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Trying to paint Mr Rules as a law-breaker is criminal

Comedian MITCH BENN on the government’s rather telling blank-eyed incomprehension of Keir Starmer’s pledge to resign should he be given a fixed penalty notice

Innocent party: Sir Keir Starmer’s “Beergate” pledge failed to curry favour with the right wing press. Photo montage: TNE

GROUP ANEURYSM OF THE WEEK

Sir Keir Starmer’s pledge to resign should he be issued with a fixed penalty for breaking Covid regulations during the much-hyped “Currygate” incident was greeted with a rather telling degree of blank-eyed incomprehension by both the government and the right wing press. After a day or so’s utter confusion over how to respond to someone in British politics taking what at least appeared to be a principled stand, the Conservarati seemed to decide upon a united “take”: that the leader of the opposition had cynically undermined a police investigation by deliberately and premeditatedly Not Doing Anything Wrong, the devious bastard.

The Mail On Sunday’s Dan Hodges in particular worked himself up into a scarcely grammatical lather on Twitter, opining that Starmer was trying to “get off on a technicality”, the “technicality” in question presumably being “not having broken any laws”. When this was pointed out to him, Mr Hodges further suggested that Starmer hoped to “get away with not breaking the law”.

Mr Hodges still hasn’t deleted that tweet; he obviously doesn’t not think he didn’t write a sentence which didn’t fail to not make no sense.

WELL THAT EXPLAINS EVERYTHING MOMENT OF THE WEEK

The Tory press’s desperation to build “Currygate” up into the kind of career-destroying scandal which Partygate should have been ten times over by now became perhaps a tad less mystifying last week thanks to a tweet from everyone’s favourite disgruntled former employee, Dominic Cummings. Ol’ Megamind claimed that the prime minister had arranged for substantial bribes – disguised as “Covid relief payments” – to be delivered to various newspapers in return for favourable coverage.

If the government had that kind of cash to spare, one wonders why they couldn’t have spent it on actually helping the people of the country get through the worst financial crisis in decades; then they might not have to waste all that money bribing the papers to brainwash the people into supporting them. But where’s the fun in that?

“OH I REMEMBER THAT GUY” MOMENT OF THE WEEK

Andrew Bridgen MP has been very quiet since being one of the first to declare he’d sent a letter of no confidence in the prime minister to the chairman of the 1922 committee a few months ago when it looked like the jig was up for Boris. Last week, perhaps in a belated effort to rebuild what must now be the charred and smouldering remains of a bridge, he chose to weigh in on the whole Currygate shambles.

Mr Bridgen tweeted that, “for consistency” the team at the Metropolitan Police who investigated the Partygate breaches (which happened in London, ie within their jurisdiction) should now also be assigned to investigate the alleged breach by Starmer and his colleagues (which happened in Durham, some 300 miles outside of their jurisdiction).

Mr Bridgen, who, you’ll recall, was once under the impression that as a British subject he was entitled to an Irish passport, has such a command of geography that it’s amazing he ever finds his way back to his constituency in Leicestershire (or “the middle and down a bit” as he knows it).

TONE-DEAF MOMENT OF THE WEEK

We’ve grown accustomed to the grim spectacle of Tory grandees posing proudly for photos in front of food banks, apparently under the impression that this makes them look generous and charitable when in fact it makes them look like those American tourists in Africa posing with whichever endangered species it is they’ve just shot.

The Dartford Conservatives took things to a grotesque new level last week; having turned up bedecked with chains of office to get snapped cutting the ribbon on a new monument to their own failure and complacency, they then proceeded to tuck into a buffet. In a food bank.

There’s long been a whiff of the guillotine about this country’s current death-spiral, but at least Marie Antoinette (allegedly) said “Let THEM eat cake”. The Conservatives are now saying “We’ll eat the cake; let them plead for beans”.

EXCELLENT POINT OF THE WEEK

Home secretary and all-round barrel of laughs Priti Patel blasted London mayor Sadiq Khan for visiting a cannabis farm in California and musing aloud on the possibility of legalising weed in the capital, saying his time would be better spent focusing on crime in London.

Well absolutely; there are some hotbeds of criminality in the city. In particular, there’s one house in Downing Street which has now been issued with over 100 fixed penalty notices for breach of lockdown regulations…

POEM OF THE WEEK

It seems entirely fitting
If somewhat Kafkaesque
That there is no computer
On Jacob Rees Mogg’s desk.
Boris is on TikTok
He cavorts for all to see
But Jacob Rees Mogg’s desk remains
Entirely laptop free.
Jacob thinks computers
Are bewilderingly new
And it’s not as if he actually
Has anything to do.
So Jacob keeps it old school
And so he dauntlessly
Goes marching ever forward
Toward the 19th century.

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