Of all the bloody things, is it going to be a sofa that does for Johnson?*
As the cash for curtains scandal engulfs the nation, "Carrie Antoinette" trends and John Lewis takes the opportunity to score a few open goals. The man who is currenntly cosplaying as Prime Minister looks, for the first time in a career full of disgraces, to be visibly rattled.
His ranty, spittle-flecked performance at PMQs yesterday,where he gamely attempted to rebut the charges of being a liar by indulging in some high-speed, rapid-fire lying (presumably in an attempt to disorient the oppo, all's fair in love and wiff-waff),managing in one sentence to say that Labour hadn't voted for the deal that everyone clearly remembers them voting for, that the ESL would have succeeded if it wasn't for Brexit and that it's impossible for the EU to distribute vaccines,he resembled nothing so much as an android in the last spasms of its existence, its memory banks melting and jamming unrelated words and concepts together.
It was fucking weird, man.
So, we can presume that wallpapergate, even if it doesn't "cut-through to the electorate" as people who wouldn't know the electorate if they glassed them are wont to say (and it's a line most volubly pressed by Torygraph hacks, possibly mindful that a super-pissed Johnson might be back in the office sooner rather than later) has certainly "cut through" with Johnson, a man who, even if he can't remember how many kids he has knows to the penny how much Carrie's spent on his (staggeringly tasteless) decor.
But why this? Why has this got under the skin of the man who, without disturbing an artfully tousled hair has successfully shrugged off (deep breath) lying on the side of a bus, lying to the Queen,illegally proroguing Parliament, plunging Northern Ireland into chaos after he lied to them about borders, bunging 125k of taxpayer's money to the woman he was shagging behind his cancer-suffering wife's back, bunging public money at every fucker who's ever donated to the Tories then sticking half of them in the Lords, sticking his own brother in the Lords, changing the law so his dad could go on holiday, missing 5 COBRA meetings at the start of the pandemic because he was sorting his divorce out (and also allegedly because he was nursing a spectacular shiner that Carrie gave after she found out he was shagging a Russian violinist), being swayed by lockdown sceptics and locking down too late every time, opening the schools for a day and then closing them again, "Operation Last Gasp", "Let the bodies pile high", the ridiculous screw-up over Christmas, tax-sexting with Dyson, ignoring the Ministerial Code and forming "A square around the Prittster", not sacking Cummings over Barnard Castle and probably a whole bunch of others I'm forgetting.
Johnson,famously,doesn't really give a shit about anything other than Boris Johnson, so it's a little odd that he's so upset now. It may be that, weirdly, this one does seem to be sticking.
Yep, the "cut through" experts might have got this one wrong. For, if you insult John Lewis, you do so at your own peril, John Lewis is what many of us aspire to, we'll settle for IKEA, but,in our heart of hearts,we know we could do better, trampling on John Lewis is trampling on the dreams of Middle England. Plus, it's a bit hard to keep up the bluff man of the people act when it would be cheaper to wallpaper your living room with actual bank-notes.
Of course, Britain being Britain, we're getting hung up on the wrong details, the damaging part of the story is where the money came from first, and Johnson's weird evasion of the question, not that Johnson and Symonds are raving snobs (you'd have to have been pretty dense not to already know that), but he's bright enough to know that that's the sort of thing which does stick. All people remember David Mellor for was the sex in a Chelsea shirt (which didn't happen - it was an invention of Max Clifford's), not that he actually weathered that one and was binned for accepting a freebie holiday (sound familiar?) from the daughter of the PLO's finance minister. As an ex-newspaperman,Johnson knows that narrative is important, and cash-for-curtains is the sort of compelling story which it's easy to remember, and weaves seamlessly into an overall sense of sleaze which recalls the last days of the Major administration,and we all know how that one turned out.
Johnson knows how stories work, that's why he hates this one. When the tide of plot turns, it can be awfully hard to stop it.
*of course not, but a man can dream