Was it Hermann Goring who said that when he heard the word ‘culture’ he reached for his revolver? Well, when I hear people talk about morality and standards in public life, I reach for Machiavelli. There was a man who knew the score and didn’t mind saying it.
Like what, Virginia? Like “The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.” That applies in non-political life as well, of course; but if you apply it to Boris Johnson, you soon see how on the ball ol’ Niccolo was. Dominic Raab, Brandon Lewis, Owen Paterson – the list just goes on.
Although Johnson doesn’t appear to be a total fan of Niccolo. “Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception”. That appears to fit pants-on-fire Johnson, but consider his response to the ineffable Chris Pincher’s Carlton Club groping. The Pincher chap gets punished by…yep, he has to stop being deputy whip for the party. No chance of Johnson throwing him out of parliament, for the very good reason that such a move would result in a third by-election, and if there’s one thing Johnson can do without, it’s having a double whammy by-election grow into a triple clusterfuck by-election. If Johnson had been paying attention to Niccolo, he’d know that “If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.” You might argue that the Pincher did himself the injury but not really. He didn’t give up the deputy whip post of his own volition. A man who openly gropes other chaps at the Carlton Club doesn’t do the honourable thing when it comes to giving up posts. You may be sure that Johnson is hoping this whip-role-removing will quell public indignation. He could be right.
And since on this Saturday evening and I’m feeling a bit quotey, how about this from the Duke of Wellington (yes indeed, Virginia, born in Ireland he was): ““Never write a letter to your mistress and never join the Carlton Club.”
If Chris Pincher ever heard that quotation, he was only half-listening.