Cameron wins misjudgement of the year, while Gove is the chump of 2016

Chris Moncrieff
Chris Moncrieff

Show business revels in them. So why should not politicians join in the fun?

I speak of the multiplicity of award ceremonies during which self-admiring celebrities incessantly pat themselves on the back and are ultra-effusive about those “incredible” people they work with.

Politicians do not generally gaze at themselves in the mirror and their attitude towards many of their colleagues is far from effusive, indeed they are often downright hostile.

But at this season of goodwill, it is appropriate to recall the triumphs and tribulations, embarrassments, tomfooleries, pratfalls and idiocies of our political masters (or as they pretend to call themselves, political servants), over the past 12 months:

• The award for the most glaring MISJUDGEMENT must go to David Cameron in calling the referendum on EU membership, or otherwise. He was convinced the “Remainers” would win it – and it cost him his job a few months before he decided to quit anyway.

The next we saw of him was a photograph of him sitting on a wall in an English seaside town eating fish and chips from a carton – a far cry from the chancelleries of the world to which he had become accustomed over the past six years.

His successor Theresa May, although she was the bookies’ favourite, seemed to get the job with little campaigning.

It was like a conjuring trick. Her stolid performance before the Commons Liaison Committee when questioned about Brexit was a master class in blocking. Even the stodgiest of England’s batsmen would have applauded that. Tory veteran Kenneth Clarke described May as “a difficult woman” which she regarded as an accolade.

• The trophy for LACK OF LOGIC must go to Andrea Leadsom, one of May’s rivals in the Tory leadership battle. She claimed that being a mother made her a better potential Prime Minister than Mrs May, the logic of which baffled most people. After all, we do not expect ministers responsible for aviation to be able to pilot a jumbo jet, or even a glider! Leadsom withdrew from the race but was given a Cabinet job anyway.

• Michael Gove must qualify for CHUMP of the year. After making some disobliging remarks about Boris Johnson, which put Boris out of the leadership race, Gove failed to win the battle, and then had to watch the Premier appoint Johnson to the coveted post of Foreign Secretary, while he (Gove) was sacked as Justice Secretary. Not a good day’s work. Indeed, a pratfall and a double-whammy rolled into one.

May’s choice of Foreign Secretary surprised the nation, for Boris is not renowned for po-faced cautious diplomacy. Sir Malcolm Rifkind, a former Tory Foreign Secretary, said the holder of that post has to be dull or dangerous. “Boris is certainly not dull,” he added.

• Former Tory MP Zac Goldsmith, must rival Gove for FOOLHARDINESS. He quit the Tory Party and the Commons in the row over Heathrow’s expansion and created an unnecessary (and expensive to the taxpayer) by-election at Richmond Park, which he lost to the Liberal Democrat Sarah Olney. Quite an achievement for him, and for her.

She was then foolishly removed from a broadcast interview, because she couldn’t answer the questions, while her leader Tim Farron was claiming that this victory meant the Lib Dems were back in business. A trifle over-optimistic, don’t you think? The Richmond Park result increased their membership at Westminster from eight to nine.

Meanwhile Jeremy Corbyn remains immoveable, like a limpet, as Labour’s leader, even though large numbers of Labour MPs would like to see the back of him. This is because of the weird leadership election system that gives trade unions, rather than MPs, the bigger say in the outcome.

Yet the party chose the nonentity Owen Smith to challenge him for the leadership. His campaign was hopeless and ineffectual. He has now disappeared into the long grass where he belongs.

• And the accolade for the best ONE-LINER of the year must go to Boris Johnson (who else?) He said: “I support a free press, free speech and free drink...”

And so say all of us!