The recrudescence of corruption and sleaze in a Conservative government ought, traditionally, to be a sign of electoral problems ahead. This was the case in the dying days of the 13 years of Tory rule from 1951 to 1964, and towards the tail end of the Thatcher-Major governments of 1979-97 – 18 years!

And here we are, with a Conservative government that has been in office – with temporary help from the Liberal Democrats – for almost 11 years since 2010, steeped in accusations of sleaze and corrupt contracts; yet there is a widespread assumption that they will win the byelection in Hartlepool – once a Labour stronghold. Moreover, there is even speculation that if they do well in the local elections, prime minister Boris Johnson could spring a snap election on the back of such results and his supposed success with the vaccination programme, to say nothing of a “consumer boom” as the economy is released from the clampdown induced by the onset of the Plague.

One of the many ironies associated with the local elections is that much of the dissatisfaction with Labour at this level is the result of reductions in local authority expenditure prompted by savage cuts in a Conservative government’s grants to councils.

Welcome though a return to some semblance of normality may be, it must be an open question how long it will last, given the way that the slogan “data before dates” is already heading for desuetude, and scientific and medical sources are manifesting concern about the possibility of a third wave of the Plague.

Johnson’s practice is to claim credit where credit is certainly not due. It was good to see Private Eye, that alert critic of government propaganda, scotch his claim that “the reason we have vaccine success” is due to “greed”, “capitalism”, “big pharma” and “giant corporations that wanted to give good returns to shareholders”. No: as the Eye says, the vaccine “was created with state funding given explicitly because of lack of involvement by Big Pharma”.

A common concern of those who are disgusted by this government is that the Tories appear to have


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