Shouts of Traitors, Cowards, Enemies of the People drip like poison from their lips as he encourages the masses to take matters into their own hands. And should there be clashes and violence on the streets in the coming months, people dead in the ditch quite literally, he will no doubt regret it but lay the blame firmly at the door of Parliament and not the blessed people.
People who seek power are never to be underestimated. And people who seek absolute power are absolutely not to be trusted. They tend to be clever too. Often with an apparently obtuse intelligence, maybe having studied something arcane. Something which on the face of it has little to do with how we conduct ourselves in modern times. Eccentric even. We don’t understand them really, they are something of a throwback, maybe to be mocked. And we think in turn that they don’t understand us.
But you’d be wrong.
Boris Johnson is one such man. A classical scholar from a privileged elite. He has no interest in understanding the ordinary woman or man in the street. His sense of privilege means he doesn’t have to. His job is not to understand but to manipulate. Not to govern, but to rule.
And he does it all by presenting himself as that most insidious thing, a man of the people – a people whom he holds in contempt of course. A man of the people whose actions will materially impoverish that people. A man of the people who will remove their rights until they become mere vassals. Now that’s something he does understand and can get behind. As he re-invents himself as the champion of the ordinary Joe and Josephine we must remember that he isn’t choosing to champion the little people against big business, or foreign invaders or even Europe anymore. Instead he is turning people against our own democratic process, pushing power further into the hands of the rich and the few. He is making the people an enemy of the Parliament and Parliament the ultimate Enemy of the People. And a Parliament not as we might have expected in Brussels, but in London. The very Parliament to which he promised to bring back control, having wrestled it from the dead cold hands of Johnny foreigner and the EU bureaucrats. Well it’s back under control all right, but since Monday 9th September, just not yours or mine.
The day he sneered at the opposition as ”Parliamentarians” he by default set himself up as a Cavalier. Every time he ramps up the anti-parliament rhetoric he is giving the more extreme elements in the county permission to ignore the basic rules of Parliamentary representative democracy. Shouts of Traitors, Cowards, Enemies of the People drip like poison from their lips as he encourages the masses to take matters into their own hands. And should there be clashes and violence on the streets in the coming months, people dead in the ditch quite literally, he will no doubt regret it but lay the blame firmly at the door of Parliament and not the blessed people.
In his warped logic and pathological need to lie and obstruct he will cite it as incontrovertible evidence that the people’s will is clear; the people have spoken (god help us) and they don’t like what they have seen. And he is performing this smoke and mirrors charade with the greatest slight of hand of all. By deliberately hamstringing himself with the sacking of the rebels and the destruction of his majority, he is ensuring that Parliament will be seen as universally standing against him – the man who is after all only trying to enact the will of the people – from a discredited referendum more than 3 years ago. And if they are standing against him, so the logic goes, then they are also standing against the people. The people that put them there. But it’s OK says Johnson I give you permission to bring them down, I’ve got your back.
Meanwhile he plays the blustering, twitching, squinting, smirking Everyman at every turn. Varadker’s Classical allusion in Dublin on Monday was a nod to Johnson’s background but Johnson knows, even as the Taoiseach did, Athena intervention or not, that Hercules completed the tasks and gained his deity, Making the wife and kiddies just so much collateral damage. But in this Greek tragedy, already tinged with fraternal betrayal, Parliament and democracy are being the ones effortlessly sacrificed.
But Johnson is not stupid. He knows he’ll need a fall guy, someone who is expendable, someone who can take the wrap if things get out of hand; someone who can play the pantomime villain to draw the boos from the crowd. But it’s not Farage…not yet, he has another job for him to do. And so enter the Machiavellian Prince, all black cape and twirling moustaches: Dominic Cummings. So stratospherically evil and beyond the pale he exists merely to draw our attention away but while we hiss at him all we like, we should remember to tell each other to look behind ourselves, for fear of what is coming.
Nothing that is unfolding has been left to chance. Not one single lost vote, not one single provoked resignation, not one removal of the whip. Every time Parliament seems to have him in a corner and the tally of votes against him increases, shouldn’t we be asking, why is this so easy?
Sources close to No 10 are briefing that Johnson wouldn’t now have the numbers to win an outright majority in an election. He ruthlessly saw to that. So now he has laid the way clear for a pact with the Brexit party and, with the aberration that is the DUP an overdue irrelevance, perhaps a hard Border down the Irish sea. He might not go so far as his father suggesting the Irish should be allowed to just shoot each other; but he’s willing to cut Ireland loose and hang the consequences if Loyalist and Unionist forces pick up arms again.
For absolutely nothing can be allowed to get in the way of his master plan. He’d obviously rather have the Brexit Party backing him and his hardest of Brexits than work with the moderates in his own party. Farage’s ranks will pay the foolish courtiers to the clown Prince perfectly, as they are both classic fantasists. When he says, against all the evidence, that negotiations are ongoing and going well, listen to them cheer. When he claims he has a deal, listen to them shout what a deal, what a wonderful deal, but a deal that only really, really clever people can see. And woe betide anyone picking the obvious hole in this Emperor’s new clothes.. It will make the claims on the side of the bus read like a fairy tale. And when the Brexit dust has settled? What then? There will be no going back in the kennel for Farage and his rottweilers.
They will stay on in government, pushing through the most right wing, authoritarian programme of government since Universal suffrage. One Nation Toryism, the anathema that everything Johnson stands for, will be dead and buried.
The runt of the left will go further left to lick its wounds, but the mainstream parties will respond by moving, again, to fill that centre ground and so not only does Johnson win his own agenda he shapes the agenda of the opposition too. Until there is no real opposition. Only in the civic nationalist outposts of Scotland and the North of Ireland, if it’s not cut loose, and maybe in Wales will there be any hopes of progressive politics still burning. Hopes of a broader outward looking social justice. But before that can be allowed to do any harm to Project Johnson the devolved administrations I imagine will be weakened if not broken up all together.
Meanwhile what of his new potential coalition partners? What about Chapter 2? Compared to the Brexit Party the DUP are a teddy bears picnic. The Brexit Party is after all a loose group of people not even constituted as a political party, surrounded by dark money and darker aspirations; and by Farage’s own admission therefore not subject to democratic internal processes. As Brexit bites and things fall apart, without Europe to blame or a muzzled parliament to point at, civil unrest will surely spill out into the communities and target migrants, other minorities, the poor, the unemployed, all scapegoated as the price for this new Britain. For a classical historian Johnson seems unwilling to look at the lessons that have gone before.
For history tells us Johnson wouldn’t be the first supposedly shrewd politician who in his clamour for power made unholy alliances. He wouldn’t be the first to rely on the work of propogandists. He wouldn’t be the first to allow the “debate” to be taken straight to the people on the streets. We’ve had black-shirts in this country before, and Britain is not a stranger to paramilitary organisations or mindsets.
And Johnson is most definitely not the first politician who thinks he can manipulate dark forces to his ends without having to give too much away. It’s what Von Papen and Hindenburg thought after all in Germany in the 1930’s. Von Papen went from stating “It is to be hoped that leaders of this movement will place nation above party” to, in a short time, “the hope in the hearts of millions of National Socialists can be fulfilled only by an authoritarian government”.
So what happens of Britain gives itself over to unregulated inflamed hearts of millions. Lets hope there are no unexpected fires at Westminster. A heater left carelessly on now they have all been sent home. It took Germany just 4 years to turn from a liberal democracy to a dictatorship.
If Johnson et. all prevail. How long do we have?