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Welcome to the era of distraction politics

Comedian MITCH BENN on the various 'operations' created to save Boris Johnson's skin

They went thataway... a multitude of distraction strategies are underway to save Boris Johnson’s hide

You may recall that when, a few weeks ago, the walls of Partygate first began to close in on the Prime Minister, and the Conservatives’ poll numbers began to nose-dive, a couple of colourfully named campaigns were unveiled, the better to shore up the administration’s fortunes.

OPERATION SAVE BIG DOG

First we had “Operation Save Big Dog”, or, in other words, “Quick, throw everyone else in Downing Street under the bus in order to give the impression that far from being a debauched princeling surrounded by enabling courtiers, Boris Johnson is in fact a hapless dupe being led astray by the foul machinations of scheming advisers”. This didn’t seem to butter many parsnips with the general public.

OPERATION RED MEAT

Soon after this came “Operation Red Meat”, or “Quick, trot out some poorly thought out but suitably mean, vindictive and if at all possible vaguely racist-sounding policy initiatives to get the thickies back on board”. This, perhaps because it was partly entrusted to the steely professionalism and laser-like mind of Nadine Dorries, made even less headway than its predecessor.

With the ongoing drip-feed of bacchanalian revelations leaving Mr Johnson and his government feeling ever more besieged, what other “Operations” might they already be putting into action?

OPERATION GASLIGHT

A simple one, this; just deny EVERYTHING until the public starts to lose its grip on reality. There WERE no parties, you DIDN’T see the photos of the summertime wine ’n’ cheese do in the garden, Boris WASN’T ambushed with a cake because there WAS no cake at his birthday party because there WAS no party and it WASN’T his birthday because he doesn’t HAVE birthdays because he DOESN’T REALLY EXIST…

The Prime Minister will be particularly keen on this one as he’s been employing it in his private life for as long as anyone can remember.

OPERATION BLAME THE FRENCH

Oh come on, it’s got to be their fault somehow, hasn’t it? EVERYTHING’S the French’s fault really, and if it’s not them it’s the Germans. Swine.

But how are they doing it? Sneaking crates of Château Lafite and wheels of Brie into No 10 without anyone noticing? Subliminal messages hidden inside Renault commercials? Rohypnol-laced Stella Artois on sale in Waitrose?

Hmm. Needs a bit of work, this one.

OPERATION WE’VE ALL DONE IT

This one has already been deployed, if not in name, by various Tory politicians including Crispin Blunt MP and Lancashire councillor Charlie Edwards, suggesting that breaches of lockdown regulations in Downing Street are no big deal because “everyone was breaking the rules”.

Well yeah, we’ve all done it, haven’t we? We’ve all bent or broken the odd rule here and there. Especially rules we formulated ourselves and then announced on TV with our Serious Face on.

Haven’t we? Yeah, we’ve all done it! We’ve all sent out party invitations while the rest of the country cowered indoors and alone on our express and legally enforceable instructions! We’ve all done it! We’ve all convened booze-fuelled superspreader events in the middle of the deadliest viral outbreak for a century while despatching the coppers to harass and fine anyone sitting too close together on a park bench! Haven’t we? We’ve all tried to watch the 94-year-old Queen mourn her husband alone in a deserted church while too hungover to focus on the TV! We’ve all done it!

Haven’t we?

Haven’t we?

OPERATION WELL AT LEAST IT’S NOT HER IN CHARGE

We’re seeing the early stages of this one already… The plan is, of course, to send Nadine Dorries out to address the media as often as possible so that Boris Johnson starts to look like a sane, rational, eminently sensible and reasonable intellectual colossus by comparison.

OPERATION MULTIVERSE

Taking a leaf from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the administration will seek to reassure the population that despite the ongoing pandemic, the collapse of any sort of credible government and the imminent explosive and crippling rise in the cost of living, somewhere there’s an alternate timeline in which none of this is actually happening, so that’s nice, isn’t it?

OPERATION WORLD WAR 3

You didn’t think the Prime Minister wanted to speak to Putin in order to try and talk him OUT of invading Ukraine, did you…?

OPERATION IDES OF MARCH

This is the only one of these operations that you won’t hear Boris Johnson proposing or endorsing because it’s the one he doesn’t know about. Yet.

POEM OF THE WEEK

We hear the sound of tramping feet
Walking to a steady beat
The exodus is now complete
They’re marching out of Downing Street

Secretaries leave, and then
Loyal spokes ladies and men
Never to return again
They’re marching out of Number 10

Tired of letting standards slip
Tired of Boris’s slackening grip
Tired of scandal’s steady drip
The rats desert the sinking ship

Perhaps they couldn’t stand the heat
Perhaps they know when they’ve been beat
Or just when it’s time to retreat
They’re marching out of Downing Street

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