But with Johnson, it is fundamentally different. Churchill was a racist and imperialist. Eden, despite being MP for my own constituency, was a wuss. Macmillan, an avowedly one-nation-Tory, was a manipulator, only one-nation while it served his purposes. Heath was out of his depth. Thatcher did not even believe in society. Major was thrown in at the deep end and could never get out. Cameron was a chancer. May was the architect of the hostile environment and a church-goer.
But Johnson? He makes you yearn for the old days.
The days when Churchill claimed that mustard gas was permissible against “inferior races”; when Eden invaded Egypt; when Macmillan “laid down his friends for his life”; when Douglas-Hume did – well, what did he do?
When Heath took on the unions with the 3-day week; when Major did fuck-all; when Cameron introduced austerity and called the EU referendum; when May presided over the Windrush scandal and universal credit.
Ah! Those were the days.
No thinking person could have any ideological empathy with any of these people who seem to rise inexorably to the top of the Tory party. But my loathing for Johnson is not based on ideology. Or at least not exclusively or even primarily.
It is the result of his corruption, incompetence and cronyism, his lying and his selfishness, his ego and vanity.
He is not solely a bad prime minister. He is a seriously unpleasant human being. He is a spoilt brat who has been handed everything he wanted until, suddenly and without warning, he was called on to take responsibility.
He was responsible for the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. But not responsible for it. It was the EU.
He was responsible for playing down the Covid crisis, claiming that this was an opportunity which Britain would be “brave’ enough to exploit. But this was because he was misled by “the science”.
He was responsible for God knows how many children. But they are not his responsibility.
He was responsible for a frightening alliance with Putin and the Russian funding oligarchs. But that was Labour.
He was responsible for some of the most outrageously racist writing I have ever read. But not his responsibility: it was taken out of context.
I could go on. And given half a chance, I will. But right now, the evidence is too much. Even the BBC is beginning to recognise the signs.
This man must go. And so should this shambles of a cabinet.
Today from the everysmith vaults: In these physically distanced times, tickets for strong quartet concerts are at a premium. But I have managed to acquire one for the Carducci performing Beethoven Opus 95 and Shostakovich String Quartet #9. I have been listening to the Amadeus recording of the former and the Kodaly version of the latter in preparation for an evening in the Holy Trinity Church, where I am not a regular worshipper.