Imagine yourself in the position in which Lynton Crosby found himself last week: he has the unenviable task of manoeuvring London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson into a position from which he can mount, and hopefully win, a challenge to Theresa May’s leadership of the Tory Party. But there is a problem: the Empress Treeza knows Bozza has been enjoying entra-marital nookie.
Moreover, not only does Lynt know that Bozza’s marriage is about to finally hit the rocks as a result of his inability to keep his pants zipped up, but that 10 Downing Street has potentially lots more dirt on the SOB. So began the painstaking task of damage limitation, which began as the Murdoch Sun led the way with its “Bonking Boris” front page. Then came “Boris and the Blonde”. And then it was time for the dead cats.
The first and very obvious dead cat was slung on the table thanks to Bozza’s article for the Mail on Sunday. As the BBC has reported, “Boris Johnson has attacked Theresa's May's Brexit plan, saying she had ‘wrapped a suicide vest’ around the British constitution and ‘handed the detonator’ to Brussels … He has been strongly criticised by some Tories - one minister said it marked a ‘disgusting moment’ in politics”.
And hardly anyone stopped to say “That’s the dead cat, and maybe we should be looking elsewhere”. Because Bozza’s dead cat had been successfully deployed: everyone was talking about how disgraceful his article had been, rather than the fact that the bloke who had been Foreign Secretary until very recently had acquired a penchant for sniffing around like a grubby Lothario after impressionable twenty-somethings.
But there was still the non-trivial matter of the marriage break-up and subsequent impending divorce. So out came another dead cat, which was duly slung on the nearest table courtesy of the Murdoch Sun on Sunday. “Boris Johnson has grown close to ex-Tory aide, 30, and bombarded her with playful texts since his marriage to Marina Wheeler hit the rocks … Former Foreign Secretary even went to her 30th birthday party and the pair shared fun at a posh bash in February” they have told readers.
Get that, folks? The order of events is all-important - the marriage hit the rocks first, then poor Bozza “grew close” (fnarr fnarr) to former Tory spinner Carrie Symonds. And just to make sure we all know it’s not something we should be prying into, another Sun article stresses “High-flying lawyer Marina Wheeler has kept a dignified silence on her marital problems”. It’a all “dignified”. Bit like Brief Encounter.
So what has been the result of the dead cat deployment? Thus far, it has been a complete success. The OTT “suicide vest” claim has got pundits looking the wrong way, and the totally untrue premise about his marriage breaking down before Bozza went sniffing after Ms Symonds is being widely bought into. Some in the Murdoch press are going further.
Sunday Times deputy editor Sarah Baxter, far less nice than she looks, has told readers “Give Boris his shot at the top job. He’s earned it … Johnson will deliver no lectures on morality”. Probably as well, he wouldn’t know how to spell the word.
Tom Watson was right that Bozza is about to launch his putsch - now we know the Murdoch mafiosi are shilling for him too. And that the dead cats have worked a treat.
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