We should be grateful for small mercies. This week we are blissfully free of Liz Truss of the Forty Four Days, as David Aaranovitch in The Times refers to her. She is presumably away plotting somewhere, though you can be quite sure it will be nowhere near her South West Norfolk constituency.
Her rival conspirator, Boris Johnson, is omnipresent, of course, courtesy of his lackeys. Mr Johnson is apparently keen to be the next secretary general of NATO, an ambition so wildly improbable it seems absurd even coming from him. But of course it explains all this interest in Ukraine, and his flights there – as if they hadn’t got enough problems – to be photographed with the heroic president and a lot of blown-up Russian tanks. So it was at the very least reckless of him to declare in irritation to his acolytes: “F*ck the US!” On hearing of the outburst, one US State Department official murmured: “How to lower your NATO job prospects from one percent to zero …”
The most noteworthy development of the week was probably Rishi Sunak’s ecstatic delight in announcing to the people of Northern Ireland that they will now enjoy the unique advantage of having access to both the UK and EU markets. We will not dwell on the absurdity of the statement, given his obsession with being outside the EU, but rather look to quite where this leaves Keir Starmer.
In his and his colleagues’ insistence that they will have nothing to do with the EU, and coupled with the crumbling of any kind of enthusiasm for it among the Tories, Labour seems almost its only remaining champion. So how did it come to this? Certainly a lack of intellectual and perhaps even moral backbone played its part. But this decision appears to be a perfect example of groupthink, a phenomenon which proves Nietzsche’s claim that madness is the exception in individuals but the rule in groups. Groupthink occurs when a group accepts what appears to be an obvious truth – in this case that any mention of Brexit would be poison to the voters – and stick with it however it increasingly veers away from reality.
These feel like the end times for Nadine Dorries.
She seems likely to be rejected for her peerage, her dreamboat Boris Johnson is gone, her new TV series is mocked as an embarrassing calamity, she is likely to be suspended from the Commons for misleading the House, her local party has long since given up any pretence that she is serving her voters and don’t even have an office any more, and now her parliamentary colleagues have become so disgruntled at her non-appearance on the benches that they are suggesting she should pay back her £84,000 salary.
So with Matt Hancock off of his own volition – jumping before he is pushed – and several other prominent Tory faces likely to be seen no more after the election at the behest of the voters, it looks as though East Anglia might soon have a radical new political look.
Before this week’s avalanche of embarrassing emails, Matt Hancock (West Suffolk) was beginning to show signs of a return to that puppyish bounce he has when he’s feeling pleased with himself (which, given his record, is surprisingly often). He was enthusiastic about his prospects of a new career on television. He has already set up his own production company, Greenhazel Ltd, and is now looking to move house in order to make it easier to get the train to London. And away from his constituency.
Which does seem to suggest – and the more cynical among our readers will sadly have drawn this conclusion already – that he has lost whatever little interest he ever had in his voters. What chance is there now for them to see anything of him in the remaining 18 months of his term? During that time he will continue to receive the sinecure of his parliamentary salary of around £130,000, plus expenses, for which he need and almost certainly will do bugger all.
It is to be hoped that if his proposed house move goes ahead, the good people of Gazeley will welcome him in the appropriate manner.
It is always difficult to know quite what to say about Thérèse Coffey (Suffolk Coastal). But Pecksniff was interested at that peculiar picture the good doctor published this week, showing what was apparently the committee of local Tory stalwarts who chose her once again to represent them. Quite apart from their looking rather like a group photo of a remake of The Addams Family, featuring the original cast, it is noticeable that there are several faces there from Felixstowe. Pecksniff’s écouteurs recount that the town is probably largely responsible for her hold over the local party. More information on this curious phenomenon would be welcome.
Pecksniff has just been irritated at having to cross out a story about Jo Churchill (Bury St Edmunds), only to find that the next missive on the pile on dobbings-in also involves No Show Jo. PPE is back in the news, if ever it went away, courtesy of further allegations about the liberal distribution of lucrative contracts to Tory donors.
In April 2020, Tory health minister Lord Bethell was contacted by a prominent Tory party donor, David Meller, who seemed disgruntled that his share of the pickings was delayed probably by some tomfoolery about propriety. Just six minutes later, Bethell replied to Meller: “As the minister leading on PPE, Jo Churchill and her office should be best placed to help you.” Only hours later, the Department of Health confirmed in an email that “the deal is progressing”. A month later, the deal was done for £65 million. The contract was not subject to competitive tender. There is no record as to whether the face masks were ever used.
One would dearly love to believe Ms Churchill’s haste was driven by the interests of her constituency, when she signed off sixty five million quid of public money for medical equipment to some bloke who makes frocks for a living.
It remains to be seen how this revelation will affect her constituency’s voting intentions. At the moment the polls give Ms Churchill only a 28% chance of holding on to her seat.
It seems that Kemi Badenoch (Saffron Walden), the equalities minister is unwilling to consider support for women through the menopause – not because it’s a bad idea but because it’s a ‘left wing’ idea; and since she is right wing you can go and whistle, sunshine. From a party in which so much seems to command approbation, any kind of honesty is rare so, one supposes, to be welcomed.
Since Pecksniff has so often criticised him, it is only fair to note that James Cleverly (Braintree) is earning himself approving notices from the diplomatic service. He is credited with at least taking his post seriously, and not using it just to further his chances of the jump into No. 10. The political temperature between Britain and the EU is notably warmer, and from gossip on the diplomatic grapevine it seems this too is down to Mr Cleverly, who is said to treat his EU counterparts more as equals than as quaking natives receiving a last warning before he sends in a gunboat.
This week, three Tory councillors in Rochford resigned the whip, so the council moves into no overall control. A sign of the times, perhaps. The MP is Sir James Duddridge, one of Boris Johnson’s most voluble supporters. Electoral Calculus gives him only a 17% chance of holding on to his seat at the next general election.
We have to applaud the organisers of the demonstrations about the Cambridge congestion charge, whichever their point of view. But they have shown themselves to be naïve. While it is legitimate to hold strong feelings either for or against, they have to be aware they can easily fall prey to others whose interests do not include the wellbeing of Cambridge.
Fascists, anarchists, Trotskyists and that new tribe of deluded orcs who insist the world is being taken over by sinister forces would be delighted if the debate collapsed into hatred and violence. That is their aim, after all. Those ambitions were illustrated a couple of days later in Thetford, of all places, where a crowd of 200 besieged the town council.
The ringleader describes himself on Twitter as being “In An Abusive Relationship With The New World Order”, and claims he is “Watching it unfold and waiting patiently for a green light to go to war. This period in time cannot go unchallenged or unpunished!” A long way, one might think, from a plan for the convenience of cyclists or being able to get to the shops on foot.
EAB has information that suggests this shadowy group who drew out the concerned people of Thetford are planning more escapades soon in rural Norfolk. In Thetford they lied about perfectly innocent proposals on “15 minute neighbourhoods”, for which trials may be carried out in the town. But that only applies to Thetford. So what lies will they tell to terrify the residents of some other unfortunate country town?
They have turned their attention to rural Norfolk, of course, since it’s hard going to persuade laid-back and liberal minded Cambridge that there is a new world order threatening their liberty. The cynicism lies in that they are misleading and terrifying ordinary people into becoming their cannon fodder for whatever “war” our friend above has in mind.
Before we leave Thetford, it is worth noting that EAB is apparently the only news platform to have covered the protest. Nothing on the BBC, nor in the Eastern Daily Press or the East Anglian Daily Times. This in itself might encourage the warriors against the “new world order” to believe there is a cover-up.
But the truth is likely to be much more prosaic. All those fine organs of news and free speech seem to be operating on bits of string and empty yoghurt cartons at the moment. No reporters and no resources. So it’s likely they simply didn’t know it had happened.
All the more reason, dear reader, to follow all the news that really matters at EAB.
We stay with lies and mischief making and stirring up the masses, this time in Ipswich. Last week Pecksniff wrote about a wholly unfounded and clearly racist allegation by a Tory supporter of rape by refugees who are lodging in the town. Then this week, this poster appears…
There is no evidence that the writer of last week’s taunt is responsible for this filth, though the sentiment seems similar. Presumably the police are investigating what seems here to be a clear breach of the law. Pecksniff has written before of the unpleasant undercurrent of racism which seems to run through some of the town’s discourse, and contrary I suspect to the hopes of many in positions of influence in Ipswich, it’s not going to go away by itself.
There is still some irritation about the corgi statues bought by Broadland Council for the Queen’s jubilee and then flogged off. The council kept two. One is apparently going on permanent display at the council offices, and the other is going ‘on tour’, otherwise known as walkies. Councillor Mancini-Boyle appears upset that the subject won’t stop bothering her, however often she tells it to “Sit!” This suggests that perhaps even she sees it was not a brilliant use of taxpayers’ money to spend it on the council’s own slavering obsequity over the Queen.
And since we’re in the vicinity, there is another reason for giving Broadland a kicking over wasting money. It has been noticed by more than one source that the council’s newspaper, Broadland News, only ever recounts the supposed successes of the ruling Tory group, even when others may choose to doubt the claims. The opposition is rarely even mentioned. In short, then, the Tories are spending their local taxpayers’ money on their own political propaganda sheet.