“Winston Churchill offered this advice about how the Conservative party should treat its leader. “The loyalties which centre upon number one are enormous. If he trips, he must be sustained. If he makes mistakes, they must be covered. If he sleeps, he must not be wantonly disturbed. If he is no good, he must be pole-axed.”
The Hard Left likes to believe that a handful of them gatecrashing the end of a peaceful mass demonstration against the Poll Tax put an end to the tax and then Margaret Thatcher.
It is a cherished myth to which they still cling, limpet like.
Their throwing of scaffolding poles did make great pictures for the mass media, though, and seemingly etched itself into the minds and collective memory and consciousness of our Riks of today (see Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain).
However, it was sober citizens, sidling up to their local Tory MP for a quiet word at the 19th hole or in the Association bar of what some now style a Blue Wall constituency, who put paid to the Poll Tax (and then Thatcher).
These days such conversations may take place in less conservative locations …
The Poll Tax was deeply unpopular with the Conservative Party’s core vote.
Thatcher had lost her electoral mojo.
The Liberal Democrats say some of those same sober citizens in 2021, One Nation Conservatives; Tories opposed to Johnson’s brand of Brexit; Remain supporting Tories (25% of the Tory vote at the 2015 General Election are estimated to have voted Remain in 2016) and small business people, handed them their Orpington 1962 by election style victory in the recent Chesham and Amersham by election.
Orpington pointed the way to Labour’s narrow victory in the 1964 General Election.
To mangle a David Frost quote, will Dull Alec beat Smart Alec next time out?
The One Nation Conservatives do not like Boris Johnson’s character or lack of it; Remain supporting Tories, some Tories who voted Leave and small business people do not like his Hard Brexit.
Keir Starmer does not seem to hold much appeal for them, either.
Yet, when you look at the Chesham and Amersham by election result, you do see a great opportunity for a political party led by a sober suited, hard working, serious Knight of the Realm and Queen’s Counsellor, a loving father and husband.
Admittedly, he is a tad dull and campaigns in prose not poetry.
Keir Starmer’s unique selling point is surely that he is the complete opposite of Boris Johnson?
He is the chap any responsible parent would want their offspring to bring home as a prospective life partner, is he not?
I gather Johnson made no visits to Chesham and Amersham during the by election campaign or, if he did they were very low key.
“The people have spoken, the bastards.”
He had deigned to stand in their seat.
The Tory’s defensive talking points for the media, echoed enthusiastically by Labour and propagated by many amongst the Commentariat, were that the Conservative Party lost Chesham and Amersham and it was their seat to lose, because of NIMBYism, particularly the furore around changes to planning legislation and the building of HS2.
Labour suffered one of its worst ever by election results in Chesham and Amersham, if not the worst, with only 622 votes cast for its candidate.
Things can only get better may need to be replaced with the only way is up or keep on running, keep on hiding. A little Birmingham reference, there.
May be it was a bit too early for the Tories to further flesh out the lines to take with our old friend, mid term blues (and in the process embarrass Labour)?
Labour on the ground in Chesham and Amersham only put out a token leaflet (Starmer has yet to grasp how far a Labour leader’s writ really runs at election time), because they were convinced that the Liberal Democrats were well placed to take the seat.
They are, I have been, told eyeing up Steve Baker FRSA’s (whatever did he do for that?) Wycombe where he admits he has lost the support of affluent, Remain supporting Tories.
To campaign against the cost of tackling Man Made Global Warming.
I think Baker (a latter day, real life Sir Talbot Buxomly?) is trying to reclaim for the Tory Party the title of the Stupid Party.
If Johnson goes then Labour’s poll leads will, odds on, evaporate.
Starmer is at his best when enthusiastically prosecuting something or someone at PMQs.
Neil Kinnock was actually better at PMQs up against Thatcher than Starmer is cross questioning Johnson, but Kinnock still never won a General Election.
A new competent (looking) Tory leader and Prime Minister, cracking down on sleaze and corruption, surely anything will be seen as an improvement on where we are, today, will most likely shoot Starmer’s fox.
And Labour, still gun shy of any association with Labour’s winning team, will regret not doing more to heed the words of Lord Mandelson, “One thing is clear to me – it’s that Tory sleaze is not going to win the next election for Labour.
It will loosen and crumble a lot of support for the Tories and people will reach the conclusion that they are out for themselves and that they suit themselves and they fill the pockets of their own cronies and supporters, that’s true.
But that doesn’t mean to say that Labour’s just got to sit back and wait for the election to fall into their laps.
That’s not how you win elections.”
Labour’s only hope, for now, seems to lie in the Tories shooting themselves in the head by electing a new leader too closely associated with Johnson to escape the gravitational pull of his battered legacy.
It is surely not for nothing, though, that Michael Gove routinely mimics Macavity and casts off former allies and acquaintances?
“I know thee not, Cummings: fall to thy prayers;
Reply not to me with a fool-born blog post, rewriting history:
Presume not that I am the thing I was;
For God doth know, so shall the world perceive,
That I have turn’d away my former self;
So will I those that kept me company.
When thou dost hear I am as I have been,
Approach me, and thou shalt be as thou wast,
The tutor and the feeder of my riots:
Till then, I banish thee,
As I have done the rest of my misleaders,
Not to come near our person by ten mile.
For competence of life I will allow you,
That lack of means enforce you not to evil:
And, as we hear you do reform yourselves,
We will, according to your strengths and qualities,
Give you advancement.”
With due apologies to that well known Midlander, William Shakespeare.