When a story becomes a question of the Prime Minister’s ‘judgement’, it’s generally reached the end of its journalistic shelf life
Sure, Boris Johnson will regret marching his colleagues to the top of the ‘Save Paterson’ hill only to march them down again following a backlash. But judgement is so ethereal, and counts for little when it comes up against the brute force of an 80 seat Parliamentary majority.
Still, episodes like these do two things. First, they chip away at a leader’s authority in the eyes of their backbenchers. Many were not looking forward to voting in support of Paterson, but did so out of loyalty to the party and the fact there was a three-line whip. They may think ‘why bother?’ next time.
Second is the public. Labour has belatedly clocked that their ‘same old Tories line’ is not the quite the searing attack they think it is when the public keep voting those very Tories into office. But ‘Tory sleaze’ sticks to the wall in the same way that ‘Labour overspending’ does. It’s not always true, but it has a truth-y quality to it.
The Tories will be calculating that this episode, like that of the Prime Minister’s wallpaper or curiously funded holidays, will not matter so long as the economy continues to grow, they can point to real-terms increases in departmental spending and Brexit continues to make Labour squirm. And they’ve got a case to make.
But with the Bank of England projecting inflation to hit 5 per cent in 2022 and the OBR forecasting household income to be essentially stagnant over the next few years, the Tories cannot necessarily count on a grateful nation going to the polls in 2024.
Elsewhere in the paper, Booker Prize winner Damon Galgut pens our Friday Diary to take us through his whirlwind week.
And finally, a new study has revealed the best underground lines on which to apply makeup. Now I’ve never attempted this, and far be it for me to cast aspersions, but the idea that the Barkerloo – a veritable bouncy castle of a line, is in the top five seems suspicious. You can find out the winner here...
Have a lovely weekend.
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