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Weeknotes 2022.14

A few things I’ve been thinking about this week. The fourteenth post of a series.

Perhaps I’m naive, but it feels to me like ‘anti-Twitter’ sentiment is gaining momentum. In the last couple of days alone, my inbox has received Paul Bradley Carr’s article about the benefits of quitting Twitter and Megan McArdle’s year-old Washington Post article arguing for “major institutions in the media and think-tank world to tell their employees to get the hell off Twitter.”

There’s probably a degree of confirmation bias in my thinking here, given that Brexit led to my own Twexit. Yet, it does all lead me to wonder if the tide is turning, and whether by this time next year we’ll still see the same constant exhortations by television and radio programmes to follow their people on Twitter and to Tweet out our opinions. Maybe enthusiasm really is waning.

We know that the Chancellor was among those who attended a birthday gathering for the Prime Minister at a time when social gatherings were illegal. We know that he has received a police questionnaire about his activities. We are led to believe, therefore, that there is a probability that a fixed penalty notice will follow.

It’s also plain that, assuming the Chancellor has leadership ambitions, resigning in the wake of a fixed penalty notice is his only viable option. Standards in public life are sure to form a key plank of any future leadership contest, and the millstone of a lockdown-breaking conviction can only be lightened by a fulsome mea culpa.

One possible defence, which would be popular with some, is “I didn’t realise the rules were so stringent. I would never have supported them if I had. I was distracted by working on the much-praised furlough scheme. I will now resign for failing to follow the rules and for failing to hold others in Government to account in their pandemic response.”

It is plain that the resignation of a fined Chancellor makes it more difficult for a fined Prime Minister to avoid being removed from office. It’s therefore hard not to see this week’s wall-to-wall negative coverage of the Chancellor as helpful to the Prime Minister if it serves to snuff out any leadership ambition.

I’ve been reading Ali Smith’s Companion Piece this week—review to follow at the end of the month—and wow Smith’s quick-turnaround novels feel almost like therapy. Every book in the Seasonal Quartet hit the bullseye, and this latest volume is no different. The crystal clarity Smith can bring to the chaos of modern times, and the connections she elucidates between ideas, are like nothing I see anywhere else. She is just brilliant.

This post was filed under: Weeknotes.

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