Stop all this hypocritical crap about grubby and shameful deals. Elections are about bribes and deals. And I think I've seen the future. He's called Gavin

27 Jun 2017 at 08:31

Oh, can’t we all grow up a bit over the DUP deal? They may be a fairly ghastly bunch, but like the leaders of Scotland and Wales they want to screw as much money out of the government as they can for their own patch. They just have the opportunity. If you’ve got it flaunt it. And if you flaunt it abuse it. Even Gerry Adams had to admit that it was good news that £1bn is on its way to Ulster. And we might just get Stormont and power sharing back on track. It is a condition of payment. Who is daft enough to block that? As Claud Cockburn used to say, there is nothing more effective than a cash bribe.

I spent three happy years in Northern Ireland as a bag carrier in Paddy Mayhew’s team. The truth is we have been bribing them for years. They have a seriously good education system, public housing which is built to a far better specification than over here and if a medium sized town wanted a leisure centre in the nineties, they’d get it. It was one of the price tags of peace. I always got on well with the Ulster Unionists and actually took a member of the DUP round the Vatican. I even have the odd drink with Ian Paisley junior. But as a culture they are a little odd. But so is the Province. Last year I popped over to appear on Stephen Nolan’s television show. As I was sitting alone in my dressing room bored out of my skull I thought I’d pop into the green room for a drink and have a banter with some of the other guests. Firstly, I’d forgotten that the green rooms over there are dry, which was a terrible shock to the system. Secondly, there was a segment about a comedy play mildly taking the piss out of the bible that a DUP council had tried to ban. Not that they’d taken the time or trouble to go and see it. From what I’d heard it was all pretty tame stuff with reworked jokes like Moses coming down with the 10 commandments he had negotiated with God and saying the bad news was that adultery was still in. Gentle Two Ronnies stuff. So in I strolled in and sidled up to a kindly old boy. ‘What are you here for?’ ‘That play.’ ‘Can’t see what the fuss is all about.’ ‘So you think adultery is hilarious do you?’ Needless, to say I slagged him off to a supportive audience. The next morning I was recognised at the airport. To a man and a woman (there must have been about 20 of them) they said how nice it was to see me on Nolan, but how much they disagreed with me over the play. It’s a very different place.

So is this deal shabby and shameful? No more than any other political deal is. We had to ditch parts of the manifesto when we did deals with the Lib Dems in coalition. And it worked rather well. People, mostly of the Lederhosen persuasion, thought it was a disaster, but compared to today’s clusterfuck omnishambles those were the days of milk and honey. At least the DUP have buried the toxic rantings of the manifesto and will, with Ruth Davidson and her hit squad give us a fighting chance of realistic Brexit.

So everyone, let’s cut the hypocritical crap. All elections are about seeking power. All manifestos contain bribes. This deal is neither grubby nor shameful. It’s just practical. How long it will last is another matter. But with Alene Foster’s family history with PIRA I can’t see her breaking bread with Corbyn and his mob. This is personal.

In the last few days I have been pondering who should take over from May. Some commentators were saying we should skip a generation, but never made any serious suggestions. But this morning it dawned on me. It’s glaringly obvious. Who has had experience in Number 10? Who is popular with all sides of the party? Who comes from humble beginnings? Who has negotiated a deal that could save the skin of the Tories? Chief Whip, Gavin Williamson. And he has all the powers of patronage and the whips office machinery behind him. He could be formidable.This is early days and I have never even met him. I don’t even know if he is remotely charismatic. I’ve never even heard him speak. We will see. But I am am going to google William Hill and have a flutter. And don’t underestimate Green. A good man who did well at the dispatch box yesterday. And that wily old fox Davis comes over well. I could happily vote for any of those three. But buy shares in Williamson. A man to be watched.

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