Once again I come away from the Covid Inquiry convinced Boris was the only sane man in No10. This is not what we are supposed to think, of course.
In a simpler age, the Inquiry counsels would cheerfully duck the former PM in a pond: forced to conform with modern methods of due process, they instead invite ex-colleagues to rake up any gossip they might have heard to prove that Old Man Johnson did, on the night of the full moon “cast a spell that gave Covid to my cows”.
The star of the latest show trial was Patrick Vallance, or rather his diary, which he was keen to stress was never meant to be read.
So, let’s read it then. May 4: “PM is clearly bamboozled.” May 14: “PM still confused.” June 11: “Watching PM get his head around stats is awful.” July 8: “Is he colourblind?” The latter refers to Boris’s inability to comprehend graphs, and such detail was lingered over by Andrew O’Connor KC as if it were proof that we were led by a mental defective.
But Sir Patrick noted that the PM “gave up science at 15”, and that 90 per cent of civil servants have no qualification in the subject either.
Perhaps it was because he lacked self-confidence around academics that, after a bit of moaning, Boris invariably did as they asked - and Sir Patrick is the latest witness to conclude that any dithering on the Government’s part only delayed the first lockdown by “a few days.”
In the absence of proof that Boris personally murdered several million grandmas, counsel falls back on questioning his psychology, claiming that he said old people had a “good innings” or that, at one point, Sir Patrick thought he looked “broken.”
It was lockdown! We all went mad. Several friends hit the bottle; I bought a slow cooker; Dippy Dennis, who lives in the attic flat, became a woman (he de-transitioned after reading about the menopause).
The outbursts attributed to Boris simply prove that he’s as flawed as the rest of us - and what is the alternative?
The KCs imply that politicians should be automatons who obey civil servants, never question a consensus and lack all personality, even though the evidence from South America, where Argentinians have just elected a certifiable anarcho-capitalist who talks to his dead dog via a medium, is that this is not what the public wants.
Politics is showbiz, not a chemistry lesson. While the Inquiry’s ratings slither to something in the low BBC2s, Nigel Farage is reaching a new generation of voters via I’m a Celebrity - and we are surely not long from Michael Fabricant appearing on Naked Attraction. Compulsive viewing, if only to see if he’s made to remove the wig as well.
“I do think the prime minister was influenced a lot by the press,” said Sir Patrick, which in these circles is akin to saying “he did truck with the Devil and ride the sky on a broom”. Oh, but if only he’d listened to us more – and to his own libertarian instincts! I wouldn’t have one very expensive, unused Crock-Pot to sell.