When Gavin Williamson was made defence secretary to squeals of derision, envy and bile I warned that he would be a force to be reckoned with if he picked a fight with Hammond. I am delighted to say that spider boy is playing a blinder. Hammond’s hounds were arrogantly mad to brief that the top brass regarded their new boss as a private Pike tribute act. They calculated that because of the outcry at his appointment the Dad’s Army taunt would be greeted with a snigger, a wink and would turn the boy into a national joke. And it would stick. What fools. Hammond has some real enemies from all wings of the party, not just because he’s a boring old fart but because he suffers from a severe case of foot and mouth. The unemployment blunder was pretty bad, but yesterday’s comments on the disabled was crass, insensitive and wrong.
There is no love lost between Madame and her Chancellor. The whips are fed up with hauling him out of the shit, the Brexiteers despise him and all wings of the Tory party are horrified at his emasculation of our defence capability. Then today he dismisses Williamson in a patronising manner about his lack of understanding of defence budgeting. He understands it only too well matey. But he is not going to come over for a friendly chat until all his ducks are lined up. When Hammond is belittled, beleaguered and politically buggered. And to have the nerve to say that when at Defence he championed our armed forces is nothing more than a sick joke. Hammond crawled his way so far up the Treasury’s arse that they needed a team of sniffer dogs to remove him.
Spidy’s Black ops have been a joy to behold. The grounding of the Queen’s flight. “Technical issues” which made him late for a meeting. And expect a lot more japes. Perhaps the odd spill of scalding soup on the Chancellor’s crotch, “sorry sir, it was turbulence.” Perhaps on the way to an important meeting the pilot would crackle over the PA, “we regret to announce that traffic control have diverted us to Shetland. Sorry for the inconvenience.”
The joy about being Chief whip is that you have a spy in every department. The whip is told that they are representing the whips office not the department and they are regularly rotated so that they don’t go native. It means that the whips office know all the little ruses, nasty secrets and the areas where backbenchers are likely to rebel. And they will rebel if the treasury screws defence. Mutterings are reaching a crescendo. We may have some unholy alliances. Soames and the Moggmeister could be fun. And lethal. This could be the one issue that would unite the Tories.
Expect more diary stories from the brass. Expect damaging leaks from the Treasury too. Hammond is in a far far weaker position than May. He could be gone in the New Year. No party splits over that. Just a sigh of relief. She will stay.
So if the number 11 bus knocks down Hammond expect a lad in a red suit to be at the wheel. Watch out for Michael Gove too. He has many faults, but competence is not one of them.
But Spidy old boy, you need some voice coaching. Better to be William Hague then Alan Bennett. Being master of the dark arts is not enough for the top job. And don’t worry about being unpopular. Its no bad thing to be feared as long as you are competent. Something which is as rare a Corbyn victim to Israel.