A firefight with an arsonist – or the return of Tom and Jerry politics

By Simon Gentry

While talking to a friend this morning about the Johnson-Cummings scrap, he recounted a conversation between his two children which ran something along the lines of

“You’re a liar!”

“Well, you’re a worserer liar!”

Etc.

Did Johnson say he’d rather see the bodies pile up than impose another lockdown? Is there evidence? Or is Dominic Cummings, the ultimate political arsonist, lying to wreak revenge on his former boss – and his partner? In the heat of the argument have we not all said stupid things.  Does anyone outside the tiny group of political junkies braying around Westminster care?

Or with 30 days to go before Cummings next appearance in front of a parliamentary Committee, how much more is there? Could these be the early skirmishes? Is there worse to come? Will the PM’s denials be disproved by audio recordings? Was the refurbishment of the flat paid for by a shadowy Tory donor who can now call in lucrative political favours? Is there enough to destroy the Prime Minister just as he was about to enjoy his political summer?

And what about the attacks on the Prime Minister’s fiancée? Was she really behind Cummings’ dismissal, the scheming unelected woman? Is it just common or garden misogyny dressed up as something of political substance? The trope of the unelected wife manipulating her dull husband has been prominent on Twitter over the last few days as if neither Dennis Thatcher nor Philip May ever ventured an opinion.

The crucial question is whether anyone cares. There is some excitement about the polls showing a decline in Tory support but the polls being discussed were all taken before Cummings’ bombshell blog last Friday, so demonstrate nothing other than the fact that the Conservatives still enjoy a lead over the opposition.

One wise colleague, a veteran of Westminster and a close-up eyewitness to these sorts of things herself noted that scepticism of Boris and his cavalier way with the truth was ‘already priced in’. She’s right. As are those who thought the same of Dominic ‘I drove to Barnard Castle to test my eyes’ Cummings.

The facts are that the economy is, according to Goldman Sachs amongst many others, set to burst back into life with the fastest expansion ever. The rates of both infection and death resulting from Covid-19 are falling nearly every day. Britain is rapidly approaching herd immunity.  The catastrophising over Brexit has proved unfounded. Finally, the Conservatives have a comfortable lead in the polls and a majority of 80 in the Commons.

Johnson is not totally out of the woods, but those – mainly in the media – predicting his imminent demise are indulging in wishful thinking.