THIS week we will find out what really matters to the British people.
On Thursday there are nearly 30million votes up for grabs in local elections and a historically crucial by-election in Hartlepool.
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What do these millions of voters really care about?
A country that is emerging from its greatest emergency since the Second World War — or the bill for pimping up Boris and Carrie’s Downing Street crib?
Do these voters worry themselves sick contemplating the damage that the pandemic has done to jobs, education, their families and their mental health?
Or do they wake up in the middle of the night fretting about who paid what for some soft furnishings?
Boris Johnson ended the political paralysis in this country, got Brexit done, annihilated a deranged Labour Party in a General Election and, after nearly dying, presided over the most successful vaccination roll-out in the world.
Yet the famished vultures gather around the Prime Minister’s meaty frame, shrieking for his removal from high office, smelling blood.
For some time now the PM’s frustrated foes have been chucking accusations of “sleaze” at him, desperately hoping that something will stick. For example, Sir James Dyson contacted the PM directly when the entrepreneur inventor was offering to build emergency Covid ventilators, and the BBC wickedly attempted to turn this into a scandal of Tory cronyism.
It was a pack of lies.
“We are happy to put the record straight,” the BBC eventually simpered, in a dusty corner of its digital empire.
But the manufactured manure kept on coming. Is it finally starting to stick?
There are currently three investigations into who paid for the Downing Street flat refurbishment, including one by the Electoral Commission, that rest home for embittered Remainers, who sniff, “there are reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence or offences may have occurred”.
The Brexit-haters are having a field day. And, yes, they are making a big stinking mountain out of a few pricey, eco-friendly furnishings.
But Boris has brought this upon himself. He can’t afford to cut any corners. Because Brexit will never be forgiven. There will always be those who want his ruin.
Although the controversy is undoubtedly counterfeit — this is the refurbishment of a property that is ultimately owned by the nation — the damage to Boris could be real.
Because it adds to the sense of chaos at the heart of this Government.
Oh BoJo, why all these pathetic spats, these trivial distractions?
So, Thursday will be crucial for Boris Johnson. But it will also be crucial for those who seek to bury him.
Hartlepool is the industrial North East, mining country, a proud former steel city, the beating heartland of old Labour and the party has held it for ever.
Hartlepool even voted Labour when that snaggle-toothed old Marxist was the great leader.
At the Hartlepool by-election Keir Starmer will learn all he needs to know about Labour’s relationship to the working class. Starmer was meant to detox Labour, to put some distance between the party and that elderly fan of Hamas, Hezbollah and the IRA.
But as much as Jeremy Corbyn, lawyerly Sir Keir is every inch a creature of modern Labour.
Uncomfortable with the monarchy, embarrassed by patriotism and still pining for his beloved EU like some love-sick teenager sobbing by a silent phone.
My guess is that history will remember Boris Johnson as the Prime Minister who vaccinated our nation.
While Starmer will be recalled as yet another failed Labour leader, the one who waffled about wallpaper as we fought for our lives.
Nadiya stages Strictly revival
CARRIE Symonds on Strictly? Don’t put money on it.
Political figures show up grinning at Tess and Claudia when they are on the skids.
Carrie has probably got another ten years in Downing Street.
Diane Abbott will be demonstrating her fiery Argentine tango long before Carrie. But things must be slowly returning to normal because Strictly’s pro dancers are stirring. Nadiya Bychkova will join her fellow pros for Here Come The Boys at the London Palladium from May 25 to June 9.
And we learn that Strictly will be a full series this year. Last year’s slimmed-down version featured nine shows, no trip to ballroom capital Blackpool and no studio audience.
This year producers say they are confident of 13 shows, all the themed weeks, a trip to Blackpool, the odd broken heart and at least two or three divorces.
No ifs, ands or butts
FIFTEEN Ukrainian models proudly bared their buttocks in Dubai and were promptly arrested for flouting indecency laws.
After languishing in what is described as “jail hell”, with the threat of long prison sentences hanging over their lovely heads, they have now been deported from the United Arab Emirates.
They got off lightly. Vitaliy Grechin, 41, the Ukrainian-born, US-raised playboy who paid for the so-called Butt Squad to travel to Dubai as a nice break from lockdown remains in Dubai, quarantining after testing positive for Covid-19 in jail.
Grechin faces bills running into six figures for securing the release of the Butt Squad. He hopes to be free to leave Dubai soon. I bet he does.
“It’s not porn,” insists Grechin, a property tycoon, of the notorious snap. “Everywhere else in the world it would be considered normal. Clearly, they were not climbing a mosque naked.”
But what did this arrogant idiot – and women he describes as “his friends” – think would happen?
Dubai is emphatically not anywhere else in the world.
It is not Ibiza, Marbella, Amsterdam, Cancun or Bangkok, despite the prevalence of Instagram influencers posing and pouting and taking selfies by the pools.
Despite the sexual shenanigans that run amok behind closed doors, Dubai has strict Sharia laws.
Grechin says the girls, “spent ten days in jail with no food or decent water, no hygiene supplies, no sheets, and with a metal bunk to sleep on”.
Lucky it wasn’t ten years. Dubai is in the UAE, a devoutly Muslim country. No alcohol in public restaurants. No kissing in public. And definitely no massed buttocks on balconies.
Dubai is the deeply religious city where it is best to keep your pants on in public. Dubai only poses as a mad-for-it party town. Dubai gets called conservative.
No – Tunbridge Wells is conservative.
Stone’s a rock
SHARON Stone’s autobiography, The Beauty Of Living Twice, is an astonishing tale of grinding poverty, child abuse and surviving the stroke that nearly killed her.
And after everything she has endured, Sharon looks totally unchanged on the cover of the new Elle from her most famous role in Basic Instinct. At 63, the only difference is that she is finally wearing pants.
THE most dangerous clots of our time are those appalling EU leaders like Monsieur Macron and Frau Merkel who smeared the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab for their own political reasons.
British fair play
HEALTH Secretary Matt Hancock, 42, is photographed receiving his first coronavirus vaccine from Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer.
And the image spoke volumes about the British sense of fair play. In how many countries would the politician responsible for our health get in the queue and wait his turn for a life-saving jab, like everyone else?
Football is nothing without fans
BEFORE Leeds played Manchester United last weekend, Leeds showed some jaw-dropping highlights of their old clashes on social media.
Then Leeds and Man United ambled through a nil-nil draw in an empty stadium that was like watching John Lewis wallpaper dry.
Modern football is very quick to reach for the pious cliches.
But the speedy collapse of a sterile American-style closed shop at the top of European soccer-ball proves that it is true what they say.
Football is nothing without fans.
And the Oscar for most awkward speech goes to…
BRITISH actor Daniel Kaluuya deservedly won an Oscar for his charismatic portrayal of Black Panther Fred Hampton.
Understandably overcome with excitement and emotion, Daniel made an acceptance speech that is best forgotten. “My mum met my dad,” he gushed. “They had sex – it’s amazing!”
In fact, especially his mum.
HARRY and Meghan will be taking part in a virtual concert to heal the world, with the likes of Jennifer Lopez and President Joe Biden.
Vax Live: The Concert To Reunite The World will be televised on May 8. The runaway royals say: “Our world has experienced pain, loss and struggle – together. Now it is time to recover and heal – together.”
Sounds like fun. But before they reunite the world, Harry and Meghan should have a crack at reuniting their families.