Boris Johnson’s ‘partygate’ pantomime overlooks Ukraine crisis and cost of living fears – Bernard Ingham
They serve round-the-clock entertainment, full of boos, whistles and “look who’s behind you” – or not, as the case may be.
Andrew Lloyd Webber would have lined his pandemic-depleted pockets had he chosen to sponsor this show.
It’s pantomime and farce all at once with Commons matinees, evening TV shows and all retailed for breakfast by cheerful media.
We’ve all heard of silly seasons, but they usually come in the middle of summer. This off-season takes the biscuit.
I write as someone who, as a former No 10 press officer, has had his moments with MPs and is under no illusions about their capacity – especially the Tories – for panic, paranoia , to disloyalty and willingness to believe any old rope if it serves their mutinous purpose.
But the current lot makes me wonder – again – how on earth could anyone have described such steadfast Tory MPs as the Guards Brigade?
It all plays out against the backdrop of Russia’s threat of invasion of Ukraine, Western leadership at its lowest since World War II, a world economy ravaged by the dreaded lurgi, rising inflation and an appalling national debt.
How could politics in a democracy be brought so dangerously low?
In the UK, the answer is barely believable in light of world events: the No 10’s propensity for relaxing ‘bring your own booze’ drinks in the garden and a birthday bash for Boris Johnson, after he locked down the nation to varying degrees due to Covid.
They were, of course, a tempting fate, given the public’s sensitivity to any semblance of one law for the privileged and another for the big harlots.
The machine has collapsed and cannot be surprised at the public outrage as the police now investigate certain parties.
But I suspect a lot of hypocrisy about the reviews, despite the majority’s heroic response to the Covid restrictions.
It defies reason to assume that there were no drinks in the office elsewhere among the few employees who were not working from home.
In the meantime, we await the outcome.
Will investigator Sue Gray’s report force the somewhat cavalier Prime Minister out of No 10 or allow him to continue tackling a portfolio of challenges that no Prime Minister has been faced since Winston Churchill?
Whether Houdini pulls through or not, he and his party will have to live through the last few months of relative futility.
It is not just rookie Tory MPs such as Bury South’s Christian Wakeford who made a fool of himself by defecting to Labour, or the sheer naivety of those who complain about the ‘blackmail’ of those trying to keep them in line.
The entire parliamentary party has revealed a distressing lack of judgment as the problems pile up.
Many of them have behaved with the obsession of teachers’ unions during the pandemic and now public sector unions in resisting a back-to-office order.
They have nothing to offer but trouble – just like Labour, Greens, SNP, Welsh Nationalists and Liberal Democrats.
Perhaps the Tories are mistaken in thinking that since Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer is so ineffectual, they must keep the government on track.
But it stretches the imagination when the Brexiteers among them, along with Dominic Cummings, the vindictive former chief adviser to the Prime Minister credited with securing our exit from Europe, quickens the blood of Remainers who see Boris’ demise as a chance to return to the dictates of Brussels. .
As for those who filed – or now withdrew – letters of censure against the Prime Minister to the chairman of the 1922 Committee, they display a kind of cruel uncertainty that distracts governments from serious current problems such as the threat to world peace. and the fate of the weak and old in an inflationary Britain.
In truth, I hope I don’t sound pretentious when I suggest that the Westminster pantomime displays a disturbing lack of moral responsibility.
It ranges from a failure, through self-indulgence, to recognize that we live in dangerous times, to an apparent willingness to continue to impose financial burdens on our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
A responsible politician would today be content to strangle Boris’ ears for attending an office party or turning a blind eye to others during health restrictions and focus on the essentials – protecting the kingdom, the currency, the weak and maintain law and order. In the name of God, no more pantomime.
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