Today, like so many other once normal days, all manner of usually sentient adults will spend a ridiculous number of hours watching that suddenly all powerful TV channel: BBC Parliament. In truth it's a strangely addictive business. You plan to drop in to catch the main speeches then linger to listen to contributions so clearly delusional you can scarcely believe what you heard. And, just often enough to keep you glued, some contributions from that handful of elected members whose offerings rise above the predictable and the banal and offer a coherent analysis of what is now memorably described as Westminster's most comprehensive clusterbourach.
But alarming as all this is, as a parliamentary vehicle certain to fail its MOT hurtles us towards possible catastrophe, I fear worse may be to come. Avert your eyes for a moment from the ongauns in the Commons, and peek round the next corner to that moment when Mrs May will make good her promise to step aside. The conventional wisdom is that rejoicing will be widespread throughout the land as this ill qualified vicar's daughter exits the stage and goes off to write her memoirs in a friendly wheat field.
But pause awhile with the bunting, m'dears. Cast an eye over the bookies betting list of the likely runners and riders to take over the Tory leadership and, such is the chaos of the UK's unwritten constitution, becomes the unelected Prime Minister by default. (This has already happened before of course, when Gordon Brown finally took the crown from Tony Blair. And he's had many years to rue his decision not to seek an electoral mandate of his own in the early months of his premiership when he enjoyed good poll ratings. Then again, as Mrs May proved, a handsome poll lead does not guarantee a successful outcome.)
But we have rather more than electoral legitimacy to concern us this time around. The merry band of wannabees flagged up as seeking the top job comprise an unholy crew of charlatans, backstabbers, and political dwarves with ideas seriously above their intellectual station. Who in what passes for a right mind could possibly suppose Boris Johnson is the answer to the urgent questions now insistently facing the UK? What manner of derangement would afflict the brain of anyone given a nano second's consideration to the demonstrably demented Jacob Rees Mogg? Can anyone really give credence to Dominic Raab, the short lived Brexit secretary who belatedly noticed that the Dover Calais crossing was a trade route of some importance?
Then we have the wily Michael Gove, arch schemer, more subtle but serial self promoter. Mr Gove's principal virtue is having had a moment of sufficient clarity to assure the nation that Johnson was not fit to be PM - the man with whom he had been joined at the hip as they peddled Leave porkies in a manner now officially found to be illegal and illegitimate. Mr Gove is less stupid, but arguably more sleekit than the other contenders.
Then, rather like the Democrats seeking the 2020 nomination in the US, we have a longer list of folks already household names but mainly, alas for them, in their own households. Sajid David, Liz Truss, Andrea Leadsom etc There is also Amber Rudd, the woman who took the rap for Mrs May's more hostile initiatives as Home Secretary when she took over that portfolio. The woman who came back to the cabinet to lie on that other bed of political nails, the Department of Work and Pensions. Like little Gove she has proved one of the few cabinet ministers able to seem articulate at the dispatch box. So we may be certain the boys will make sure she will spend little future time there.
It is a dismal list of men and women who are Commons pygmies compared with some of the bigger beasts who once held high office. And a dismal list compared with some of the talented back benchers who have had a "good" Brexit in terms of their personal performance. Most of whom do not, however, reside on the Tory benches. You might scan these for evidence of someone with intellectual heft, presence, articulacy and a sense of personal honour. And your eye might fall on former Tory attorney general Dominic Grieve. And then you will remember that he has just been subjected a confidence vote in his consituency which he lost.
Which tells you all you need to know about the curent state of the Conservative and Unionist Party.
Mr Mark Irvine.
Since publishing my blog article “The Men Pulling The Equal Pay Strings on October 24th, I have been contacted by Mark Irvine of Action 4 Equality Scotland. Mr Irvine points out that he was not responsible in any way for the discriminatory pay arrangements operated by Glasgow City Council, and that he had left Unison’s Employment in November 1999, ie several years before the WPBR scheme was introduced. Mr Irvine has also pointed out that both he and Stefan Cross QC have played a key role in challenging and overturning the City Council’s discriminatory pay arrangements. I accept entirely the points that Mr Irvine has made and apologise to him without reservation. I am happy to set the record straight and am sharing this post with my followers on twitter and Facebook.