British politics, circa 2019

From a splendid column by Marina Hyde on the current ‘election’ campaign:

On the subject of presumably competitively priced after-dinner speakers, what a week to learn that Theresa May has been signed up to the circuit, believed to have fought off a bid from the speaking clock for her services. May bills herself as a specialist in “inspiring lives” and how to “achieve progress”. Why not just add election-winning and contemporary streetdance? In for a penny; in for an unspecified number of pounds an hour. The news did seem to confirm that irony-manufacture is our sole thriving industry.

Or this:

Elsewhere, imbecility remains a key battleground, with debate over which party is fielding the more extravagantly or malevolently stupid candidates. Is it the Tories, whose children and families minister Nadhim Zahawi insisted he wasn’t sure whether Jeremy Corbyn would shoot the rich, adding: ”You’ll have to ask him that question”? Or is it Labour, whose newly selected Pudsey candidate Jane Aitchison provided the BBC’s Emma Barnett with 12.5 seconds of dead air in a discussion in which she apparently excused another candidate saying she’d celebrate the death of Tony Blair. It was one of those clips you listen to going, “Don’t say Hitler. Don’t say Hitler. Don’t say Hitler. Don’t say Hitler.” “For instance,” reasoned Jane, “they celebrated the death of Hitler.”

Only in a field like this could Boris Johnson retain a reputation as an orator. The best way to get through a Johnson speech is tell yourself he’s going to make 10 jokes he’s done numerous times before, then it won’t be so bad when he only does nine. His three-and-a-half minute campaign launch set in Birmingham saw a return for several “old friends”. Yet again, Johnson produced his line about broadband being “informative vermicelli”, as though he were Taylor Swift and he had to do Shake it Off because that’s what the crowd had come for. “This is a prime minister on fire,” judged Gavin Williamson, who seems to be back in the fireplace selling business.