Prime Minister’s minions

July 11, 2022 09:07
Boris Johnson announced on Thursday he would quit as British prime minister after he was abandoned by ministers. Photo: Reuters

When we were little children and easily entertained, there used to be something called a Punch and Judy show at every seaside resort.

A multicoloured tentlike booth contained a mini-theatre and the glove puppets popped up from below a ledge and executed their set routine.

Mr. Punch had a face that was constructed around his enormous nose (shades of Pinochio) and regularly indulged himself in domestic abuse of Mrs. Punch by beating her with a stick until a policeman whacked him into obedience.

The script was constructed around the key phrase “that’s the way to do it” which the characters took it in turns to yell at each other through a sort of nose flute.

The whole production was politically so incorrect that it would never be allowed on the beach today.

But it is as though there was a new reality Punch and Judy show as I watched the grotesque charade of Boris Johnson going into melt-down as his cabinet members finally quit on him.

The Westminster characters were as typecast as Punch and Judy, their script equally infantile.

One watched in disbelief as Conservative politician after politician threw their hands in the air in shock and horror as their leader’s latest series of unbelievable lies were exploded, one by one. As if they had all been taken by surprise.

The focus has been on Boris Johnson but he would never have reached this pinnacle of power unless people who knew better had not turned a blind eye to his track record of lying, cheating and sleaze.

It is beyond belief that any of those who supported him, publicly defended his mendacity and dishonesty, did not in their quiet moments ask themselves what in God’s name they thought they were about?

It is not as though in a reverse Damascene moment they discovered that the angel was actually the devil; the man has been a scurrilous mountebank at least since he fabricated stories for the Daily Telegraph.

How did a political party founded on observing the proprieties and claiming a monopoly on integrity and the maintenance of a set of absolute standards, allow itself to be taken over by men and women who could not wait to subsume any concept of decency into support for a snake oil salesman who would give them advancement?

Only Franz Kafka would have appointed Liz Truss to the role of Secretary of State for Justice, there was not a scintilla of evidence in her biography that justified elevating her to the highest legal appointment in the United Kingdom.

It was not surprising that she had to be prompted to make even a desultory defence of the Supreme Court Judges who were vilified by populist newspapers as ‘enemies of the people’.

Her partner in crime, another square peg in a round hole appointee to the Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab, drawing on his reservoir of legal ignorance caused two of the UK’s Supreme Court judges to withdraw from the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal “lest they appear to be legitimizing oppression.”

The glove puppet figures take on more and more dystopian features the more one examines them.

Johnson authored the Northern Ireland Protocol, the terms of which were signed off by his cabinet. There is no way that any of them can claim to have been ignorant of its provisions.

As was inevitable, Johnson’s flirtations with the truth were as reliable as his inability not to impregnate his mistresses. A man who follows Humpty Dumpty’s credo that when he uses a word, it means just what he chooses it to mean, neither more nor less.

So when the Democratic Unionist Party refused to participate in the Northern Ireland parliament, bringing government there to a standstill, Dumpty Johnson decided to break the agreement.

And his cabinet colleagues supported him.

The straw Attorney-General from nowhere, Suella Braverman, promptly invented the legal theory of “necessity” as a justification for overturning the Protocol.

I was under the impression that witnesses for hire, the aptly named men of straw, who habituated St. Paul’s Cathedral with straw tied round their ankles, available to the highest bidder, were a relic of the 18th century. Obviously I am wrong.

Adding that special touch of Whitehall farce to the Punch and Judy show of the conservative party’s leadership contest, Ms. Braverman QC announced her intention to throw her wig into the ring too.

Watching Dumpty Johnson reacting to questions from the heads of various parliamentary committees on the 6th of July was a puke inducing experience. The man barely controls his mouth as clouds of bullshit spill out like verbal enuresis.

His track record of lies and sleazy manipulation was so manifest that one wondered whether he would have to moon on the steps of No.10 before the parliamentary conservative party would acknowledge the deep and potentially irremediable harm that Dumpty has wrought to parliament and the country.

In one aspect, Dumpty’s resignation speech held a grain of truth: the conservative MPs do have a herd mentality, the piebald piper led them up the garden path, but they went oh! so willingly.

Statistics dictate that amongst the 340 conservative MPs there have to be some men and women of integrity. Yet there has to be a question mark over any MP willing to serve in Dumpty’s cabinet.

Monsters of Dumpty’s proportions only get where they are by virtue of subservient sycophants whose primary objective is their own advancement.

Now ‘The Caretaker’ is forming a cabinet of wannabe also-rans to staff his water closet cabinet. Can you hear the drumbeat of Oliver Cromwell “In the name of God, Go!”

Or as Mr. Punch would say “That’s the way to do it.”

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Queen's Counsel