Some of you may not like this, but the BBC Ten O’Clock News last night was pretty scrupulous in its coverage of the Prime Minister’s speech, and Laura Kuenssberg – not always my favourite news bunny – delivered a very good piece indeed. She trod the line between sympathy, analysis and an acute feeling in the hall, unspoken, that this party, and this leader are most likely not long for this world. Michael Deacon in the Telegraph got it right, too, with his opening line: ‘Poor woman. Poor, poor woman.’
Yes, quite. None of yesterday’s humiliations were really her fault. An arsehole, a deathlessly unfunny self-publicist gurning for the camera with his fatuous little stunt (how the hell did he get there?) and a bad cough. Oh, and a problem with the lettering directly behind her. None of it her fault.
And yet, and yet. Fault has ceased to be the point. I was reminded – very vaguely, because I can’t pin the moment down – of a Labour banner collapsing on the heads of Hattersley (?) Benn (?) Healey (?) back in the mid eighties when they were doing some joint Labour show of broad church unity before a crucial election which everyone knew they would lose. Not their fault that the banner collapsed and made them look stupid. But it was a signal and resonant moment and unwittingly, of course, told the electorate far more about the state of the party than anything the politicians said on the day.
The narrative right now with this present government is one of terminal collapse; of the polar opposite of ‘strong and stable’, of decay and desiccation. And the accidental has a habit of brightly illuminating each narrative, unbidden. Call it synchronised entropy, if you like. Nothing works. It’s time to call it a day. Where we go from here, Christ knows.
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