The Russian invasion came at an extremely beneficial time for our PM, steeped in the controversy of all those parties, backbenchers grumbling, frontbenchers manoeuvring, meant that terrible as the war is, it has been a useful distraction.
War, eh, what is it good for? I am with Edwin Starr on this one, to be honest – nowt. But some people like it.
The phenomenon of a “war bounce” has benefited various political and military leaders for a long time.
If Alexander had stayed at home, for example, he might have been “The Mediocre” or “The OK” rather than “The Great”. Best to go out on conquer stuff, you know, get involved, even though the rest of us suffer.
Getting tangled up in a war can be very helpful – any hint of conflict in fact. JFK put on 15 points in the Cuban Missile Crisis, Bush Snr 30-odd after Operation Desert Storm. His son, incidentally, recorded the highest approval rating ever for a US president in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks – up to 90%.
In all those cases, of course, the ascent was short-lived. It’s a bounce after all, and what goes up must come down.
The Russian invasion came at an extremely beneficial time for our PM. Steeped in the controversy of all those parties, backbenchers grumbling, frontbenchers manoeuvring, meant that terrible as the war is, it has been a useful distraction.
But, as the latest poll shows, it has not brought a bounce. The numbers are bounceless, without bounce, bounce-free. If they were a shampoo, Pantene they would not be. Quite the reverse.
Mr Johnson has had a relatively quieter few weeks than in the dead of winter, when a vote of confidence was coming. But he has not got away with it.
YouGov polling carried out this week shows the Conservatives dropping two points and Labour staying where they are. And more than 20% of Tory voters from last time are backing other parties, with 17% undecided. And this is BEFORE April really gets going. The cruellest month, and all that.
Some 22 million households will see their typical energy bill rise by 54% to £1,971 a year. And new research from charity the Health Foundation shows medical workers – those we were supposed to be looking after in the pandemic – are losing about £850 a year.
I suppose the only benefit for Mr Johnson is that this economic catastrophe is going to take out one of his main leadership rivals.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has seen his odds of becoming the next Prime Minister fall dramatically from 45% in mid-January to just 16% today. (That is with a betting market I don’t use – so probably quite accurate.)
Labour’s Keir Starmer has taken the lead, albeit narrowly, but as the cost of living crisis deepens, that gap is expected to widen.
It is not going to be a pleasant spring for Mr Johnson, not a daffodil in sight. Not for any of us.
The war continues, times are going to get harder, fish and chip shops are closing. And the price of a pint does not bear thinking about.
I’ve just had a thing through saying the VAT hike is going to cost £450m a year – which 100% will be passed on by landlords to the price of a pint. I’m off the booze for Lent – reasons of self-flagellation rather than religion – so I don’t need to worry about it yet. Couple of weeks to go, just enough time to save up for a Guinness.