A pal told me an instructive story recently, about a friend of a friend of theirs who had been forced to host a business meeting at his home because the office was closed due to Covid.
Several colleagues were sat around his living room while his two-year-old were toddled about in the background. Suddenly, everyone became aware of an awful stench.
They looked over a sofa to see that, behind it, the kid had succeeded in doing his business in his nappy. Not only that, he had taken the nappy off and stuck it on top of his head from him.
He was covered in his own filter. Everyone looked on horrified as a chase then ensued, with the parents trying to catch the offender while he ran around shrieking and gleefully throwing handfuls of his own reeking filth all over the place.
It is, you must admit, the perfect metaphor for what is (hopefully) the final stages of the Boris Johnson premiership.
There he was in the House of Commons last week, chucking it everywhere. He lied that he knew nothing about Partygate, despite all available evidence showing him right at the heart of it.
He lied that he was “levelling up” the UK, even as horrific increases in fuel and prices were being levied at the very poorest in society. He lied that crime was down, despite statistics showing the opposite. And then the big one…
Cornered and desperate during Prime Minister’s Questions, he snarled like a rat as he lied that Labor leader Keir Starmer was responsible – either through incompetence or, the darker implication, his own machinations – for not prosecuting Jimmy Savile for sex crimes.
There were gasps in the House, even from hardened Tory MPs. Even so, Johnson refused to withdraw the remark or apology for it – apart from the usual mealy-mouthed “I’m sorry if you were offended but…” stuff.
The lie is rooted in a far-right conspiracy theory so stupid and outrageous it would probably get you kicked out of a Facebook group called KILL ALL LEFT-WING SCUM. But here it was, being parroted by the leader of the country.
It was so disgraceful that, within hours, several top Downing Street staff had resigned: Jack Doyle as director of communications, Johnson’s own chief of staff Dan Rosenfield and Martin Reynolds, his principal private secretary.
Now all of these would probably have to go soon anyway because of their own varying roles in Partygate. But it was the first resignation that was most telling – Johnson’s longstanding policy chief Munira Mirza, whose resignation letter is worth quoting in some detail…
“Dear Prime Minister. It is with great regret that I am writing to resign as your Head of Policy. You are aware of the reason for my decision: I believe it was wrong for you to imply this week that Keir Starmer was personally responsible for allowing Jimmy Savile to escape justice.
“There was no fair or reasonable basis for that assertion. This was not the normal cut-and-thrust of politics; it was an inappropriate and partisan reference to a horrendous case of child sex abuse.
“You tried to clarify your position today but, despite my urging, you did not apologize for the misleading impression you gave. I have served you for 14 years and it has been a privilege to do so.”
Now admittedly this last sentence caused my eyebrows to arch up towards my hairline. FOURTEEN YEARS? You served a terrible, devious, calculating lying machine like Johnson for 14 YEARS? How? How is that even possible?
And how could you then describe it as “a privilege”? But the message was clear enough – here was a hardcore Tory who had presumably thought they had seen the worst that Johnson could do and who could stomach it no longer.
Pretty soon it emerged that only the worst of the worst would line up to defend the Prime Minister.
These were the damned, the kind of terrible human beings who had long ago sacrificed whatever they had instead of a soul on the altar of their careers: Dominic Raab, Nadine Dorries, Michael Gove and Jacob Rees-Mogg.
But wait a second. Career scumbags lining up to defend an indefensible conspiracy theory lie from the biggest scumbag imaginable? It all reminded me of something.
Or rather of someone. Someone I’ve spent the last seven years writing a good few thousand words about in this paper.
A man who implied that the father of one of his political opponents was somehow involved in the JFK assassination.
The whole thing was sheer, maximum, total Donald J Trump.
And it spoke volumes about where the Tory party is now – rotten to its very core, just like the Republicans across the water.
But, of course, I would think Johnson and his acolytes are Trumpian, wouldn’t I? I’m a well-known lefty idiot. Just like that other left-wing idiot who said Johnson had used a “Trumpian response to try to deflect from himself and use something so outrageous that people will talk about that rather than the big issues.”
The words of that famous lefty, former Conservative home secretary Amber Rudd. When Rudd and I are parking our cars in the same garage, you know something has gone seriously wrong in the moral universe.
Will this be the end of him? In any sane, decent world, it would be. However, to go back to the opening analogy, the Tory party are the parents, currently chasing a demented toddler around as he throws handfuls of excrement all over the place.
And we all know just how indulgent some parents can be…