MASS DEBATE

I’ve still never set foot in a betting-shop. Even though I know the old image of the grubby dive inhabited by seedy, dirty old men smoking dog-ends has received a facelift in recent years, I remain resistant to the premises’ questionable charms. The only time I ever considered it was during the Blur Vs Oasis chart battle of 1995. For those too young or too indifferent, this was the moment when the nation’s two rival Britpop bands rearranged their release schedules for an ingenious PR exercise that saw their new singles simultaneously hit the record-racks. I would have put money on Blur reaching the top spot because I figured your average pop fan would buy ‘Country House’ as well as hardcore Blur fans, whereas I correctly guessed only Oasis devotees would invest in ‘Roll With It’. What this odd example is supposed to represent is the fact that you can’t get to No.1 on the strength of your fan-base alone; you need the support of the masses too.

It’s something Hillary Clinton failed to appreciate during the 2016 US Presidential Election campaign; dismissing a vast section of blue-collar, working-class voters as essentially illiterate idiots and then expecting to be elected without their votes was a measure of her delusional arrogance. She drove them into the arms of Trump and then couldn’t understand why she didn’t win. It’s fine to be seen signalling your virtue by standing next to Beyoncé on a podium, but you can’t get elected unless you cultivate an appeal that cuts across all the divides that Mrs Clinton’s attitude exacerbated. Even if you think great swathes of the electorate are morons, you don’t say it out loud; you pretend to be their friend. Once you’re in office, f**k ‘em; but not before. Trump laid a trap for Hillary and she walked right into it; I can’t help but feel he’s playing the same game at the moment as well.

His typical Twitter baiting of the so-called ‘squad’ of four Democrat Congresswomen last week resulted in the unedifying spectacle of a crowd chanting ‘Send her back’, displaying openly racist rhetoric in a political context like we haven’t seen in the States (outside of a KKK rally, anyway) for half-a-century. The worldwide condemnation of the shit Trump stirred even caused the President to backtrack a little; but not much. As has been pointed out by various commentators, in choosing to take on a quartet of Democrats not necessarily representative of Democrats as a whole (one of the four has apparently expressed distinctly anti-Semitic sentiments in the past), he is cunningly re-branding the Democratic Party as a kind of Identity Politics pressure group, something that will alienate floating voters come 2020 and could well contribute towards a second term for the Donald.

Trump’s new counterpart on this side of the Atlantic didn’t require the electorate to be promoted to the top job, but he’ll need to court their favour before long. Boris Johnson’s inaugural lectern speech will probably be delivered in a way we can predict in advance, crammed with the standard vapid platitudes – just as Mrs May’s was three short years ago. He will no doubt declare his intention to ‘unite the nation’, for the tiny majority he inherits from his predecessor will necessitate a General Election sooner rather than later and he will still have an appetite for electioneering after the interminably prolonged Tory leadership contest. He may also imagine relocating to Downing Street wipes his previous pitiful ministerial slate clean; after all, the main focus during the leadership campaign was on his stint as London Mayor – though claiming Boris delivered the 2012 Olympics is a bit like saying Harold Wilson delivered the 1966 World Cup.

The outcome of the Tory leadership contest was the most foregone of foregone conclusions, akin to being bloated by a hearty meal and knowing the following day will inevitably open with a lengthy stint on the throne. We all knew Boris Johnson would become Prime Minister, and now he is. Just think of what that says about where we are. Anyway, the understandable outrage over the fact that the new tenant of No.10 was elected by a miniscule section of the electorate isn’t that big a deal if your political memory predates Brexit. Boris got the gig like Theresa May did in 2016; and Gordon Brown in 2007; and John Major in 1990; Jim Callaghan in 1976; Sir Alec Douglas-Home in 1963…and so on. It’s hardly unprecedented. The only unique aspect to this contentious succession was how desperately Mrs May dragged it out, stretching her lame duck status simply because she wanted to be PM for a few days more than Gordon Brown managed.

Other than Brexit, Boris’s in-tray is interesting. The rather shameful state of the nation’s maritime traditions has been highlighted by a certain incident involving Iran’s piratical Revolutionary Guard; memories of how similarly swingeing cuts intended for Jolly Jack Tar’s fleet were only prevented by the actions of some Argentine opportunists planting their flag on Falklands soil back in 1982 probably don’t help in that this time round the cuts have already happened. And now we’re paying the price. As Boris doesn’t appear to believe in bugger-all but Boris, it will be fascinating to see how he responds to external events that are part-and-parcel of what a PM has to deal with. He has enough internal events on his hands with the odd ‘look at me’ resignation on the eve of his coronation, suggesting we should expect a Cabinet of yes-men and women. However, perhaps it’s no surprise when one thinks of the collective irresponsibility of the unruly rabble his predecessor was surrounded by.

Somewhat under the radar, there’s been further changing of the guard with the election of Jo Swinson as leader of the Liberal Democrats. A casualty of the electoral cull of Coalition Lib Dems in 2015, Swinson bounced back in 2017 in the same way the man she replaces did. The most striking contrast between the Party’s first female leader and the guy she’s succeeded comes with their respective birth certificates, however: Old Mother Cable is 76, whereas his successor is 39. Swinson seizes power at an opportune moment for the Lib Dems, fresh from their repositioning as The Remain Party and conscious that Tory voters on the left and Labour voters on the right are reasonably in their sights; Swinson’s intention to ‘stop Brexit’ may be refreshingly honest – most politicians hide behind the Second Referendum smokescreen – but the leader of a party with ‘Democratic’ in its name declaring her determination to overturn a democratic mandate has all the undemocratic irony of the world’s most totalitarian regimes ruling countries that also boast ‘Democratic’ as part of their title.

At least Remoaners have a Party leader they can flock to now, anyway; threats of a ‘No Deal’ Halloween are causing a fair few sleepless nights, I should imagine. Yes, it goes without saying that much amusement has been had via the Woke brigade’s tearful tantrums in response to Boris’s upgrade; it’s always entertaining to see them sob. But it’s as much a depressing sign of the times that a dick like Boris Johnson is the best the other side can rally round simply because he winds up the enemy as it is to have Katie Hopkins sold as a champion of free speech. We should be able to do better, but we can’t. Oh, well. At least it won’t be boring.

© The Editor

2 thoughts on “MASS DEBATE

  1. It’s most telling that Jo Swinson, and also Caroline Lucas of the Greens, have both stated that, even if a second referendum confirmed the Leave vote, they would still not support leaving. These hypocritical harridans have the gall to call themselves ‘democrats’.

    Democracy inevitably creates a losing side and true democrats accept when they lose and move on – as Kipling wrote about ‘meeting with triumph and disaster and treating those two impostors just the same’. We losing democrats in 1975 took it on the chin and let events play out as we’d predicted – it took 40+ years, but the slumbering masses eventually caught up.

    The dire state of the Royal Navy’s capability can be directly traced back to ‘Incapability Brown’ directing huge scale naval ship-building in order to sustain votes in key areas – the fact that the ships were wholly inappropriate for the military need and have even resulted in multiple aircraft-carriers without compatible aircraft merely emphasises the crude political rather than any military driver in play.

    As for PM Boris, given the dire state of politics, political parties and governmental incompetence at a level hitherto unseen, one view is that he couldn’t possibly make things worse. And, because of the unconventional character he is (not unlike Trump in that aspect), the mechanisms of the existing ‘failed state’ will struggle to accommodate his approach and the formidable intellect behind that cunningly-contrived exterior. They won’t make it easy for him, he may crash and burn spectacularly, but it will at least be entertaining while it lasts.

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    1. I figured I’d get this one in on the eve of his arrival, but the ‘long knives’ nature of his Cabinet clear-out does, I think, necessitate further thoughts to follow…

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