A subtle message can be glimpsed as high Tories and their nominees in the right-wing press jostle to tell us just what an all-round rascal Boris Johnson is. The impression they seek to convey is that the Prime Minister is a law unto himself and a man whose character flaws and iniquities are – to use one of their pet idioms – “once in a generation”.

By exposing his dirty washing to the light in increasingly graphic detail, the Tories seem to be conducting a public exorcism as a means of telling the electorate that Mr Johnson’s premiership was an aberration and entirely untypical of their party’s true values.

These, as each candidate to replace him has averred this weekend, are founded on honour, respect and “integrity”. They resemble the consuls describing Caligula’s four-year reign as a depraved deviation from the values of decency that underpinned Roman society. The civilised business of mere incest, pillage, crucifixion and poisoning would soon proceed as before.

We’ll leave aside, for the moment, the thought that washing Mr Johnson’s soiled linen would require renting an Olympic-grade swimming pool for a week. And we can discuss later the extent to which these newly-righteous Tories were all complicit in their pay-master’s three-year bacchanal. For the moment, let’s take a closer look at what’s really going on here.

As the resignations from Mr Johnson’s government reached and surpassed 50 last Thursday, the Sunday newspaper chroniclers began to compile their “inside stories” of the psycho-drama unfolding in 10 Downing Street. There came forth a tsunami of lurid - and hitherto concealed - titbits about the debauchery that flowed like sewage beneath Mr Johnson’s tenure. Any day now I expect to see stories about blood sacrifices, horned goats and the Black Mass in the Rose Garden. Someone from the Joint Chiefs will provide a Russian connection and somewhere down the line the Chinese will be getting it.

It will be a sophisticated exercise in softening up the public in which we’re all anaesthetised to the normal effects of the Tory way of life. Compared with Rasputin Johnson, everything else will seem honest and swaddled in probity. I’m not convinced though, that the English voters will be fooled so easily this time.

A patina of superciliousness is evident when middle-class commentators and academics strive to explain the Red Wall phenomenon. It implies that Boris Johnson was able to appeal to the “populist” instincts of voters in the North. “Populist”, of course, is media and political shorthand for “thick as mince”. It portrays Mr Johnson as a nursery teacher getting down on his hands and knees to talk slowly, using small words, to the pre-schoolers.

Those who propagate this fiction know little about these northern communities. They’re impervious to the decades of de-industrialisation in these regions and the inability of gentrified Labour politicians – seduced by the Westminster party scene – to help them recover from Thatcherism.

They were dismissed as racists for supporting Brexit. This is a defamation which infers these voters are incapable of anything more enlightened. Yet, resentment of Europe had been brewing in these communities for many years, much of it caused by EU laws on migrant labour which undercut local workplace agreements on pay and conditions and actually encouraged employers to treat overseas workers shabbily.

Mr Johnson seemed to divine this and, unlike many of Labour’s politicians, was able to reach them without appearing to be condescending. When he talked about levelling up, they trusted him to deliver.

It may be reasonable to suggest that Mr Johnson’s commitment to levelling up would inevitably evaporate. You also formed the impression though, in many interviews conducted over the course of the last few days that a significant number of voters in the Red Wall seats remained happy to give him the benefit of the doubt, citing Covid-19 as the main reason for the lack of progress.

There’s also an assumption that sexual incontinence and breaking the lockdown rules were the most egregious of Boris Johnson’s mortal sins. Perhaps, this is true, although I’m not convinced. The British electorate are probably more indulgent of such conduct than they are about naked greed. Seeing powerful people who are already very rich bending the rules here and there to enrich themselves even further is what is known colloquially as “taking the p***”.

Mr Johnson can in no way be regarded as being financially embarrassed, but nor has it ever been evident that the personal accumulation of wealth by questionable means is among his primary motivations. The same cannot be said for several of those who engineered his removal last week, including the billionaire, Rishi Sunak and his family’s tax arrangements and Nadhim Zahawi whose finances are presently under investigation by HMRC.

The sickness at the heart of the modern Conservative Party goes much deeper than Mr Johnson’s personal conduct. Its tendency to favour policies which will benefit only the wealthiest in society has always been understood. This iteration of the party though, is something different and more insidious. It seems to proceed on an undisguised and implacable pursuit of money. And to remove all obstacles in the process.

Mr Johnson, you sensed, was concerned chiefly with maintaining his status as Prime Minister, ditching and adopting principles along the way to maintain his adolescent dream. Some of his successors – and their supporters – convey the impression that politics is an add-on to their main business: securing as much wealth as they can in the shortest time possible.

The weekend has also brought forth reports of Conservative leadership candidates handing over dossiers on their opponents detailing their sexual and financial proclivities. One document which has been circulating widely on social media reads like the list of vices described in Dante’s Inferno as he descends through the nine circles of torment.

Throughout the course of the Conservative leadership contest we will hear pledges to re-calibrate the UK Government and set it upon a more uplifting and dignified journey of moral rectitude. It’s all a lie.

Boris Johnson was reckless and had committed the unforgivable sin of Toryism: attracting scrutiny of what lies beneath. This is why they have cast him out. Their patsy had outlived his usefulness.

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