While some critics of Israel are being unfairly branded anti-Semites, another is facing an almost equally insulting charge: of being an emotionally incontinent, politically inept, gratingly self-centred woman.
Sayeeda Warsi’s resignation, on the grounds that she could no longer put up with the government’s policy (or lack of one) on Gaza, was a bombshell for David Cameron.
But it was somewhat mitigated by the general view that it was the consequence of a nakedly egotistical calculation, and that the stated principle at stake was a mere matter of convenience.
Did Baroness Warsi leave more to get even than to get mad? If one uses one’s own ordinary experience and not the two-dimensional motivations generally ascribed to public figures as a guide, it seems likely that it was a bit of both – a genuine principle applied at a convenient time, and the convenience rationalised out of existence.
But I don’t know for sure. What I do feel pretty confident of is that the expression “flounced out” would not have featured quite so prominently in the coverage if the Baroness had been a Baron, and that the general respect for her statement of principle would have been greater.
How do I know this? It’s simple. Yesterday, as Westminster’s most peremptory judges wrote Baroness Warsi off, they welcomed a flouncy, egotistical politico with open arms. Boris Johnson’s decision to run for parliament, in flagrant breach of the promise he made to Londoners, came as no surprise, but it seems likely that his serene rise will continue uninterrupted by scepticism over his heavily curated public character.
It raises the question: could there be a female Boris? Or would everyone just think she was a daft cow?