Tories zoom ahead in opinion polls, BoJo and Trump now fast friends

Columnist  | Kishwar Desai

Opinion, Oped

While under Theresa May, the former PM, Tories were lagging behind Labour, now they have zoomed ahead by a seven-point lead.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Photo: AFP)

The weather heated up this last week, as did the political climate. And now we have the threat of protests all over the country, following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s threat to cut short the duration of Parliament. It has been called “a very British coup” but is only part of the disruptive process through which Johnson hopes to “Brexit”. There are bound to be many more rude shocks in the offing for British and European politicians who had got used to a rather more decorous pace of functioning.

In an effort to respond, the Labour Party has been organising street protests in 32 cities, including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Liverpool and Glasgow.

But these protests do not appear to have dented the BoJo bounce. In fact, some of the opinion polls are now showing that the Tories are more popular than before, and people have liked the PM’s stance of remaining firm on leaving the EU with no deal, if needed. While the Opposition has maintained that it is a failure of democracy that the duration of Parliament has been cut short — BoJo maintains that not pushing Brexit through fast enough is the real failure of democracy, as people voted to leave.

While under Theresa May, the former PM, Tories were lagging behind Labour, now they have zoomed ahead by a seven-point lead. To make matters worse for Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader (who still appears to be on holiday) many people would prefer Jo Swinson, the newly elected leader of the Liberal Democrats (remember them?) as the Opposition leader. She is a young woman in her thirties and this will at least make the tussle to the top more interesting.

Unsurprisingly, the PM and the President are getting along like a house on fire. Apart from the fact the UK is looking towards the US to be a close partner once they have broken up with Europe, the two also now share a suspicion of the media. Possibly because often the media has not been too kind to them. Recently, it seems, according to reports, a Channel 4 executive, in a public meeting, pronounced that Johnson was a liar and a coward. This conclusive statement led to the PM recusing himself from an interview to the channel. Is this then going to become a trend? In that case, Johnson already has a precedent to follow — just tweet instead of giving interviews . At least that way, like Trump, he can control the agenda.

Meanwhile, one thing that never fails to attract my attention are books about the Mountbattens. Colourful characters, they left such a deep impact upon India, especially during the ill fated Partition, that one cannot help but delve into the latest published tome. Written by Andrew Lownie, The Mountbattens, Their Lives and Loves, examines, unabashedly, the various scandals that surrounded the Mountbattens, especially about their extramarital affairs which were fairly well-documented. I counted photographs of at least nine lovers (though her daughter says there were actually 18, in reality) that Edwina Mountbatten had, and it includes her “affair” with Nehru, which is openly referred to in the letters exchanged between her and her husband. They obviously had their own separate lives, and the author also refers to Lord Mountbatten’s affairs, including an alleged penchant for young men. However, as they are still out of bounds for most authors, Lownie did not have access to the letters Edwina exchanged with Nehru.

But he has referred to other material which is available. And I personally still remember being astonished at the bonhomie between Nehru and Edwina in photograph after photograph when I had gone to Southampton University while researching the events which led up to the Partition.

Understandably so, the affair has never been discussed openly by family members on either side — the Nehrus and the Mountbattens. But what took me aback was a paragraph on page 376 of the book which states: “The family, first daughters and now grandchildren, constantly denied Dickie’s bisexuality, and the extent and range of both their love affairs, though the story kept changing. Edwina’s relationship with Nehru was impossible, first because it was platonic and then because he was impotent.”

The last word comes as a shock... as this means it is time the Edwina-Nehru letters are brought out into the open. Otherwise, there are only rumours and speculation.

While on the topic of books, let me say that it is increasingly tempting to self-publish as it seems once you have a good book out there, you can make it into a bestseller through selling it online. The best-known latest self-published bestseller is Fifty Shades Of Grey by EL James — it did very well and sold 100 million copies as soft and hard copies, including when a publisher jumped in seeing how well the book was doing. And so this has become something of a cottage industry with authors like L.J. Ross (who writes crime novels) selling four million copies...

Thus many are now wondering that if you have the chutzpah, a good storyline and a marketing strategy... should one self-publish online and stop hunting for a publisher...

Let me know what you think...