Last week was not one of the finest David Cameron has enjoyed during his six-year tenure at No.10. After a disastrous budget, the resignation of IDS and a faltering Remain campaign had all served to add to the PM’s woes, then came the files of Mossack Fonseca. Confirmation of something everyone already suspected was exacerbated by his evasive attitude, eventually coming clean and releasing his financial records to the press when he realised his earlier avoidance of the truth made him look as though he had something to hide. As his Cabinet colleagues (or at least those not in the Brexit camp) have been constantly reminding us, Dave didn’t do anything legally wrong by profiting from his father’s offshore banking business; but it doesn’t look good on a moral scale. Then again, who associates morals with Honourable Members?
On the opposing benches, Jeremy Corbyn has stirred from his afternoon nap and has started adding his voice to the chorus of criticism as the Labour Party furtively clutches at any straw that might be to their advantage. I can’t remember a previous Labour leader in opposition so averse to getting his face on camera; if Iain Duncan Smith was the Quiet Man during his brief spell as Tory leader, then Corbyn is the Invisible Man. Does he believe that doing a Howard Hughes somehow gives him alluring mystique or has it yet to dawn on him that being a party leader means giving up the kind of preaching to the converted he indulged in for all the decades he was a professional backbencher? Corbyn might have a long-standing personal interest in the various ‘anti this or that’ factions operating on Labour’s fringes, but giving a speech at a rally before those for whom he can do no wrong as Keeper of the Socialist Flame is not what the rest of the country wants from an opposition to an unpopular government.
The narrowness of the Labour vision under Corbyn, with his brief experiment of a Shadow Cabinet airing opinions contrary to his own having been quickly discarded, appeals solely to nostalgic veterans of the 80s who worship the memory of Tony Benn and gullible novices too young to remember life before Blair. Labour has become the political equivalent of a band who were once chart-toppers and are now a cult act that nobody bar the diehard fans are remotely interested in. The new recruits in particular display the obstinate refusal to accept another point of view to their own that is characteristic of the tribal teenager and are responsible for the endless desperate online petitions demanding the resignation of Cameron every time he puts a foot wrong. Some are also guilty of worrying anti-Semitism of a kind that blames Israel for every ill in the Middle East, despite the fact that none of the mass murderers of Middle Eastern descent that have brought carnage to the streets of Europe in the past year or so practice Judaism.
The SNP in their Third Party shoes seem to imagine that simply pointing to their impressive numbers is enough, as though that is the beginning and end of their contribution to the Commons bar the occasional token grumble. Mind you, they are hampered as a powerful collective voice by the absence of their leader from Parliament, content as she is to play in the Scottish Premier League, wiping the floor with a glut of weaker and smaller teams like a Holyrood equivalent of Celtic. A big fish/small pond scenario suits Nicola Sturgeon because it makes her appear more important than she actually is, but it does somewhat reduce the potential of her party at Westminster.
And then there’s the Liberal Democrats. Oh, dear. What can one say of the depleted Lib Dems and their leader? Tim Farron is almost as invisible as Jeremy Corbyn, though I would imagine this isn’t through choice. I can picture Farron constantly trying to get on television and in the papers, yet being denied access to the enclosed VIP section of the political club by a burly bouncer telling him ‘if your name’s not on the list, you’re not coming in’. It’s hard to envisage what difference a party with a paltry eight MPs can make with the exception of a crucial Commons vote; the real strength in depth for the Lib Dems is in the Lords, where they have shown they can do considerable damage to unpopular government proposals. Not that this has much effect on day-to-day business in the House that really counts, however.
David Cameron announced last year that he had no intentions of running for a third term as Prime Minister; whether or not he foresaw that a humiliating defeat at the EU Referendum could force a premature departure is debatable, but a good deal personally hinges on the outcome of events on June 23. If the Brexit camp claim victory – something the majority of Fleet Street would certainly favour – Cameron’s position could be untenable, more so than it is courtesy of ‘revelations’ of his pre-Downing Street tax evasion or even of his alleged adolescent penchant for inserting his private parts into porcine orifices.
Any cloud-cuckoo Corbyn groupies who think Dave’s downfall will open the door to their Messiah, however, clearly haven’t considered a certain wild-haired Mayor who is no doubt reciting a winning speech in Latin as we speak. One could advise them to be careful what they wish for, though I’m guessing they’d probably respond by calling anyone daring to dispense such advice a homophobic, transphobic, misogynistic, corporate Zionist elite-loving Tory scumbag.
© The Editor