One thing that the Cummings cartel have been very good at during the last number of weeks is keeping controversial appointments relatively under wraps. It is no great secret that Cummings has always yearned to rip the heart out of Whitehall and replace those with a history of diplomacy and expertise with bippityboppoty computer science data analysts born with no genitalia and no emotions who present work in a prompt and timely manner before whirring back to their desks awaiting the next instruction. Ideally, he would clone thousands of Chris Graylings and let them patrol the corridors of administrative power in London with two settings, “Yes Sir” and “No Sir”.
The Westminster bubble has hit the roof over the Mark Sedwill saga, the Sir Philip Rutnam fiasco and even the malfunctioning, feeble Maybot chimed in for the appointment of David Frost to national security advisor, her citing of “no proven expertise” being a rare moment of clarity in the former PM’s career. But one such potential appointment that may just be cutting through the imperious bubble is that of the former Aussie PM, Tony Abbott, getting the gig as the UK’s trade envoy.
There are several reasons why this could be. Perhaps it is big Tony being a truly appalling Prime Minister, maybe its his neglect of climate change and pig-headedness towards women, or it could be that this newest appointment is just the tip of the iceberg when illustrating just how far down shit creek the UK has floated. The worm has turned and the UK has travelled from a time of a hateful but respectable politics under Cameron to a dystopian merry-go-round of right wing narcissists waiting for their 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th bite at the cherry when it comes to shaping policy or international relations.
It seems that the Abbott appointment may be causing somewhat of a stir in the Cameron and Osbourne clan of the Tory Party. The poster boys of “socially liberal, fiscally conservative” are worried that their pitiful legacy will be further damaged should a homophobic misogynist be speaking for the UK. Former Osbourne chief of staff turned Health Secretary Matt Hancock was visibly uncomfortable during a typically fiery Kay Burley interview this morning. Although Hancock said that Abbot “is an expert” he also declined to give a ringing endorsement of Tones, crawling back into the COVID trench of “I’m fierce busy here at the moment to be answering any questions about anything other than what I actually want to answer”. This is as far as Hancock can go in criticising Abbott without wearing an ‘I heart JULIA GILLARD’ t-shirt live on air.
It is clear that there are some creases that need to be ironed out, or some dissenting voices need to be whipped into submission, but the government once again finds itself in a tight spot, but probably feel their 80 majority can overpower and bury quickly. But U-turn after U-turn is never a good look and this government is running up quite the tab. Even if the Abbott appointment is poorly thought through, Cummings and his pet shop boy Johnson may have to drive it on to avoid adding fuel to the fire of the already flaming U-turns.