Taking into account the events of the past week, I really should have entitled this piece “Beano”, as these have been bordering on cartoonish comedy if it were not for the fact that they are so grave. The vicious demise of Boris Johnson, very much like his clown-like persona, was truly a case of life imitating art. All we were missing was the slapstick and the stench of animal faeces, but we will not delve any further into the murky world of politico-fetish, it is perverted enough as it is.
Johnson was not my favourite politician by any stretch of the imagination, nor was Margaret Thatcher if I’m honest. Thatcher really riled me during her tenure, while I have come to appreciate her strong leadership and anti-EU stance as I have grown older and wiser, she was one of these “Marmite” politicians that you either instinctively love or hate. While the Thatcher revolution undoubtedly benefited many, those North of the Watford gap still remember the devastation caused and this turned many against the Tory party for life. The problem with politicians is you will never get one that satisfies all of your desires, and Thatcher undoubtedly was a mixed bag in that respect. In some issues she went too far, in others not far enough. For me, the poll tax and museum charges were a step too far, especially as I was living in private rented accommodation in London and my living expenses immediately skyrocketed as a consequence. As to museum charges and closures of public libraries, my sister, having already lost her dream job as a librarian in the 70’s cycle of cutbacks, this hit home especially hard. If it wasn’t for the many hours spent in libraries as a kid, I would quite probably have ended up delinquent, not only were they a safe haven away from a tormented domestic scene, they allowed me to broaden my knowledge and fostered my eternal love of books, reading and pursuit of knowledge. It was the first of many government initiatives (irrespective of party) that has destroyed social mobility and culture in this country.
So I could understand the visceral hatred of the Left for Johnson. Everything screamed “Entitlement”, from his dual nationality to his Bullingdon club antics. Another toffee-nosed public schoolboy, everything about Johnson was a trigger for the Left, from his position on Brexit to his “Happy go lucky” persona. I prefer to give my politicians a fair crack of the whip, and I care not if they have a silver spoon spot welded to the roof of their mouth or that they keep their coal in the bath. What I am looking for is integrity and vision, someone who will walk the walk and deliver on their promises, who will look after the whole nation, not just a select few or just themselves. In that respect, Thatcher has grown on me considerably over the years. Sadly, Boris has turned out to be all bluster and very little delivery. I say this with a heavy heart, as both my wife and I voted for him, as part of the Northern “Vote lending scheme”. We have both been left even more disillusioned, and bitterly disappointed that the man has not acted as a Conservative, even with a small “C”. Rather than uniting the country, he has divided it, despite spaffing billions on back-door welfare payments during the COVID crisis. You would think the Left would be slightly grateful, but their derision and contempt for the man has been limitless. The few minutes I could stomach of Sky and Channel 4 News was truly disgusting, they were almost wetting themselves with joy over his demise. The parallels with Thatcher are frightening.
I won’t go over Johnson’s failures or successes, I’ll leave that forensic detail to others. What I want to focus on is the implications of this coup and some of the indications of where we will end up. It is not pretty. I realised what a mess we were in when Johnson appointed Nadhim Zahawi as Chancellor, allegedly after Zahawi blackmailed him into getting the post, threatening to resign as Education Minister if he didn’t. Any minister pulling such a stunt with me would have been fired on the spot and damn the consequences, for such open and flagrant opportunism is contemptible. As it is, it didn’t do him any good, and we are now left with the grandson of the governor of the Central Bank of Iraq in charge of our treasury. This, despite having failed to turn our “Mortal nuclear armed enemy” into a car park. Strike another one for the Beano.
The real scuttlebutt surrounding all of this is the ruthlessness of the Conservative and Unionist party (Died: 2022) and the clear organisation and collaboration there has been between Left and Right to depose Johnson. Like Thatcher, the man has been treated abysmally, contemptuously, for no matter his incompetence or lack of moral fibre, he is a perfect example of all our current politicians, gutless, spineless and totally two-faced. The Conservatives were perfectly happy in putting up with his flaws while it suited them, and then turned on him like rabid wolves when it didn’t. The 64 million dollar question is why exactly now? The Pincher debacle was just a cover, it is well known that whips use sexual blackmail to achieve their dark party agendas, so pragmatically, Pincher was your classic poacher turned gamekeeper. Johnson as a politician clearly knew this, otherwise he would not have appointed him.
Then you have the 1922 committee. Rather than being the bastion of the establishment, they make the rules up as they go along. Johnson, having twigged this, changed the rules to suit his agenda and managed to scrape through an earlier vote of confidence challenge. This pissed them off no end, as only they are allowed to do this. How dare he !!! No wonder his ethics “Advisor” was amongst the first to resign, you must have a really strong constitution to have ethics in your job title in Westminster. The key point here is that modern politics is so debased you really have to be even more slippery than a greased eel to survive, it just comes with the territory. Anyone suggesting otherwise is a fool. All these resignations were self-serving and bugger all to do with “”Doing the right thing”.
No, like Thatcher, Johnson has been well and truly assassinated by his own. When Thatcher was booted out of office, my refrain was “While I can’t stand the woman, the Tories have treated her abysmally”. My respect for Thatcher has grown considerably since then, and I love the anecdote doing the rounds concerning the time when she was deposed. The men in grey suits considered sending the traditional message of a pearl-handled revolver and a bottle of scotch, the idea being you suitably anaesthetise yourself before taking the “Honourable” way out by suicide. This was rejected on the basis that Thatcher would have in all likelihood, shot the messenger and drunk the scotch herself. My kind of lady.
Johnson could have learned a lot from this. If he had been half a leader, he should have forced the hand of the party and gone to the country. This would have required immediate action on his part, before too many resignations took hold. Admittedly, it would have shades of “Who governs”?, but it would have placed the rebels and the Opposition in a very precarious position with Starmer still not having answered the question over his “Partygate” role, and the Tory rebels having to toe the party line. The silence on the partygate topic has been deafening, and the only conclusion that I can come to is that in the fetid Westminster bubble both Left and Right, along with the mainstream media, conspired to eject Johnson due to the toxic implications of the Brexit vote. Meanwhile, when is Starmer going to resign? What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. We are truly in a post-democratic age, where the fig-leaves of the “Traditional” political parties are as naught. The clear cross party co-operation amongst the Remain camp is the only rational explanation for the sheer amount of leverage it takes to decapitate a leader, and is even more puke inducing when one considers the main protagonist in all of this has been the media, despite receiving billions of government subsidy during the COVID crisis. It would appear that loyalty and gratitude are two attributes that are immediately missing from anything nowadays.
So what are we left with? In my previous piece, “What a mess”, I alluded to the pressure-cooker politics that encompasses UK at the moment. This move, will deeply trouble any right-thinking and politically aware individual of any political stripe. If opposition players can manifest sufficient force to depose a sitting Prime Minister with an 80 seat majority mid-term, democracy is clearly a sham. We might have another Tory Prime Minster, but what happens to the whole vision of “Brexit”? There are no other heavyweight pro-Brexit candidates, and that is saying something as Johnson’s Brexit credentials were dubious at best. I’ll still be saying this as they screw down the lid of my coffin, but the legal and practical implications of a proper Brexit will take generations to manifest as the Gordian knot is so complex. We even left most of their laws on our statute books as it would take an army of lawyers years to disentangle the mess. In reality, being pro-Brexit means being anti-Globalisation, and to reverse all the other horrific treaties, concords and diktats that glue this can of worms together is a complete nightmare, having been built up over almost eighty years after the Second World War. Just look at the speed that COVID overtook bureaucracies, driven by the World Health Organisation, the United Nations and Bill Gates et al. If we are honest with ourselves, Brexit was over-sold and under-delivered. Just look at VAT for instance, a major proportion of which was originally destined for EU coffers. If we were truly out of the union, why is it that we are still faced with a 20% tax rate? More importantly, how much of this taxation still wends it way across the channel?
Europe was always the Achilles heel of the Conservative party. John Major discovered this the hard way, and the only way that the Conservatives will achieve unity now is to go full “Remain”. This, of course, will not be admitted publicly, but it is the only way for a shattered party to heal after such a vicious assassination. Hypocritical mutterings will be made about building on the best of Johnson’s “Legacy” (whatever that is in reality), and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are stronger ties formed with the Liberals, all built on the Liberal/Green platform introduced by Cameron and the coalition. It wouldn’t shock me if both parties eventually merged, the “Liberal” patina being used as softener for the “Nasty party”. The Green agenda is where all the smart money is at after all.
As to any suggestion of small “C” conservatism, that party died a long time ago and the political assassination of Johnson is the final nail in their coffin. Rather than standing by him, his peers decided to take the easy way out, rats deserting a sinking ship. They were more worried about being re-elected and any blow-back, forgetting that if it wasn’t for Johnson, they quite probably wouldn’t be sitting in Westminster in the first place. As to the Red Wall, Johnson was one of the few Conservative political figures who could at least reach out across the extensive chasm without the threat of being spat or punched in the face. I doubt if any other Conservative leader will be able to achieve that, the quality of candidates for PM is really so poor.
Rather than saving themselves, the Conservatives have just made themselves unelectable. Their Unique Selling Point, Brexit, lies in smouldering ruins, shot down with the fiery arrows of jealousy and hatred clothed in a wrapping of hypocrisy so dense that light itself struggles to escape. Like the 70’s Supertamp song, “Crisis, what crisis?”, the electorate will be asking themselves a simple question – “Policy, what policy?” at the next election. The answers will not be particularly attractive, for by then we will be in the depths of a major recession, if not a deep depression. Far from being the party of economic competence, their nakedness will be visible for all to see.
I’m convinced, if alive, Margaret Thatcher would – somehow – have made Brexit work despite the naysayers in the party. After all, it was what the electorate had mandated her to do, bring change. She would also have not entertained the current Ukrainian/Russian nonsense. Thatcher was regarded as a heroine in Russia, and understood the significance of détente, something our current crop of clowns would be well advised to think about while applying their greasepaint and squidgy noses prior to beating the drums of war. What we have to look forward to in our next PM will be a shadow of that leader, someone, while I disagree with them on many fronts, I have immense respect and admiration for.
As far as Johnson is concerned, he’ll be fine. The employment opportunities for former Prime Ministers are aplenty, and no doubt will get the chance to rest his corpulent arse on the red leather in the House of Lords if he so wishes. Personal security for the rest of his life will ensure no rabid pro-EU fanatic will be able to take him out.
As to the country, I’m reminded of the 70’s song by the Eagles, “Hotel California”. We can can checkout any time we like, but we can never leave. No matter who we vote for, nothing ever really changes. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer and those stuck in the middle rarely get anywhere despite all their effort. The only good to come of this is we can once again clearly see how totally corrupt and shallow our current democracy is, with a non-existent opposition and a rudderless and headless government. Strike that, the opposition are much more cunning and devious than that, for they are only just beginning to show their true colours in ways we are beginning to understand, it is just that they don’t have the courage to be open and honest about what they truly want for most decent folk would immediately say “No”.
And BINO? If you haven’t worked that one out, you haven’t been paying attention. It is what the establishment always had in reserve if the 2016 referendum went the wrong way. The first thing they teach you in politics and law is never ask a question if you don’t already know the answer, in other words always cover all the bases. Brexit In Name Only is what the establishment had as “Plan B”, and boy have they pulled a blinder. Anyone in the Conservative party who now dares suggest Brexit is workable, apart from being accused of being a Right-wing gammon Neanderthal, will immediately be associated with the failed premiership of Johnson.
Few will have the courage or disposable reputation to do that.
© Rookwood 2022