“Tory sleaze” should be bottled and sold as a tonic to any Leftie who is feeling glum. Its incredible rejuvenating effects continue to be demonstrated by Sir Keir Starmer.
The Labour leader had been looking down in the mouth, a bit disorientated, unable to come to terms with his disappointing poll ratings, prone perhaps to the feeling that he must be doing something wrong.
Today, for the second time in a row, he looked and sounded full of beans and bounce. “Sleaze, sleaze, sleaze,” Sir Keir intoned with relish, “and it’s all on his watch!”
Lefties love to believe in their moral superiority. However badly Jeremy Corbyn was doing, one could see that his belief in himself as a more virtuous person than any of those accursed Tories, or indeed than any of those accursed Labour moderates, remained intact.
Tony Blair carried this self-righteousness to an insufferable extreme. Whatever he did was noble. Gladstone possessed the same convenient ability to portray himself as God’s right-hand man.
And now Sir Keir is doing it. Quite how it will go down with the voters, we shall have to wait and see, but for those of us who watch PMQs each week, this boost to the morale of the Leader of the Opposition is most welcome, for it renders the contest less unequal.
Boris Johnson remained unabashed. He made no apology “for shifting heaven and earth” to get Sir James Dyson, and others, to supply life-saving ventilators during the pandemic.
“Favours, privileged access, tax breaks for mates,” Sir Keir declared, looking more perky by the moment.
After Johnson urged him to “take back what he said about the ventilator challenge,” Sir Keir retorted in a light-hearted tone: “If I had to correct the Prime Minister for everything he gets wrong I’d be here all day.”
“Captain Hindsight snipes continually from the sidelines,” Johnson replied, perhaps faintly riled by such a display of piety.
Ian Blackford, for the SNP, appeared by video link and chose the same subject: “This is how the Tories do government.”
Blackford’s dog, who had probably had to listen to his master rehearsing these lines earlier in the day, began to bark.
“I thought his dog just made a more sensible contribution just now than he did,” Johnson remarked to laughter.
What levity: Blackford the moralist was not amused.
Andrew Rosindell (Con, Romford) lamented that the statue of Ronald Reagan, “a true friend” who “supported Britain during the liberation of the Falkland Islands”, has been removed from Grosvenor Square, and said it should be erected in Parliament Square.
Johnson: “Did you notice, Mr Speaker, how the benches opposite recoiled at the idea of the recapture of the Falkland Islands?”
I was not in the Chamber, so could not see how fair this observation was.
But here is a fine piece of Tory morality: rejoicing in patriotic deeds, not prating about sleaze.