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Whoops-a-daisy!



And the rest, by the looks of things. As their local election losses tumbled in on Friday the mood in Conservative Campaign Headquarters got progressively darker. And, as our Political Correspondent Peter Spencer reports, the in-depth analysis that’s being going on ever since has only made things worse.


A snap judgement from a former Tory minister says it all: ‘The reality is so bad that our expectation management didn’t manage expectations.’


And shadow minister Wes Streeting gleefully rubbed salt into the wounds.


‘I’m not sure, when the Tory chairman spoke about a thousand losses, whether that was expectation management or ambition.’


Not that the councillors who became overnight ex-councillors really matter to the Westminster apparatchiks. Any more than the hopefuls who’ll replace them.


Sounds cruel, but these men and women are mere cannon fodder on the parties’ strategic battleground.


Of overriding concern to all three main contenders is how the votes cast might translate into intentions at the general election, expected next autumn.


It’s all about swings, past and present.


And crow as they might in Labour Head Office, they know their chickens are best not counted yet.


That’s because they recognise they’ve got to do even better than they managed in the 1997 landslide that swept Tony Blair into power.


Counterintuitive though that sounds, in the general election that gave Boris Johnson his huge majority, Labour’s performance was one of its worst ever.


Meaning recovery from that must be mega. They maintain the gains they expect thanks to the SNP’s woes will tip the balance for them.


But other parties have other ideas. Like the Greens, who made a fair few often unexpected gains.


Then there’s the Lib Dems, whose results this time indicated they’re significantly nibbling away at the Tory-Labour underbelly in all sorts of tender areas.


So among the many behind-the-scenes calculations going on now in Sir Keir Starmer’s office is whether to even countenance a Lib-Lab pact.


This has been tried before, a couple of times. Er, briefly.


It’s not clear exactly when Starmer’s new chief of staff, former top civil servant Sue Gray, will take up her post. But her opinions will matter.


Proof she’s a formidable force lies in her recent partygate report, in which she declared Boris Johnson was not the messiah but a very naughty boy.


Little wonder the Tories are so grumpy that she’s now teaming up with Labour.


More to the point, both main parties are trying to work out what they’ve done right and what bits they’ve got wrong. And how to shift the dial.


Given that these elections were Rishi Sunak’s first popularity test with voters, as well as his last before the real thing, his own position is in question.


Certainly, when the Tories lost this many council seats in 2019 it was a stonking great nail in Theresa May’s premiership.


Unlikely it’ll come to that in Sunak’s case, however, as few dispute he has done much to shore up his party’s erstwhile laughing stock status.


But his own personal ratings had already taken a knock before the punters went to the polling stations on Thursday.


One survey at the end of last month suggested he’d plummeted by ten points, and another gave him his lowest approval score since he took office.


Could be then Labour’s nasty new attack ads, going so far as to suggest Sunak is soft on child sex offenders, are doing the trick.


This approach has stuck in the craw of some of Starmer’s team. And, again, Sue Gray’s input to the debate will likely make a difference.


Then there’s the question of what policies the Tories need to promote. For example the altogether locally orientated question of housing.


After Labour announced it planned to restore targets for building new homes, Sunak claimed it was going to ‘concrete over the green belt’.


His calculation, clearly, was that Starmer’s idea would sway voters towards the Tories in the town hall elections.


However, a raft of former Conservative ministers flatly contradicted him, saying they were painting themselves as the party of nimbyism.


The election results suggest they were right, and Sunak was wrong. And that’ll be just one input to the endless round of soul-searching now under way.


Still, however loudly they’re bellowing ‘god save the king’, that’s nothing to how heartfelt their mutterings to that effect will be.


Charlie sure as hell is their darling just now for the simple reason his coronation temporarily wiped their grief off the front pages. And all the live telly outlets.


The point being public hand-wringing and mutual blaming is, more than bad for optics, profoundly damaging for morale.


And the worse that gets, the more of an ill-disciplined rabble the Tories turn into.


Compare and contrast with the great occasion itself. Nothing like months of rehearsal to get that bit right.


And, albeit after a bit of a wait, one of life’s sweeter moments for the man himself.


Dad, aka Phil the Greek, was not present at his birth. But is said to have opined at first sight of his son, that he looked like a plum pudding.


That same dad had such a good time at the austere Scottish school Gordonstoun that he insisted that the altogether more sensitive Charles go there too.


Not much fun, according to our new king, who was relentlessly and remorselessly bullied there.


He went on to describe the place as ‘a prison sentence’ and ‘Colditz in kilts’. Many survivors of public schools during the period would identify with that.


But the question remains how far King Charles 3rd identifies with his two namesakes on the throne.


Number one, after all, did get cut down to size as a punishment, partly, for taking the king thing too seriously.


He did, however, take his own image just as seriously, right to the end.


The two shirts he insisted on wearing on the bitterly cold day of his execution, were intended to prevent people from thinking he was shivering in fear.


Things turned out better for his son, the Merry Monarch, who managed to die rather more comfortably in bed.


Before that he found his way into lots of them, fathering something between thirteen and twenty-one illegitimate children. Estimates vary.


Estimates also vary as to how many well-wishers were slaughtered at another notable coronation in Westminster Abbey.


Arrests of protesters on Saturday were predictable, and certainly didn’t follow the trend set back in 1066.


When Guillaume le Bâtard, William The Conqueror to his mates, got the job his security detail mistook cheering Saxons for naughty rebels.


Thus god giveth and god taketh away, same as armed guards. Then again, so do cats sometimes, in their way.


And pilfering pussy Harry has put his owner, Donna Hibbert from Derby, in an awkward situation.


Doubtless he’s only trying to be nice, giving her his idea of tasty little treats he’s liberated from neighbours.


But, when Ms Hibbert estimated the booty tally topped three-hundred pounds, she had to do something about it.


Opening a Facebook page, she invited owners to reclaim their things, which included a purse, sausages, an expensive red shoe and several sports bras.


‘They are off my washing line. I keep buying new sports bras,’ one bemused lady responded.

‘Just the tops,’ she added. ‘The bottoms may be another neighbour.’


All perfectly good-humoured then.


But proof maybe that Harry shares the conviction of nineteenth century French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon … that all property is theft.


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