There was an idiot outside Westminster on Monday singing “Bye-bye Boris” at top volume on a loop, which was utterly pointless because the PM was miles away in Milton Keynes looking at a robot that can perform surgery (if it breaks down while removing a brain, there’s a number on the back for tech support in New Delhi).
After that, doing his best impression of a man whose life isn’t falling apart, Big Dog spoke forcefully to Sky in a bid to take back control of the narrative following the weekend from Hell.
Set Boris to fightback mode.
Prime Minister, what about the accusation that Nusrat Ghani, a former minister, was told by a whip that she lost her job because of her “Muslimness”?
“I can’t say more about that,” he replied, after saying almost nothing, “but what I can say is that I’m in Milton Keynes” – poor man – “focusing on… the Covid backlog” in the NHS.
What about the Sue Gray report, out soon, into those Gatsby parties at No 10? Got to save the NHS. What about the planned tax increase? NHS. What guarantees can you give, Prime Minister, at this turning point in British history? “I can guarantee that… this Government is focused on the stuff I think people will want us to focus on” – not racism or tax or scandal, but the pig’s ear we’ve made of healthcare, and how R2D2 here can fix it.
Perhaps what we need is a robot prime minster. A PM that makes no errors, keeps its word and can dispense hot coffee for a pound. It wouldn’t last. I’d give it six months before it’s found necking battery acid in the Downing Street garden, or in bed with a fax machine.
Because that’s the nature of the job. Running the country makes you do what machines cannot – lie – and if you’re going to make a success of it (ie Get Brexit Done), you’ve got to take risks, you’ve got to have a bit of magic sparkle that even a handsome robotic surgeon can’t fake. All this comedy of errors, it’s not a bug of politics, it’s a feature.
Take the Ghani affair. MPs say the word “Muslimness” is too odd for her to have made up, but too odd for the whip to have used it, and one wonders if he was trying to break it to her that the PM had had enough of her “clumsiness” – for the idea that the Government might be brought down because of a miscommunication over a spilt cup of tea sounds insanely human enough to be true.
What about Ukraine, Prime Minister? A wave of relief. Politicians feel safer during a war.
Invasion would be a “painful, violent and bloody business,” he warned, the smile turned off, pledging British support for the plucky Ukrainians menaced by wicked Russia. If war breaks out before the Gray report lands, perhaps No 10 calculates Britain would never dump a wartime prime minister. But computer says “no”. According to Wikipedia, we’ve done it before – and how ironic if Boris should come into office like Churchill and go out like Chamberlain.