an ingress of water and reacted by running upwards. They are, apparently, accomplished swimmers but stand a better chance of surviving in the open sea than in the bilge of a boat en route to the bottom, although whether they have the mental capacity to assess their choices that carefully before running from the encroaching wet stuff is less certain.

Unsurprisingly, the Conservative ship – a sinking vessel if ever there was one – is currently experiencing a rash of sudden departures as well, as the crew eye the direction that their ship is taking under current leadership. Today, they’ve been joined by John Redwood, who entirely coincidentally was once compared to a rat sandwich by Ieuan Wyn Jones, although some have suggested that he’s heading for a different universe rather than a watery grave. He’s long been on a different planet certainly. What is rather less expected is the way in which Sunak’s party is actively welcoming other rats back on board, so that they can go down as members of the crew rather than outcasts and renegades. It’s probably the nearest thing UK politics has to the presidential pardons which some US leaders issue to their mates before leaving office. It’s the sort of thing which only a PM on his political deathbed would consider. He has little reason not to do so, given that the possibility of salvaging anything of his political reputation took to the lifeboat in despair a long time ago.

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