Bumbling Boris too flaky for blue-blooded Tories

Posted By: July 05, 2016

Tom Kelly .Irish News (Belfast). Monday, JUly 4, 2016

‘O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain’ said poor old Hamlet but so too could Boris Johnson have echoed those words when his life’s ambition came crashing to the ground last Thursday.

Michael Gove, his erstwhile friend and fellow Brexiter, delivered the fatal blow of cold steel right between the ample shoulders of Boris.

Johnson rates as one of the most disingenuous politicians ever to have graced Westminster. It’s an accolade he wears easily as what he says one day he conveniently forgets the next. His record as mayor of London was lamentable not least because the man is lazy. At one stage he was reported to have had five or six deputy mayors. Gove’s late recognition of the limitations of Johnson’s abilities were perfectly timed to fit the end of the referendum.

Johnson brought much needed stardust to the Leave campaign which was mostly led by cranks, crazies and curmudgeonly old has-beens. Johnson brought in the crowds like the ring master in a Barnum and Bailey circus. He was the Brexiter snake oil salesman who wooed the blue rinsed grannies, the Sunderland welders and jellied eel fishmongers of the east end into the Leave camp. And to his credit the media obliged travelling the length and breadth of the country hanging on his every well-crafted soundbite. The public loved him as he was more celebrity than statesman.

In the smoky corridors of Westminster and amongst the grey suits of the Pall Mall set  those very attributes that made him loveable to the public made him a liability for the job of prime minister. Bumbling Boris was too flaky for the blue bloods who control the Tory party and for the media moguls of the Murdoch empire. That Michael Gove did for him has some cruel irony for it’s the same Michael Gove who also did for David Cameron.

Mrs Gove’s leaked email had all the hallmarks of a 21st century Lady Macbeth. Gove and others were happy enough to piggy back the razzmatazz of Boris during the referendum but were also only too happy to drive a stake through his ambitions with the zeal of a vampire slayer. Churchill was right when he said the enemy were those behind your back in your own party, the folk on the opposite side were merely the Opposition. Gove may now find that having unceremoniously shafted two friends that other Tories will be wary of him. A Gove-led cabinet would have all the collegiality of the court of Richard III.

Theresa May, unexciting, plain-speaking and efficient, is just the type of preparatory school headmistress the Tory party needs right now after the splits caused by the referendum. Gove’s throne is likely to be on the naughty step.

On the other side of the House of Commons things look equally chaotic.

Corbyn, the hapless leader of the Labour Party, is not master of his own house or garden it seems. How could he be? He was the pawn moved and used by darker forces within the Labour movement and others outside the Labour party. It was a similar irrationality which drove people towards Brexit that drove some grassroots members, militant lefties and political day dreamers to propel Corbyn into the Labour leadership – that and a ridiculous decision to give away control of the party for the price of a fish supper! Brexiters and Corbynistas also share the unnerving similarity of once having achieved their primary objective they had absolutely no idea what to do next.

Labour’s dilemma is that they have no mechanism to get rid of Corbyn and his toxic sidekick John McDonnell. The parliamentary Labour party represent millions of voters many of whom will run a mile from Corbyn’s party. But the membership of Labour – like the membership of the Tory party – is no longer reflective of wider public opinion.

A second problem for Labour is that there doesn’t seem to be an obvious alternative to lead the party. The most obvious – Alan Johnson and Hilary Benn – don’t seem to be biting. Angela Eagle is definitely a stalking horse candidate, but for whom? Andy Burnham may be biding his time but he never demonstrates the kind of hunger or ruthlessness that Gove shows. Tom Watson may have to step up to the plate and take Corbyn on but even Watson does not seem to have that special ‘humph’ needed for leadership.

But post Corbyn and the divisiveness of the referendum, Labour may need to settle down just like the Tories.