Rod Liddle. From the Sunday Times.
“You think this is bad? Wait until Labour loonies have power over your lives. Given that we are in the middle of what a former cabinet minister described to me as “a monumental f****** shitshow”, it would be pleasing to be able to suggest to you today that while we are at the very bottom, enmired in slime and animal bones, things can only get better. The darkest hour is just before the dawn! (Which actually isn’t true.) Good times are just around the corner!
“No, sorry. Good times are not just around the corner. Very bad times are lurking around the corner, waiting to kick your head in, steal your phone and march you, at knifepoint, to a cash machine.
“The nights are drawing in, there is a chill in the air and one day not too far off you will wake up to find that Jabba the Hutt Emily Thornberry , to use her earthly alias, is our foreign secretary and Magic Grandpa is running the country. Almost certainly with the help of the Lib Dems and those thin-lipped pompous Picts from the SNP. You think now is bad? Wait until Diane Abbott and John McDonnell have power over your lives.
“My point is that I cannot envisage any realistic scenario that leads to Boris Johnson winning a general election, even though the polls right now give him a slender lead over Labour. I don’t see where the seats are going to come from and he now needs to gain something in the region of 50 to have a workable majority. Not a chance in hell.
“His plan, presumably, has been to nullify the threat of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party by a brutally unambiguous attitude towards leaving the EU. This has, to a degree, worked. But it has also alienated Conservative remain voters, who may, like some of their MPs, find a more congenial home with the Liberal Democrats.
“Let me suggest to you that this will happen particularly in London and the southeast. I would be surprised if Boris has more than a couple of London MPs after the next election. Even his own seat should not be taken for granted. Uxbridge and South Ruislip is now marginally for remain, according to the polls. Imagine if the remainer coalition pools its resources behind one candidate to oppose him.
“Boris has reduced the Brexit Party’s support, but it is hovering around a very unhealthy (for Boris) 15%. If we fail to leave the EU by October 31 almost a certainty, in my book then the Brexit Party still has potency. It does not look as if there will be a pact between it and the Conservatives, not least because Farage has no more trust in Johnson than does Jo Swinson or Jeremy Corbyn. Nobody trusts Boris, not even his family. Maybe particularly his family.
“Without a pact, a lot of Brexit Party votes will return to the Conservatives in the south (where the Tories already hold most of the seats) but still damage will be done, probably resulting in a couple of lost seats to the Lib Dems. More damage will be done in the north of England, where, assuming we haven’t left the EU, the Brexit Party will perform strongly. Even if somehow there were a pact between Farage and Johnson, the latter would still need to cede something. And in electoral terms he has nothing at his disposal to cede. If some of the rebels who have quit stand again, they too will take votes, primarily from the Tories.
“Labour’s vote will take a knock in the south, perhaps, but will hold up and even increase in the north. Corbyn is often characterised as being “thick”. This is because he is, indeed, “thick”. But a lot of the stuff for which he is rightly castigated, his immobile stupidity; his support for the IRA and indeed any organisation or nation state that is opposed to the UK; and his anti-semitism does not play very much in northern England, where there is still a habitual, tribal Labour vote, as well as a huge public sector, almost all of it voting Labour. And, stupid or not, he can be an engaging campaigner, as we saw in 2017.
The dismal SNP will surely reclaim Scotland, with the Tories losing more seats. And so you are left with the conundrum: where is Boris actually going to gain seats? A few in the Midlands? Perhaps. One or two in Essex? Maybe. But, with those matched against the seats he will lose, how on earth can he hope to form a majority?
“Hell, you know, I hope I am wrong. I am wrong plenty of times. But I was right about the elections in 2015 and 2017, against what the pollsters were saying. With any luck, those calls were just a fortunate roll of the dice. But I don’t think so”.
Meanwhile, just deserts for a Major hypocrite
John Major’s exciting foray into legal action has ended much as did his premiership, in ignominious defeat. He had joined the very busy Gina Miller in a court case to stop Boris Johnson proroguing parliament for the longest time since 1930. The case was kicked out very quickly.
It is, of course, undemocratic to prorogue parliament for the longest time since 1930 simply to avoid opposition scrutiny of what you’re up to. Who was the last prime minister to do exactly this?
The answer is as inevitable as Major’s vainglorious harrumphing is hypocritical. Yes, it was over the cash for questions scandal, early in 1997. Major oversaw numerous crises in international and domestic policy. Between 1990 and 1997, he presided over Britain’s participations in the Gulf War, the start of the Northern Ireland peace process, the Maastricht Treaty negotiations and, famously, Black Wednesday and Britain’s exit from the ERM. Utterly useless!