I am no fan of Boris. I am satisfied he is a liar with little integrity and few scruples. He is driven by ambition which knows no bounds. His childhood aim to become king of the world still courses through his veins.
The media, especially the Westminster element, is now obsessed with every intricate detail of the general attack on this unpredictable prime minister’s integrity, which began to simmer when news of Cameron’s approaches to save his friend’s busted company first broke. The word sleaze begin to fly and recollections of the Major years were brought out of the attic and dusted down.
After Cameron came Dyson. Then Cummings. The temperature rose. The Cummings goal is to bring down Boris. Yet it may not be that easy. The actual constitutional power of a UK prime minister is almost limitless until stopped by a vote in the Commons. Most holders of the office have been cautious in using it unless absolutely necessary. But Boris uses it with gusto every day. At the moment to forgive himself for whatever it is he said or did. But mostly to cut corners and get things done. The peoples’ things.
The people like it. They like Boris and they like what he does for them. Not the shopkeepers of Ulster or the fisherman in Scotland, but the general mass of ordinary people. The more the Establishment attacks, the more they root for their champion.
That is why the opinion polls are moving in the Tories’ favour. Whatever the plan of Cummings, the Opposition and the hostile elements of the media is, it is not working yet.
It does if you give priority to probity and integrity in public life. But if you think all politicians are, if not liars and cheats, a bit dodgy, but the critical thing is whether they they can get things done, then you will back Boris. Polls indicate that while some have turned queasy and walked away, the majority are still with him.
The media and the Westminster bubble are obsessing about following the money that paid for some kind of lavish refurbishment of the Downing Street flat. I find this whole saga odd. Surely the state pays for offices and residencies owned by the state, where tenancy is dependent on the office held? And surely this is to a comfortable and serviceable standard, not some designer chick of the moment, which as we all know, quickly becomes tomorrows tat. Anyway if you don’t like it, you don’t have to live there. Wilson didn’t for his third and fourth terms and Callaghan never did.
Coming up we have the extended May elections, the Hartlepool by-election and a Queen’s Speech. It is upon the outcome of all of that which is most likely to determine Boris’s future. Labour hope the sleaze smells will drive voters from the Tories back to them. Maybe. But maybe not. Remember this is Boris. His popularity is not founded on rectitude. The worse he behaves the more popular he gets. Until he fails to deliver. Then he will be gone in a flash.
The terrible scenes in India of the pandemic out of control, in a country which a few weeks ago was declaring it had beaten Covid 19, must serve as a clear warning to all countries and especially here in the UK. This virus is aggressive and dangerous and until it is brought under control everywhere it is under control nowhere. Moreover it may never be eliminated, like for example smallpox. It may, like conventional flu, always remain as a fact of life and death and one with which we we have to learn to live.
At the moment Covid 19 is still on the advance globally and even in the UK with our supercharged vaccination programme, a third wave is not impossible. Some additional pressure in the autumn is a near certainty, even if we successfully manage it with social restrictions short of a lockdown.
Of course every government has to show it is putting the welfare of its own people first and foremost, but more will have to get used to the idea that to do that priority must also be given to funding and administering vaccinations and treatments worldwide. Until every fire is controlled the forest is not safe.
Not immediately. But further down the line of Cummings revelations, if more are coming, perhaps. If something unforeseen happens in the Covid battle, or if the economy fails to achieve a smooth recovery, then yes, he is vulnerable. The thing to remember about Boris is that the thing he is best at is winning.
He won, against predictions, the Brexit referendum, he eventually won the Tory leadership battle and he won spectacularly the 2019 general election. He is way ahead in the polls and the vaccination programme is among the most successful public projects ever undertaken. The economic support package, although not perfect, is one of the most generous in the world. There is nobody else in the current cabinet who could give the Tories the can do, go get image that goes with Boris.
Nevertheless he is not in the clear. Cummings, although hated by more than he is loved, with his own reputation for honesty and integrity battered by a combination of his Brexit slogans and lockdown lies, remains a formidable force, especially because he has copies of everything that can do harm to his former friend and boss, which he has promised to use to make his case. That case is not a gentle nudge to do better. It is a massive shove to exit Number Ten. On the grounds that the prime minister is incompetent, untrustworthy and a political sleazebag.
So if fights to the finish are your favourite stuff to watch, then you are in for some fun. Because Cummings is determined to destroy Boris. And it may be that in the end the only way open to Boris to stop his former right hand man from succeeding, is for Boris to destroy Cummings first.
This blog is undergoing some reconstruction and improvements. The project will be ongoing for a while yet. To start with, it has a new look.