Why Matt Hancock’s latest career move makes sense
Reality TV is a logical destination for him
To accuse Matt Hancock of idiocy as he joins the next series of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here almost seems pointless. You may as well condemn Shakespeare for iambic pentameters.
A mere five days ago, the former Health Secretary appeared to be in the running to head up the Treasury Select Committee. Simultaneously, he was mulling over this offer from ITV to go Down Under and eat wombat genitals. Hancock made the Hancock choice. The actual humiliation of eating wombat genitals on national television, over the potential humiliation of not getting that committee job.
In this morning’s Sun, Hancock writes that his quest into the bush represents an attempt to show Britain that “politicians are human, with hopes and fears, and normal emotions like everyone else.” Putting live grasshoppers in his mouth alongside Boy George, Hancock thinks, is the only way to speak to the “politically disengaged”. Our cynicism about politics is misplaced. ...
Another tough day for Gina Miller
The True & Fair leader doesn't even want to rejoin the EU
Church House, Westminster
“The problem with politicians is that they think they can fix everything alone”, a young man says. “They’re all egotists.”
He should be careful where he lobs the E-word around here. We are gathered in a Westminster back room to witness Gina Miller announce the first tranche of candidates for her True & Fair party. In January, she announced her party’s existence to the world at the Queen Elizabeth II centre. The venue was too much of an air hangar. Back then empty seats were everywhere, as silent and spooky as graves. Miller, we must concede, is learning. She will not play roulette with humiliation again. Today, several pension age supporters are forced to stand. ...
Mock growth all you like, but on that point Liz Truss was right
Ten growthless years have left our island nation in trouble
The speech was as short as Liz Truss’s tenure as Prime Minister. More of a gobbet, a bit, a punchline. Impaled by rising mortgage rates, and her decision to employ Jacob Rees-Mogg as some sort of nightclub heavy last night, Truss resigned from a job she was never fit to hold.
We can expect the Conservative Party to flee from everything Truss set out in the last 45 days. It does not matter whether it is book writer Penny Mordaunt, Rishi I told you so Sunak, shy Winston Churchill fan Boris Johnson, or alleged unity candidate Ben Wallace who takes over. None of them will go near the Truss agenda. It will be buried underground like radioactive waste. ...
An academic posing as an iron man
Kwasi Kwarteng appears to be going through an identity crisis
“We get it, we are listening”, Kwasi Kwarteng announced after he decided not to cut the taxes of Britain’s highest earners this morning. Recognising, perhaps, that his future as chancellor was looking less than certain, he issued this masterclass non-apology.
Following interventions from Michael Gove, Julian Smith, and Grant Schapps, the retreat simply raised the question: can Kwarteng make policies stick without the approval of Michael Gove? Or do we, instead, believe Jacob Rees-Mogg, who minutes before Kwarteng delivered his speech, claimed that the U-turn “has been a sound and fury that signifies nothing”? ...
Dad jokes galore as Keir Starmer meets Gary Neville
The pair were like star-crossed lovers at last night's event
It’s possible that Keir Starmer has never been this happy before. When he walked into the auditorium yesterday evening with Gary Neville, his grin was so wide you could have fit every delegate, and their mobility scooters, in his mouth. He looked delighted.
Neville-Starmer are perfectly star-crossed. Theirs is a love whose month is ever May. Neville described Starmer as “trustworthy — he has integrity”. All Labour had to do was “get behind him” and power would roll into the party’s hands. “You are absolutely spot on Gary,” Starmer swooned at one point. “Gary’s right.” ...
Angela Rayner: the class warrior Labour doesn’t need
Her undiluted hatred for the Tories may cause problems for Keir Starmer
Angela Rayner hates Tories. The deputy leader opened Labour Conference with her speech yesterday, and told us what we already know. Angela Rayner hates Tories.
How much? Convert her hatred into pure wattage and you could end the energy crisis with a flicked switch. Listen to the language. The Tories are “sleaze merchants”. Tory donors are “cronies”. Their record in government is a “catalogue of sleaze, waste, and lies”. They turned Downing Street into a “crime scene”. They watch “tractor porn”. And now Liz Truss is “enriching bankers while families are starving”. ...
England’s middle classes say goodbye to the Queen
They thought she would last forever
Half an Encyclopaedia Britannica could be filled with prophecies of the Monarchy’s demise. Here is Virginia Woolf in the Thirties, after the abdication crisis. “Royalty” she writes, “is no longer quite Royal”. The flying buttresses of a “great Victorian dream” had been removed. The cathedral was sinking.
Today we had the full Westminster Abbey, with buttresses solid, and a hundred guardsmen banging their drums in the sun. Along the Mall was a polite and patriotic scene of lower-middle class England. Little old ladies from Peterborough, painters and decorators from Dagenham, sisters from Billericay, a retired accountant from Tunbridge Wells. They have packed sandwiches, and toddlers. “We expected her to go on forever”, said Wendy, as her sister Susan and husband Kevin nodded. “Forever and ever.” ...
Would you rather have Prince Andrew or free speech?
The British are not entirely sure
Several events were easy to predict after the death of Queen Elizabeth II. We knew that the late monarch’s face would miraculously appear to her subjects in a piece of toast, or a pancake — or as it turned out, in banks of clouds. We knew that Prince Charles would wave a wand and make the Duchess of Cornwall the Queen Consort. And we knew that somebody, somewhere, with absolutely no respect for this sombre occasion, or the common decency that ought to attend it, would shout abuse at Prince Andrew.
He was following his mother’s hearse through the streets of Edinburgh when a 22-year-old man called Rory screamed: “Andrew you’re a sick old man”. (Prince Andrew has repeatedly denied being a sick old man.) Rory was then dragged away, filmed explaining himself on Twitter, and “arrested in connection with a breach of the peace”. ...