Monday, 4th July, 2022

[Day 840]

Today dawned as quite a bright and sunny day so Meg and I were looking forward to a walk down into the park today because in the last few days we have tended to make the journey to the park by car which shortens our walk somewhat. We enjoyed our walk today and bumped into a couple that we have seen on quite a few occasions in the past but not recently. It transpired that the husband has had a spell in hospital but was now recovering and had been out of hospital for three weeks now so Meg and I thought that he was making pretty good progress. Anyway, we enjoyed a chat with each other and our ‘Lickey’ friends told us about a utility program that rolls all your utilities (gas,electricity,phone, broadband and so on) into a single bill that seemd to get extraordinarily good value once you work out what you are getting for your monthly payment. I may investigate this in the future but at the moment am more concerned to get my BT full fibre broadband working for which I am going to need a new router and new phones (which BT will hopefully send me before my fortnight’s wait is up). Once I had dropped Meg at home, I immediately set off to collect my newspaper but, of more urgency, to pay a visit to the EE shop to see what had happened to my Voicemail. My son had tried to make contact with me a couple of days ago but the phone kept defaulting to saying’ Mobile not available’ or some such. Once I got down to EE, the member of staff tried two or three things and got my phone working correctly – there had been a ‘divert’ in place but neither of us could say how it got there in the first place. Even parking proved to be a little problematic as in the Waitrose carpark, run by Bromsgrove District Council, one of the ticket machines was ‘out of order’ whilst the other had been upgraded to accept only cards and not cash. As it happened, there was a operative collecting cash from the machines and he was soon surrounded by an angry two or three complaining customers that it was totally unacceptable to have a ‘cards only’ machine next to the disabled spot where it was quite possible that an elderly or disabled member of the population might be highly displeased by having to use a card (which they might not possess) all the time.

The Chris Pincher (former Tory Deputy Chief Whip) story continues to unravel. This is what happens in politics if you do not tell the whole truth immediately and attempt to dissemble. Two things have emerged today. The first is that Carrie Symonds (now married to Boris Johnson) expressed doubts about the appointment of Chris Pincher when she herself was Director of Communications at Tory Central Office. So the doubts about this individual were widespread. Now just today, No. 10 has been forced to amend its own story line. It now admits that Boris Johnson was aware of some of the allegations against Pincher, but felt he could not act in the face of unsubstantiated allegations. But even this narrative does not carry out a great deal of conviction. Whilst it is true to say that a person should not lose his post as a result of unsubstantiated rumours, it is a completely different case if you are thinking of appointing individuals to a post where surely a certain amount of due diligence into a persons suitability should be undertaken. The fact that Pincher is a supreme Johnson loyalist who helped to orchestrate the ‘Save Big Dog’ campain which Johnson named the campaign to shore up his position and prevent him being challenged or unseated is pure sleaze. It is probably the case that the support for Johnson is slowly draining away, one might say day by day, and of course the longer the Pincher routine rumbles on, the worse it becomes for Boris Johnson as the story refuses to die and the notion of sleaze carries on and on. There are some political commentators who believe that the whole of this affair may prove to more damaging to Boris Johnson than the whole of the ‘partygate’ affair. First of all, of course, is the fact that Johnson’s judgement is shown to be poor. Secondly, the denial of any knowledge of Pincher’s background and proclivities now shows a Prime Minister who is more concerned about loyalty to him than normal standards of the probity needed. And, of course, it leads to the notion that Boris Johnson’s first instincts are always to lie, lie and lie again until the narrative has to be altered as more and more revelations come to light. There are going to be elections to the Executive Committee of the 1922 Tory backbenchers committee. A new committee may well change the rules and allow a challenge to Johnson within a year and that looks more likely than not, as things stand this evening.