"All this has happened before and will happen again."
Whether this line brings to mind Peter Pan or Battlestar Galactica may perhaps indicate your age or taste in the fantastic, but this week it seems relevant to what was once called the "Brexit Election" in which Theresa May was going to take apart Corbyn's Labour Party.
...the "Brexit Election" in which Boris Johnson was going to take apart Corbyn's Labour Party.
Sooo last Saturday, isn't it? Harold Wilson, Corbyn's urbane predecessor back the the swinging sixties, is held to have said a week is a long time in politics and this week has been no exception.
Seven days ago, Prime Minister Johnson was poised to see off his upstart Brexit challengers from the Farage Fan Club through a concerted programme of threats and promises and could look forward to patriotically heading up the Remembrance Day ceremony at the London Cenotaph for the first time as PM.
But now, one week on, for all his bravado, Johnson must be gazing fitfully and misty-eyed into his cups as he contemplates the week it all went wrong. While still holding a substantial poll lead, it has now nearly halved with almost a month to go to polling day, and if he isn't ruminating on how pride comes before a fall, he should be.
Straight off the block, last Sunday morning, there he was lined up at the annual commemoration of the war dead, his tie askew, his pale face distracted, his steps distinctly off kilter as he stumbled forward ahead of cue to place his wreath upside down in front of the monument to the Unknown Soldier. While the Sun newspaper concentrated on claiming Jeremy Corbyn's head when he bowed to the Cenotaph was clearly at a treasonous, Bolshevist angle of inclination, Johnson temporarily got away with looking as if he had just stumbled out a taxi with a cold kebab in one hand and a bag of his own sick in the other.
However, for whatever reason - and we can speculate, given the tortuous explanation eventually provided - the BBC Breakfast programme the next morning ran footage of Johnson at the Remembrance ceremony back in 2016, when he was rather better turned out, and failed to note the fact on any of the three times it ran it. Viewers and the Labour-leaning Daily Mirror were soon highlighting the fact and commentary on the Premier's messy appearance and attitude was soon widespread on social media and many mainstream outlets.
So far so bad, but it soon got worse.
As his opponents criticised Tory cuts to river and canal defences in the light of widespread flooding in Doncaster, the PM rather languidly journeyed to South Yorkshire to be pictured pretending to mop a sodden shop floor before attempting to sympathise with rather disgruntled soaked locals. "Where have you been?" they demanded irately as he refused to declare the risen waters an emergency. Asked what she thought of him after a chat, one elderly resident gave her considered opinion of the PM: "One word.... Arsehole!"
From PR disaster to turning water into wee came next. Hassled by his funders, Farage caved in to demands that he stand down Brexit Party candidates in Tory-held seats after he watched a video in which Johnson promised no extension to the Brexit transition deadline on 1 January 2021 - raising the prospect of an eventual possible No Deal departure after all. However, between the Brexit leader's announcement and the close of nominations, Johnson's acolytes pompously over-reached their own egoes by seeking to push the Brexit Party to drop candidates from seats where Tories are challenging sitting Labour MPs.
This proved too much for the stripe-suited lounge lizard Farage and he responded with a blistering series of complaints that the Tories were offering bribes in the form of public appointments and peerages to his waivering candidates. The Tories denied it, but if true it would be a clear abuse of office. And so now, after former Labour Lord Chancellor, Charlie Falconer, formally reported the claims, the Tory Party is under police investigation for possible offences under the Representation of the People Act.
Facing off against him has been Labour's Jeremy Corbyn, issuing a mouth-watering range of eye-catchingly imaginative policy proposals - massive new funding for the NHS alongside an end to health privatisation; free dental checks; taking rail and energy back into public hands; a 32 hour working week without pay reduction; free broadband for all by 2030; a big extension of employment rights; and a Green New Deal to transform Britain and slash our carbon emissions.
Against this, Johnson has floundered ever more, now quite incapable of keeping the debate anywhere near his "oven ready" Brexit deal (a blatant lie, as even Farage has pointed out). Free broadband would be "communism", he gasped as his aides struggled to come up with something bad about it.
|Umm, wow, should I touch him? What do I say?|
And then a new low: a visit to a nursery school where he sat with mothers and toddlers and, Redwood-like, pretended to know the words of "The Wheels on the Bus", but apparently didn't and so sat looking distinctly uncomfortable. Perhaps he was wishing he was at home where, as we know, he very truthfully passes his time making model buses. By Friday, his exposure was being restricted to film of him talking to staff on a boat, all stage-managed - the Great Communicator and Man of the People no more.
Meantime, his party Chairman, James (not-so) Cleverly, became so confused on one radio programme that he wasn't allowed by his own party to appear on a TV interview. Finally, aping 2017's social care payments disaster, the Government finished the week by bringing forward its plans to raise the retirement age for women to 68 seven years earlier than previously planned to head off Labour's intention to stop them.
It is still early days, but the whole ambience is very familiar - 2017 revisited but at coke-speed. The
|Corbyn - slowly, slowly...|
With the Lib Dems now fading into well-deserved irrelevance after Ed Davey's economically illiterate declaration today that they will work to a permanent budget surplus, a.k.a. continue austerity, the path seems increasingly clear for Corbyn's Labour - and the polls are now showing this, with an average 5% rise in support over the last week to ten days. Since the start of the month, the Tory lead has declined from as much as 16% in one opinion poll (Opinium, 1 November) to as low as 6% in another(Survation, 8 November).
Things fall apart, seems an apt line to summarise Johnson's week. Yet the Yeats poem from which it comes is probably rather too optimistic for our bumbling PM as he perhaps nurses his bruised sense of superiority tonight, hoping against hope that he may yet have a "Second Coming".
Taxi for Johnson.
Hold the kebab please...
|The Loneliness of the Short-attentioned Ar**hole|