The names on That Spreadsheet are no indication of wrongdoing among Tory MPs; that must be stressed at the outset. Sadly for The Blue Team, however, every one of their number who has ended up being accused of a variety of inappropriate behaviour in the past fortnight has been named there. Michael Fallon, Damian Green, Stephen Crabb, Mark Garnier, Dan Poulter, all were present and correct.
That is not all: of all the elements of Government that are needed for their business to get through Parliament, two have been seriously damaged by the scandal. One, which is well-known, is that Damian Green finding himself under fire hurts the day to day working of the Commons, and the other, not as well-known but rapidly entering the political consciousness, is the shortage of bodies in the Whips’ office.
Not only are the Government whips under fire for their role in perhaps not letting Theresa May - or her predecessors - know at the time about the less than felicitous habits of some not always Honourable Members, they are also losing bodies at a time when the Tories need them most. There is Brexit legislation coming down the track; the Budget is almost on us. The last thing needed is a shortage of whips, or experience.
But after the former Chief Whip Gavin Williamson was unexpectedly promoted to replace Michael Fallon at Defence, the problems began. Julian Smith, Williamson’s deputy, has been made the new Chief Whip. But, as Zelo Street regulars may recall, Smith is not the sharpest tool in the box, having shown as much over the Edward Snowden affair and his being easily led by (thankfully) former MP Louise Mensch.
Worse, brought in as his deputy is Esther McVey, a politician capable of saying a great deal, while imparting no information whatever and leaving us none the wiser as to what she is going on about. Meanwhile, the whips’ office has lost another member, Chris Pincher, who has resigned his post and referred himself to the authorities. Pincher, whisper it quietly, is another of the names on That Spreadsheet.
So it is not unreasonable to ask the question as to how many other Tory whips appear on the now infamous document? And the answer is that two more of them are there, one being the insufferably righteous but not very bright Chris Heaton Harris. Apart from the word “Inappropriate” appearing against his name, we’ll move right along on the detail. He has been useful in pushing the anti-EU message - so far.
And the other whip on That Spreadsheet? That would be Nigel Adams, who represents Selby and Ainsty. The allegations against him will not be detailed at all: after all, it must be stressed, what is on that document is no proof of wrongdoing. What has to be concluded, though, is that there would be little left of the Government whipping operation if those dominoes continued to fall. This really is an administration in crisis.
Theresa May will get through Christmas and the New Year. After that - well, who knows?