MORE fool anyone who’s still game enough after Donald Trump and Brexit to go in for political predictions. Second guessing is now strictly for schmucks. However, there are a few matters so certain that it’s less an issue of prediction and more a case of predestination.

Let’s consider how the Tory Party is going to deal with the fall-out of finding itself neck-deep in sleaze, and its once-vaunted leader now an electoral liability.

The party which makes Machiavelli look like Forrest Gump isn’t just going to sit by and let Labour creep past it in the polls. Power is the principle when it comes to the Conservative Party. That’s always been the case, and under Boris Johnson this rule is basically the only principle the Tories have left. So rest assured of this: the Tories will try to change the national conversation. "Deflection, deflection, deflection" will be the watchword.

For the first time, the mayhem caused by Mr Johnson’s administration is starting to bite on the doorstep. The chaos around Covid and Brexit didn’t stick – unbelievably so, for at least half of the nation. Many voters seemed to accept that with Covid no national leader was dealing with the pandemic adequately, and so Mr Johnson shouldn’t be singled out. With Brexit, chaos was part of the deal.

Self-enrichment at the expense of citizens, however, seems another matter entirely.

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The dirt just keeps rising too. We’ve now suffered the horror of reading excerpts from the diary of Jennifer Arcuri, Mr Johnson’s former lover, in which the PM promises to be the “footstool” for her career ambitions. Shiversome.

There’s also the absurdity of Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross forgetting to declare £28,000 in earnings. This is the man who claimed to be the real representative of the working class – which would be true if most of the working class forgot earning the equivalent of the national average wage on top of an already substantial salary.

The polls show Labour ahead, and Mr Johnson’s approval ratings falling through the floor. His problem is that to his supporters he’s simply a personality machine whom they believed was electorally golden. Now that the glitter is off, it’s easy to see it’s all a false front. As a human being, he’s a Potemkin village – there’s nothing really there. With that now apparent, Tory backbenchers are getting worried for their futures and their likely role as electoral cannon fodder.

And there’s more to come, rest assured. If events proceed as they’re doing, Mr Johnson could well find himself ousted by his MPs. The party takes an Imperial Roman view of its leaders once they’ve served their purpose or outlived their usefulness: loyalty is an alien concept and sometimes as many knives as possible need to be driven home to move matters along.

So what to do? Well, deflection is the only answer. Mr Johnson is, after all, a man enamoured of the "dead cat" strategy. Throw deceased kitty on the table when the going is against you and hope the world stares at the animal and forgets you.

There’s a chance that with the NHS across Britain on its knees, Mr Johnson could start a "conversation" about the need to "reimagine" our health service. That would kill two birds with one stone given many Tories fancy carving up and privatising the last of the family silver. Expect some three-word slogan along the lines of "Get Brexit Done". It won’t be "Let’s Sell Hospitals" clearly, but maybe something like "Rebuild the NHS" – that would allow a debate about dismantlement to become a fake discussion on improvement.

The PM might try to weaponise the migrants situation

The PM might try to weaponise the migrants situation

But that’s just guesswork. It’s much more likely deflection will come in the shape of scapegoats. Life in Tory Britain is a little like that famous Shirley Jackson short story The Lottery – where, in order to keep life harmonious, villagers select one of their own for execution by stoning each summer. It’s very Wicker Man.

Mr Johnson already has scapegoats lined up. There’s migrants – the Tory’s number one bogeyman. Why not opt for more scare stories about migrant arrivals? Why not victimise the weakest people with no voice, few advocates, and zero power? That ought to take the heat off the Government for a while. The right-wing press was already at its work over the weekend shouting, conveniently, about France being told: "Halt Migrants".

That’s a great twofer. Mr Johnson gets to rile up his base over foreigners and insult the French at the same time. The European Union is another easy mark as a scapegoat. Mr Johnson – a man so profoundly stupid that his former henchman Dominic Cummings says he didn’t understand what “leaving the customs union meant” – can easily tip the nation into hysteria with a battle against Europe over the Northern Ireland protocol.

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Threatening to undermine the hard-won peace in one of the UK’s four nations wouldn’t cost Mr Johnson a thought. There would be another twofer here as well – he would be seen by his base to be sticking one on the EU and putting those pesky Irish in their place. Dublin has rapidly ascended to the ranks of one of the Tories’ villains-in-chief.

Self-evidently, though, the easiest course of action would be some fish-in-a-barrel nat-bashing. Mr Johnson has made something of a hobby of winding up and baiting the SNP. He must be a little jealous too that while Nicola Sturgeon came out of COP26 garlanded with praise, he emerged as a useless fool. We’ve already got a hint that the Nats are easy targets. Two SNP MPs, David Linden and Drew Hendry, had to deny that they were “drinking heavily” during a visit to Gibraltar in what’s been described as a “bizarre Tory smear”. The claims emerged in Tory-supporting papers, which Mr Johnson uses as both oracle and weapon.

If he wanted to cause easy deflection then setting up a barney with Ms Sturgeon would play great with his base. The SNP would be well advised not to give him the cover he craves and to merely allow the stink of what the Tory Party has been engaged in to keep rising and rising around voters until they sicken to the point of no return.

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