The greatest trick that Kaiser Soze played in The Usual Suspects was supposed to have been convincing people that he did not exist.   Libertarians pretending that a vote for the Tory party was a vote for law and order may not have the same metaphysical resonance but for cheek it ranks with Kaiser Soze wherever he is.  Rest assured, say the supporters of Pfeffel, he may have broken the laws that he insisted the rest of us follow but our great leader did not rob a bank.   Pfeffel is not only known for never having bought a round of drinks, he has been anything but slow in wasting the cash of taxpayers.  £4.5bn of Covid compensation has been paid to companies that were not entitled to anything.  This includes 1000 companies that had previously not existed and were only set up to defraud the Government.  Crumbs, what a wheeze.  Chancellor Sunak is a man that, like his betters, believes there is no magic money tree yet Sunak has decided that to try and recover this £4.5bn error will mean one too many headaches for his superbrain.  And if that is not robbing the bank then Pfeffel and his chums eased £37bn to Dido Harding and her merry band of consultants and eager but too often unqualified and small-time businessmen, all for a test and trace scheme that never did work properly.

But no worries, Jacob Rees Mogg, a man for whom wearing glasses looks a burden, has reassured us that Pfeffel has, despite a record number of U-turns, made the right calls.  Exhausted NHS workers and the relatives of the 170,000 that died through Covid might not agree, nor might the fourteen European chancellors that right now are looking at higher growth rates than the always faltering smoke and mirrors of the UK economy.  

If all that tests the British sense of humour, at least we have Pfeffel boasting that Britain will rescue the Ukraine from big bad bully boy Vladimir Putin.  Liz Truss is a woman that likes to stand on top of a tank but back in her high heels struggles when facing a challenging TV interviewer.  Yet somehow the wannabee Thatcher feels qualified to issue warnings to a not so friendly Russian bear.   Someone is forgetting about the fourteen nuclear reactors located in the Ukraine. But delusion of strength, even when fuelled by making a taxpayer funding £500,000 trip in a private jet, is no substitute for good old-fashioned lies from the boss.  Enter Pfeffel and his latest claim that he is working hard to unite the response of the Western world to 10,000 Russian troops looking for a car park on the Ukraine border.   Hold on.  This is the man that led Britain out of the EU and waved goodbye to, well, allies.  These people do not forgive the threats of Pfeffel to break international law rather than admit that Northern Ireland needs to be in the single market where it will prosper and in a way that will be beyond mainland Britain.  

Look further west and there is Joe Biden, the man that, like Barack Obama before him, put the White House bust of Winston Churchill where neither he nor anyone else would ever see it.   Biden, like most of the residents of Boston, has never forgiven Churchill for his creation of a bunch of thugs called the Black and Tans.  The attitude of Biden to Pfeffel is not just rooted in grievance.  Biden, like 63% of the British population thinks Pfeffel, is an idiotic and untrustworthy scoundrel.   But somehow a Prime Minister that has created a law breaking  administrative machine and who is regarded outside the UK as not much better than the insurrectionist Trump and the billion dollar looter Putin is the hero that will lead the crusade to the barbarous east.  In your drunken dreams, Falstaff.

All things considered it could have been worse for Pfeffel.  Not for the first time vigour-free Stormer Starmer lost his way during PMQs.   Without much effort Pfeffel has transformed the Parliament debating chamber into a modern equivalent of the Boar’s Head, albeit free of alcohol, which, like cocaine, can only be consumed in the bars and corridors.  Stormer is deluded if he thinks he can behave as if he is in a law court.  This is why Pfeffel, as he has so often, sidestepped serious accusations about the Covid rule breaking inside Number Ten.  Asked pertinent if uninspired questions, Pfeffel repeats his now familiar party trick of deceitful boasts.   The man has had practice, and there are previous wives that can bear testimony.  Pfeffel was a serial philanderer and betrayer that soon learnt how to distract second wife Marina.  Every time he was caught being unfaithful, Pfeffel would take Marina on an exotic holiday.   Dark insecure moments exist in every long term relationship and they usually provoke face to face accounts and demands.  Some men flounder in these situations but not our Pfeffel.  We can imagine without difficulty his pleas for Marina not to think about his affairs.  ‘Those women meant nothing even if I did write letters declaring all consuming love.  Just remember, Marina, the wonderful holidays even if they were always in places where I could look at the babes in their bikinis.’   If equivalent tricks are now prevailing in Parliament perhaps Stormer Starmer should wear a bonnet for the next PMQs, the kind foot- stamping women wore in the old John Ford westerns.   

Thinking of the lies Pfeffel has told Parliament brings us to the cake that was responsible for him attending a birthday party, the type of gathering Pfeffel had prohibited for British citizens.  For philandering to succeed it is essential to keep the betrayed focussed on one incident rather than the numerous occasions that sex has occurred between the straying husband or wife and his or her lover. No philanderer unless particularly bitter or twisted shares those numbers with his or her spouse.  Much better is to say I did not know what came over me that one night, I suppose I was seduced.   And that is where we are now, talking about a damned cake rather than the other 13 or 17 parties or festivities that happened at Number Ten.  For all its faults, terrible taste in political leaders and economic illiteracy, a higher percentage of the British population observed the rules of Covid lockdown than did the close employees of the prime minister.

Principles should never be expected from a Falstaff imitation, especially one that ignores his own substantial girth and proceeds to fat shame SNP parliamentary leader Ian Blackford.   Independent media led with suspicions that the decision of the Met to investigate lawbreaking at Number Ten was a scam.  They reckoned the intention was to delay the report and give Pfeffel and fellow crooks time to think.  At the end of the week it was also revealed that the report of the enquiries by civil servant Sue Gray would not refer to incidents being investigated by the cops.  In the main media Kevin Maguire in the Daily Mirror has made allegations about corruption.  Maguire expects a bland report from a civil servant followed by a few handpicked Number Ten employees being fined for breaking lockdown laws. 

Of course sleights of hand are not so easy when what is being investigated does not need investigation and the conclusions are already known.  The parties existed, and you do need to be groped or to grope to recognise that you are in one.  Yet the saga grinds on, and ex-country singer and senior civil servant Sue Gray continues to miss deadlines.  At some point the British media will have to abandon its presentation of ‘Chug A Lug’ Gray as stalwart and loaded with integrity.   What the journalists miss is that senior civil servants can be classroom creeps and also ponce around as if they are independent heroes.  It is this ability that gets them their jobs.  The Tory backbenchers that will be offended by all this will be few although there will be some compelled to think about right and wrong.  More important to most Tory backbenchers, though, is how the misdemeanours of Pfeffel will impact future electoral performance and their job prospects.

Not all gangster states have military dictatorships.   Sometimes the military dictatorships are offered and even welcomed as an alternative to the previous gangster state that had existed before.  Before an oligarchy that is restrained by democratic accountability becomes a gangster state it needs to pass through something called a plutocracy.   The Blair government weakened the notion of democratic politics because it was like an opposing football team that thought it would be a good idea if everyone kicked into the same football net.  Once any sense of alternatives was removed Cameron arrived and ushered in a plutocracy that would have as its main priority increasing the wealth and prosperity of the rich and the powerful.   This is why the NHS is being privatised despite the institution being popular with voters.   A plutocracy can still exist and permit the codes of behaviour, albeit hypocritical, that support and uphold democratic traditions, the rule of law. Ministerial codes and so on.  In the gangster state the democratic traditions are treated with contempt.  Suggesting Britain has arrived at that point may be an hysterical reaction to what has been a difficult week but no one can deny that Britain is becoming unrecognisable from what it was and we now have excesses that previous prime ministers would not have permitted.   Nor should one expect relief in the form of Stormer Starmer.   In the same way that Pfeffel is manpulating the Gray report, Stormer has delayed publication of the Forde Report that investigated the handling of antisemitism complaints within the Labour Party.   The reason for the delay is because it says what Stormer would prefer to be secret.  This is that Jeremy Corbyn was obstructed by his corrupt enemies on the right of the Labour Party from setting up effective investigation of anti-semitism.   Pfeffel may be Falstaff but we also have to remember who else was drinking with the drunks and whores in the Boar’s Head, nothing less than a future King girding his loins.   These are dark days for the United Kingdom.   The passport office has raised its productivity and issued a record number of Irish passports to British citizens.   That irony should appeal to Joe Biden.       

Howard Jackson has had thirteen books published by Red Rattle Books including novels, short stories, travel books and collections of film criticism.  His latest book Long After This is now available here.