BY DOMINIC WIGHTMAN
It is difficult to forget the face of Guy Goma who became a celebrity after he was mistaken for an internet expert and interviewed on BBC News. The unemployed computer technician had been at the BBC for a job interview and got more than he bargained for. A graduate from the Congo, Goma gained worldwide attention after a mix-up saw him interviewed on air instead of web expert Guy Kewney.
There is something of Goma about the current crop of Tory MPs, some of whom talk privately of the tiresome current situation. In short, they did not sign up to the job of MP to play out the role of matron, focusing on face masks and hand sanitisers. They became Tory MPs to do some good, slow the unnecessary growth of the state and make people richer, thus alleviating poverty. When they celebrated last December they did not expect the next year of their term of public service to be held back by Coronavirus – they were hoping to be focused on delivering Brexit, taking on civil servants and delivering trade deals as sovereignty swept back to Britain. Coronavirus has thrown treacle all over that.
Like Goma in his interview, too many Tory MPs are now talking tosh – they are fish out of water and have been for months. There is a lethargy in the air. Mistakes are being made. Messages are getting mixed. Boris’ leadership is being impeded by civil servants and the fearful big state as was expected, but Coronavirus has bestowed these faceless opponents wind in their sails, which, like Coronavirus, will soon ebb and fade. The communications team are failing. Voters are getting increasingly annoyed with what comes across as clownish incompetence. There is an anger in Toryland that hits where it hurts – especially after the bright dawn of December, which lent an extra smile to many supporters’ Christmases.
Of course things could be far worse. The Conservative Party could have an antisemitism crisis it cannot escape. It could be dogged by rightist Taliban as Labour is plagued by Corbynites and communists. It could be engaged in some dreadful Cloward-Piven strategy to suppress the Great British People. Its Remainers could still be trying to thwart Brexit. Its chief sources of party funding could be questioning its very project. Fortunately, the Conservative Party suffers from none of that which afflicts Sir Keir Starmer and his ragtag team of anti-capitalist grifters, whose constituencies have not improved for decades and whose heart-not-head appeals are nowadays exposed early doors.
There are only two ways from here for the Tories: up or down. Forget the polls – the great, reforming governments can get away with two years to win their battles and cut back the vine in expectation of great harvests to come. Forget the culture wars – the Left is eating itself in Britain in a way not seen since Michael Foot’s historic defeat in 1983. Forget the Remain guerrilla war – they too are at each other’s throats and are incapable of vital cohesion. Forget loudmouth Seaweed north of the border – her mayoralty is fading – the SNP are fed up to the back teeth with Murrell’s dirty tricks.
Do not ignore the communications problems.
The BBC seems to dissemble every message these days to make it seem that the nation is interested in the conversations of Islington’s short-haired, androgynous drones or care about the minority issues it throws around left, right and centre. Their priorities chime with the average man or woman in the street about as much as the waving of Palestinian flags by Labour supporters. The luxury of the licence fee must go, especially in these tough financial times. Dismiss Lee Cain or give him a deadline for upping his game. Dispatch Coronavirus with a British vaccine. Do not over-tax the voter base – instead, bring in business and investment to Britain like never before by lowering business taxes and welcoming those seeking a safe haven in a turbulent world. Deliver Brexit as promised. Deal with the migrants to shut up Farage. Embark on a technological and science-driven journey that turns the world’s heads. Bring back the va-va voom.
There is time to make good. To replace Goma with Kewney. To refresh the party and repeat December over and over again. The alternative is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory – that would mean letting many millions down.
Dominic Wightman is Editor of Country Squire Magazine.