THIS IS NOT A GOOD START FOR THE NEW CHIEF WHIP.HE IS MEANT TO BE CALM UNDER FIRE & SOUND IN JUDGMENT, NOT BEHAVE LIKE A PANICKY LITTLE SHIT. THE TREATMENT OF CHARLIE ELPHICKE IS A DISGRACE. SUCH TREACHERY WILL DESTROY WHATEVER MORALE IS LEFT
The hysteria, blind panic and the whiff of McCarthyism that has gripped all political parties in Westminster is unedifying and deeply damaging to all politicians. Two news items this morning that sent shivers down my spine and put anger in my belly was the way the Whips Office have treated Charlie Elphike and Anna Soubrey’s interview in the Times.
Let’s deal with Charlie first. A serious accusation has been made and rightly referred to the police. It is now entirely a matter for them. At some stage the usual, ‘a forty five year old man is assisting us with our enquiries’, statement will appear. The press get a tip off and the horror of photographers camping out side his house begins. The accused at least knows what he has been accused of and can take advice, preferably from a solicitor rather than some dodgy ‘ reputation damage limitation expert’, on how to deal with it. My simple advice would be make a denial and say nothing more. Never give a story legs. But the Tory whips office took it upon themselves to brief the press. They didn’t warn Elphicke. They didn’t even tell him what had happened. He didn’t even know that he had been suspended until he saw it on the news. He has been publicly accused, and until the police interview the complainant and then knock on Elphicke’s door in the early hours, he won’t have a clue what his crime is meant to have been or even who his accuser is. That not rough justice. It’s no justice at all. He has been tainted. He has been tried, convicted and sentenced in the highest court of the land. The most unpredictable and unfair. The court of public opinion.This is not a good start for our new chief whip. He is meant to be calm under fire and sound in judgment. Not to behave like a panicky little shit.
So before the police bang on his door in the full glare of the cameras, Elphicke will be asked by his wife, his kids, his friends, his constituency association and his local newspapers, what the hell this is all about. He won’t be able to answer. And that in the court of public opinion is a clear sign of guilt. But if he hasn’t been told how can he know? Utterly disgraceful and a terrible stain on the whips office.
What are colleagues going to think? The whips are going to expect them to jump through hoops, vote on ludicrous party lines, be encouraged to support a policy one day and denounce it the next and be general lobby fodder for a government who couldn’t arrange a piss up in the Sports and Social. If backbenchers think that they will be shafted by them at the drop of a hand on knee accusation which could destroy their careers and everything they hold dear, why should they bother? This McCarthyite treachery is terrible for what ever morale is left.
Whilst mentioning the Sports and Social, I do wish John Mann would shut up. He’s a decent and well meaning old cove, but the idea of safe places, banning MPs from this bar and suggesting that no employee to be in Parliament after six pm is a naivety to the point of drivelling.
And now for Anna Soubry. I know it’s terribly flattering to be feted and interviewed by two of Fleet Street’s finest, but the reason they are so good is because they always get a story, and poor boobies like her and Loathesome don’t realise How good it is until they see it in cold print.
Anna, your heart is in the right place, but as I have been told by senior civil servants that used to work for you, you don’t all ways engage mouth and brain in an orderly fashion. A throwaway remark in a tea shop about a sexual assault by Fallon, a criminal offence, would normally be libellous. But as a lawyer you know that once a man has had his reputation destroyed he will never sue. So you took advantage for a cheap headline that Fallon hasn’t got a clue how to defend because he doesn’t know what the accusation is. Kicking a man when he is down is appalling, reprehensible, unforgivable, beyond shitty, behaviour. And your comments that Green should be suspended on the flimsiest of evidence from the flakiest of sources was incomprehensible, deeply damaging and unnecessary. Your defence of Loathesome? Bordering on the deranged.
Who on earth would want to be an MP? People think that you are corrupt, lying, sex pests. And today is going to be hell. Awaiting for that dreaded five PM call from Simon Walters or Nigel Nelson. But at least they will tell you what you are accused of unlike a treacherous whips office and slack mouthed MPs on the make. Thanks God I am no longer part of this vile pantomime.
A CLEVER MOVE TO PROMOTE WILLIAMSON. SHE HAS EFFECTIVELY NAMED HER SKIP A GENERATION SUCCESSOR. THERE WILL BE MORE BLOOD BUT IT WILL BE MANAGEABLE
2 Nov 2017 at 11:36
Only time will tell if it was a misjudgment of biblical proportions to allow Michael Fallon to resign. There may be further allegations against him of a similar nature. There may not be. Most of us haven’t got a clue. But for allegations that go well short of sexual abuse, misuse of power, bullying or degrading women, ministers should remain in office. And he was a damn good minister
Sometimes Madame just doesn’t think things through. I would imagine in most matters sexual outside marriage she is a bit of an innocent. When she first heard about Fallon and Green she is meant to have remarked, ‘why don’t they just get on with the job?’ I suspect that in the Prime Minister’s study there is a big red button under a smashable glass lid emblazoned with the legend ‘only press when something needs to be done’. So when a crisis happens the glass is broken, the button is pressed. But magic solution there is none. Just klaxons, sirens, flashing red lights and a robotic voice warning, ‘crisis! Crisis! Something must be done!’ In rush the advisors. ‘Well Gavins how do we handle this?’
‘Easy Prime Minister’, they shout in unison. ‘Something must be done’. And so the Tories do what they are so good at. They panic.
It is a dangerous and contagious disease in politics to chase headlines. They all say they’ll never do it, but by and large they can’t help themselves. They should have read the runes. The Tory press are not too exercised about low level pass making. In the Mail Jane Moir had a crack at Kate Maltby. And even the saintly Michael White poured cold water over it all. But Michael old chum, best you don’t do interviews after lunch. Saying that female political journalists are predictors is a terrible travesty of the truth and has just lost you a hell of a lot of street cred. Such as it was. Which was not a lot.
I suppose the great irony of this whole sorry tale is that old goat Boris, who appears to have a nineteenth century squirearchy attitude to women, walks unscathed through this sewer of suspicion. You’d picture him pimp rolling his was across the chequered flagstones of his bijou baronial hall in full riding gear with whip in hand shouting to his butler, ‘Grayling, get me our finest bottle of breakfast claret and some cold grouse. Just horse whipped the game keeper, shagged his wife and the tweeny maid. Now need to build up strength to bugger the stable boy’.
The appointment of Gavin Williamson as Defence Secretary is actually a stroke of genius. It means that Green is dispensable. It means that any ministerial departures will be finessed by him. And there will be few scandalous surprises. He knows all their little ways. It will restore stability. And she knows she can trust him as an ally and a formidable operator. He has been appointed Secretary of State for the Defence of the Government. That is his prime directive. To keep the ship of state afloat and ensure a frictionless transition to a new leader when the time arises. And it could well be him. She has effectively named her successor.
Without blowing my own trumpet too much……well sod it🎶🎶🎶🎶. I was the first commentator to say that he could be the future. And I may be right.
Much about politics is about luck as well as ability. Gavin has been a lucky guy. Chief whip at a time of turmoil. Brokering the DUP deal. And realising that the only way to stop government defeat is a mass abstention. Not a stroke of genius, but just a way for them all to survive for a little longer. So he will have appointed Julian Smith as Chief whip. Another May Trusty. He helped Williamson run her leadership campaign. And then Esther McVey as his deputy is a clever move. A permanent visual reminder to that horrible old Trot McDonnell, who still hasn’t apologised for calling her a bastard who should be lynched.
So Williamson is a close confidante not just of Madame but Gavin Barwell, a popular and slick operator. All that he needs to do now is appoint a charismatic party chairman who can modernise and enthuse the party. It won’t be long.
This is straight from the ‘skip a generation’ play book.
So Williamson has now to prove himself at defence at a difficult time with budget cuts and an insane proposal to cut the £29 per diem active service pay. This is a gift for him if played right. He can wrap himself in Kkaki. Do a deal with the Chancellor and be lauded by the Tory press as a fighter for our brave boys and girls. A good showcase for the next move.
Interesting that his pet Tarantula is called Cronus. The Greek myth might be instructive. There was a prophecy that Cronus was going to be overthrown by his sons, so he sired sons with the Gods. To prevent the prophecy from coming true he devoured them all at birth.
There will be some more blood sacrifices. But we can rest assured that normal service has been restored. This is good news for the party and the end of the road for Boris. Expect a resignation in a fit of pique sooner rather than later.
For the first time in a long while I am beginning to feel a glimmer of optimism.
Jerry Hayes is a good friend of mine. His blog is always worth reading. An ex-Tory MP and current practising barrister.