SATURDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2017

JOHNSON MAKES ME SPUTTER

 

TAKE THE RISK AND SACK BORIS

The Prime Minister may be spluttering from a cold, what should make her splutter is Boris Johnson. How much longer must we endure the spectacle of fellow craven Cabinet Ministers making excuses for this excuse of a Foreign Secretary.

The buffoon is dragging the name of Britain through the gutter. The post of Foreign Secretary has been held with dignity by almost all holders of the office since the war. They only have to look around the grand building on Whitehall to realise that it was the base from which our wisdom was sought after centuries of foreign experience.

Johnson is in that worst tradition of upper class British toffs who think their mild racism is amusing. That it is funny to talk about clearing bodies away so that Sirte can become another glittering enclave of wealth amid Middle East poverty.

He should have been sacked over his Brexit interventions designed to destabilise the Prime Minister. He has now crossed a line which in any normal circumstance would have seen him sacked.

But at the end of this conference season we do not live in normal circumstances. My journey around the conference venues have taken me from The Lib Dems defiant in their policy of exit from Brexit under new leader Vince Cable, to Labour where their third successive defeat was celebrated like a victory and finally to Manchester. There the party that has, one way and another, won three elections was depressed and uncertain. Spooked by Jeremy Corbyn’s anti austerity rhetoric, they are now running before the Labour wind offering concessions on student fees and housing. The danger is they will get no credit for it whilst abandoning their reputation for economic rectitude. The last time that happened, in 1992, they were out of office for a long time.

The Tory conference began behind the most extensive security wall I had ever seen in Manchester. Thankfully there were no arrests and it was good to see, alongside the austerity protest, one opposed to Brexit. It is time Remainers found their voice.

But inside the cordon there was anger among the Tory grassroots over the election manifesto, the selection of candidates and the centralisation of the party. On the conference floor it looked as if  no ordinary representatives were called to speak, just a succession of Cabinet Ministers.

Labour on the other hand have reverted to allowing everyone a voice except MPs. The resulting chaos of card votes and remitted motions was a real throwback to the 1970s.

So where are we at the end of this conference season. I have always believed that Mrs May would be left in place because nobody else wants the inevitable criticism that will be hurled at the holder of the office when whatever Brexit deal is done.

After Manchester I am not so sure. The darkening weeks after conference is a dangerous time for Tory leaders from Mrs Thatcher in 1990 to Iain Duncan Smith in 2003.

If May goes surely the Tory Party won’t elect Johnson? Surely their love affair with the lovable tousled clown has turned to contempt for his incompetence as Foreign Secretary and impatience at his blatant careerism.

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During 40 years of broadcasting on the colourful political battlefield that is the North West, I've covered some great stories. From the Militants in Liverpool and Roy Jenkins' bid to become a Warrington MP, to Martin Bell's toppling of Neil Hamilton in Tatton and the election court that expelled Phil Woolas in Oldham.

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