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Understanding Boris Johnson…

‘The old Boris would be hating himself as prime minister’ – Petronella Wyatt

17 comments to Understanding Boris Johnson…

  • Roué le Jour

    I’m sure when he is sipping a cocktail in Martha’s Vineyard he will be suitably contrite.

  • ‘The old Boris would be hating himself as prime minister’ – Petronella Wyatt

    Maybe, but as most PM’s find out their policies put together before they enter number 10 crash on the rocks of reality (or from deliberate unCivil Service sabotage) and your time in number 10 is governed by the ebb-and-flow of events. At most you might get some “Legacy” legislation passed (as Treason May did) for it to be ignored when it becomes politically inconvenient.

    BRExit is done (apart from the NI bit which will collapse of its own internal inconsistencies soon enough), so apart from keeping the dreadful Gove out of Number 10, what good is Boris doing exactly?

    Phuqed if I know.

  • Lee Moore

    Phuqed if I know

    Brexit is Boris’s lifetime achievement, and as Petronella said, Boris loves Boris more than anything else. So Boris is not going back on Brexit. So long as Boris is PM the PM is not going back on Brexit. That is not true of any of the other snakes, Labour or Tory, who might become PM if Boris departed.

    Ergo – Boris sitting on the potty so no one else can climb on, is a good thing.

  • Repeal of the Fixed Term Parliament Act is not yet concluded IIRC. It may make no difference – and there again it just might. Until it is, any 40-odd TINO MPs more eager to serve SW1 than the party on a given issue could mess things up for him, and he will be coy of getting into any situation that risks undermining his authority by making that too visible – especially to any potential 40.

    I want the law gone anyway, so hope it will be soon. (Best to know the worst if the worst is what is true.)

    Of course, removing Blair’s frequently-vile supreme court would also be good – but if Boris is waiting for that before daring to indulge his old preference for freedom, then Boris himself will be gone before any good comes to us.

    In the particular area of the pandemic, it is worth remembering that, to win the Brexit campaign, Boris made a conscious political decision to win over pro-NHS voters (“Let’s spend that £350 million/week on our priorities like the NHS) and, following on from that, to deprive Labour of their greatest talking point. (One could say that, manifesto-wise, he has promised on that point.) Thus the pandemic caught him at a point of particular political weakness. Until and unless he gets the message that the British public (or at least his target voters) think the lockdown theatre harms the NHS, he’s likely to remain stuck there – despite, apparently, knowing (but not from SAGE) that the average age of death with COVID exceeds the average age of death without it.

    There are, of course, other things for which the above cannot be even a possible excuse.

  • mongoose

    Things to do? See thoughts above (JG, NK):
    a) keep the Brexit fudgers away from the controls,
    b) repeal Fixed Parliament Act,
    c) allow the ludicrous NI trap to self-correct,

    Quite so but also:
    d) boundary changes to cement the next but one Tory win nine years out,
    e) slide the silent stiletto into the socialist EU.

    Everybody seems to have slipped into thinking that the completion of Brexit is the end of something. Not to come over all Churchillian, but it very much isn’t.

    Are we going to fall back into the post-war surrender programme or are we going to continue to turn back the tide? IMO we just saw the EU start to die. The squealing and bleating will rise and that will use Johnson up. Political capital once spent is never replaced. So Boris has to choose his battles. Which can he win and which can he not?

    For instance, climate and net blah, blah will trip over its own laces perfectly well without Johnson having the help it. So he can well afford to keep Nut Nut and Greta happy while actually doing very little except waffle. What he must concentrate on is maintaining the political room for the continuation of what has started. Just think: only one Labour leader born in the last hundred years has won a UK GE! It’s over. The roof is falling in on the Socialist century-and-a-bit and while the Left pulls the woke walls in on themselves, calm heads are needed.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    In short: a modern Disraeli.

  • mongoose

    Yes, that Red Wall stuff is classic Disraeli. And Starmer can be painted as the elitist – even when compared to a Bullingdon Boy Old Etonian. And it helps him that the media is resolutely and unthinkingly hostile.

  • only one Labour leader born in the last hundred years has won a UK GE! It’s over.

    …and Bliar is universally hated by pretty much everyone other than the centre left like Keir Starmer who think he’s the route back to Number 10. I mean, certainly the approach of moving the party’s appeal back to the centre is the only way for Labour to win, but as the famous saying goes “I wouldn’t start from here”.

    Expelling a few of the worst dissidents from Labour is a start but SIR Keir is no Tony Blair, nor is he even a shadow on the Welsh Windbag Neil Kinnock (also not an election winner, even if he’s a winner on the post-political gravy train). Even in the long term, there is no route back to power which doesn’t mean either an unstable 3-party coalition with the SNP and Lib Dems (more of a poisoned chalice than even the 2010-2015 Coalition) or winning back the traditional seats lost across the Midlands and the North. Keir Starmer can’t do that, he is too tainted by his failed approach to BRExit and too constrained by his need to appeal to the metropolitan elite who have captured the party.

    Andy Burnham might be able to do it, but it won’t be any time soon (since he’s not even an MP) and the party would have to be restructured (yet again) to get rid of the far left that have captured it and to prevent them from simply obstructing everything that does not appeal to their extremist mind set. Without those reforms Andy Burnham would simply become another interim Labour leader managing the decline.

    Blair won in 1997 because he appeared a more capable leader with a more united party than the Tories under John Major. For all BoJo’s faults he still looks like a better bet for the next election than Keir Starmer does.

  • Lee Moore

    Don’t ignore the Jacinda move. Find an apparently personable and reasonably attractive young woman, of whom nothing is known, and put her up against some boring old Tory chap, and there’s a landslide for you.

    Doesn’t matter what’s under the wrapping, cos once you’re in, you’re in.

  • Sam Duncan

    It occurs to me that I stopped reading the Speccy during Boris’s tenure largely because it seemed to lose its way. Which rather fits with Petronella’s observation that he wants to please everyone… and thus ends up pleasing no-one. He was a great columnist, but a terrible editor.

  • Paul Marks

    If only it was a matter of a bad, or weak, man being Prime Minister.

    Sadly I suspect the truth is much worse – namely that it would not matter if someone else had been Prime Minister, because the Prime Minister (and elected politicians generally) do not really decide policy on such matters. The system of governance is structured in such a way as to make certain lines of policy almost inescapable. And I suspect that this is not just true of the United Kingdom.

    One gets hints of it in the establishment media (such as my pet example – the Economist magazine) when an elected leader goes against certain lines of policy they are accused of going against “democracy” sometimes this is qualified to mean “liberal democracy” which is (oddly) defined as the independence of certain institutions beloved of the international establishment such as the judiciary, the civil servants and (of course) “the science” – which is defined as certain doctrines even if there is no scientific evidence supporting these doctrines.

    The dream of Sir Francis Bacon, Thomas Hobbes, Sir William Petty, Jeremy Bentham, the Mills, Sir Edwin Chadwick, and all the rest of them.

    The rule of the administrators and “experts” – with a mask of elections and so on.

    And if a person or group of persons advocate a different line of policy and win an election on this basis, and then carry out this different line of policy – that is going AGAINST “democracy” according to this (utterly demented) doctrine which dominates the Western World.

  • Lee Moore

    Paul reminds me of the testimony of Lt Col Vindman, who was a US national security council apparatchik and the real “whistleblower” about Trump’s Ukraine call, which led to his 1st impeachment.

    Vindman in testimony to Congress accused President Trump of going against US foreign policy, and referred to policy being developed by “The Interagency.” Unintentionally giving us all a clear view of the real mindset of a US national security apparatchik – that foreign policy is made by The Interagency (ie the apparatchiks of the Department of Defense, State Department, the CIA, NSA etc) and that the President is not entitled to interfere with their settled policy.

    Most interesting and revealing of all, this point of view was not advanced in a grey apparatchikky manner, but in a tone of outrage. He wasn’t acting either – he really thought the President’s attempt to insert himself into US foreign policy was shocking – nothing less than lèse-majesté.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes Lee – President Trump was going against (or trying to go against) “policy”.

    We see this even in local government. Policy comes down from somewhere (I suppose from international conferences – if one traces it all the way back, but even these conferences largely just repeat what the education systems have already said) and it is the job of all levels of government to carry it out – Agenda 2030 and all.

    The idea that elected people might follow a fundamentally different policy is considered insane – totally out of the question.

    I do not think this happened suddenly – it was a gradual process over many years, over time the officials and “experts” started to have more and more power (with the elected people becoming a sort of entertainment show). Nor is it yet total – as elected people still make some decisions (in some circumstances).

    I do not even think it was a plot or a “conspiracy” – it is just the way the system of governance has developed. It will, if not reversed, lead to “system collapse”.

    “System collapse” being the collapse of a civilisation by internal (rather than external) causes.

    This is because “the policy” (including “the science”) is wrong – so if there is no way to change it, it will lead to disaster.

  • Richard S Thomas

    I’ll just put it out there that as it seems that Boris has carefully crafted his persona to maximum advantage, it’s not impossible that he also did with his expressed policies and that current Boris is exactly what old Boris was seeking to attain.

  • Richard S Thomas

    John Galt, I think Blair won in ’97 basically because it was Labour’s turn (based on increasing dissatisfaction with the lackluster trash Conservatives had been serving up since they backstabbed Thatch) and John Smith popped his clogs.

  • Mighty Hammers

    “Don’t forget the Jacinda move.” She’s trying to criminalise speech, at the moment, with penalties for wrong-speak bumped up from three months in the big house, to three years. How could we forget, Lee, who are groaning under “leading through empathy”?