HERE are a few post-it notes on a political scandal…
NOTE ONE: David Cameron departs as prime minister today with the praise of his cabinet colleagues ringing in his ears. Some who salute him now do so after helping to bring about his downfall. But the main cause of his decline lies in himself. He held the Euro referendum for his own party’s political ends to settle an ancient squabble about Europe. He promised the vote in the certainty that he would win. This confidence came from the sense of entitlement that saw Cameron rise young and swift, and then condemned him to failure. A sort of political tragedy, if you wish.
NOTE TWO: History gets to judge, not us – not even those of us who dislike Cameron. Has he been a success, as his back-slapping colleagues tell him? More successful in opposition than in government, perhaps; good at reshaping his party and plucking out some of the nasty thorns; good at promising a new sort of Conservative ideology; and bad at fulfilling all those golden promises. Good at the phrases – the big society, tackling poverty – but bad at making them stick. All the fine words on poverty don’t match stack up against the statistics, as Julia Unwin of the Rowntree Foundation said on the BBC news last night. A plus point: the energy he put into gay marriages, not exactly a typical Tory measure. But on the chewed fingernails of the other hand, he failed to win one election out-right and scraped a surprise victory in the second election, only to set himself on fire shortly afterwards.
NOTE THREE: But what about history? You’ve not answered that yet. Ah, true. History will make up its mind. But as Tony Blair has a chain marked ‘Iraq’ hanging round his neck for eternity, so will David Cameron have a matching one saying ‘Europe’.
NOTE FOUR: Former home secretary Theresa May becomes prime minister today without a vote being cast, aside from those fellow MPs who supported her bid. A proper contest disappeared when Andrea Leadsom cried off after a bad weekend’s coverage in the media, leaving May as the last woman standing. Leadsom was a disaster, although her CV was rumoured to have been short-listed for a leading fiction prize. Sadly, she is likely to be rewarded with a seat at May’s table.
NOTE FIVE: That history thing again. Theresa May once said that Gordon Brown didn’t have a foot to stand on as prime minister and should call an election, saying: “He has no democratic mandate.” Now she is standing in his shoes, although not literally as Gordon doesn’t look good in leopard skin kitten heels. May now has no democratic mandate, although she does share some striking similarities with Gordon Brown: both owe their moral compass to fathers who were church ministers.
NOTE SIX: Almost everyone who caused the Brexit disaster in the making has now left the stage: Cameron, that dangerous clever buffoon Boris Johnson, the back-stabbing Michael Gove, Nigel Farage – all have either resigned or had their moment snatched from them. Your country thanks you. After propelling us into this quagmire, you wandered away and left us to it. Thanks a bloody bunch.
NOTE SEVEN: This one’s for the Labour Party. Say what you like about the Tories, but they are an efficient bunch, pulling together in unity even while the blood is still wet on the shag-pile. Labour prefers to choose its moments badly. With the Government in disarray and rudderless, with the Tory Cabinet biting lumps out of each other, the Labour Party decided to have a leadership contest, not even a year after the last one. And frankly I don’t care whose fault it is and care even less whether Jeremy Corbyn – socialist saint or stubborn sinner against common sense – is the victim or the cause of the problems. Just get a grip and start being an opposition. Scotland has deserted you, great swathes of the once-industrial north voted to leave Europe – your hinterland is crumbling. And all you can do is squabble. It’s pathetic.
NOTE EIGHT: Nothing much on the telly apart from politics. So it’s time for a good book. Thankfully I have one to hand – A God In Ruins by Kate Atkinson. A third of the way through and it is fantastic so far.