Sunday 17 March 2024

The Pitiful Penny-for-Leader Plot

If you've been following The Times reporting on the crisis in the Conservative Party, it has decided that this week was the week when everything changed. Despite the Tories being convinced tax cutting can only win votes, Jeremy Hunt's budget has done nothing to reverse their abysmal polling figures. Lee Anderson's abandonment of the party that afforded him a pseudo-celebrity status has convinced the paper that Rishi Sunak can no longer hold this most motley of crews together. And the delay followed by the special pleading excuses over Tory donor Frank Hester racist attack on Diane Abbott was pathetically half-hearted as they were seen to be desperate for more of his money. Evidently, it won't be long before the Murdoch stable declare for Keir Starmer.

But also according to a variety of outlets, moves for ditching Sunak ahead of the general election are multiplying. The easily dismissed nonsense about a Boris Johnson return has done the rounds again, but so has the outline of another plot that was mooted a few months ago: get rid of the Prime Minister, and coronate Penny Mordaunt in his place. Might this be a go-er? It goes like this. "Allies" of Suella Braverman have talked to "friends" of Mordaunt about getting her to stand as a stalking horse. Sunak would be deposed, and she would lead the party into the next election. But isn't she the wokest of the woke as far as they're concerned? Their reasoning is she polls much better than any other Tory and would ensure the result at the ballot box would be a rout, not a massacre. Then after she has discharged her responsibility, a right winger would swoop in, turn the party's fortunes around because what the public are gagging for is more racism and more culture war, and the Tories will win again in five years after Starmer disappoints.

It says everything about our low effort press that this bollocks is given credence. There is no way Sunak will lose a no confidence vote, for starters. Tory backbench criticisms, even when they're hyped fall flat more often than not. Rebellions barely make double figures. And every time the anti-woke racist right have a public outing, they show themselves completely estranged from what's happening in the country. If every vote against their own government is an occasion for their humiliation their chances of toppling Sunak are nil. But what of their putative alliance with Mordaunt and her supporters? She might be many things, but a fool she is not. How credible is a secret scheme where the plotters boast from sundry front pages that they want to support Mordaunt so she can take the fall, leaving their faction unblemished and Persil-white for the assumed Tory revival? The sheer absurdity of screaming aloud their Machiavellian subterfuge appears not to have warned our credulous hacks that the story hasn't got any legs.

Here's what has happened. Some on the right of the party have been chuntering about what a hash Sunak is making to briefcase Tories who think likewise. Someone texted the contents of this tearoom bellyaching to a journalist and here we are. More headlines than one knows what to do with.

Yet the story speaks to essential truths. The Tories are doomed and Sunak is digging the grave deeper, and everyone in the party knows this. Likewise, Mordaunt would make for a harder opponent for Labour, especially as she has occasional flashes of charisma compared to the colourless mediocrity on the opposition benches. And she could stymie the collapse and the party not be reduced to an impotent, right wing rump. Except she has no wish to captain a sinking ship, nor be remembered as the first Prime Minister to lose their seat at a general election. And so they're stuck with Sunak, and with October now supposedly the date for the general election there's going to be many more stories like this before the Tories are put out of their misery.

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1 comment:

Jenny said...

I always thought the verb form relative to "coronation" was "to crown". But I'm easily misled.