Tory rebels trying to push Johnson out with a ‘no confidence’ vote earlier this week were hamstrung by the lack of alternative leadership candidates; Johnson has surrounded himself with fools and nonentities.
The problem was summed up by Hugo Gye of the I, who stated how one MP was scathing about every alternative leader, saying: “Rishi’s a blown flush as we all know. Liz Truss is monotone – you know she’s not planning a leadership challenge because she hasn’t done her hair this week. Tugendhat’s going around saying he should be prime minister but nobody else thinks so!”
The “monotone” issue will be the one that harms the Tories the most. They know Johnson can’t stay – like it or not, the confidence vote means he’s now nothing more than a caretaker PM until another may be found – but they also know they’ll sink if they can’t unite behind another “character”.
They think they need somebody with a big personality who can get the kind of strong reaction from everyone that Johnson won.
And here’s Nadine Dorries.
She certainly has a colourful history. A quick scan through her Wikipedia entry shows a controversy over whether she slept with another MP, a long-running issue over her expenses claims culminating in her vowing to campaign to change the system, and another controversy over the use of the House of Commons ‘Portcullis’ symbol on her blog – making it seem to have Parliamentary endorsement or authority when she herself admitted it was “70% fiction and 30% fact” (although she later withdrew that statement).
The Conservative Party suspended Dorries from the party whip in November 2012 after she announced that she would be appearing on TV’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! as a contestant. It seems she had not informed anybody that she intended to be absent from Parliament.
She regained the whip early the following year, after it was suggested that she would join UKIP otherwise – and shortly afterwards suggested that joint Conservative-UKIP candidates could stand in the next general election (an idea that Tory HQ swiftly dismissed).
In 2019, Boris Johnson appointed her to be a minister for mental health, despite the fact that she had published a disability hate tweet two years previously, describing Twitter trolls as “window lickin'”.
The phrase “window lickers” originated as a term of abuse for people with Down’s syndrome or cerebral palsy and now tends to be used as a term to attack disabled people in general.
In 2020, Dorries made an abortive attempt to discredit Labour leader Keir Starmer by sharing a misleading video created by far-right activists, claiming to show Starmer explaining “why he didn’t prosecute grooming gangs”, when in fact he was explaining why he implemented reforms as the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The account that originally posted the material had previously posted racist content, and commentators like This Writer questioned why Dorries (and other Tory MPs who shared this material) had anything to do with it in the first place.
As culture secretary, Dorries was desperate to appoint foul-mouthed far-right former Mail editor Paul Dacre as chairman of communications regulator Ofcom, even though the interview panel deemed him “not appointable”. Her response was an abortive attempt to change the conditions under which the appointment could be made.
Defending Boris Johnson over the Partygate scandal, Dorries tried to deflect attention by claiming that “we have won the war on Covid in this country”. Then she tried to defend Johnson’s indefensible repetition of the falsehood that Labour leader Keir Starmer refused to prosecute Jimmy Savile for child abuse (he didn’t have anything to do with the decision). A spoof video of the interview presented her as a Catherine Tate character, spouting the line “Am I bothered?” repeatedly.
In another TV interview, BBC news anchor Charlie Stayt was repeatedly confused by Dorries’s apparent inability to answer a single question about Johnson.
She’s colourful – you can’t deny it!
So it should come as no surprise that at least one member of the public has tipped her as Johnson’s replacement.
To the Tories, she must now seem a logical choice. She’s as controversial as Johnson. She’s certainly as crazed as he is. She shows not the slightest inclination to listen to anybody else and every sign that she’ll do whatever she pleases until such time as someone forces her attention toward any rules that constrict her.
She’s another lunatic for the public to get behind.
The only losers will be everybody in the UK who’ll have to live through yet another Conservative-driven disaster.