Politics

I may be wrong but I think Boris Johnson is done for. I can’t see his Tory cult surviving | Polly Toynbee

The jubilee coup is beneath method. The rumbling turmoil within the Tory celebration is a marvel to behold – but it runs deep, stretching far additional again in time than Boris Johnson’s transient calamitous management.

The outdated chameleon celebration used to select itself up and begin another time with some new face and brand, feigning ignorance of all that went earlier than. Not this time. This is a celebration riddled with eccentric ideologues too distant from average election-winning floor to pick out any chief but one in all their ilk. This week, these 54 MPs’ letters required to set off a vote in opposition to their chief are predicted to thud on to the doormat of the 1922 Committee’s chair, or be there already. The vote might be in days, as “red wall” MPs flip white on the newest JL Partners Wakefield ballot placing Labour 20 factors forward. “Blue wall” MPs face the much more astounding prospect of the Liberal Democrats upending a large 24,000 majority in Tiverton and Honiton. The stampede to save lots of themselves appears to be on.

Julius Caesar and Macbeth quotes litter the airwaves. I may add A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Titania awakening to search out she’s been sleeping with Bottom. Boris Johnson’s defenders elevate solely guffaws once they tell the Sun: “While these self-obsessed rebels stir up trouble, Boris is working hard to ease the cost of living.”

Boos from royalists exterior St Paul’s as Johnson arrived for the Queen’s jubilee thanksgiving service, and the indignity of Mumsnet questioners impugning his honesty chime with polls and the general public temper. Which malicious cleric made the PM learn that punishingly inappropriate Bible passage extolling, “Whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure”? No one believes him – nor that he’s working onerous for us. He is busted with the general public, his rankings abysmal, a bourn, one pollster tells me, from which no politician has ever returned.

They say he should be dragged out, clinging to No 10’s deal with. If a vote is triggered, the rebels want 180 backers to oust him, but allies say a one-vote win is sufficient, defying Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May, who gained but departed with dignity and tears after dropping assist. But for now, watch the damaging spectacle of Johnson hurling all the pieces at shoring up Tory MPs’ votes. Grammar colleges are again, he says, but that doesn’t fly with the general public, solely with Tory cultists. The absurdity of imperial measurements appals business and even makes the Sun, tussling with bushels, groats and chains, chuckle incredulously: “It’s firkin hard,” it mentioned.

Johnson’s newest determined effort reprises a Thatcher triumph that turned to catastrophe: he’ll promote millions of housing association homes to bribe voters with a 70% low cost, demolishing what’s left of Harold Macmillan’s social housing constructing bonanza.

And then, reckless and feckless, he may this week unveil his regulation to override the Northern Ireland protocol. The EU warns that will set off a commerce warfare, but he may wrongly think breaking up the Good Friday settlement might be his Falklands second. Pull all of it down, the extra mayhem the higher, revive that Brexit enthusiasm. It’s the place to go when all else fails.

Rebels warn that if he gained’t budge, they may boycott all his laws. Johnsonites retaliate by warning the whip will be withdrawn from rebels, in order that they can’t stand as Conservatives once more. And then there is the nuclear risk: if too many vote in opposition to him, he may launch a shock normal election, simply to lose all of them their seats in revenge. Après moi, le déluge – the pondering of each megalomaniac.

We see the battle performed out in arch-Tory newspapers, the place MPs and ministers assault and counterattack. Noticeably few defend their chief – solely the desperados, Nadine Dorries, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Grant Shapps and Priti Patel, deficients who would be swept away by any newcomer. But all critics and loyalists are grappling with the identical onerous question: is there any additional level to Johnson? Is he – within the face of an ideal political storm – nonetheless one of the best ways for them to save lots of themselves and maintain their seats?

And in the event that they lower him unfastened, what subsequent? Civil warfare? Disintegration? Old Labour palms see their plight. They recognise a celebration seized by ideologues and fanatics, simply as Labour has been to various levels previously. They recognise a celebration not simply infiltrated but devoured by the Brexit celebration and all of the viruses connected to their Brexit-mania. Tory moderates are largely pushed out, even probably the most distinguished. Johnson dithered over becoming a member of the Brexit aspect within the referendum, but as soon as he helped win it by a whisker, the celebration employed him as its jockey to trip Brexit throughout the road, to “get it done”. But right here we’re and Brexit appears to not be done in any case. Which method now, but chaos?

There is a brokenness in all the pieces they contact, an anti-midas contact. Pollsters inform me that there is no urge for food in pink or blue partitions for his or her libertarian retro tunes of deregulation: lower the inexperienced crap, overlook the local weather disaster and air pollution, axe Kitemarks and meals requirements. Those wild issues solely excite the Tory hardcore. But the cultists maintain sway, so any management candidate will nonetheless must cleave to their free-market and tradition warfare obsessions.

It means they may battle to align themselves with the general public, for extraordinary British voters need what they’ve principally all the time needed: guidelines, legal guidelines, rules to maintain them protected and leaders who can ship them. These Tories are as rebarbative to voters as as soon as have been Michael Foot and Jeremy Corbyn.

Think onerous, Johnson says. Come up with one thing. So their newest brainwave is to focus on an imaginary Waitrose lady. You can see why, as beneath Johnson the Tories have a “huge” lady drawback, says Patrick English of YouGov. Forty-five per cent of girls again Labour, solely 29% the Conservatives. But all the pieces about this newest determined ploy is wrong. Waitrose has simply 4.8% of grocery gross sales, and its consumers gained’t like being class-tagged and politically pigeonholed. The archetype, we’re informed, is referred to as “Catherine” – so the celebration has in all probability simply lost lots of Catherines too. And what of all non-Waitrose consumers, particularly those that noticed their Waitrose shops in Wolverhampton, Marlow, Scarborough and Stevenage shut down? Catherine gained’t save them and neither, you need to now assume, will the hitherto lauded darkish political abilities of Johnson’s go-to strategist Lynton Crosby. He has dug Johnson out earlier than, but some holes are simply too deep.

I may be wrong. How typically have Labour folks stood getting ready to toppling Tory hegemony, solely to observe Conservatives rescue themselves with their ruthless intuition for survival? But speak to folks, learn the runes, really feel the shifting floor. This time the ruling celebration’s breath-taking incompetence and hubris is weighed down by public service failures and a brutal value of residing disaster. I see no signal these cultists know easy methods to abandon their alien creeds to save lots of themselves.

Polly Toynbee is a Guardian columnist

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