Has The Liar’s Progress reached its last act and is this a real hospital?

Today’s headlines, courtesy of Tomorrow’s Papers Today

So where are we up to in that shoddy political drama known round here as The Liar’s Progress? We’ll get to that new plot twist in a moment, but first let’s revisit those phantom hospitals.

According to last Sunday’s Observer, the government’s own official spending watchdog is launching an inquiry into Boris Johnson’s claim that 40 new hospitals will be built by 2030.

If you ask me, those hospitals always were pulled from the over-stuffed Gladstone bag of half-baked Johnsonian aspirations. As if to confirm such a suspicion, when it emerged that some of those ‘new’ hospitals were merely extensions or upgrades (or possibly a new porch/cycle shed), the government told health trusts they must refer to all improvements as a ‘new hospital’.

Weird, really, as a new hospital in your area is the sort of thing you might notice. Do they really think people are that gullible? Are we really that deep in lies?

The National Audit Office is said to fear that Johnson’s hospitals pledge “has been greatly oversold to the public”.

No shit! Over-selling is all Johnson knows.

He treats the country like one of his abandoned wives/mistresses/latest side helping of whatever he fancied at the time of grabbing. Over sell, tell one vainglorious whopper after another, hope no one remembers the promises – that’s always been his shameless song. Plot and back-stab for years to become prime minister, and hope no one notices how terrible he is at the job – that’s the refrain we are stuck with.

Everything about Johnson has been greatly oversold to the public, while his backing vocalists in the right-wing media have sung a dutiful chorus of “He got Brexit done”, “He levelled up the North”, “He beat Covid, do-whop, whoop-whoop”.

Now even the backing vocalists are tired of singing the same old song. Today’s national newspaper headlines about the resignation of Sajid Javid as health secretary and Rishi Sunak as chancellor are almost all unfriendly, suggesting there is only so much lying even the Johnson-enabling Mail and Telegraph can stomach.

The undoing of Johnson, if that is what we are seeing (fingers crossed and all that), was always going to be a lie. Or, to misquote his hero Churchill, “a lie, wrapped in a lie, inside another lie”.

In case you are finding it all too wearingly sordid, the scandal of the moment (others will surely be along soon) concerns Chris Pincher, the deputy chief whip who resigned amid accusations that he had drunkenly groped two men in the Carlton Club.

Although this was reportedly not the first time such allegations had been aired, Downing Street stuck to the line that when Johnson made the appointment, he was not aware of specific previous allegations about Pincher. They kept this up for a few days, until Simon McDonald, the former permanent secretary at the Foreign Office, made public a letter in which he wrote that No 10 was simply not telling the truth.

This was quite the bombshell. All those ministers pushed out to say Johnson didn’t know about these allegations suddenly appeared stupid. None more sudden or stupid than Dominic Raab, who was on air attempting to defend Johnson when he was told about McDonald’s letter.

What does it feel like to be a Tory minister or MP cajoled into defending the indefensible in this manner? According to a quote in the Guardian, one MP confined to a colleague over the weekend: “I’m fucked if I’m ever doing that again.”

If that’s how his own side sees him, there is a smell of toast about Johnson now.

As for all those lies, what you must remember is that with Johnson there are grades of untruth, a bit like with sandpaper. And some are the thickest type, guaranteed to take the tip off your finger and send you to the nearest imaginary hospital.


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