The problems of downfall

In the pages of the Fall 2020 number of the Claremont Review of Books Steve Hayward declared Charles Moore’s authorized three-volume biography of Margaret Thatcher to be “A towering achievement.” This morning I find that Fraser Nelson’s weekly highlights email for the Spectator (UK) includes Moore’s column “Thatcher and Boris: the problems of downfall” from the current (July 9) issue of the magazine. Anticipating Boris’s downfall, Moore opens his column with this observation:

Few leaders could be as different in character as Margaret Thatcher and Boris Johnson, but one can compare their predicaments when colleagues turned on them. Both had large parliamentary majorities and were never defeated in any election they led, yet both faced internal coups. In both cases, there were/are good reasons why colleagues were fed up with their leaders. What was true in Mrs Thatcher’s case, however, and may well apply in Boris’s if he does go, is that her political assassination caused remorse, and immense, lasting division. As John Major understood and Michael Heseltine did not foresee, remorseful MPs tend to turn on the chief assassin and favour, almost paradoxically, the successor candidate who seems loyal to the ousted leader. If that logic works this time, Rishi Sunak (and the less likely Sajid Javid) will find it hard to win. As for division, it will be said that it was very strange to evict a prime minister because of what he did or did not know about the predilections of a deputy chief whip, when the world order and the world economy are tottering and people face frightening inflation at home. They will also see a forced Johnson departure as confirmation that Remainers, whatever the voters decided, still have the power behind the scenes. Much trouble ahead.

I think it likely that this analysis is about as trustworthy as we can get today. Since the news of Boris’s impending resignation broke, however, the Spectator’s James Forsyth adds “Boris is gone.”

Notice: All comments are subject to moderation. Our comments are intended to be a forum for civil discourse bearing on the subject under discussion. Commenters who stray beyond the bounds of civility or employ what we deem gratuitous vulgarity in a comment — including, but not limited to, “s***,” “f***,” “a*******,” or one of their many variants — will be banned without further notice in the sole discretion of the site moderator.