Wednesday 1 May 2019

Sympathy for Gavin Williamson

Sat in Derby's Olde Silk Mill with a pint of Carling's finest, I laughed like a drain when news came through that Gavin Williamson had got the sack. As Williamson could face charges related to breaking the Official Secrets Act it would be remiss to neglect his denials, but as far as the Westminster cognoscenti were concerned our Gavin was always the favourite to be at the end of a very pointy finger. And on the eve of a set of local elections in which Tory projections are abysmal too. Delicious.

My compassion is in meagre supply when it comes to sympathy for senior Tory ministers, so don't get me wrong. Williamson was a grotesque in a cabinet of grotesqueries, a cruel-minded farce and a fool where such qualities are commendations for high office in Conservative circles. In the 18 months at the Defence brief, he has run an unconcealed leadership campaign peppered with idiot stunts. His terrifying menaces aimed at Russia, and dilly-dallying with the Royal Navy in Odessa; the prejudicing of legal process to appear tough on critics of the armed forces, and offering to put troops on the streets in the event of a no deal Brexit, these are the actions of an amoral chancer who, like the two Prime Ministers who groomed and sponsored his rise, learned from them that no move was too crass, no issue too weighty to subordinate to the narrow and petty interest of his leadership ambitions.

Yet I can't shake the feeling, call it a hunch given the number of times it's brought up, that some of the opprobrium his person attracts is thanks to his comparatively humble origins. To see snotty-nosed columnists cast aspersions on Williamson because he's an over-promoted fireplace salesman sticks in my craw. His politics stink, but not because he did a stint in the kind of sales job millions of people have to do. He might be stupid, but not thanks to doing a career sundry poshos have only read about.

To be truthful, you don't need to be a Williamson groupie either to believe he's paying the price for doing the right thing, however self-interested his motives. Yes, there is fun and larfs in watching the Tories scuttling around in the wake of a defence secretary seemingly incapable with being entrusted with national security secrets. But why is a discussion of Huawei's participation in building the UK's 5G network not considered a matter for public debate? The firm has attracted the wrong kind of headlines elsewhere precisely because, as a state-owned enterprise and therefore an arm of the Chinese state, it might, um, pose security issues. Perhaps that's why May and friends wanted it keeping out of the public eye, considering the Tories have form in seeking Chinese input for security-sensitive infrastructure projects.

Gavin Williamson then is a wrong 'un who, for the first time in his miserable political career, did good. He has (apparently) exposed a Tory love-in with a "left" authoritarian government, the kind of thing they routinely accuse the shadow cabinet of doing with x, y, z regimes. And for this service, not only has Williamson done us all a favour by removing his useless carcass from the frontline of politics, he's accelerated the demise of the Tories that little bit more.

1 comment:

Lee Denness said...

Yes "Williamson was a grotesque in a cabinet of grotesqueries". So true. An absolute fool which is probably why he had to go, but what a way to do it. Does anyone really believe he was the leak? And what sort of a government would appoint him in the 1st place, only one headed by a clueless PM. How do these people manage to hang on to power? They should all be booted out asap. Lee