The merest flicker of concern passed across Black Rod’s face. Nicky Morgan had forgotten so much in recent months, it was entirely possible she might forget to turn up to her own introduction to the House of Lords. Indeed, her amnesia appears to be getting worse by the day. Give it a few months and she will have regressed completely. Baroness Morgan of Tabula Rasa.
Fortunately, Morgan’s minders: Baroness Verma and Lord Young of Cookham, had taken no chances. They had arrived at her house early in the morning to make sure there was no chance of the culture secretary going walkabout. From there, they had bundled her into the back of a car and taken her off to Westminster to get togged up. Moments after the clerk called her name, Morgan was led forwards to be sworn in at the despatch box.
“Baroness Morgan of Cotes,” said the clerk.
Morgan merely looked puzzled. Then she always does. It’s about the only thing that’s really genuine about her. Because the rest of us are just as astonished at her career trajectory as she must be. Fair to say, she’s been on quite the journey.
“That’s you,” the clerk whispered anxiously. “Hard to believe I know.”
Indeed it is. Back in 2018, Morgan had been one of the leading voices for remain on the Tory benches and in September of that year had insisted she would refuse to serve in any Boris Johnson government. Then her memory had begun to fade and she had been seduced by the possibility of badgers in night-vision goggles patrolling the Northern Ireland border as part of the entirely absurd Malthouse Compromise. The Alternative Arrangements had merely proved to be a gateway drug to an Alternative Lifestyle and soon “Our Nicky” was voting for any old Brexit.
It wasn’t long before the obliteration of memory – and with it any trace of principle she might once have had – came to the attention of a new prime minister who fully understood the virtues of having no morality whatsoever. Morgan was invited back into the cabinet as the culture secretary. A position she happily accepted, because by then she had no memory of having said she would turn it down.
Things went rapidly downhill after that. A headlong dive into the abyss. Before the general election, she had announced that would stand down as an MP because she felt she could no longer serve her constituents with dedication and wanted to spend more time with her family. So she had been astonished to find herself campaigning so actively on behalf of the Conservatives during the election and genuinely baffled to be asked if she had been offered a job and a peerage in return.
“Oh no,” she had exclaimed. Because she had genuinely forgotten that she had been offered both. Such an easy mistake to make. So imagine her surprise when Boris Johnson had kept his promise – admittedly a first to a woman – and given her everything she had always wanted. Along with an £8,400 retiring payment to former MPs that she said she would not return. Start as you mean to go on.
Bizarrely, Morgan’s introduction proved to be a spiritual high point in the proceedings. Because next in line for inauguration was Frank Zac Goldsmith. Though Mad Frankie would rather you forgot the Frank bit. Frank must just be the alter ego who led a racist campaign as the Tories’ candidate for London mayor against Sadiq Khan.
Back in 2014, Goldsmith had styled himself as a champion of democracy by insisting constituents should have the right to recall for MPs they didn’t like. Only it’s turned out that the recall Zac had in mind was his right to do whatever the fuck he wanted and recall himself.
The voters of his Richmond Park constituency had overwhelmingly decided they had had more than enough of Goldsmith at last month’s general election. So Zac had immediately complained to Boris that it just wasn’t fair. Respecting the democratic mandate of the people was never meant to be taken this far.
And Boris had rather agreed with Goldsmith. Zac was his kind of wealthy dilettante and it was obvious the voters had made a hideous mistake by not re-electing him. So the punters of Richmond Park had to be shown the error of their ways by having Goldsmith appointed as their very own unelected overlord. A man who could be trusted to always make the wrong call. Not least by accepting the honour. If Zac had even a hint of self-respect, he would have turned it down. Just so he could look himself in the mirror
And to rub voters’ noses in it, Goldsmith would also be kept on as the environment minister. Given the chance, Boris would also have made Dominic Cummings a peer had he not already been long since married into the aristocracy. There was always still time, he supposed.
There were a few half-hearted murmurs of “Hear, Hear” as Morgan and Goldsmith were introduced, but most peers remained silent. Even they have standards. There’s unelected and then there’s unelectable. Long live democracy! Long Live the people’s government!