Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Last word on the Bottler ...

... at any rate for the time being.

Though you could hardly expect them to do anything else, those in the Bottler camp have been girding themselves to mount a defence of their man. The results have been predictably feeble.

La Toynbee in today's Guardian claims the Bottler kept both his temper and his dignity in yesterday's cringing press conference. Hardly less laughably, also in the Guardian, Tom Clark asserts that the same press conference saw the Bottler 'recover his professional stride'.

In general, the arguments are that he never said he would call an election so why the fuss now that he hasn't? And that any damage to the Bottler is temporary and of interest only to a handful of Westminster obssesives. Given time, his gravitas will naturally resurface.

The former is transparently stupid, the latter hardly less cretinous.

There has been a sea-change and no one should be in any doubt about this. More remarkable is that it has come hardly 100 days into a premiership that started so promisingly, at least in the Bottler's terms. More startling still, it is entirely the Great Strategist's own doing.

Can any prime minister have so utterly undone himself in so short a space of time?

He was disastrously disingenuous and shifty even with the poddle Marr on Sunday. Yesterday, facing the press, he was even more sweaty and unconvincing. Worse, he lied. His claim that his decision not to hold an election had nothing to do with the polls – that even had the polls shown a likely 100-plus seat majority for Labour he still would not have called one – is the most outrageously unconvincing lie I have ever heard from any politician, or at least one who claims to believe in democracy. That it was delivered amid a flurry of nervous ticks, gulps, hand waving and stuttering, his face haggard and grey, his grin forced and fixed, says all you need to know about a man on the skids.

The bully exposed, the spinner exposed, the liar exposed. He is done for and he knows it. It is an astonishing spectacle.

That the third-raters with whom he has surrounded himself – and can anyone honestly say there has ever been a Cabinet more undistinguished than this gang of place-seekers and toadies? – should now already have begun to splinter and position themselves in the inevitable race for the succession says it all.

The estimable Rachel Sylvester in today's Telegraph is particularly good on their slimy manouverings.

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