IF you’re reading this, Russian hackers, please don’t leak it before I’m finished. We wouldn’t want the readers to know what I’m planning. They might end up getting the wrong idea. Or worse still, the right idea.

Before December’s election, anyone who read the leaked UK Government’s documents showing the Tories were planning to sell off the NHS to the highest bidder as part of post-Brexit trade deal negotiations might have been led to believe the Tories were planning to sell off the NHS to the highest bidder as part of post-Brexit trade deal negotiations. We couldn’t have had that, could we? A healthy democracy means voters deciding on the basis of public promises, not private plans!

“Any attempt to interfere in our democratic processes is completely unacceptable,” says Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who would have preferred if the British public had learned about plans to sell off the NHS after the election rather than before, but is presumably pleased his government won’t have to find a way to break this news to us gently, as we’ve now known about it for months.

Or at least, we heard Jeremy Corbyn talking about. Whether or not most people believed him is another matter. You can imagine the frustration of the Russian meddlers – and presumably also a Westminster mole – gifting Labour a smoking gun only to watch their leader reload it and shoot himself in the foot.

Might Keir Starmer (or indeed, literally anyone else) have been able to convince voters that a Tory government with a massive majority represented a huge threat not just to the economic prospects of the UK but also to our health?

We even had Donald Trump blurt out the truth that “everything is on the table” when it came to US-UK negotiations, albeit he later performed an awkward three-point turn by reaffirming “everything is up for negotiation” but not the NHS, because the NHS is not a thing. Or something.

Raab, Johnson and the rest of that motley crew clearly thought it was better if the electorate could just focus on “getting Brexit done”, rather than the boring details of what getting it done might actually entail. Though didn’t want folk getting bogged down in facts when a simple slogan would do. And anyway, who would have paid attention to one as boring and unimaginative as “protect the NHS”?

“Protect the Scottish Parliament” might have been a clearer line for the SNP to take – rather than repeating strongly worded but ultimately pointless statements about Scotland being dragged out of the EU against our will – but hey, 48 seats ain’t

bad and 11 more would be making hee-haw difference right now.

Will it make a difference to anything now that we know – or very strongly suspect – that Russians were behind the distribution of the trade deal bombshell? Or might it turn out that one bit of meddling was cancelled out by several other instances of it?

We are still, after all, awaiting the Intelligence and Security Committee’s report into Russian interference in the Brexit referendum and 2017 General Election – the one that was signed off by Boris Johnson December but has rather suspiciously been buried in the “out” tray ever since.

It’s perhaps no coincidence that Downing Street announced its suspicions about a different type of Russian interference on the very same day that news emerged about Russian hacking into the systems of organisations working on coronavirus vaccines.

If this is all getting a bit complicated, don’t worry – it can, like everything, be summarised in a three-word slogan: Russians are baddies! Don’t dwell on the merits of any individual act of hacking, leaking or whistle-blowing – assume they are out to get us. Think Gary Oldman in Air Force One, Dolph Lundgren in Rocky IV or Famke Janssen’s Xenia Onatopp in GoldenEye. The Russians want to hijack our planes, knock us out and crush us to death between their thighs, in that order.

Of course, such simplistic stereotyping will be correctly identified as xenophobia should it turn out that any Russian oligarchs have bought themselves and/or the Kremlin political influence via big-money backing of the Tory party. Next week, now that the Intelligence and Security Committee has reconvened with a brand-new chairman, we should finally learn what it discovered about hacking, spying, social media manipulation and infiltration.

But wait, what’s this? The new chairman, Julian Lewis, not only double-crossed the Tories to snatch the role from Chris Grayling this week but also infiltrated the Labour party in the 1970s? They say it takes one to know one, but surely having a double agent lead the intelligence committee is taking things too far?

Back in the day this chap won control of Newham North East Constituency Labour Party, later claiming he did so in order to

expose Militant entryism. That’s the double-bluff they all use though, isn’t it? He wouldn’t have managed to become Tory MP for New Forest East if he’d called himself Lord of Chaos on the ballot paper and used “burn it all to the ground” as his campaign slogan.

Did I mention he’s obsessed with nuclear weapons? The rest of the screenplay writes itself!

The Tories thought they were installing a loyalist who wouldn’t rock the boat, but at this point I’m concerned that Julian Lewis might be Dolph Lundgren wearing a rubber mask. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Stay alert!