by Martin Odoni

Template for people to e-mail complaints to the Labour Party, via complaints@labour.org.uk.

To whom it may concern,

I wish to draw attention to, and protest in the strongest possible terms, the behaviour of Neil Coyle MP. In a pair of tweets published this week, he was extremely abusive to fellow Labour MP Chris Williamson in a manner that clearly brings the party into disrepute. I wish to highlight two particular references he made. The first was an implied instruction to Williamson to “get in the sea”. The second was outright vulgar namecalling, referring to Williamson “a shit”.

Neil Coyle online abuse of Chris Williamson

Neil Coyle’s abuse of Chris Williamson is as explicit as any abuse right wing Labour MPs claim to receive from the left.

Clause 2.I.8 of the 2019 Labour Party rules states as follows; –

No member of the Party shall engage in conduct which… is grossly detrimental to the Party.

Instructing a fellow MP and party member to ‘get in the sea’ is abusive, and potentially encourages suicide, which is extremely irresponsible from a mental health standpoint. Subsequently referring publicly to a fellow MP and party member as ‘a shit’ is also abusive in a very crude way, and such puerile and unprovoked public yobbishness is plainly detrimental to the party’s image and reputation. No elected representative of the Labour Party can ever publicly behave in such a hooligan-like fashion.

I demand Coyle’s membership of the Labour Party be suspended with immediate effect, and a full and rigorous investigation into his conduct past-and-present be undertaken, with a view to his possible expulsion.

With polite regards
[YOUR NAME]

by Martin Odoni

The ghastly senior Cabinet announced yesterday by the even-more-ghastly new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, will, I suspect, eventually be known as The Ikea Cabinet. This is because they are the brain-trust (using the word ‘brain’ in the most generous possible sense) of the most collapsible Government since Ramsay MacDonald first became Prime Minister.

The horror of a Cabinet full of (probably) corrupt, fanatical, blinkered extremists like Priti Patel, Dominic Raab, Andrea Leadsom and Sajid Javid perhaps loses its sting due to the set-up in Parliament now being so unstable that the Government could cave in any minute. Literally. I have to keep checking even as I type to make sure it is still there, and whether to abandon this article this instant; the ritual despair of the blog-writer is the danger that your laboriously-written, ground-out thoughts will become out-of-date before you have clicked ‘Publish‘.

In fairness to Johnson

To give even a foul racist like Johnson his fair due, he has not let his casual contempt for other cultures interfere in his selection process. A genuine feather-in-his-cap is that two of the four biggest offices of the British state are for the first time occupied by ethnic minority politicians, namely Patel as Home Secretary and Javid as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Setting aside how inappropriate their hard-line attitudes are, just the fact they have managed to ‘get there’ speaks volumes for how far our obnoxious, backward-looking country has come in the theatre of race-relations. However draconian the UK’s economic approach is, it has become socially far more liberal than most countries around the world over the course of the last thirty years, and even Johnson appears to have been affected for the better by it. However, how much he really wanted to appoint them, and how much the decision was forced upon him by refusal among many of his Parliamentary colleagues to work with him, is perhaps up for discussion.

That discussion is made all the more necessary judging by another appointment. Michael Gove, perhaps the only current Conservative MP even more temperamentally ill-suited to the top job than Johnson, has been given a Cabinet post as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Gove Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

A nothing politician in a nothing Cabinet post.

Pompous sinecures

Now, I discussed years ago a previous post – Chief Whip – to which Gove was reshuffled by David Cameron, and how it meant he was no longer a member of the Cabinet. He was allowed to sit in on Cabinet meetings purely on the grounds of possessing the meaningless sinecure of Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury, which all Chief Whips are given, and which bestows upon them precisely no duties or powers.

History, for Gove, is rhyming. Because Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is a fraudulent sinecure too. The name refers to part of the reigning Monarch’s estate, dating back to the overthrow of Richard II by his cousin Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Lancaster. But it has no practical implication at all. It does not even grant Gove the duties or powers of a Chief Whip, let alone a genuine, active Government department over which he can make decisions. Given Gove’s generally abysmal performances as Education Secretary, and later as Environment Secretary, some may argue that the fewer powers he is handed, the better. I would agree. But that invites the question, “Well, why include Gove in the Cabinet at all?”

Well, Johnson and Gove are old friends – despite Gove rather stabbing Johnson in the back three years ago during the contest to succeed Cameron – and therefore, I suspect that this is an old dirty trick practiced by Prime Ministers for at least fifty years.

Wilson’s dirty trick

Harold Wilson, Labour Prime Minister from 1964-1970 and 1974-1976, led a succession of Cabinets that were prone to breaking up into squabbles. Wilson had to find a way to resolve arguments, preferably in favour of policies he wished to pursue. The method he hit upon to achieve this was, rather than flood the Cabinet with only Ministers of the highest ability, he instead made sure that there were always a few mediocre, weakling MPs appointed to meaningless departments or offices that he deliberately set up for them. These second-raters’ lack-of-ability meant that they were dispensable, and they probably knew it. Therefore, their ministerial futures were entirely dependent on Wilson’s goodwill, and of course that guaranteed their obedience. Therefore, when debates in Cabinet were put up for the vote, these no-hopers were certain to support Wilson’s preferred course of action. So by regularly appointing a handful of stuffed-shirts to his Cabinet, Wilson guaranteed himself a majority of Ministers to support his position at all times. (I doubt that this was the earliest example of the trick in Prime Ministerial history, but it is the earliest that I know of for certain. But whatever the truth of that, as a rule, in a political ally, a Prime Minister loves deep weakness and fears high ability.)

A non-role for the non-competent

I imagine Gove’s appointment to a non-department is a similar story. Johnson knows Gove, as a prominent MP, would potentially be dangerous as backbench rebel. Johnson has also seen that, friendship or no friendship, Gove is ambitious enough to betray anybody whenever it suits him. (Much like Johnson…) Equally, because he and Gove are old friends and have a history of working together, Johnson realises that Gove will likely vote in support of his position during most Cabinet squabbles. So for Johnson, having Gove in the Cabinet is preferable to leaving him on the backbenches. But also knowing Gove’s feeble history in high office, Johnson will not trust him with a Ministry. Ergo, Gove must be in the Cabinet, but not in a Department.

Ergo Gove is now Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. A position for Ministers too incompetent to be made Secretary of State for Sport.

by Martin Odoni

Okay, the tongue-in-cheek opinion poll I put up before the weekend has gone past 1,001 votes now, so that technically means it is now large enough to be considered ‘statistically representative’. Admittedly, nothing else about the poll really conforms to correct procedure, but then it was of course only meant as a rebuke to the arrogance of certain Labour peers who were poised to launch a ‘Motion-of-no-confidence’ in party leader Jeremy Corbyn. I was in effect saying, “How dare you use a procedure that is not even defined in the party’s rules to undermine a democratically-elected leader, especially when your peerages were not democratically-awarded?” And sure enough, the outcome is very decisive – at the time of writing, those voting No Confidence in the Labour peers total an almighty 990. Those who have expressed Confidence in them total a dismal 23. That is just shy of ninety-eight per cent declaring they have no confidence in the Labour peers.

NB: You can in fact still vote in the poll if you have not done so already. I have no plans to take it down, or attempt to ‘halt’ it. I am simply drawing a line under it now as it has had a large enough sampling size.

Now, the peers called off the motion over the weekend anyway, which suggests that they already realised they were inviting more trouble than the move was worth. And with the intended rebuke in mind, the way I worded the questioning of the poll beforehand was blatantly skewed in one direction, so we cannot consider the vote in any sense to be ‘scientific’. If readers wish to condemn me for that, I shall sleep none-the-worse for it. But in any case, supposedly ‘reputable’ pollsters have a history of gathering opinions in ways that are no better.

Take YouGov, for instance, who consistently under-estimate Labour support levels (exception; a polling model they used for a one-off survey around a week before the 2017 General Election correctly predicted a Hung Parliament), and therefore, despite excessive credence given to their data by mainstream media, tend to offer abnormally high numbers of outliers.

Why do they do this? Well, while I am so far unaware of any response or explanation offered by YouGov that might mitigate it, this image may give us a handy clue; –

YouGov blatant leading poll question

Is this massaging-of-questions the reason why YouGov keep predicting an apocalypse for Corbyn’s Labour that no other polling company can even detect?

It appears to be exactly the same old problem of massaging the questions to draw the desired answer. The only difference is that I cheerfully admit to doing it as my aim was satirical, not information-gathering or actual propaganda. YouGov, by contrast, claim that they do it for purposes of impartial research.

And if this is a typical example of how YouGov lead their respondees, well, they are not exactly ‘subtle’ about it, are they?

by Martin Odoni

The Houses of Parliament.

The House of Lords is an unelected, undemocratic body. Labour Party peers within the House are said to be contemplating a Motion of No Confidence in the leader of their party, Jeremy Corbyn, on highly dubious grounds of his supposed ‘failure’ to deal with anti-Semitism amongst the membership.

For various well-recorded reasons, these grounds are extremely weak, as anti-Semitic incidents in the Labour Party are occuring at a rate well below 0.1% per head. Moreover, it is not really Corbyn’s responsibility to deal with the issue as such; it is more a matter for the party’s National Executive Committee, and its disciplinary body, which is supposed to be independent of the leader to make sure no leader can dish out politicised penalties.

Due to there being no such procedure defined in Labour Party rules, an MONC in the leader would be as completely non-binding as the one carried out by the Parliamentary party in the House of Commons three years ago, and so probably just as futile.

Given that the Lords are undemocratically appointed, it seems absurd that they feel they should have any substantive influence on who is to be the party leader, and so such a Motion instead raises questions in the opposite direction. As the House is not democratically elected, the public get no say in who is allowed to sit in it.

If the Labour Lords therefore wish to exercise powers they do not have, it is only fair and right that the public get to register their own dissatisfaction with those same Lords.

Here is their opportunity.

I hereby move that the people of this country have No Confidence in the Labour Party peers in the House of Lords.

If you agree, please click the appropriate option below. Then please share this page far and wide to get as broad a sampling as possible.


I beg to move that this country has no confidence in Labour peers in the House of Lords.
(polls)

by Martin Odoni

This morning, the BBC covered a celebration of the Scouts Movement being held in Chingford. While the interviewer was talking to some of the people attending, the crowd broke out into a, shall we say, somewhat familiar chant.

Watch this; –

I am fairly sure that the presenter got the willies when he recognised the chant, because he quickly abandoned the interviews. This was probably more due to political neutrality rules than actual censorship, but even so, his reaction will not have been greatly different to the reaction of others within the corporation. There was an outrageous hatchet job attempted on the Labour Party this week by Panorama. Therefore it is easy to imagine many-a-BBC-face going pale white as they behold opinion polls with a clear Labour lead, and ongoing boisterous support for the leader they keep imagining they have discredited.

Survation Poll - 10th-11th July 2019

When will the smear merchants get it? The more mud they sling, the more Labour’s polling position improves.

Ever get that ole’ sinkin’ feelin’, BBC? Well yes you have. Today.

The Scouts sing Oh Jeremy Corbyn.png

You can almost picture the Director General staring at the screen and muttering in a growling croak, “I’LL GET YOU NEXT TIME, GADGET! NEXT TIIIIIIIME….”

by Martin Odoni

Just offering my ha’penny’s-worth on the BBC Panorama on-screen sewerage-fest from Wednesday. I am not going to offer a comprehensive breakdown of what was wrong with the ‘documentary’, as there were only two things wrong with it; everything that was said, and everything that was done. These pictures will offer a few hints about some of the problems though; –

Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley about BBC Panorama

Alex Richardson, regular messenger between LFI and the Israeli Embassy

Alex Richardson of Labour Friends of Israel (afiliation unmentioned in the programme.)

Ella Rose

Ella Rose of the Israeli Embassy (afiliation unmentioned in programme.)

If you want a comprehensive breakdown, please see here, herehere and here.

For me, my main focus is a small point about the Deputy leader of the Labour Party, and most powerful weapon the Conservative Party has left in its arsenal, Tom Watson.

Tom Watson revealed

Ah, this explains so much….

Sorry, wrong picture there. Lex Luthor cannot be Tom Watson. Luthor is someone who is somewhat intelligent after all. Let me find the right picture, give me a moment. Ah yes, here we go; –

Slimy backstabbing weasel

Oh hi, Tom.

Unmistakable.

The angle I wanted to highlight is Watson’s treatment of the party’s General Secretary, Jennie Formby. There has been a major backlash against Watson today for essentially using the Panorama fantasy as a pretext to join the ‘dogpile’ it has encouraged on Labour’s higher-ups, especially Formby herself. Formby, as she announced a few months ago, is currently fighting breast cancer, and so she is not really in the right shape for defending herself against political attacks.

Now, in itself, I do not believe there is anything inherently wrong in criticising Formby while she is carrying out her role as General Secretary. So long as Formby continues her duties, she has to be accountable, and while her illness should be taken into account when assessing her conduct, if she cannot cope with oversight, she should really step aside – at least temporarily.

However, this does not really apply here, for while Formby has made clear that her illness is making matters difficult, she has not said that she cannot cope. Moreover, Watson’s behaviour is completely grotesque either way. Partly because he already knows full well that almost every detail in the ‘documentary’ was heavily-distorted or worse – probably knew full well days before he even saw it – and yet he still used it as a pretext to persecute Formby. The fact he would do that on false pretences while she is so ill is utterly inhuman, regardless of whether she can deal with it. Indeed, it is tempting to suspect that Watson hopes Formby’s illness will make his attacks more effective, which would show his amorality is at Boris Johnson standards.

JMac responds to Watson pretending not to know what he does

There is no doubt that Tom Watson is pretending not to know things that he very much does know, and that he is asking for information in public that can easily be obtained privately.

But still more than this, what slimy hypocrites Watson and his allies have shown themselves to be. Think back to the winter, when Luciana Berger was still a Labour Party MP. Berger was relentlessly rebelling against the party, especially its policy on Brexit. She kept publicly condemning fellow party members, and the leadership.

Berger’s behaviour essentially demanded cross-examination and criticism, and at length, her local constitutency party in Wavertree, fed up with literally years of her undermining her own party, tabled a Motion Of No Confidence in her. However, she was heavily-pregnant at the time, and the motion was met with nationwide cries of condemnation of the CLP’s supposed ‘bullying’. Most of the cries, on analysis, came from the Blairite Labour right. And guess who was one of the loudest to object?

“A pregnant young MP bullied out of her own party by racist thugs”

Watson wailed when Berger resigned the whip (mysteriously avoiding all mention of the fact that the Chairman of Wavertree CLP is himself Jewish).

And Watson was moaning again just over a week ago when Ellie Reeves was allegedly targeted by one member of her CLP in Lewisham for deselection.

So, being heavily-pregnant absolves a female politician from any and all accountability, even accountability for activity they are carrying out while heavily-pregnant?

But fighting cancer does not?

There is no getting away from it. Tom Watson is just utter filth. He is a slimy, insinuating, double-faced back-stabber, and he has no place in any public office, let alone a place as deputy leader of the largest political party in Western Europe. Sir Humphrey Appleby once described MPs as having a skill called ‘moral manoeuvrability’. Which really means that they have no ethical consistency at all. He might as well have been talking about Watson.

(Note that the same condemnations above apply to Harriet Harman, who has also shriekingly leapt to the defence of Berger and Reeves, but has remained deafeningly silent over the bullying of Formby. Who does Harman think she is kidding?)

Still, all of these blatantly corrupt theatrics are rather deodorised by the latest opinion poll released by Survation. Note that the days the polling work was done were Wednesday and Thursday, so yes, the data includes the effect of the Panorama smear. What do we find? Labour are six points ahead.

Survation Poll - 10th-11th July 2019

When will the smear merchants get it? The more mud they sling, the more Labour’s polling position improves.

I think Watson and his allies need to get it into their heads; their blatantly-orchestrated smears are simply not working. If they were ever going to, Jeremy Corbyn would have surrendered the leadership long ago.

by Martin Odoni

Neo-Tories v Arnold Rimmer, to rule a fake meritocracy

The Conservative Leadership contest is down to a binary choice between two real-life caricatures. In the blue corner, we have Boris Johnson, the epitome of ageing 1930’s neo-Toryism. And in the other blue corner, we have Jeremy Hunt, the Arnold Rimmer of Secretaries of State for Health.

Jeremy Hunt & Arnold Rimmer - separated at birth?

One is an authoritarian, lying, conniving, incompetent, self-serving weasel with ideas far above his station. And the other is senior technician aboard the mining ship Red Dwarf.

The suggestion that these two pathological liar-buffoons are the outstanding legislative talent of modern Britain is beneath contempt. That they are the two Prime-Ministers-elect, and that there is no other possible winner of the keys to 10 Downing Street from the current contest kills once and for all the notion of modern Britain being a ‘meritocracy’. That imbeciles like ‘BoJob’ and Rimmer could even get into Parliament would have seemed startling back in the 1970’s. Now they are jostling for the highest office?

How has the United Kingdom fallen to this level?! A country that has had such masterminds governing it as Walpole, Pitt, Peel, Gladstone, Disraeli, Attlee, Macmillan, Wilson… now a smirking ninny like Jeremy Hunt could be following in their footsteps?

Oh well.

Differences between May and Johnson

For all that I have no sympathy for Theresa May, and am not at all sorry to be seeing the back of her, I did know and continue to despair that what was likely to follow her would be even worse. Most likely successor, it seems, is Johnson, probably the most appalling option of the lot.

Boris-and-May - the old lunatic and the new one

The Tory Leadership Contest is entirely an exercise in establishing the precise degree to which things are going to get even worse.

One of the problems with Johnson is he lacks the few good qualities that May did possess. Most particularly, as Prime Minister, she did try at least to maintain some air of restraint in her conduct – sometimes failing as evidenced by her policy towards Syria – whereas Johnson is impulsiveness personified. His head is often ruled by startling adrenaline rushes, which will doubtless make him the most unpredictable Prime Minister of all time. His stewardship will absolutely reek of destabilising habits, from his notoriously lazy inattention-to-detail, his arrogant brusqueness, his incredibly unthinking and crass – often downright racist and sexist – public remarks that seem the product of a World War I aristocracy, his insufferable contempt for accountability, and his mind-twisting sympathy for the rich and powerful supposedly having a ‘hard time’ (which he is far louder about than, say, the growing numbers of people living on the streets, whom he therefore presumably does not think are having as hard a time). Johnson is physically bullying, childishly impatient to the point of having an attention-deficit disorder, and so absent-minded that if the ‘nuclear button’ literally existed, he could wind up pressing it while idly drumming his fingers on the tabletop. Thankfully, it does not literally exist, but that alone is what might save the world from being ‘BoJobbed’ to death.

The abandonment of Darroch

More than this though, what might make Johnson even more of a damning failure in the role is the mix of qualities he has that he shares with May. That suggestion may surprise readers. Despite both being very obviously Austerity-loving, right-wing Conservatives, the overlap between the two would seem to carry no further than that. But study Johnson’s behaviour throughout the Leadership Contest, and, especially when comparing it to May’s conduct as Prime Minister, the resemblance is in fact stronger than that. Johnson is making a lot of the same silly mistakes May did.

The biggest example comes from this very week. The ‘Kim Darroch’ controversy, in which private communications by the UK Ambassador to the US, where Mr Darroch rightly criticised Donald Trump and his circus of an administration in Washington DC as ‘inept’, were leaked to the media. Darroch described Trump as a man who “radiates insecurity” and “will never look competent”.

Darroch’s words were just objective statements-of-fact; the USA is currently run by one of the most incompetent, unstable, and narcissistic man-children ever to see power in a democratic country. (In that regard, Britain seems to be trying to emulate the US by putting Johnson into Downing Street. I have long regarded Trump and Johnson as being almost disturbingly similar men, in both general demeanour, physical appearance, self-absorption, and mental condition. They were even both born in the same city.) But the key thing was that the communications in which Darroch made the criticisms were not public statements. They were necessary words of warning to fellow British civil servants about the type of people they were going to have to deal with while trying to negotiate a new UK trade agreement with the USA after leaving the European Union. These sorts of descriptions will seldom be pleasant, but negotiators need to know, especially when trying to formulate a negotiating strategy, and so Darroch really was just doing his job by informing his colleagues of what they were up against.

Darth Satsuma - Dark Lord of the Pith

USA – this is your President? This? THIS is YOUR President? THIS?!?

Trump, AKA Darth Satsuma, Dark Lord of the Pith, was having none of it. While being possibly the single most wildly abusive public figure in northern hemisphere politics, his skin is so notoriously wafer-thin that any slight or criticism always provokes a sharp, humourless and vengeful retort. Trump, continuing his sophisticated method of Government-by-Twitter-feed, tweeted that Darroch was a “wacky ambassador” and “a very stupid guy”. In the process, Trump of course allowed himself to – er, how can I put this succinctly? Oh, I know! – Trump allowed himself to radiate insecurity, insisting that he and his people would “no longer deal with” Darroch.

On Tuesday evening, Johnson and Hunt were doing a televised debate as part of the Leadership Contest. Hunt, to his credit, spoke up in defence of Darroch. Johnson, rather blabbing around the discussion, did not.

Johnson has shown he will not stand up to Trump

Whether one feels that Darroch has been hard-done-by or not, it was noticeably cowardly of Johnson to offer zero pushback against Trump’s pettiness, even as it was proving Darroch’s very point. Britain’s hopes of getting a decent trade deal out of the USA after Brexit demands the best, most experienced negotiators. Losing perhaps their very best is a terrible blow, and a prospective Prime Minister needs to fight for his nation’s own reasonable interests, rather than cave in to the egomania of a puerile septuagenarian. But also, it was chillingly reminiscent of May’s repeated inability to tell Trump that his nationalist-extremist policies were completely unacceptable. Let us recall May’s lily-livered dodging of the issue of Trump’s ban on refugees from Muslim countries early in 2017. And a few months later, May’s chicken-like non-reaction to Trump arrogantly pulling the USA out of the Paris Accord on Climate Change. These two bits of recent history ‘rhyme’ with events this week, yes?

Given Jeremy Corbyn is always being smeared as a man who would ‘sell out’ Britain if he became Prime Minister, it is quite noteworthy that, even before reaching Downing Street, Johnson is already selling out one of Britain’s most able civil servants in order to curry favour with a foreign President. The patriotic right, eh?

Boris Johnson sells out Kim Darroch

Johnson sells out one of Britain’s finest diplomats to please an American man-baby, but Jeremy Corbyn is the politician who is unpatriotic?

In the event, Corbyn’s response to the matter has been considerably more strident.

The invisible Prime Minister

Around the time that Trump was raising two fingers to the critical struggle against Climate Change, there was of course a General Election going on. May had called it, and has clearly regretted doing so every day ever since. One of the problems with May’s decision was her whole approach to the campaign. It was, again, incredibly cowardly. Most particular was her now-legendary tendency to respond to almost any question she was asked with the declaration that,

“We need strong and stable Government”

and that the election of Jeremy Corbyn would create,

“A coalition of chaos.”

May seemed incapable of saying anything that had not been pre-scripted, and every answer was a robotic soundbite, almost always irrelevant to the questions she was asked. It soon began to drive the British public up the wall. But another failure lay therein; she seemed unable to realise that, by refusing to offer the slightest flexibility, she was doing her chances more harm than good. She refused to take the tiniest chance with anything. It made her look timid, deceitful and evasive, and that is because she was, and is.

This evasive timidity extended to May vetting the media before letting them attend press conferences. On one occasion, a number of non-approved journalists were actually locked in a room, (which was almost certainly illegal) to keep them away from May while she was speaking to reporters who had been granted her approval.

Most pertinent to the Johnson comparison though, May refused to attend all-but-one of the televised debates arranged between party leaders. The only one she went to was an interview/Q-&-A session opposite Jeremy Corbyn, but even that was not a debate or head-to-head. So shocking was May’s courage-shortfall that she even sent Amber Rudd, still reeling from the death of her father at the start of that week, to stand in for her at one of the debates.

The invisible blob

Throughout the present Leadership Contest, Boris Johnson has been displaying the same, er, shall we call it shyness? Or perhaps ‘displaying’ is the wrong word. Not wishing to body-shame anyone (and being very far from a shining specimen of physical fitness myself) I have to say Johnson is a difficult figure to miss, and yet he has been very much the invisible blob for long stretches of this Leadership Contest. He refused to take part in any TV debates until after the second ballot. The reason he gave for that was that these sorts of debates are usually over-crowded, which is a good point, but probably not his real reason. In reality, he knew that, as the early front-runner, he would be targeted by opponents the most, and clearly had more to lose than to gain by taking part.

Such negative tactics can be seen as a wise strategy for the candidate who is quickest out-of-the-traps. But the thing is, it was precisely that same thinking behind May’s negative approach to the General Election in 2017, and the Tories ended up losing seats after being tipped to win a landslide. There were other reasons why the campaign failed, including some dreadfully ham-fisted moments among May’s Cabinet colleagues. But even so, there is little doubt that there was also a growing feeling across the country of, “Would we be electing a scared little wimp if we voted for her?” which allowed a comparatively vibrant and positive Labour campaign to come surging back in almost no time at all. There is a danger for Johnson that his own approach has rather surrendered the initiative to Hunt, whose campaign, while nothing worthy of a standing ovation, has been more positive and kept him more consistently in the public eye.

U-turn if Johnson wants to

One of the greatest and most self-destructive mistakes May made during the 2017 Election though was a policy that was put into the Conservative Manifesto. Nicknamed The Dementia Tax, it was a typically-Tory attempt to increase the burden, admittedly somewhat more mildly than many people realised, of social care for sufferers of dementia onto the very people who need the care. The reaction to the policy was almost universally hostile, including among many Tory supporters, a large proportion of whom are themselves elderly. May suddenly realised that promising to make elderly people pay more money was a silly Election pledge to make when many of those elderly people were among the support she was counting on.

May panicked at the general expressions of disgust nationwide, and in an unprecedentedly-quick U-turn – the first ever Manifesto pledge to be formally rescinded before the Election had even arrived – she substantially altered the policy. She then compounded this flavourful mixture of policy dull-wittery and easy timidity by trying to pretend that she had not changed anything, insulting the intelligence of the British people.

Now, Boris Johnson had made a somewhat vague commitment to hold an inquiry into the ongoing scourge of Islamophobia in the Conservative Party – a far bigger and much more dangerous problem than the wildly-exaggerated anti-Semitism in the Labour Party furore.

Within a couple of weeks, Johnson had retreated from this, and, copying May’s conduct almost exactly, altered the policy before the Contest was even done, now saying he favoured a ‘general investigation’ into prejudice. Why did he do this? He says he was influenced by the thoughts of Saj Javid. More likely, Johnson realised that an inquiry into Islamophobia in an Islamophobic party is a silly Election pledge to make when many of the Islamophobes in question were among the support he was counting on.

A Johnson premiership would be a gift to Labour

May’s penny-pinching Manifesto was uncosted.

Johnson is promising a juicy bushel of tax cuts that are uncosted.

In an act of flagrant anti-constitutionalism, May tried to by-pass Parliament to activate Article-50.

In a proposal of flagrant anti-constitutionalism, Johnson is threatening to shut down Parliament in order to force through a No-Deal Brexit.

As I said earlier, Johnson is probably the single worst current MP who could become Prime Minister. Yes, worse even than Jacob Rees-Mogg, or the medieval demons in the Democratic Unionist Party. But curiously, Johnson is despised by many in the Parliamentary Conservative Party, especially among Remainer MP’s. Were there a Motion Of No Confidence in his Government, there is a serious danger that enough Tories would rebel for the Motion to pass.

So paradoxically, Johnson’s election may be the greatest chance of an imminent Labour Government.