The case of the disappearing Government.

A statesman in these days has a difficult task. He has to pursue the policy he deems advantageous to his country, but he has at the same time to recognize the force of popular feeling. Popular feeling is very often sentimental, muddleheaded, and eminently unsound, but it cannot be disregarded for all that.

Hercules Porridge, the famous, moustachioed European detective, takes on his most difficult case for some time. Investigating the dearth of decision makers at the heart of the UK Government.

When Joris Bonson, the larger-than-life leader of the Party is reportedly stabbed and stitched up “tighter than the Bayeux Tapestry” by his erstwhile neighbours, he left behind a gaping hole in the Government where decisions used to be made.

With Joris out of the picture, Hercules has to search for those who are willing to step in to plug that gap and run the country. Instead, he is left with a number of seemingly impossible quandaries: who is the Health Secretary now that Sajid Javid has disappeared? Parts of the NHS are still on its knees, struggling with over-burdensome management requirements, onerous systems and endless paperwork and it’s not even Winter yet. Where is the person in charge?

With a cost-of-living crisis the size of which has not been seen for decades, the mystery of the vanishing Chancellor deepens. Where is the occupant of Number 11 Downing Street? Why has no-one heard from him for weeks, despite the deepening economic gloom?

With Joris Bonson’s personal PR-machine Dadine Norries claiming her boss was done-in by a conspiracy orchestrated by the former Chancellor, which of the remaining conspirators will be the one to win through?

Hercules has to pick his way through the noise, the Westminster bubble and the chattering clatter of the Leadership to answer the question: where has the Government gone and who the hell is running the country?

Energy bills are rocketing to unprecedented levels – a family-run Chinese takeaway in Aberdeen announced it has had to close because its gas bill has gone from £900 to over £10,000, there being no price cap on businesses. There is a hosepipe ban in much of the south of England, yet leaks from unmaintained pipes are up to billions of litres. Russian forces are still doing unspeakable things to civilians and soldiers in Ukraine as a way of justifying its totally unjustifiable invasion, and it’s likely that it will put a further squeeze of the West’s energy crisis by restricting supplies even further as we get into Winter. Businesses are still struggling to get sufficient labour to meet post-pandemic demand, and a worst-case-scenario of organised power-cuts this Winter is being discussed by what’s left of the Government.

All this, and we are left with a choice of Dishi Rishi or Dizzie Lizzie, and it will be made by the 165,000 members of the Conservative Party, a mere 0.29% of the UK adult population.

Hercules Porridge needs every ounce of his little grey cells to solve this one.

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Larry the Cat: probably doing a better job than the rest of the Government

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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