You should never be surprised by what Boris Johnson writes in his weekly Telegraph column. Today's was a mixture of brilliance and daftness. The first few paragraphs in which he portrayed our 'terrified MPs' as loaded on a Russian sled, being towed by knackered ponies through a moonlit forest, with a pack of ravening wolves in hot pursuit, tossing sacrificial offerings over the back, is Boris at his irresistible best. And his judgement that this Parliament is finished, and that Gordon Brown's Government has lost the moral authority to govern our country is spot on. "Its over. They must go to the country" he trumpets (if its possible to trumpet in writing) This is clear to all except the governing party, and its refusal to see will reap its own reward, when it is finally forced to allow the people their say.
But then he loses the plot by advocating a 'Parliament of Rebels'. I go part of the way with the great man. We do need MPs with a greater willingness to take principled stands. We do need many more 'Free Votes'. We must move away from the 'lines to take' mentality, which so disfigures our politics. There is nothing more damaging to politicians as a collective than what is called 'a good political answer' - which usually means sidestepping the question put. But its not possible to run a political system without some commitment to the team. I'm sometimes told that I have a reputation as a 'maverick', a charge I've always tried to resist. I will resist no more. Rather like some of the clothes I wore in my youth, I seem to have come into fashion. But No Boris, we cannot have a 'Parliament of Rebels'. It would become a 'Parliament of Chaos'. This time, I cannot travel all the way with you.