Following weeks of scrutiny over her controversial transgender reform bill and stance on trans rapist prisoners, Nicola Sturgeon resigned this morning. This came as a surprise to Guido – for weeks pundits were warning the government’s decision to block Scotland’s Gender Reform Bill was a victory for Nicola and the independence cause. Instead it’s seen unionism boon and Sturgeon quit. Even Reuters is now reporting that Rishi “outmanoeuvred” the First Minister.
Behind the scenes Sue Gray, the powerful Second Permanent Secretary to Cabinet Office, went out on a limb in Whitehall leading the mandarin’s efforts to block the block. She was hyperactive behind the scenes trying to stop Alister Jack using Section 35, claiming it would be terrible for the union and boost Nicola. Her expertise on the union has been found wanting…
The Guardian’s political editor Pippa Crerar’s judgement was likewise shown up, as her analysis described how the SNP might weaponise a court battle, which could prove a “gift to the independence cause”. Whilst New European columnist James Ball said the government’s invocation of Section 35 was “every one of Sturgeon’s Christmases at once”. He went on to add it was “total idiocy”.
The were plenty of Tories who made the same, demonstrably wrong, argument. Senior Scottish Tory MSP Jamie Greene voted for the bill on those grounds. Penny Mordaunt too warned it could backfire. Theresa May displayed her characteristically statesman-like political acumen as she came out in favour of the bill. A fair number of Tory wets were left high and dry, as they piled on to criticise the government’s decision to block the move. Whilst the Tory Reform Group called UK Government intervention a “deeply concerning development” which “played into the hands of those who seek to break our Union”. A reminder – “Yes” is now 12% behind in the polls.
The CEO of gender-bending PinkNews, Benjamin Cohen, also took to Twitter to decry the government’s Section 35 decision – he claimed it would present an existential threat to the United Kingdom’s government and added unionists were “doing their best to further the cause of Scottish independence“.
Astonishing final campaign of misinformation and fake news ahead of Scotland’s Parliament voting to update the Gender Recognition Act. Also surprising that media & politicians that claim to be unionists are doing their best to further the cause of Scottish independence 🏴🏳️⚧️— Benjamin Cohen (@benjamincohen) December 22, 2022
Perhaps Ben’s predictions could be improved by breaking free from his happy news safe space…
Hardline centrist pundits who consider themselves to be homme sérieux have wasted no time in rushing to judgement on Liz Truss’s character and prospects:
“No vision, no charisma, no real plan: Labour has nothing to fear from Liz Truss” is the headline on Polly Toynbee’s article that will no doubt set the tone for many Guardian stories to come.
As Allister Heath pointed out this morning:
“It is astonishing that pundits with no understanding of economics dismiss the Prime Minister’s ability in this area: she actually worked as an economist for Shell (ideal in the current climate) and as an economic director for Cable and Wireless. The first accountant ever in No 10 – she holds the qualification from the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants – she is more financially literate and comfortable with complex policy matters than almost all of those who patronise her. The fact that she is reflexively written off as lightweight, a dilettante even, is more a reflection of the bizarrely misogynistic and classist minds of some of her more extreme critics than of any objective reality.”
Britain faces challenging economic times, in Liz Truss we have someone far better qualified to address the nation’s troubles than are her opponents. Her enemies are likely to find out, not for the first time, they underestimated her.
The leadership race may now be over, though fortunately for the punditocracy there are still another 24 hours of reshuffle chin-stroking to go before the circus really comes to an end. If media speculation is anything to go by, no one will be busier in Liz Truss’s upcoming Cabinet than her loyal lieutenant Thérèse Coffey. In the past month or so, the current Work and Pensions Secretary has been mooted for a new job every week. The new flavour of the week is Deputy Prime Minister, although since July her name’s cropped up all over Whitehall:
Credit to The Sun for reporting that the Deputy PM job will at least be attached to a Departmental post. One of them might be right in the end…
Following the leadership vote last night Nadhim Zahawi told Sky News Zelenskyy will be “punching the air”. As expected, anti-Boris Twitter know-it-alls were absolutely outraged at the claim. Ignoring the myriad viral tweets from nobodies condemning the Education Secretary, among blue tick condemnations included Times columnist Alex Massie, HuffPo’s Kevin Schofield, The Mirror’s Ben Glaze, Reuters journalist Christian Radnedge, journalist and commentator Edward Hardy, and journalist and broadcaster Harry Wallop.
This morning Zelenksyy has left Twitter lefties eating humble pie after confirming Nadhim Zahawi definitively correct. Speaking to the FT this morning, a delighted Zelenskyy hailed Boris as a “true friend of Ukraine” and said “I am glad we have not lost a very important ally.”
Volodymyr Zelensky to @khalafroula on Boris Johnson. "I am very happy [he won the confidence vote]. He is a true friend of Ukraine...I am glad we have not lost a very important ally" #FTGlobalBoardroom pic.twitter.com/tzWM5OEVAj— Matthew Garrahan (@MattGarrahan) June 7, 2022
No doubt all the above will continue speaking on Zelenskyy’s behalf…
James O’Brien – author of “How to Be Right” and “How Not to Be Wrong” – made it seven minutes into his LBC show this morning before he made a classic error. During one of his usual self-satisfied monologues against the government he said the £2 billion per month* (he actually said week) cost of free Covid tests would be easier to swallow had the government not wasted £37 billion on test and trace:
“Having £2 billion pounds-worth of testing unfolding every single week is significant. Of course all of these are offset by the knowledge that they wasted so much money… £37 billion on the test and trace which never felt like it had landed properly”
That’s the same money, James…
*That’s not the exact figure either.
On Monday, Melanie Phillips penned a typically controversial op-ed for The Times entitled “Seeing tattoos makes me feel physically sick”:
“My own reaction to tattoos is visceral. They make me feel physically sick. It’s not so much disapproval as a profound revulsion. Whatever form they take — cute animals, flowery words, abstract swirls of pattern — they are far from being decorative or artistic.”
Unfortunately for Melanie, the piece has backfired: Instagram user ‘Jamie Boy King’ immediately tattooed Melanie’s byline photo onto his own ankle. He asks users to share it “so that Melanie sees it and finds out how much we love her”.