Robert Jenrick was ranked 3rd in the Tory Party’s “Hottest 40 under 40” at the annual Bullingdon Club shenanigans. No mean feat, especially given the number of high-profile guests at the shin dig. It’s a real hoot and no doubt one of the highlights of the year. Matt Hancock is Michael Gove’s lookout for his “bathroom party time”, Ken Clarke and Nicholas Soames guffaw and puff on cigars and Liz Truss runs around introducing herself as “The Truss. The Truss is here guys. Time to par-tayyy?”. It would be quite a night. It also gives MPs and people of power a chance to meet more people of power with lots and lots of money. Donors can supply large amounts of capital to the party in order to get some cheeky political favours. Perhaps this is where the Conservative answer to Mr Blobby met Richard Desmond.
The charge being levelled against Jenrick is that there is a “cash for favours” type scenario developing. This is, unfortunately, something that is rather prevalent in western democracies, but at least most governments and their respective ministers have the cop-on not to overrule a decision by a council the day before the levy is introduced. The Community Infrastructure Levy would have cost Desmond at least £40million. It transpired that Desmond had donated £12’000 to the Tories a mere two weeks after he had saved millions. I’m no expert in political favours, but I reckon Desmond is fairly chuffed with himself. Sacrifice 12 grand to save 40 million? All in, a good day’s work for the former owner of the Express.
Mr Blobby marched out to his own defence, attempting to detract from the allegations with droplets of truth and modesty. It is very good of him to “see how people could think I have acted unlawfully” or to believe “it doesn’t look great”, but this is just white noise attempting to drown out the very serious claims being made. Then it emerged that Blobby Bobby was sat next to rich Rich at a fundraising dinner. Jenrick has tried to dismiss this as “the fact I had inadvertently sat next to the applicant – I didn’t know who I was going to be seated by until I sat at the table – and I discussed and took advice from my officials within the department at all times.” Ain’t that convenient.
Now, the Labour benches are making calls to release correspondence and contacts on the overruling of the planning decision. Of course, the Tories are dismissing this as “sensitive information” and “contentious” but once again, the Tory policy of white noise the shit out of stories that are bad for them and they will eventually go away is being employed. There is one sure fire way to know that the Tories are embarking on the white noise policy, and that is when they send the man made of marzipan to the front line, Grant Shapps. Out comes Grant, top button in, arse freshly talcum powdered up and a lick of wax before saying the same line he always does, “I don’t know the specifics, but erhm, I’m sure he followed the guidance properly”. The only thing Grant Shapps is ever sure about is that he’s never fully sure about anything. Jenrick might have to ask Shapps for a loan of his talcum powder because it could well be squeaky bum time up ahead for him.
The Tories are fire-fighting on a number of fronts, the Cummings story took a huge amount of political capital, now Boris is facing up to a U-turn driven by Marcus Rashford on an issue regarding feeding underprivileged school children and the ever present pandemic means that juggling this mess is very taxing. Jenrick could be the one that slips through the cracks.