With Halloween behind us, and Britain’s EU membership set to last a while after all, the general election is Bojo’s final throw of the dice. The pollsters’ headline figures suggest he’ll win comfortably, and finally deliver Brexit. But, as our Political Correspondent Peter Spencer reports, appearances can be deceptive, and all parties know it.
The last time we had a December election, almost a century ago, the then Tory Prime Minister lost out, thanks to hefty support for the Liberals, and hey presto, Labour got in.
Hmmm. Can history repeat itself? Jeremy Corbyn hopes so, obvs. And the Lib Dem leader, Jo Swinson, is also pitching herself as the next Prime Minister. She only needs an extra three hundred or so MP’s and it’s in the bag.
Once again, hmmm.
However, her party has actually adopted Bollocks to Brexit as its slogan. And this is what we’ll actually be voting on, for all that Jeremy Corbyn might try to pretend otherwise.
When the poor dear bangs on about nasty elites and crumbling public services he sounds like he’s fretting about the wing mirrors on the motor when, more to the point, it doesn’t have an engine.
Of course he would try that, wouldn’t he, when Labour’s official position on Brexit is about as clear as the murky waters of Loch Ness.
And, natch, Boris Johnson’s going to big up a ‘people versus parliament’ election, because he’s got to prove it was all down to stinky MP’s, and nothing to do with me, guv, that the referendum verdict still hasn’t been delivered.
A survey carried out by an ex Downing Street pointy-head suggests half of those who voted Leave say they feel betrayed by the missed Halloween deadline. That’s roughly double the number who felt let down by Theresa May when she failed to do the business.
So Boris does have a fight on his hands. And it’s perhaps a sign of nervousness that he’s already kissed and made up with half the MP’s he kicked out of the party for rebelling over Brexit.
And, another little worry, since the election was called there’s been a surge in applications to vote, among people under thirty-four. Well over a quarter of a million so far, as it happens.
There’s much talk about how people don’t always get what they ask for, and about how Bojo’s bounciness has lowered the age profile of Tory voters.
But there’s an underlying, blinding, reality. All the number-crunchers agree it was predominantly younger folk who voted to stay in the European Union, while their seniors wanted out.
In short, the Tories’ double-digit lead really may not turn out to be all it’s cracked up to be. Though there are plenty of Labour MP’s who don’t want Jezza to be Prime Minister either.
Election leaflets promoting candidates rather than leader will be a clue. Asked what’d be a good outcome, one aide said: ‘Anything under 200 seats and I’d be happy. That should be enough to get rid of Corbyn.’
Against that, Bojo’s got the smallest majority, in his Uxbridge constituency, of any sitting Prime Minister in the last forty years.
Be a right laugh if Jezza’s mob managed to get him booted out. They’ll certainly give it a go.
Probably a distant dream, mind. As well as being miles behind the Tories, Labour’s really not far ahead of the Lib Dems in the polls. Don’t hold your breath, though. The voting system’s heavily skewed against third parties.
But between Boris and Jeremy there are also personal factors. Whatever you think of their policies, there’s no escaping they’re both stunning on the stump.
A bit different from last time round, when Jezza was up against Theresa May. Once rather unkindly described as a glove puppet in a trouser suit. Ouch.
Still, the Labour leader has apparently got a new secret weapon. He’s reported to have said ‘I’m eating more porridge every morning to make sure I can get through even longer days’. Mmmm, scrumptious.
But he, and Bojo, are liable to get more than enough on their plates, thanks to the wild cards that have a knack of showing up during election campaigns.
Donald Trump, for example. Ringing in to Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage’s LBC phone-in show to say Boris is a great guy, and Corbyn is pants.
For some reason, the pussy-grabbing, fight-picking potentially-impeached President doesn’t play particularly well to British audiences. So his intervention is a two-edged sword for both of our chaps.
Worth mentioning in passing that it’s not exactly done for the White House to interfere in British politics. The Donald is particularly sensitive to any foreigner parking his tanks anywhere his own lawn.
Also worth mentioning that both Trump and Farage think a Tory/Brexit Party pact would be a do or die dead cert. Bojo’s response? Do one.
Clash of the towering egos? Not very scary. Sorry.
Whatevs, away from Wonderland, stuff trundles on.
Special Brexit coins the Royal Mint planned to launch last week have been melted down, to make way for a new fifty-pee coin commemorating Wallace and Gromit.
If memory serves, that was a long-running comedy about a middle-aged man’s hair-brained schemes going wrong. Could be it fits then.
Though the public purse looks to be well fitted up by Bojo’s Brexit deal, according to the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.
In one of the first assessments, the independent body forecasts it’ll leave the British economy seventy billion pounds smaller. Bummer, you could say.
Meanwhile, back at Westminster, a couple of points worth noting. Commons Speaker John Bercow has finally bowed out after ten years in the job.
A controversial figure, you might say. Most Tories hate him, because he was was too even-handed in his dealings with Labour. And, they believe, an absolute rotter of a remainer.
While he led the tributes to his own passing, his enemies have been lining up to bad-mouth him.
Times columnist Quentin Letts claimed he ‘did not just sit in the Commons chair. He throbbed in it, scowling, plotting, pulsating .. A cat with a twisting tail. At any moment he could lash out and claw the unsuspecting bystander.’
His successor will be chosen before the commons dissolves seconds after midnight on November the fifth.
And remember, remember, it nearly did just that, at the same time in 1605 too. Amazing how nothing much changes. For remainers and leavers, read Protestants and Catholics. But otherwise, same difference really.
Worth remembering also the limits to state power, then as now.
King James had Guy Fawkes down for hanging, drawing and quartering, which is not a nice way to go. But the dirty rat tumbled off the scaffold and broke his neck before the executioner could cut off his naughty bits.
Which is about as interesting a fact as anything you’re likely to read about bloody Brexit. Agreed, everyone?
Peter Spencer has 40 years experience as a Political Correspondent in Westminster, working with London Broadcasting and Sky News. For more of his fascinating musings on the turbulent political landscape, follow him on Facebook & Twitter.
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