MPs always get fractious before the summer break. But none so bitter as the various skirmishes within the Conservative party. A few weeks ago Starmer looked as if he was on the ropes. But now the message that was beginning to sound like an overplayed broken record, namely that Johnson is lazy, incompetent and politically amoral, is gaining traction. Particularly on the back benches.The opinion poll lead of 13% now hovers around 4%.
Last weekend I had a drink with an old friend who I had warned during the leadership that Johnson would be a disaster. He thought that I was mad. Not any more. ‘But who else is there?’ was all he could offer. And things aren’t going to get better.
It is all so horribly predictable. Johnson finally makes a decision. It is railroaded through cabinet with the minimum of consultation. Tory back benchers threaten mutiny and the government backs down. The vaccine passport is classic supermarket trolleyosis. It is a non runner. It has been strangled at birth and yet we will have to put up with the farce of ministers trying to justify whatever flits through the Prime Minister’s mind. When this absurd policy is finally abandoned he will tell us that he never wanted in the first place. Worse, he will actually believe that he never wanted it in the first place.
Vaccine passports will eventually come to pass for the simple reason that businesses will require it. You won’t be able to go abroad unless you can prove that you are double jabbed. You won’t be allowed into a nightclub unless you are double jabbed. And if a landlord decides he wants to protect his trade by refusing to serve customers who can’t prove that they are double jabbed he can. It’s called market forces. So if the government had any sense (discuss) they would leave it well alone. But they won’t until they are forced to make another humiliating U turn.
And let’s have a close look at ‘chain gangs for criminals’, which will be yet another disaster for that nasty piece of smirk, Priti Patel. I have absolutely no problem with making yobs wear high viz jackets while they clean up graffiti or other humiliating tasks. The trouble is we’ve done it before. Community Payback was launched way back by Jack Straw. In those days the little oiks had to wear red boiler suits with Community Payback written on the back. They loved it. It was cool. So cool that there was even a sitcom made about it in 2009 called Misfits where they all got struck by lightening and gained superpowers. Patel really is giving Chris Grayling a run for his money.
Oh and let’s not forget the latest pile of steaming shit that is the government’s attempt to reform the NHS. Nobody wants it in its present form. The Saj sensibly wants to put it on the back burner so that some fundamental flaws can be ironed out. But no. We press on. In a bloody pandemic.
I am not quite sure what has happened to Allegra Stratton as her behaviour as press spokesman for climate change verges on the ever so slightly bonkers. Urging people to join the Green Party and not to rinse their dishes almost harks back to the days when dear old Patrick Jenkin, energy minister during the three day week, urged us to clean our teeth in the dark. Anyway, her boss Alok Sharma is well pissed off. I have a feeling that she wants to be sacked. And then write a book.
Finally, the big news this weekend will be the hike in energy prices. A political catastrophe. Our bills will be going up by 13%. Soon. So what will they do? Blame the regulator….the energy companies. Yes, but what will they actually do? Heaven knows. If anything stokes inflation and end cheap money this will. Hang on I think I know what will happen. The red wall will go mad. The splendid Robert Halfon will start a campaign. Labour will want to tax the energy companies and Johnson will have a row with the Treasury. And there will be a terrible mess.
And then it will almost time for Community Payback. The General Election.