Well, I suppose it’s not all over for Sunak until Therese Coffey sings. Oh, don’t laugh too heartily, dear old Therese has serious form for her Karaoke appearances. The trouble is that despite being clearly the most competent candidate and best suited to be prime minister Rishi Sunak has been the recipient of the vilest smears that I have every seen in my forty years in politics.
It’s weird, but depressingly, cynically, impressive that so many Tories have blanked out reality when it comes to Truss. It’s also not all that surprising when you observe how the politicians’ mind set works. We sometimes forget that many are more masters of self deception than mass deception. It starts of in a fairly straightforward way.
‘Is our leader so dishonest and incompetent that we will lose the general election and we lose our jobs if he stays’?
The answer that the parliamentary party gave after months of dithering was in the affirmative.
‘Who is the candidate who can unite our party and win the next election’?
That is always the problem. There rarely is a front runner and someone usually emerges. But what usually happens is that the deposed leader remains in office to ensure an orderly transition and doesn’t interfere in the process. That is why many of us warned that to keep Johnson in Number 10 until September will be a disaster. It has been. Johnson has unleashed his attack dogs to destroy Sunak in several acts of a Greek tragedy, ‘the snake, the assassin, the socialist chancellor….not a Conservative…..wealthy, out of touch….and as for his billionaire non dom wife….the suits, the shoes…’ and on and on it goes. The relentless diet of bile spewing from the Mail and Dorries has even shocked an old cynic like me.
And then there is the fickleness of the activists. For months Sunak was riding high in the polls in Conservative Home. That was when he was doling out the cash. But the moment he reminded us we needed to pay it back at some time his star waned. Up pops Ben Wallace who is having a good war. To be fair Truss has been able to cultivate a false image of getting things done.
Then there is the problem of Johnson’s dangerous almost psychotic belief in his destiny. He sends out those who enjoy his patronage like Cruddas to accuse the 1922 committee of being a conspiratorial cabal, carefully forgetting that it was Johnson who stabbed May in the back and that the wishes of backbenchers were expressed through the same conspiratorial 1922 Cabal. But that was, er, different.
Let us not forget Sunak’s ‘Socialist’ budget. The wickedness of it! Did anyone in cabinet resign? Of course not. Does anyone remember when Peter Thornycroft and his Treasury team, including Enoch Powell resigned when Harold MacMillan demanded an extra £500m in public expenditure. There lies a clue. The prime minister can insist that his Chancellor takes a different course. Ask Nigel Lawson. Oh, let’s have a little more history to assist Truss in her spending free for all. Jim Callaghan, ‘you can’t spend your way out of a recession’. And finally Ted Heath’s chancellor Tony Barber’s ‘dash for growth’. A disaster which proved to be catastrophically inflationary. An economic reality which was learned by Margaret Thatcher. And never repeated.
Now back to the politicians’ questions.
‘Which way is the wind blowing so I get get that job that my genius deserves? Whom should I back?’
This is when the pork barrel really begins to roll. Ben Wallace wants to keep his dream job and therefore discovered what a wonderful prime minister Truss will be. I thought that the normally principled Tom Tugendhat who knows how mediocre she is as Foreign Secretary rather shocked the sentient wing of the party when he embraced her with such vigour that one hoped that he was wearing a condom. But he wants….any job.
Oh, the jobs that have been promised, the bypasses, schools and hospitals to be built. But it doesn’t matter. Guys you don’t matter. Watch my lips, ‘it’s the membership stupid.
And the last question which isn’t really asked, but is gnawing in the back of their minds?
‘Who does Labour fear the most? Who will Starmer love to see at the despatch box’. They know deep down and hope that they can afford a little bit of Orwellian double think.
Meanwhile Johnson as a latter day Loki God of mischief cries havoc and unleash the Moggs of war. Yes folks. Let’s break some more rules. Let members write Boris on their ballot papers. Let’s destroy Sunak install Truss and then they will beg for me to come back.
Tragically it’s all so Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, ‘no one leaves a star, that’s what makes one a star, there’s nothing else….come back? I’ve never been away…..Just us and the cameras and those wonderful people out there in the dark. All right Mr de Mille I am ready for my close up’.