Theresa May hits the ground running while Labour contest trudges along

Chris Moncrieff
Chris Moncrieff

Rarely before in Britain has such an outpouring of political blood generated such widespread excitement as Theresa May’s merciless culling of the David Cameron “chumocracy” in the Cabinet.

May wielded her scythe ruthlessly, but with precision, in destroying the political careers of people, many of whom must have thought they had plenty of political life ahead of them.

The Old Etonian tag has almost disappeared from the front-bench line-up – only Boris Johnson remains – while comprehensive school-educated Cabinet ministers appears to have been a deliberate policy.

But I cannot for the life of me understand why having been to Eton should now be a stigma, while a comprehensive background should be a virtue. Why not just pick the best people, irrespective of whether their parents chose to pay for schooling or not?

However, most of those who got the boot probably deserved it. I, for one, could never see the point of Oliver Letwin, who has been correctly described as “politically witless”, except possibly as a run-around messenger boy for David Cameron – in short a waste of taxpayers’ money.

Lord Feldman, too, the party chairman, seems to have got the job because he played tennis with Cameron.

Some have said that consigning ex-chancellor George Osborne to the back-benches was a dangerous move because they feared he might foment trouble for her. But I am sure Osborne is grown-up enough to realise that this would be a senseless thing to do.

Even so, his sacking was a pretty bold move by the new Prime Minister.

Meanwhile, as May hit the ground running and the Tories moved easily and swiftly into their new administration, the Labour leadership contest trudges along with the speed of a broken-backed old carthorse. Everybody seems to be saying things, but the process shows no sign of moving forward.

I will put my head above the parapet and predict that if ever this thing got moving and it came to the crunch, Jeremy Corbyn might still be reigning supreme. We shall see.

When Theresa May surprised everybody by appointing Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary, you knew at once that his tormentor, Michael Gove, the former Justice Secretary, was in trouble.

Gove was accused of stabbing Boris in the back during the Tory leadership election, forcing him out of the race. Now Gove, who was ultimately eliminated from the contest, has got his comeuppance. He’s been consigned to the back-benches, his political ambitions in tatters.

Some cynical conspiracy theorists are already suggesting that Theresa May may have come to a deal with Boris, potentially her biggest rival, to quit the contest in return for a top post should she win. But I simply do not believe that.

David Cameron’s final Prime Minister’s question time in the Commons was generally a light-hearted and even amiable affair in which even Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn took part.

But one group did not enter into the spirit of the occasion, the Scottish Nationalists, who sat there like an army of grumps.

As PG Wodehouse so rightly said: “It is not difficult to distinguish a ray of sunshine from a Scotsman with a grudge.”

I presume that the preposterous Tory MP Nadine Dorries is happy now her two so-called “posh boys” David Cameron and George Osborne are no longer in the Government. Ironically, she backed the only other “posh boy” Boris Johnson, the only Old Etonian in the new Cabinet for the leadership.

It was Nadine Dorries who once asked Cameron to state the price of a pint of milk. If she really wanted an answer to that question, why didn’t she ask her milkman, rather than expensively wasting parliamentary time?

Of all the barmy proposals made by our public servants, both local and national, over the years, the plan by Nottinghamshire Police to classify wolf-whistling as a hate crime is the barmiest of all.

Whatever else it is, wolf-whistling is hardly a crime. And to call it a hate crime... for heaven’s sake!

If anything, it is an affectionate gesture bearing no ill-will. Since this news emerged, several women have written letters to national newspapers saying they did not regard their day as complete, unless they received a couple of wolf-whistles along the way.

Come on ladies, lighten up! At the rate things are going, men will soon be worried about getting a criminal record for smiling and doffing their hats when introduced to a woman.