FOR the BBC, it seems, all its Christmases have come at once.
The entire nation is in uproar over last year’s Downing Street wine-and-cheese revels.
Tory MPs and ministers are in unprecedented open revolt against their leader, Labour are streaking ahead in the polls and the Prime Minister is about to be given the chop.
What’s not to like for our left-wing national broadcaster?
But hang on a minute, as the Beeb’s gentle Justin Webb likes to say, aren’t they celebrating a tad early?
First of all, at the height of these torrid allegations of sleaze, scandal and hypocrisy, Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party are only nine points ahead. A decent Opposition would be leading by 20 or 30 per cent.
Second, this meltdown is not unprecedented. Remember 1995, when John Major was forced to resign in a “back me or sack me” showdown. He won.
Third, there is no realistic candidate to take over — not Rishi Sunak, yet, nor Liz Truss nor, heaven help us, Tom Tugendhat.
Fourth, and most important, the justifiably angry British public is beginning to wonder what all the fuss is about.
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They detect a whiff of over-kill about a year-old Christmas gathering. Voters are voicing dismay at the way BoJo is being hounded. Radio 4’s Today programme seems to have relished the PM’s discomfort a little too obviously.
And the Mirror may have taken its story an inch too far by trashing Boris for an antiseptic Zoom quiz alongside staff he worked with all day.
This Labour-supporting newspaper is entitled to enjoy a political hit against its declared enemy.
The same cannot be true of the allegedly impartial BBC, whose seething obsession with skewering Boris is both un- seemly and typical.
It seems impossible for interviewers Mishal Husain and Nick Robinson to set aside their feverish hostility when interviewing ministers, what- ever the subject is supposed to be.
That approach may have begun to backfire, to the benefit of its victim.
There are early signs that voters think Boris has been punished enough for a rule-breaking offence many of us at home also committed.
As an avowed lockdown loather, I confess I too clinked glasses outside my bubble last Christmas, though, in mitigation, without the cheese.
I fully understand the fury of those who did stay home, kept their distance and washed their hands. And the dismay of families banned from the bedside of sick or dying loved ones.
I suspect many are incensed because they did not believe they should have been incarcerated in the first place. Orders were orders.
Some will grab the chance to take revenge in Thursday’s North Shropshire by-election.
Around 60 Tory MPs, and perhaps some ministers, will rebel tomorrow against the latest move towards yet another lockdown. They are right and Boris, in this case, is wrong.
But in my book, the PM is guilty of mixed messages as much as mendacity.
He never wanted lockdown in the first place. He still doesn’t believe in it.
To some extent he has been driven by old rival Michael Gove, always a Covid hawk.
A fellow Cabinet minister wonders: “What is Michael up to?” Another says: “He certainly doesn’t seem to be working for Boris’s survival.”
Published evidence suggests the highly infectious Omicron mutant is nowhere near as lethal as other variants. Nobody has died so far. Few have been hospitalised here or in South Africa.
Omicron might even prove a blessing, inoculating the entire population more effectively than all our miraculous vaccines.
In any event, lockdowns do not work. Indeed, these totalitarian Chinese crackdowns inflict more harm than good.
Their only justification was to “save the NHS”, whereas an efficiently run NHS should have been saving us.
I joined the national applause for its frontline heroes last year. I would not have clapped the NHS bureaucracy which, unbelievably, offers fewer hospital beds today than before the pandemic began.
So will Boris survive?
A seasoned ally and occasional critic admits the PM is chaotic and inconsistent.
“But,” he adds, “there is no alternative to Boris.”
More stable than allies
EVEN in these difficult times, Britain looks more stable than many of our European allies.
Germany’s Angela Merkel has been replaced as Chancellor by an ex-Marxist leading an unholy coalition of Green zealots and anti-business lefties.
This gives us the advantage of seeing how a Sir Keir Starmer-style coalition would look in partnership with the Scot Nats and the Lib Dems. It would be a recipe for enduring economic and political chaos, entrenched by a PR voting system designed to keep Tories out of power for ever.
As the old saying goes: “Be careful what you wish for.”
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