Thursday 20 June 2019


I must declare a bit of an interest in the Tory leadership contest. As someone who follows matters pertaining to the Conservative Party, I was hoping for a bit of entertainment. And by entertainment, I mean rival camps tearing into one another, long-standing relationships souring further, and a competition conducted with the kind of ferocity that could only turn members and supporters away. Unfortunately, one reason why Tory MPs made sure Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt are the last two for the members' ballot was to avoid precisely such a scenario. There is even the shocking suggestion underhanded shenanigans took place. Outrageous.

Actually, those manoeuvrings sound very much like the work of our old friend Gavin Williamson. Which, of course, they are. Between his getting through to the second round of voting and crashing out in the third, as campaign manager Williamson is credited with camp Johnson lending Stewart enough support to knock Dominic Raab out, leaving the field to Johnson's right free of "credible" inconveniences. And with Sajid Javid out the way, transferring enough support to help Hunt at Michael Gove's expense means Johnson faces a characterless void of a human being who isn't an any-Brexit-at-any-cost idiot. Given the state of the Tory party membership, Johnson now has a month-long cruise into Number 10. What a pitiful and dismal state of affairs.

Is there any way Hunt could trouble the coronation? It's doubtful. As Johnson has the right locked down he might pitch a bit in this direction. He very recently has form thanks to "150% agreeing" with Donald Trump's attack on Sadiq Khan. Far from damaging his chances, this not-at-all subtle dog whistle to the base shows he's prepared to indulge them. Not that this will put bankrupt centrists and "leftwing celebs" off from piling in behind Hunt as the stop Johnson candidate. I can almost read the Nick Cohen opinion piece now.

Regardless of the "delights" the remainder of the contest has in store for us certain political realities cannot be ducked. The coalition of Tory voters is in tatters thanks to Farage's intervention, and the successful driving away of more moderate and remain-leaning Tory supporters by repeated capitulations by the government to its fringe. Johnson can put some of it back together, but not soak up the Brexit vote in the way Theresa May was able to at the last general election. And thanks to his person being a polarising figure totally relaxed with no deal, he also runs the risk of firming up the opposition. Therefore, from Labour's point of view because he's a known quantity a Johnson premiership will make our job easier. And he has Brexit to deal with. No doubt we can look forward to some "amusing" mangling of Brexit with breakfast and other contrived bobbins, but like May he can't get a deal through the Commons, he hasn't the time to negotiate something new with the EU and, indeed, doesn't understand the basics. Before we know it, the country will face the avoidable farce of no deal, or the greatest volte face of our age that could make the Tory party permanently kaput. I know what I'm rooting for.

Think then of the next month as a period of calm before the storm. As weather systems go it promises to be blustery and destructive, though the high pressure fronts pushing it in all directions could easily send it off course to blow itself out. Our job during this period of Tory introspection is not to fold our arms and look on, but seek to intervene vigorously and energetically about the issues they raise - and seek to make out talking points their talking points. People know Johnson is an appalling creature and a racist, and yet his support remain steadfast. Our challenge is to keep the pressure on while finding new ways of wounding him and driving a wedge between his candidacy, his base in the party, and those who would punt for the Tories if it meant Brexit's delivery. Now is the time to be canny and do our damnedest to demobilise our opponents.


Speedy said...

"Before we know it, the country will face the avoidable farce of no deal, or the greatest volte face of our age that could make the Tory party permanently kaput. I know what I'm rooting for."

But isn't your thinking part of the problem? It's not bringing the Tories down that should be the goal but defending the interests of the people.

You say they are one and the same, just as a Tory like May would say the same, but this is nonsense - and part of the problem.

The Tories will simply be replaced by something else, probably worse like the Brexit Party. Toryism will never go away until the structure of society is changed - an opportunity Labour has consistently missed.

Instead of trying to be clever and "triangulate" or whatever, Labour needs to take the principled steps discussed in the thread below, because principle in the interest of "labour" is both what it should stand for and (wake up) the game being played - in this sense "Dipper" is correct, Leave are ahead because they stand for something, currently Labour stands for nothing.

Jon Hegerty said...

As usual, a great blog. However, your meteorological analogy is way off. There's no such thing as a "high pressure front". Fronts (where different air masses collide) create low pressure systems or "troughs". High pressure ridges block other weather systems and mean not much happens. Think of it like a weight on a guinea pig - low pressure = lots of squealing and running around (lots of weather), high pressure (sit on the guinea pig) = not a lot of movement from the guinea pig (not a lot of weather). Not a lot of guinea pig either...

Dipper said...

I have found over many years that trying to be clever is a mistake, particularly when attempted by people who genuinely think they might be clever.

You can have beliefs, or you can be a commentator/player, but it is hard, if not impossible, to be both.

Stop trying to find plausible explanations why your dreams may come true. Either try and make your dreams come true, or sit back and watch other people trying to make their dreams come true.

an afterthought from Dipper said...

.... which is kind of what Speedy said

dermot said...

Dipper, please stop trying to be clever.