May's humour is no laughing matter and what happens if the infinite improbability drive is engaged

17 Sep 2016 at 12:28

I wonder how long it will be before Tory backbenchers will be whispering over large gins how much they miss David Cameron. He was one of those rare beasts; a politician comfortable in his own skin. Like Blair he commanded the Chamber with a mixture of arrogance and charm. Sometimes he would lose his rag. But when you have Peter Bone, Bill Cash, Nadine Dorries and Andrew Brigden who think that being on your side means behaving like political Millwall supporters, it’s a minor miracle that he didn’t leap from the despatch box and throttle them. He also made an effort to roam the bars and dining rooms to chat up his backbenchers. Even the most bird brained want the thrill of boring a comatose constituency audience of his last pearls of wisdom to the PM. But it didn’t always work. One SPAD from the Amish wing moaned to me over dinner how patronising Cameron was to them at a drinks do. ‘He actually thanked us for all our hard work’, he squealed in horror, a vein doing a tango on his forehead. Perhaps Cameron should have just told them to fuck off and die.

Theresa May is a rather a different personality. She is more of a laugh than Thatcher, but that bar was never set very high. But my heart sank when May made it a virtue that she wasn’t someone who would roam the bars and dining rooms. Worse, that she didn’t gossip about colleagues. Well, if she didn’t gossip she certainly had her Beria collecting information about them. The May team never forgets nor forgives those who have briefed against their mistress. That is why Gove will never ever return to the front bench. So she relies heavily on her convivial PPS George Hollingberry to charm and reassure the troops. Anyone who has had to have the police called twice in the night to a birthday party to tell them to keep down the noise can’t be all bad. Unless you live next door. However, those who are in public office and are either anti May or sleep walking through their jobs, beware. She has appointed a Snitch Finder General (actually a retired colonel) who will shortly present madam with a list of those to be culled.

If I was in Team May I wouldn’t be too worried that she is pretty awful at the despatch box. Yet. Thatcher was terrible to begin with, but after a few years she used PMQs as a personal entertainment to torture and pummel her opponents. But that was after she had won two elections, a war and enjoy large simpering majorities, which works wonders for self confidence. May should just come to terms with her limitations and turn them into strengths. She is not a natural wit, so cut out the dreadfully laboured attempts at humour. It’s not a good idea if you are a magician to keep pulling dead rabbits out of a hat. Just play it straight. Be yourself. Alright, you were elected not just because you weren’t that ghastly Loathsome woman but because you are competent, steely and know what you are doing. Have a few one liners up your sleeve, but Mrs May please no more jokes as I fear for the health of parliamentary sketch writers. Already attendants have instructions to remove ties, belts, shoe laces and ropes with nooses from the poor dears. At last Wednesdays PMQs poor Quentin Letts was found in a catatonic trance, his Mont Blanc frozen in the air, not even able to finish the t in twat.Nothing could shake him out of it. Only a cunning Patrick Kidd managed to briefly bring a flicker of light back into his eyes by whispering that Dacre had cleared last month’s expenses. But as soon as he heard May promise to defend Christmas he went out like a light. We may never see him again.

But then there is the other George, the Young Pretender Osborne. He is the last surviving big beast. He is not going to sit back and allow his legacy to be trashed. And he is still brimming with ambition. If she tries to water down the Northern Powerhouse or HS2, there will be serious repercussions. She would be very, very wise not to make any more of an enemy out of him. She may be a ‘bloody difficult woman’, but he is a professional assassin with an impressive kill rate.

What I find so confusing are the mixed messages coming out of No10. There were briefings that Hinckley C was to be reviewed for cost and security reasons which are actually valid concerns. But that just pissed off the Chinese and put into jeopardy the trade deals that we are grovelling for. Now it appears that we are going ahead. And what is the position on HS2? The chief executive read the runes and did a runner. This is a hell of a lot of investment and all the job implications that flow from it. If it’s going to be scrapped for heaven sake make a decision and tell us. But it would be a gift for Labour. And I see that Liz Truss has announced the green light for a British Bill of Human Rights. This wizard idea has had more comebacks than Frank Sinatra. It will, of course, never happen as civil servants have warned every Justice Secretary that it is unworkable, meaningless, bollocks. But she has to go through the motions before it is thrown back into the long grass.

And then there is Brexit meaning…….‘er, um, can I phone a friend?’ Nobody has a clue. They know what they want and deep,down they know that they have as much chance of getting it as the Eagle sisters winning a gold in the coxless pairs. I wonder how long before the penny really drops.

When you walk into Downing Street there is a heavily guarded door on the right. If you manage to get through security you will find an enormous vault. And inside protected by criss cross of laser beams, poisonous snakes and a pool of crocodiles is a big red button marked Article 50. A few have broken in and tried to press it. A dreadful little man called Dyson who so strongly believes in Britain that he moved his work force to Malaysia in solidarity keeps on trying. The rest are a sad bunch who are always being sectioned. One day someone might just press it just for fun or Bozo fall onto it after a good night out. But what will happen? Nobody really knows, I suspect that it will be like the Infinite improbability drive in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Let me explain for those not in the know. When you press the button an incredible range of highly improbable things can happen. Known effects include the the creation and spontaneous upending of a million gallon vat of custard, the transformation of a couple of nuclear missiles into a sperm whale and a bowl of Petunias and turning a number of people into penguins.