Jack Lesgrin’s week: Johnson won’t have broken any rules of conduct because there aren’t any. That’s life without a written constitution

by Jack Lesgrin

Johnson won’t have broken any rules of conduct because there aren’t any. That’s life without a written constitution

I wrote last August that nothing matters as regards the #DailyOutrages of this government. I was being a little facetious; I do care about poor governance and worse. My argument is that our system has almost no checks and balances on a prime minister and government with a large majority; the only check is the general election.

It’s not a very popular view, because it sounds defeatist, seems to indicate complacency and to demean the righteous anger of others. I actually respect those getting cross about the #DailyOutrages. However, I can’t help feeling that transgressors are having the last laugh, for the ultimate complacency lies in imagining that whipping up a Twitter storm, asking Parliamentary questions, writing columns, or calling for Parliamentary inquiries, will have much effect.

Yes, the opposition highlighting government sleaze can contribute to eventual election victory, but what is needed far more is an alternative vision of optimism and the ability to win elections. Given that #DailyOutrages are becoming #HourlyOutrages, readers should bear the following in mind. All that follows is only “by convention” – see the 2010 Cabinet Manual that describes brilliantly our non-constitution.

It’s simple: the prime minister is appointed by the Queen on the basis that he or she commands the confidence of the Commons. The roles of the Prime Minister and Cabinet are “governed largely by convention” so I imagine, ultimately, he can do pretty much what he pleases. Parliamentary select committees have no prosecutorial powers. There is nothing in this document stating that the Queen must enter the fray and dismiss a PM who falls below certain standards, firstly because the PM alone arbitrates on ministers’ fitness for office (presumably also his own fitness as he is the “Sovereign’s Principal Adviser”) and writes the Ministerial Code, which has no legal authority anyway. And if any onerous rules were written into a new edition of the Cabinet Manual, they’d have no legal effect, since everything in our system is “by convention”, and we all know that not all PMs are conventional.

Sturgeon is a success even at failure

It’s tough enough for the SNP’s opponents that the party’s leader Nicola Sturgeon is such a brilliant campaigner and so capable a communicator in interviews. They had presumably hoped that they would surely land a knockout blow by showing a demonstrable failure of government policy in an area of importance where lives are genuinely at stake – drugs policy. At a leaders’ debate last week, the impressive Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar dissected the SNP government’s abject failure is in this area… Pause… All eyes on Sturgeon… Is this the moment she flounders…? She stared at the camera, steely, yet compassionate, and gave a masterclass for all politicians on how to admit your mistakes in an empathetic and strong manner. In our age of condemnation, she showed how to be a successful failure. Other leaders should take note, maybe even ask her for a private lesson on how to apologise.

Idris Melba eased the pain of Colin the Caterpillar 

Your correspondent enjoys an online beer with distant friends, and I’ve been impressed by the variety of brilliant beers offered Britain’s amazing craft breweries. One of them, Pilot Beer, had sent a can of Idris Melba, a peach melba sour. It was a fitting end to a week in which Aldi and M&S had been fighting it out on Twitter and perhaps even with m’learned friends, over whether Aldi had the right to sell a Cuthbert not Colin the Caterpillar children’s cake. Not being a copyright lawyer, I don’t quite understand how one can copyright a type of insect, or indeed what rights an individual has if a company playfully twists their name into a rather ludicrous but delicious beer. I didn’t much care after I’d finished a couple of Peach Melba Sours…

Tags: , , , , ,

12 Responses to “Jack Lesgrin’s week: Johnson won’t have broken any rules of conduct because there aren’t any. That’s life without a written constitution”

  1. A.J. says:

    Many convenient lapses of memory on offer. Labour, when in government, has inflicted a good many horrors on the nation. Our local party appears to have money to burn, with leaflets now arriving more or less on a daily basis – today via courier.

  2. Tafia says:

    Polling on the ‘dead bodies’ issue.

    Q. If it is proved the PM said he’d rather ‘see dead bodies piling high than order a lockdown’, do you think he should resign.

    Yes: 18%
    No: 82%

    And the overwhelming bulk of people couldn’t care less who pays for the renovation of the PMs flat abov No10/No11 so long as it’s not the tax-payer, and are shocked to find out that all PMs are entitled to a £30k grant each and every year, for furnishing and decorating the flat (Blair exceeded it when he swapped flats with No 11 and made the difference up from elsewhere.) Nor do they give a toss what colour the sodding wallpaper is.

    As Michael Gove responding to Alison Thewlis MP (SNP) said in Parliament:

    1. Only 0.5% of PPE wasn’t up to scratch
    2. All Cameron lobbying on behalf of Grensill was rejected.
    3. The Dyson texts were about securing ventilators for the frontline to save lives at a time of grave national emergency.
    4. What matters is the PM did impose a 2nd and 3rd lockdown.

    And that is all people care about.

    Tory sleaze amounted to Cameron approaching the Tories with a begging bowl and being told to sod off, and when he persisted, being told to sod off again. No public money was passed to him.

    ‘Dyson sleaze’ amounted to Johnson, taking steps to remove blocks to the design of ventilators, a shortage of which, was threatening the lives of tens of thousands of people.

    And ‘piled up bodies’ amounted to the scurrilous and / or disaffected running to Peston and Kuenssberg with their ‘stories’. Both of these journalists having heavy family links to the Labour Party. (What is cutting through with the public is an understanding that the news is being manipulated by political activists, masquerading as journalists.)

    It was inevitable that with the Tories romping away in the opinion polls and the vaccine rollout a huge success, that Labour desperately needed to find a stick to beat the Tories with – and the sealze allegations are not working, quite the opposite – people are not interested and wish Starmer would stop whining like a little girl who has wet her knickers.

    Compared to the offerings of Labour since Blair stood down – Brown, Miliband, Corbyn, Starmer, Johnson looks highly effective and competent.

    Then the village idiot Angela Rayner tries to attack the Hartlepool Tory candidate (Jill Mortimer) by saying that she lived in the Cayman Islands (of tax evasion fame) when it turns out yes she and her family had lived there, along with her husband who was working out there as a banking regulator clamping down on tax fraud. So are we to assume Rayner is opposed to people clamping down on tax fraud/ Or is she just an idiot who is way out of her depth.

  3. Tafia says:

    As a matter of record, all PMs receive a 30k grant to pay for repairs etc etc etc to the Downing St flat. Since Tony Blair’s time, the PM has lived in the flat above number 11 while the Chancellor has lived in the flat above number 10. The only exception being Brown who remained in the smaller number 10 flat he had occupied for 10 years as Chancellor.

    Spending on top of this yearly £30k has to be met by the relevant PMs themselves. The records show that PMs paid the following:-

    Tony Blair – £127,000 on top of the yearly grants.
    Gordon Brown – Nil (he remained in the Chancellor’s flat above No 10).
    David Cameron – £64,000 on top of the yearly grants. (half what Blair spent)
    Theresa May – Nil.
    Boris Johnson – £58,000 on top of his yearly grants. (less than both Blair & Cameron)

  4. Rocinante says:

    @Tafia I know absolutely everyone now likes to beat up on Tony Blair, but it should be said in his defence that he was the first Prime Minister for a very long time to bring a young family to Downing Street. The No.10 flat was far too small, so the larger No.11 flat had to be made into a family home. Previously occupied by Ken Clarke, so I imagine it took a while to clear out all the lager cans and get the cigar ash out of the carpets. He was also PM for 10 years, so the average spend doesn’t look outrageous. My house needs about that much spending on it to stop it falling down (so it’ll probably fall down lol).

  5. John p Reid says:

    So I was talking to someone other day in hoe Tory voters who use to vote labour do if as they feel labour reckon they’re scum

    And his ring was it’s not for labour to stop calling the working class scum
    It’s for Tory voters to realise why labour activists think they’re scum and stop being it

    My reply

    Yes but who need whom to get their votes?

    If Labour’s reply to the Tory voters doing that
    Is “it’s your tory voters fault for feeling that way” and Tory voters reply “well if you’re saying we’re wrong to feel that way”, “as a way 0f persuading us to stop voting tory because we feel you labour members are snobs”

    it’s not gonna convince tory voters to stop feeling that way

    Of course labour members might not care enough about it to stop being snobs to actually want Tory voters to vote labour, if their condition for doing it is not to have labour being snobs to them

    But if labour wants to win it’s got to realise it’s not for tory voters to change their perception of Labour’s hostility towards them

    It’s labour members to change their contempt for Tory voters

    By the way the snobbery is unfounded and the labour members who show snobbery do it by not knowing what Tory voters lives are like and not as easy as labour activists

  6. andy williams says:

    Rocinante He was also PM for 10 years

    So that would be £300,000 then, plus 127,000 on top. Nearly half a million quid at pre-2008 prices.

  7. Tafia says:

    As I wrote all this, the first May poll has been released but not included, and there will probably be one more – a YouGov, released Tuesday. Other than that, you’ll have to wait for exit polls on Thursday night and the results through Friday.

    The average for April, across 25 polls was:-
    Con: 42.4%
    Lab: 34.7%
    LDem: 7.5%
    Grn: 5.2%
    Oth: 10.2%

    (the average for 2021 over 82 polls is Con 41.6%, Lab 36.3%, LDem 7.2%, Grn 5%, Oth 10%)

    There was an MRP poll right at the end of April (which is included) but this is a black art and notoriously inaccurate – they tend to be either spot-on, or very very wide of the mark. The method involves a larger number of respondents, but does not ‘weight’ or adjust to reflect society in general. The last one was just before the last GE, coincidentally by the same company – FocalData. It predicted the Tories would get 284 to Labour’s 282. The result a couple of weeks later was somewhat different to say the least. The last even vaguely correct one conducted in an election period was in 2017.

    There were a total of 25 national opinion polls during April. The Tories were only below 40 twice, with their support ranging between 39% & 44%. Labour showed a bit of an ‘uptick’ in the last week of April (but probably too late to affect the postal vote) but overall still slid in comparison to last month and the month before with their support ranging during the month between 29% & 38%.

    During the last week of April (‘Wallpapergate’) Labour averaged (over 9 polls) 35.3% to the Tories 41.6%. That period also saw the Tories two worst figures (39 twice) and Labour’s best two (38 & 39)

    Concentrating specifically on Labour voters in the ‘Red Wall’, 47% now say it was right to leave EU, 41% say it was wrong. That is a higher percentage of just Labour voters now saying it was right than actually voted to Leave back in 2016 – which shows Labour’s dilemma. Not only are Labour Leavers more entrenched than ever, but they have increased in the very areas Labour need to re-take. Seperate polling over the issue shows Labour Leavers simply do not trust Labour’s long term intentions and have no intention of returning unless Labour unequivocally guarentees it will not attempt to rejoin the EU, nor even just the Single Market or Customs Union.

    There is precious little polling regarding the Hartlepool by-Election, however the bookmakers (who conduct their own private polls) make it a 65%+ probablity of falling to the Tories, which if it happens would be only the third time in 65 years that an opposition party has lost a seat to the governing party in a by-Election. I would be surprised though. Voters in Hartlepool have been highly volatile for a decade or more now, so I still suspect Labour will hold it – just. (They better – I’ve got a tenner on Red at 11/10, that I placed a month ago (purely on the belief that governments rarely take opposition seats in by-elections)

    PCC and Mayoral elections appear to show little change other than in majority size. West Midlands looks as though it will be the most exciting – it was on a knife edge last time and appears to be again. Background polling shows that the single biggest issue is potential congestion charging.

    Polling specifically for the council elections in England show a mixed bag, defined by when the relevant councils came up for election last. Pre-2017 should see gains favouring one side, post 2017 the other. Tory possible gains look like Dudley, Northumberland & Derby and to become the largest party in Bury. Labour look like losing Bury, Hyndburn & Lincoln to No Overall Control, with Labour majorities in Sheffield, Warrington and Wolverhampton also under serious threat. In all probability, Labour will not do as badly as expected, and the Tories won’t do as well as expected – a score draw with both sides claiming victory.

    Against the backdrop of all this is the fact that most postal votes have already been cast and experience shows that most would have been cast by last Monday, especially as people were aware of the Bank Holiday and more likely to return their vote early.

  8. Tafia says:


    There were 4 polls conducted specifically in Wales during April. April’s average was (const/list):-
    Lab 36/33%, Con: 27/24%, Plaid: 21/21%, LDem: 9/4%, RP: 4/2%, Grn: 3/4%, AWAP: 3/8%.
    Senedd Seat Pred: Lab 28, Con 14, PC 13, LDem 1, AWAP 4

    Wales operates a sophisticated voting system for the Senedd with all voters aged over 16 having two votes – one for their Constituency with named candidates (counted FPTP) and one for their Regional List where they vote purely for a party (counted using the D’Hondt method). Because of this and the impact of small parties in specific regions (McEvoy’s ‘Propel’ in Cardiff and the largely Monmouthshire based ‘Abolish’ for example), very small fluctuations can alter things in the List vote significantly.

    The final totals should be within these tolerances (30 is majority):-
    Lab between 24-29 seats
    Con between 14-17
    PC between 10-16
    AWAP between 1-4
    LD between 0-1
    Oth between 0-1 (from Propel, Green, or Reform UK)

    The one to watch is Brecon & Radnor. If LDems lose that, they will almost certainly end up with no seats.

    Labour will almost certainly require a Confidence & Supply arrangement which if they choose Plaid will mean (so long as Plaid remain ‘true’ to their statements,) that Drakeford will have to stand down as First Minister and Labour will have to field an alternative to run against Plaid’s Adam Price. So a ‘propped up’ minority Labour government led by a Plaid First Minister is a realistic possibility dependent on which way the non Labour and Plaid Assembly Members cast their vote.

  9. Tafia says:


    There were 13 polls conducted specifically in Scotland during April. April’s average is (Const/List):-
    SNP: 48.6/38.4%, Con: 21.6/21.5%, Lab:19.8/17.6%, LDem: 6.8/6.0%, Grn: 3.0/8.8%, ALBA: 1.3/3.8%, AFU: 1.0/2.7%
    Holyrood Seat Prediction: SNP 65, Con 27, Lab 23, LDem 5, Grn 9.
    IndyRef2: Yes 49.6%, No 50.4%

    Again like Wales, Scotland operates a sophisticated voting system, with voters from 16 years old, based on constituencies counted FPTP and a Regional List voting for parties and calculated using a ranking version of the D’Hondt system. Because of this and the large number of ‘alternative’ parties such as Salmond’s Alba, Galloways AFU, Scottish Socialists etc, the possibility of one ‘slipping in’ towards the end of the count in a List region can never be ruled out.

    The final totals should be within these tolerances (65 is majority):-
    SNP between 62-67
    Con between 23-28
    Lab between 21-27
    LDem between 5-6
    Grn between 9-12
    ALBA between 0-2

    Everything in Scotland is to do with independence. It affects all voting patterns and subsequently all voting results. Sturgeon is on a knife-edge of achieving her strategic aims – that the SNP take over 50% of the first round vote and take over 50% of the seats. She will see that as an endorsement to persue the right to hold IndyRef2 through the Supreme Court. Her secondary aim will definately happen – that if she can’t get her own way then 50% of the first round vote goes to pro-indy parties (SNP + Green + ALBA), and over 50% of the seats likewise. That will definately happen by a healthy margin. What is interesting is that as the month has worn on, Yes! has dropped below 50% (marginally) however that should be tempered with the fact that across the board, it’s roughly 45/45 (with 10% undecided)

  10. Tafia says:

    You have got to question which moron decided Dr Williams – a fanatical rejoiner, was a suitable candidate for a massively Leave seat. A proper slap across the face to the Labour Leavers in that seat. By-elections have a golden rule candidate-wise ‘Horses For Courses’.

    J Mortimer, Con 50% (+1)
    P Williams, Lab 33% (-9)
    T Walker, Ind 6% (+4)
    S Lee, Ind 6% (+6)
    R Featherstone, Grn 3% (+2)
    A Hagon, LD 1% (-)
    J Prescott, RFM 1% (-)

    Voters living in H’pool, 23-29 Apr. Changes w/ 29 Mar-3 Apr

  11. John P reid says:

    Following form My above comment about Labours view of the Working class is “if you don’t want us to call you thick and Common, stop being thick, by voting tory and Come back to voting Labour”

    as a way of genuinely feeling the public care, what Middle class Metropolitan Liberals think, to the extent that ,the Working Class who stopped voting Labour, would change their political voting habits, based on sneers towards them from Snobs, and that Labour actually feel that its a way of getting those they hold in Contempt to vote for them, rather than actually wondering why they don’t vote labour when they’ve been called bigots and Dumb ,by Champagne Socialists
    and after 6 years of this, that Labour shouldn’t actually consider that the Ineptitude they hold, is driving a way the Working class votes rather than, insulting them into the view they will stop calling the Blue Collar or manual workers “racists” for wanting a control on migration.

    well One labour supporter didn’t get the memo Femi the remainer, here saying that if the Working class tory doesn’t want Him to stop saying the working class are stupid they should stop voting against Labour and start voting for his view of Liberalism

Leave a Reply