For those of us who campaigned for the Tories in the 1997/2001/2005 general elections we can attest how corrosive sleaze was to the Tory cause. It probably took a decade plus of a Labour government, led by that pretty straight sort of guy Tony Blair, for perceptions of sleaze to be more associated with Labour than the Tories, like an STD, sleaze is bloody difficult for the Tories to get rid off.
With Boris Johnson’s leadership risking turning the mother of parliaments into the mother-in-law-cum-stepmom of parliaments with moments like the defence and protection of Owen Paterson I am not shocked to see the Tory lead evaporate. As easily avoidable strategic blunders go it is up there with the time Herr Hitler declared war on America. To paraphrase Ambassador Londo Mollari ‘Only an idiot tries to defend sleaze. Only the heir to the throne of the kingdom of idiots would defend and protect Owen Paterson.’
This polling from YouGov didn’t come as a shock to me given the prevailing winds in the political world, what did shock me was the fact just how touch off the Prime Minister, at best just 12% agree with him and at worst just 1% agree with him. I cannot recall an issue in the last thirty years where a Prime Minister is so out of touch with the public. It fits my belief and experience that sleazy is utterly toxic for the Tories, they and the PM must hope they can move the agenda and news cycles on.