THIS column generally stays out of politics. The subject attracts hotheads and, oddly enough, as universal communication and global technology grow more sophisticated, the resultant increase in political involvement has made people more tribal.

All that said, recent events at 10 Downing Street demand we deploy our forensic analytical skills, without stooping to the depths of ideology and shallow satire. All right, without stooping to the depths of ideology.

In particular, we worry over the influence an unelected wife or bidey-in (see shocking revelations on this state of affairs – so to say – below) can have on the Prime Minister of the day. The issue arose when Boris McJohnson’s favourite squeeze, Carrie Symonds, was accused of having too much influence on British policy-making.

The PM’s popular chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, and chief of staff (too many chiefs and not enough native Americans), Lee Cain, deplored this state of affairs and started “briefing” about it, prompting “counter-briefings”, from the Symonds camp. That’s a lot of briefs.

The briefers, who were briefly shown the door as it turned out, accused Miss Symonds of seeking to “run the Government by WhatsApp”, which my researchers say is something to do with computers.

It’s alleged she called the PM’s private office up to 20 times a day and texted him 25 times an hour – an hour! – about policy issues. Surely, that latter claim can’t be correct. It takes me 25 mins to type a text saying, “C U at 6.”

But the Cummings-Cain axis was also texting hither and yon, not least slating poor Carrie as “Princess Nut Nut”. Perhaps they were just taking the pistachio. At any rate, the political pages of the English press were consumed with passionate debate about whether it was “Nut Nuts” or “Nut Nut”, with most informed and academic opinion staking their reputations on the latter.

If all this sounds trivial, with Nut Nut not an expression you could get past our testy First Minister, fears grew that this spelled the end of the O’Johnson regime.

One unnamed gossip said: “You can smell it. It’s the end of days. It’s a story as old as time. The Mad Queen destroys the court.” Miss Symonds’ supporters described this as “rank misogyny”. At least both sides agreed something was minging.

I don’t mean to sound sniffy but, if Cummings and Cain are correct, is it right that a spouse or partner can have so much influence? Until recently, I got one of my neighbours to write my columns, as I’m far too busy for that sort of thing. You may have noticed an increase in quality for several months.

However, when she demanded more than a 12.5% share of the profits, I had to terminate the arrangement. Obviously, the saleability lies in the “Rab McNeil” brand, which is recognised across the world (except for credit).

But that’s me. I am unimportant. The Prime Minister of England and the Other Bits is arguably otherwise, and cannot be getting his missus or, in his case, burd to dictate the policies of the day.

Incidentally, I’ve just checked with Downing Street, and it appears Mr Johnson and Miss Symonds are still unmarried, thus fuelling perceptions that the Conservative Party is run by louche hippies.

In addition, Miss Symonds frets about yonder environment and, worse still, animal welfare, which is anathema to decent, tax-paying Tories. Cruelty to animals is a key cornerstone of traditional Conservatism, and Miss Symonds’ antipathy to it indicates that she’s trying to drag the party in a Marxist direction, perhaps even into a formal alliance with leading vegan-pilates instructor Prince Harry.

This cannot stand. Decent Conservative voters didn’t vote Carrie. They voted Cummings and Cain, loyal, innocent men who only wanted to serve their country, and Scotland too, if time permitted.

We haven’t heard the last of them. Even now, they’re said to be plotting revenge. Oh, to be a fly on that walnut.

Payback time

ANOTHER subject on which this column tries not to have an opinion is the gender divide, as we’ve no wish to inflame the easily flammable.

However, a report caught our rheumy eye, and we present our thoughts on the matter without comment or, more accurately, our comments on the matter without thought.

It concerned “mummy salaries”, whereby wives are put on the “payroll” of their husbands to carry out traditional domestic tasks. On the face of it, this sounds retro. Also on the buttock of it.

Still, there are women, particularly those put out of work by Covid, who like the idea. I suppose it depends how much money is involved.

Like most dads of the day, mine just handed over his pay packet. He must have kept – or got – some back for his fags, car and occasional pullover. I’m not clear if my mum liked the system or not, particularly as she also had a job.

I wouldn’t be comfortable with it, but it’s different strokes for different folks, I guess. Maybe people should just stop telling other people what they should and shouldn’t do. I’ll just read that sentence back as something about it is nagging at me. Nope. It’s fine.

For butter or worse

NIGELLA Lawson has caused a storm of controversy with her views on toast.

The lippy cook revealed that she double-buttered her toast, lathering in one layer and letting it melt in before adding a second to provide “golden patches on the surface”.

That sounds fine, but my beef is that, surely, the toast will be cold, or at least barely warm, by the time the second lathering is complete.

This column eschews matters of gender, whether regarding private lives or private parts but, for the record, it has noticed over the years a marked difference in attitudes to toast. To wit, women happily let it go cold.

This has always baffled me and caused several emotional break-ups. What’s the point of heating toast only let it go cold? If you interrogated a woman closely on the subject, they might say toast is all about texture and crispness. But surely that’s just part of it. Toast is cosy precisely because it’s warm.

Call me controversial, but I do not believe the famous chef has thought this through. Meanwhile, my sources say Nigella is single and that is, frankly, unsurprising.

Christmas peeve

OVER-PRICED bourgeois emporium John Lewis has been hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons again.

This time, it’s because a cheap chain launched a Christmas range almost identical to Lewis’s but half the price. I’ll be candid with you here and holler wildly that I’m not entirely familiar with B&M – the cheap chain under advisement – but I suspect it’s one of those bare, functional stores that look like something from Soviet Russia.

I cannot say I approve of these – including Lidl, Aldi and suchlike – and prefer the honey-lit ambience of John Lewis, when I can get past the bouncers.

Big stores are the nearest I get to a discotheque or gentlemen’s club and, consequently, I like them to have some atmosphere.

Question: is it worth paying double for some lighting and atmosphere as you shop? That bombshell query becomes even more staggeringly germane if you shop online and don’t get the ambience but still pay the price.

But if you shop in reality world and desire a faux-fur stocking, snow globe or shimmering Santa, just pretend it’s East Germany in 1972 and go to one of the cheap chains.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald.