Boris Johnson borrowing the words of Oliver Cromwell! How promiscuous this Prime Minister is as a scavenger from history.
“I beseech the Right Honourable Gentleman just to think he might be mistaken,” Johnson told Ian Blackford, of the SNP, who had accused him of providing no new money for Scotland.
“I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken,” Cromwell wrote to the General Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland on 3rd August 1650.
But how typical of Johnson to plead for a politics of imprecision, whose practitioners, himself included, sometimes get things wrong. In that respect, he is as Cavalier as ever, content, in the immortal words of Sellars and Yeatman, to be “Wrong but Wromantic” rather than “Right but Repulsive”, as a Roundhead would be.
Sir Keir Starmer is a Roundhead. “Does the Prime Minister now regret being so flippant?” he asked today.
It would be wrong to describe Starmer as repulsive, but he is in danger of sounding humourless. To him falls the task of trying to recall the PM from Planet Freedom to Planet Fact.
Here is a necessary, indeed a moral task. No Leader of the Opposition can allow the PM’s rosy vision of the future to pass unchallenged.
Johnson looks ahead to a country where Covid-19 has been vanquished, prosperity rebounds, tax revenues cascade into the public coffers and the might of the state is employed with miraculous effect to raise up the left-behind, neglected, unloved voters who supported him last December.
Starmer was today the bearer of the bad news that Covid-19 has not yet been vanquished, stern measures have been taken too slowly to deal with the revival of the sickness in Leicester, and “the jobs many people had in January are not coming back”.
He has to continue with these stern warnings. They are his natural game. But might he one day discomfort Johnson by making a joke at Johnson’s expense?