26 Apr 2013 at 11:42
One of David Cameron’s greatest assets is luck. At a time when it looked as if his party would tear itself apart because of selfish tantrums of the right paralysed with fear over UKIP and trainspottingly obsessed with all things Brussels, nobody seemed to notice Labour’s steady march to the left.
If the Tories could just pause from stabbing each other in the back and look at the hopeless mess that is Labour, many of those with slender majorities have a fighting chance of being returned at the next election.
In many ways the political death of David Miliband and the real one of Margaret Thatcher are interlinked. David’s departure was more symbolic than anything else. It showed that the Blairites have given up and that Ed really is in charge of the sweet shop. And the death of Thatcher was a terrifyingly
graphic reminder of how dangerous and intolerant the left can be when they take control.
So it must have put a spring in Cameron’s step to hear Red Len McCluskey, the delightfully Jurassic leader of Unite, gloating over his £25 million strike war chest. And then to hear him calling not just for the the ethnic cleansing of the party and the expulsion of any living Blairite but to dance on any dead one’s grave. Of course it is political suicide.
This gives Cameron and Shapps day after day of open goals. This is serious clear blue water. There are dragons to be slayed and clear issues that will resonate with the electorate. Labour is totally on the wrong side of the benefits argument and its economic policy a shambles. What does it want do to about immigration? God knows. All they can do is admit they cocked it up last time round. It should not go unnoticed that when Thatcher was asked what her greatest achievement was her reply was simple: “New Labour”. Well, that lot have been put into cryogenisis and there is not much hope of a defrosting in the near future. Miliband hasn’t learned the lessons of Benn and the Thatcherite purists. The moment the party becomes a cult the electorate switch off life support.
The trick is for Tory backbenchers to keep their nerve when the Party gets a drubbing from the Kippers next week. Cameron and Osborne are used to these local difficulties. Cameron forged in the fires of the economy going into meltdown with his Chancellor making a stormy resignation and Osborne grounded in the stinking funeral pyres of infected cattle. Most people forget that he was Douglas Hogg’s Special Advisor. Both men have perspective and are reassuringly unflappable.
In politics it is the window dressing that is far more interesting than the policy. Some of the most recent appointments to the non jobs in the lifts have fascinated me. John Hayes as the great Poobah of Parliament must be a very sophisticated joke. So intricate that I still haven’t got it. But the real cracker is setting up this new policy board with sensible old stagers as Peter Lilley, probably the most effective Social Security Secretary that we have ever had.
If Labour play this as a lurch to the right they would be very mistaken. Peter is a thoroughly decent and compassionate man. He also know which policies will fly.
But what do we make of Jo Johnson’s lift off to the political stratosphere? Some are putting it about that this is designed to rile Boris. Others say this is the beginning of another political psycho drama where there is a real possibility of fratricide on the menu. The trouble is the Johnson clan are almost psychotically competitive.
It may be a beautifully cynical Mandelsonian plan to embarrass Boris, but I doubt it. Mind you if it works I have no doubt that Number 10 will anonymously put it about that this is a cunning plan. Already there have been unkind comparisons that Jo is much cleverer and nicer than Boris. And that his personal life is squeaky clean. I suspect that will not go down well at Boris Towers.
But my, are the subeditors going to have fun with this one. It is a gift to the red tops. Bojo, Jojo, Mojo and if the News of the World was about there would have been a reasonable chance of Blowjo gracing the front page.
So let’s assume (although the Sundays won’t) that JoJo was appointed on merit. But if it all goes tits up there is always the Monty Python way of dealing with things.
“Smear him in chocolate and throw him to the lesbians”.
God, we are going to have some sport with this.