May was unwise to explode a suicide jacket in her speech whilst Boris is Wassererfing his way to mischief

7 Oct 2015 at 11:10

As Boris wasserwerfered his way to the podium he must have been feeling more than a little pleased. The mushroom cloud of Theresa May’s leadership hopes still hung in the air. It was a terrible and deadly explosion. Just why she thought it was a great idea to wear a suicide vest and then press the button remains a mystery. To make a speech that horrified both the Daily Telegraph and the Speccie is quite an achievement. I really don’t think she is a vindictive person. But for someone who branded the Tories as the nasty party, her heartless take on immigration was quite shocking. Compare that to the compassionate Conservatism of Cameron and compare that to the way he movingly dealt with the immigration in his speech. She will go down as one of the great Home Secretarys. But go down she has. Leadership is about judgement and yesterday hers went walkabout. Nothing is impossible in politics, but unless Osborne, for charmingly cynical reasons, bigs her up so she can stop Boris getting on the ballot paper with him I fear her hopes for the big job will be dashed. May just hopelessly misjudged the basic decent of the British people.

As I am in court most of the time I didn’t see Boris’s speech but I read it beforehand. It had obviously not all been written by him. It had been Cameronised and spattered with all the approved buzz lines. Lots of stuff on crime, but no mention of May. Lots of stuff on the economy, but no mention of Osborne. Mmm, so what’s he up to? Well it’s straight out of the Boris playbook. A clue was on the front page of the SUN yesterday where his hounds have been briefing that Osborne has been nicking all of his ideas. His MO is making a rousing speech oozing loyalty whilst at the same time puts it about that Ozzie is a bit of a shit. If he had a power base in the Commons this might play well. But he doesn’t. He seems not to bother about carefully nurturing support. And if he starts now, which he won’t, it will be a bit late. Worse, there are serious concerns amongst backbenchers that Boris is a bit of a whinger. And accusing George of stealing his ideas will go down like a cup of cold sick.

The conundrum that may perplex Ozzie is how to manage Boris. This is his last major conference speech opportunity before Goldsmith takes over and if Boris doesn’t have a major Cabinet job he will be exiled to the fringe. And the devil makes work for idle hands. And you can’t get much more idle that Boris. So in the next reshuffle what could he be given? It can’t be a massive spending department as they are all taken and you can’t displace a woman, even a fairly useless one. But what about Leader of the House? A desperately tedious job, but with half an hour a week to have some fun, shine and be witty. Grayling has the smile of brass plate on a coffin and the humour to match. Angela Eagle was wonderful in subtly taking the piss out of him without him realising. And Chris Bryant is becoming a class act. The Boris and Bryant show would be great fun; you could sell tickets. And with collective responsibility binding him (as much as anyone can) to the party line which is now the Osborne line, might just limit his capacity to make mischief. And nobody is going to miss the awful Grayling.