POLITICS ACROSS THE POND— In an exclusive column for The Pavlovic Today, Andrew Bridgen reflects on this week in British politics.
In case you have not noticed, the UK media and politics have been dominated all week (and it seems longer) by the battle over whether Dominic Cummings, the Prime Ministers chief political advisor, broke the lockdown rules he himself helped to set.
Like all memorable battles the action moved first in favour of one side and then the other, with the attack, defence and then counter-attack, all played out through the media.
The political significance and media prominence given to Dominic Cummings’ alleged wrongdoing and the scant coverage of the lockdown transgressions of other political figures of less “strategic value”, often being mere elected politicians after all, perhaps says as much about the quality of our “elected members” as it does about Mr Cummings’ perceived value to the Government.
Cummings became the hill that must be taken or held at all cost, regardless of the casualties and the political cost was truly unprecedented in this Parliament. Polling shows that a majority of the public thought that the advisor should either resign or be sacked and the government's and the Prime minister's ratings have both taken a big hit.
Why was the Prime minister willing to expend so much of his own political capital and public goodwill into holding onto his aide, when the easiest thing to do was to relinquish him, to cut and run? Because this whole episode, which has so absorbed the media and politicos this week is just one fascinating skirmish in the political war which has been played since the EU Referendum in 2016.
With the EU trade negotiations stalled (in my view due to the EU’s unreasonable demands upon the UK, which is now an Independent sovereign nation) and the Brexit mandate not fully delivered until we exit the transition period on the 31st December, or earlier if we decide the current trade talks have no prospect of a successful conclusion, we are at a crucial time in UK politics. Those who oppose our leaving the EU as well as those of us who support it, know only too well that “Brexit delayed is Brexit denied”.
The European Union and their negotiators will be disappointed that their Remain allies in the UK, mainly on the left and many in the MSM, failed in their mission to topple Cummings. The Establishment, who neither like Brexit or Cummings will rue the loss of what they know was their best chance to damage both irreparably at such a critical time. The chance of an extension to the transition period has all but been extinguished.
The Government whips, those Sergeant majors of the Parliamentary army will have seen and cajoled their troops to perform in sustained heavy action, with 109 new recruits to the ranks at the last election and this being their first time standing in the firing line. The Parliamentary Conservative party was bloodied, bent, but did not break and rout.
Cummings has been damaged, as has the Government, by this latest engagement, but not enough to change the fate of the war.
The biggest casualty will again be the media which reported many “Facts” which have turned out to be untrue. I am reluctant to employ the overused phrase “Fake News”, but much of it was. Major parts of the MSM threw all it had in its armoury, including their credibility, into getting Cummings’ head.
In overplaying its hand the BBC flagship Newsnight programme on Tuesday evening, on which I appeared as a lone voice in defence of the PM’s and government’s position, signalled the last desperate assault to defenestrate Cummings and will I believe receive the largest number of complaints from its viewers of anti-Conservative Government bias in the corporation’s history as a result.
The main battle action is now over, the mopping up is continuing and the long casualty lists are being formulated.
As the saying goes “ A week in politics is a long time”. This week in the UK it has been interminable, and so, for now, is Dominic Cummings, much to the chagrin of his many enemies.
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