The end of Bercow. And the new blood sport of Boris baiting

22 Jul 2015 at 11:59

I am getting rather bored with this ‘will he or won’t he’ Corbyn chatter. Jon Rentoul’s analysis is spot on. He hasn’t a clue what the result will be except that it will be bad for Labour. The Tories only became electable when they exorcised the ghost of Margaret Thatcher and Labour will only win when it comes to terms that Tony Blair isn’t the devil incarnate. This will take a while. But the indelibility of the Corbynisation of Labour is bad for Britain. Governments need to be held to account or else they wallow in complacency or even worse, arrogance. At least Blair stopped the dangerous swings of left to right at election time. Concensus politics should not be dirty words. What is so worrying about the left, and I must include the SNP in this, is the sheer venom and bile that is reserved for the middle classes. And the personal nastiness against anyone who dares put forward a contrary view. The ugly, angry contortions of hatred and rage that was a hallmark of the Scottish elections are a reminder that the left can be a humourless, dour, driven rag tag army of unpleasantness.

But enough of Labour’s arsehole searching. I am more interested in the two big beast Bs of politics; Bercow and Boris, who seem to have the gift of making the wrong enemies, in particular Osborne. It might be said that they are their own worst enemies. Not while George is still living and breathing. Whether it is because of his own personal demons or because he is bored with the job, putting down the Chancellor in such offensive terms means that the days of his Speakership are numbered. He will leave not at his own convenience. This is a shame because he has been rather a good Speaker in many ways. Perhaps he blames Osborne for that clumsy and politically inept coup attempt by Hague in the dying embers of the last Parliament. Who knows, who cares? But if I were Lyndsey Hoyle I’d be measuring the curtains at Speaker’s House. Poor old Bercow has lost his Labour human shield.

And now for Boris. Oh dear. Paranoia seems to have set into the Johnson camp. Except that they really are all out to get him. Making an enemy of Osborne is a lethal error, but making an enemy of May is mortal. And buying a few second hand water cannons from the Germans that have sixty seven faults shows an amazing arrogance and lack of judgement. They will be his own watery Edstone. Will it the the SUN or the MAIL who gets the first photos of their graveyard? But these are not his worst unforced errors. Rolling up to political cabinet unprepared is a gift to his enemies. And not smoozing the new intake of Tory MPs again points to arrogance and lack of judgment. The way to the leadership is preparing the ground, building alliances and making people think that you think that their views are of monumental consequence. This is the Boris problem. Despite the bonhomie and humour he has never been a clubbable fellow. He should be working the bars and the tea rooms. He should be sending little congratulatory notes to the newbies after their maiden speeches. You don’t become leader because throughout the shires ladies of a certain age swoon in damp gussetted admiration. But his worst error of judgement is to moan about his humiliations. ‘He has been so loyal’ squeal his team. Really? I must have blinked. His people have been briefing against Osborne and Cameron for years. Boris baiting appears to be so much more fun thatn Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja. And the more he moans about it the more pleasure his taunters will enjoy. The real point of it all is to plant the simply question in the public mind. Is Boris good enough? We shall see.

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