“Sorry, Boris, it’s time to go by 10 to 0,” say the officers of the Conservative Party Association of Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham …

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“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.”

Boris Johnson has united every Tory faction – in anger at him

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).

George Monbiot glueing his ear to the tarmac of the M6 will not …

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.

Labour had its worst Parliamentary by election result not under Corbyn, but Starmer

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 losing Tory candidate, like Pitt the Even Younger roundly criticised the voters of Chesham and Amersham for not taking the chance to elect him their Member of Parliament.

“The people have spoken, the bastards.”

Dick Tuck

He had deigned to stand in their seat.

What more did they want?

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.

His answer?

To campaign against the cost of tackling Man Made Global Warming.

In a YouGov poll, 76% of those polled said they believed in 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 Won’t Win Election With ‘Tory Sleaze’ Attacks Alone

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.

Michael Gove tickled their tummies. They purred in response …

The Death of Duelling: The Colston Case in Reverse?

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The Rule of Law and the Colston Four

The historian Christopher Andrew once did a piece for BBC Timewatch on the death of duelling, citing two cases separated by a few decades.

Duelling was illegal in both cases.

In the first, the jury acquitted the accused.

In the second, they did not.

The law had not changed in the intervening period, but social attitudes towards duelling had turned against the practice as a way of honourably settling disputes. One imagines m’learned friends benefited, thereby.

And the duel that took place between two lawmakers, the Duke of Wellington, at the time the Prime Minister, and George Finch-Hatton, 10th Earl of Winchilsea in Battersea Fields on 21st March 1829, over the issue of a letter the Earl had sent to the Duke about the Catholic Relief Bill, had rather brought the practice into disrepute as a way of resolving disagreements between gentlemen.

The Duke fired and missed; he claimed he did so on purpose. However, the Duke was known as a poor shot and accounts differ as to whether he purposefully missed.

Winchilsea kept his arm by his side at the command to “fire” then quite deliberately raised his arm in the air and fired. He then apologised for the language of his letter. It is almost certain that Winchilsea and Falmouth, his second, had agreed on their course of action, as the letter of apology was already prepared.

I mean what is the point of chaps squaring off with no intention of even drawing blood with a letter of apology already prepared?

And Wellington was in the curious position of having, on campaign, banned duelling by his officers for fear of losing the talented amongst them and he felt there were precious few that came up to such an estimation.

But he had personally risked his life as Prime Minister at a time of crisis for party and country.

Wellington the politician was never the equal of Wellington the general and diplomat, perhaps because he had been used before he went into politics to being a law unto himself.

It’s Hard #Brexit Groundhog Day every day …

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I think we are doomed for now to Brexit Groundhog Day, reliving the battles of the referendum for the foreseeable future.

Until folk, regardless of their position on Brexit, accept that we have serious problems in the here and now to address and that many of them have been caused or at least exacerbated by the hardest of Hard Brexits then we will be stricken with a bout of chronic hysteresis.

To admit that there are Brexit related issues that must be dealt with now is, naturally, to suggest that the rationale for voting Leave was flawed and that rejoining is not an immediate solution to said problems.

The Conservative Party negotiated and signed up to the hardest of Hard Brexits and the Labour Party endorsed the deal.

The end of Freedom of Movement has tightened Britain’s labour market, helping to create one million vacancies and, in part, prompting the Monetary Policy Committee to raise the bank base rate.

How increasing the interest rate will fill help businesses fill jobs before some of them falter and fail early in the New Year is unclear, but I am sure the one club golfers know what they are doing.

One might think they were seeking to prove that those projections of the likely negative impact of a Hard Brexit on the economy were overly optimistic.

The Conservative Party’s answer to the problem is, according to Priti Patel, to grow our own domestic work force. The only way to effectively do that would be to clone Boris Johnson, many times over; develop a working method of time travel, we need not worry about moving in space and then send armies of Johnson clones back in time twenty, thirty and forty years to propagate like crazy. A plan that would play to one of Johnson’s few strengths and be well within his comfort zone.

The Temporal Invasion of the Propagators makes a good working title.

Labour does not have an answer, but the self styled new party of business recognises that growing labour and skill shortages are the major problem facing the business community in Britain. That lack of a solution did not prevent Sir Keir Starmer QC announcing at Labour’s Annual Conference that a Government he led would create 8,500 new specialist mental health vacancies in the NHS to add to the current 100,000 vacancies of all types therein that make up 40% of the 250,000 unfilled positions in the health and care sector.

Cognitive dissonance and Govitis, the irrational fear of experts, are still running wild amongst the body politic and much of the rest of our society.

The only credible solution that significantly addresses the explosion of the United Kingdom’s demographic time bomb is some replication of the conditions of Freedom of Movement for inward migrant labour.

But we know how well that would play with the Red Wall, the destination of whose votes concern both Labour and the Conservatives to the exclusion of almost all else.

There are, admittedly, a number of prophylactic solutions to the issue.

One of which would be to raise the State Pension Age.

Another would be to convert some of the capital earmarked for levelling up, however we are defining that this week, into revenue and spending it on helping the economically inactive, many of whom would like a job, apply for some of the jobs employers are desperate to fill.

Of course, that would mean levelling up everywhere, regenerating people not places; property developers spending money with Magrathean Consulting and politicians, of all stripes and none, forgoing cutting the first sod; laying the foundation stones, cornerstones, capping stones and posing, grinning inanely with an outsize pair of rubber scissors to cut the ribbons at the official openings and, you guessed it, unveiling the plaques marking said openings of (strike out as applicable) iconic structures/vanity capital projects/vital pieces of infrastructure/wastes of taxpayer money.

And politicians like Michael Gove and Lisa Nandy would have to look up the location of places in Cornwall and of towns like Hastings, locales which are not Oop North, and of the Terra Incognita that is the English Midlands.

If they like, they might describe the project as a Brexit bonus, designed to unite the country, well, England at least.

One should also not forget the self inflicted Brexit bonuses, like the BREACH and UKCA standards, unnecessary, costly burdens on business that, it appears, we were not able the enact when in the EU. I gather they are part of the Global Britain brand.

Who knew we left the EU to actually increase business regulation?

Johnson’s two word business policy is still being actively pursued. Arguably, it is the only one which he has really managed to put into effect and deliver upon.

It would seem to be a cost free policy pledge for Labour to announce it would scrap BREACH and UKCA in Government. A vote winner amongst the business community, most of whom would be perfectly happy complying with just the REACH and CE standards.

Of course, it would mean saying that the BREACH and UKCA standards are inferior to the REACH and CE standards which are not just used by countries within the Single Market, but by many others around the world …