Sunday 12 November 2017

Hubris and Nemesis

A Sunday in late 2017 wouldn't be a Sunday in late 2017 if the politics wasn't dominated by more Tory infighting and backbiting. Characteristically the Prime Minister is nowhere to be seen (has anyone spotted her of late?), instead the Tory travails now turn upon the return of the Boris Johnson/Michael Gove double act. Yes, they're back. The lust for power now trumps even public betrayal and humiliation. I'm left wondering who's going to knife who first, but I digress. Since May brought Gove back into the cabinet in what can only be described as an act of desperation, the two have renewed their vows of fealty and now comprise a "formidable" power couple over Brexit and other issues.

Take the "secret letter" they've sent to May, no doubt leaked by "sources close to Boris Johnson" as these things always are. In this missive, Philip Hammond is lambasted for allowing the EU to force Britain over a barrel. Funny, I thought their Brexit comrade-in-arms David Davis was in charge of negotiations. They also tell May she needs to show more confidence and lead from the front. Again, to be fair to the Prime Minister, it's a tricky task to do when the government is packed full of jackals and is undermined by its members, the nominal Foreign Secretary among them. They also demand ministers who haven't "internalised" Brexit be gagged about it, which is weird as, on this at least, the Tory front bench have maintained consistency despite everything. And have issued an ultimatum about transitional deal: that it must last two years and not a day longer.

Again, we see here the pattern of behaviour common to all leading Tories of the last few years. Dave was happy to gamble the collective interests of British capitalism to keep UKIP from coming close in a tiny handful of Tory seats, and lost. Then Theresa May, full of pomp and arrogance signed up for a hard Brexit because it suited the narrow interests of the Tories to do so. After all, the only time she looked strong and stable during the election campaign was right at the beginning when she disingenuously attacked the EU for "interference". What trifles are British jobs against opportunities for cheap jingoism and added approval rating points? And now the Gove/Johnson double act, determined to foist an arbitrary deadline on post-Brexit arrangements for a few good editorials and the votes of the thinning membership of their diminishing party. What a shower.

While there are plenty of Tory MPs arrayed against them, not least the the former chief whip, they must sense the prize of Number 10 is nearing again. 40 MPs are reportedly prepared to no-confidence the Prime Minister, just eight short of the required threshold to trigger the whole process. However, typical of Tory arrogance just as things are going their way they decide to hole themselves below the waterline. Johnson was fortunate that the Priti Patel furore helped crowd out his comments on Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British holidaymaker banged up by the Iranian regime, last week. Readers will recall she maintains her innocence and was just visiting family, and that is the position of the Foreign Office. Johnson, because he's a lazy oaf and can't be arsed to read his briefings, may have potentially condemned her to further charges by saying he believed she was in Tehran training journalists. There followed the typical politician's apology ("I'm sorry for any anxiety I've caused ...") but he looks like he got away with it.

Or rather, looked. Going out to bat for the partnership on Andrew Marr this morning, Gove stridently, some might say brazenly, defended Johnson's stupidity by heaping all the blame on the Iranian government itself. While true, yes, Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe is imprisoned by a kangaroo court and whose case is a pawn in internal factional struggle, it's not a good idea to suggest a UK prisoner of the regime was engaged in activity that state likens to espionage. But if that wasn't bad enough, Gove compounded the reckless idiocy by saying he "didn't know" why she was in the country. Again, implying there is something improper going on. All grist to the mill of the Iranian prosecutor: two cabinet members "letting slip" their prisoner was in the country to foment subversion. I suppose we shouldn't be surprised. If they're quite prepared to sacrifice their country's interest for their undistinguished careers, what is the freedom of one innocent woman? One hopes their callous disregard dogs them for the remainder of the time they inflict themselves on public life.

Unfortunately, such gross turpitude and negligence, which should provide ample grounds for their immediate sacking, is not enough. The finely balanced factional hell of the inner party guarantees Gove and Johnson career safety. If May dumped them, and like many others it would be a delight to see them do the walk of shame outside Downing Street after a defrocking, they would have no compunction in starting the leadership process. Never mind that Brexit should be focusing minds, never mind they might as well gift wrap the next election and deliver it to Jeremy Corbyn's house, all that matters to the pair of them is position, their own self-glorification. They increasingly do not care what they have to do in pursuance of these selfish aims, and this makes them stupid, toxic and latterly dangerous to us.


Speedy said...

"If they're quite prepared to sacrifice their country's interest for their undistinguished careers, what is the freedom of one innocent woman?"

Says it all. Lower than vermin never looked more stark.

gerald harris said...

Bang on!

Anonymous said...

You've changed your tune a bit, Speedy old pal.

(not that I'm complaining.....)