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Yesterday’s Men

Yesterday’s Men

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They’re splattered across headlines everywhere just now. Donald Trump, the Beeb boss and almost certainly by week’s end at least a thousand Tory councillors (many will of course be yesterday’s women). As our Political Correspondent Peter Spencer reports, nothing, and no one, is for ever.

There are even those unkind enough to suggest our new king, who’s eight years past the official retirement age, isn’t exactly young, frisky and sexy.

Hardly his fault that his mother lived to such a wonderfully ripe old age. And Henry VI, who got the job at just nine months old, was a hard act to follow.

But Rishi Sunak has good reason to be grateful that King Charles – Brian to Private Eye readers – has chosen this Saturday to get crowned.

All the toing, froing and tittle-tattle inevitably surrounding such a big event will do much to wipe Tory grief, over their town hall trouncing, off front pages.

With even their own spin doctors predicting huge losses in this week’s elections, the last thing they want is to have their noses rubbed in it for days.

For all Sunak’s jolly smiles he knows that what he’s trying to lead is not so much a political party as a loose confederation of warring tribes.

The latest polls, showing Labour’s lead well down on last year, give the Tories just a glimmer of hope, especially as nearly one in five of us are undecided.

But this week’s near-certain thumbs down from voters can hardly have them hopping around like happy little bunnies.

And, as any military strategist will tell you, morale is crucial if you want to win.

Recent Tory turbulence was brought sharply back into focus by the resignation last week of Auntie Beeb’s chairman, Richard Sharp.

Boris Johnson gave him the job after he’d helped him get a loan of getting on for a million pounds.

Coincidence or conflict of interest? Either way, seemingly all rather of a piece with the once beloved Bojo’s slippy-slidey way of going about things.

Worth remembering that the verdict on how long Johnson’s nose grew over those lockdown-breaching parties in Downing Street isn’t far off now.

And if it does go against him he could become a yikes of a yesterday’s man.

Meantime, the woman he deposed as Prime Minister had her say in parliament last week – as rival Tory factions slugged it out over small boat arrivals.

The new migrant bill, designed to boot out all asylum seekers who survive the crossing, and tell them not to come back, did make it through the commons.

But this only after Sunak had given hefty leeway to right-wingers, given token concessions to those on the left and suffered scorn from Theresa May.

Outraged at ministers’ attitude, she said the bill was a: ‘Slap in the face for those who actually care about the victims of modern slavery.’

Chances are, however, that old hands in the House of Lords will give short shrift to the Home Secretary’s inflammatory anti-migrant rhetoric.

Cue a showdown between the two chambers, and more Tory infighting.

As for Suella Braverman’s lurid language, describing men, woman and children who risk their lives in flimsy dinghies as ‘criminals’, you wonder why.

Could be she’s trying to spare her department’s blushes, as the big backlog of people in limbo is all down to Home Office failings.

When officials do finally get round to processing their applications, they grant asylum to three quarters of them.

That’s under the current law, of course. If the new one gets through they won’t even have to bother. Problem solved then, from their point of view.

Conversely, the relevant UN agency points out that for the ‘overwhelming majority’ of refugees there is no access to safe and legal routes to the UK.

With war raging in Sudan and a desperate struggle to get our own people out of harm’s way, the broader issue of refugees seeking safety is a live topic.

And once again the UN line is at odds with Braverman’s propaganda.

She says the international body is the ‘right mechanism’ by which the locals can seek asylum in Britain. They say this mechanism simply doesn’t exist.

Our new king, by contrast, is encouraging diversity on every level in his coronation ceremony, as well as welcoming all manner of guests.

On the one hand there’s Northern Ireland’s First Minister Designate, Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill.

Given that a century ago her party spearheaded Ireland’s war of independence, it’s a heartwarming example of letting bygones be bygones.

Less joyfully, the invitation to the Chinese President will be taken up his chum Han Zheng, who violently crushed protests in Hong Kong just four years ago,

Good thing Donald Trump hasn’t got an invite, given how his own unsavoury past is being paraded through American courtrooms.

Last week the woman who accuses him of raping her in 1996 described the traumatising pre-attack moment when he shoved her against a wall.

If she wins the case it’ll be the first time he’s held legally responsible for sexual assault, after more than two dozen such allegations have been levelled at him.

And in Washington, former Vice President Mike Pence has been testifying before a grand jury investigating Trump’s efforts to overturn his election defeat.

Seeing as the two men have fallen out spectacularly, Pence’s take on his old boss’s role in the 2021 attack on the Capitol may well be explosive.

Trump is ever so cross. No surprise there.

But, to counter any impression that everyone’s at everyone’s throats, here’s a story of extraordinary kindness and an even more extraordinary dog.

It concerns Lucy Humphrey from Caerphilly, whose life was rapidly ebbing away, and her Doberman, Indie, who saved it.

Forty-four-year-old Lucy has lupus, that causes inflammation in vital organs. And when her kidney failed, her dialysis meant she could hardly travel.

But she and her partner risked having a barbecue on a beach that wasn’t too far.

The problem was that their large and maybe rather scary-looking dog kept going up to a complete stranger about a hundred yards away.

Eventually Lucy and her partner went to apologise for the inconvenience.

Turned out the woman didn’t mind a bit and happily accepted their invitation to join them for lunch.

In the course of the conversation Lucy’s desperate need for a kidney transplant cropped up.

‘Oh I’ve just gone on the kidney donation register,’ said the lady.

‘Who are you going to donate your kidney to?’ asked Lucy’s partner.

‘Anyone who wants it,’ came the reply.

The two women swapped numbers, contacted a donor coordinator and tests revealed they were a perfect match.

Given that the surgeon said this was a one in twenty-two million chance, that was some miracle.

But it would never have come about if the dog hadn’t seemingly chosen the donor, forty-year-old Katie James.

‘I feel really lucky that I got to know Lucy,’ she said. ‘I know that it’s worked and I know that she’s out there living her life.’

The three of them are now best buddies, with Lucy’s partner describing Kate as a ‘wonderful, selfless person.

‘We want to show that there is always hope for people. Never give in, because you never know.’ You can say that again …

Watch Peter’s report HERE

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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