For reasons beyond my comprehension (discuss) a certain noisy cult on Twitter seem to think that the retention of Cummings is some sort of victory for Boris Johnson. That he has faced down a biased and driven press. That he emerges as a strong leader. It is not the mood of the country nor the vast majority of the Conservative party who are seething with resentment.
The chances of Cummings getting the chop are now remote unless there is a further twist in this whole sorry saga. If he had gone straight away, or at least apologised, it would have been a two day story. But now it will just hang around like a fart in a lift. This really is a personal disaster for the Prime Minister. He is alone, stubborn, ridiculed, detested and whatever judgement he had has evaporated. His lack of grasp of detail is cringeworthy. Where is this great intellect we used to hear about? Where is this great communicator? God knows. He has become something that every politician dreads. An embarrassment. Worse than that, he forced colleagues to humiliate themselves. I really don’t get it.
And it is going to get worse. Parliament returns on Monday. Keir Starmer cross examines on Wednesday. Of course, the whips will try and pack the place with cheering, jeering toadies to give Johnson cover. If Starmer has any sense he will draw a line under Cummings and concentrate on judgement. He foolishly trusted Priti Patel over the repulsive fees immigrant health and care workers were forced to pay. Everyone could see it was a turkey. Everyone warned him. But he pressed ahead. Then after Starmer’s questioning a U turn. Next, another Patel cock up. Fourteen day quarantine after retuning from abroad is another turkey. It’s too late, unworkable and will destroy the travel industry. Everyone has warned him. Yet Johnson still blunders on. He knows he will have to abandon this policy. The question is when? If he has any sense it will be before Wednesday. But all political sense has left him. Look at the tin eared reaction to Hawei? It took his right wing to corner him into some sort of watering down of this discredited policy.
What really troubles me is that this government gives the impression of having a black heart. If you need convincing please read a chilling piece in today’s TIMES, ‘Teflon Dom.’ Those members and ministers who didn’t sacrifice their integrity on the alter of St Dominic are going to be punished. Here are a few quotes from sources.
‘Dom is very vindictive. I think someone like Penny (Mordaunt)...she’s fucked. I know how they operate and she is in big trouble....they will go after her....they know exactly who hasn’t been helpful....who has been putting things on Whattsapp.....they have spies everywhere’.
Their sins were not to plot against the PM, but to reflect the groaning mail bags of outrage from their constituents and association members. It’s why they were elected, not to send out humiliating generic tweets. And they will be punished. This is the behaviour of a government that I would expect in Hungary or Poland not Great Britain.
So Johnson is One Nation one minute and Warsaw Pact hard man the next. Will the real Boris stand up? He has frittered away valuable political capital, he has squandered party discipline, he is floundering around with test and track which is not yet fit for purpose. He does not look like a man in control of anything.
I want him to succeed. I really do. And so does the country. I can’t make up my mind whether it is the illness and a young baby that has knocked him for six or just the blundering, blustering incompetence some of us warned about before he was elected.
It almost makes one feel nostalgic about the strong and stable government of Mrs May.