What the Tories are getting with Boris Johnson is precisely what they should have expected they were going to get. He’s incapable of change and as such is a perfect figurehead for a corrupt and shambolic Westminster which is incapable of reform.
First published in November 2021.
The performance artiste with the stage name Boris Johnson who is treating the position of the Prime Minister of the UK as the world’s greatest improv gig does not currently have his troubles to seek. The fall out from his disastrously self-serving decision to rip up independent oversight of Conservative MPs’ sleazebag side gigs had not abated when he compounded backbench anger with his toe-curling, well let’s call it a speech, to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which contained more hums and haws and vroom vroom noises than actual words in the English language.
To make matters worse for Johnson, who got the position of leader of the Tory party in part because of his supposed skills as an orator, the meaningful words which the – are we still calling it a speech? – did contain were not strung together in any coherent fashion, and appeared to be mostly concerned with a visit to Peppa Pig land, which Johnson claimed was his kind of place. This must come as a surprise to those who have seen the programme in the company of some under-fives and had failed to realise it was actually about a compulsively lying serial adulterer who tries to get a journalist beaten up and who would privatise the NHS if he thought he could get away with it.
Still, it’s nice to know that even the supine jellyfish on the Conservative benches in the Commons do in fact have a limit to their toleration of Johnson’s appalling behaviour and manifest unsuitability for public office. However, it speaks volumes about the lack of morality or indeed basic human decency in the Parliamentary Conservative party that the limit was reached, not with a callous incompetence in handling the pandemic which has left the UK with one of the highest per-capita death tolls in the world, not with one lie after another. It was not even reached with Johnson’s naked assault on the democratic norms of the UK which the Conservatives effect to be so proud of – up to and including lying to the Queen in order to unlawfully prorogue Parliament in an effort to evade Parliamentary scrutiny of his Brexit deal.
The Tories have been just fine with all of this, just as they have been fine with the corruption, the sleaze and the flouting of the lockdown rules which the rest of us must adhere to. Johnson once again flouted official requests to wear a mask as he watched a performance of Macbeth at a busy theatre in north London on Monday night, according to witnesses, just days after he refused to wear a mask on a visit to a hospital in the north of England.
No, what finally did it for the Tories was a stumbling and shambolic speech about Peppa Pig. The Tories knew exactly what they were getting with Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, they knew all about his total lack of concern for anyone other than himself, the fact that he occupies a principle and moral vacuum, his rank opportunism, and his laziness. But despite all that, they chose him as leader anyway, because they cynically calculated that his carefully contrived shambolic “Boris” shtick with his deliberately rumpled appearance and purposely unkempt hair would appeal to a certain type of voter in England who would be swayed by the alleged charms of an upper-class patrician type whose persona is based upon not giving a sh*t. A significant minority in class-obsessed England confuse this act with authenticity, enough to give Johnson and the Conservatives the victory they craved in the General Election of December 2019.
Front page of The Guardian, 23 November 2021.
Now, however the novelty has well and truly worn off and the public in England is starting to show signs of tiring of the Boris performance. Even the robotic and bland Keir Starmer, who would make a bowl of unsalted and unbuttered mashed potatoes seem dangerously spicy by comparison is starting to make inroads into the Conservatives’ lead in the UK-wide opinion polls. As Leader of the Opposition Starmer is assiduous and energetic in attacking his political opponents. Luckily for Johnson and the Tories, the great political opponents of the Parliamentary Labour party are other parts of the Labour party.
There is now widespread disquiet on the Conservative benches as Tory MPs fear for their second jobs and start to doubt Johnson’s ability to get them re-elected. There are rumours of moves being made against him and even that some Tory MPs are sounding out their colleagues about a potential leadership challenge. Downing Street has been forced to go on the defensive, with Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, himself a selfish incompetence who owes his position entirely to Johnson’s patronage, asserting that Johnson’s speech to the CBI was an example of the prime minister being “ebullient”, in the process giving us yet another example of senior Conservatives using words in entirely novel and unexpected ways, such as when Michael Gove described the Conservatives by-passing the Scottish Parliament and intervening directly on devolved matters as “augmenting” devolution.
It is unlikely that Johnson will be unseated by his party in the short term, the anonymous briefings to the press from unhappy Tory MPs and the rumours of leadership challenges are more likely an attempt from within the party to deliver a shot across the bows of the Johnson ship of state in the hope of getting a few concessions.
However, what recent developments within the Conservative party do signify is that for the time being, we will not be hearing any more talk from the Conservatives and their allies about a snap General Election in the Spring in order to take advantage of the ineffectiveness of the Labour party. The Conservatives know that they need to get their own house in order first. Their problem is that what they are getting with Johnson is precisely what they should have expected they were going to get. He’s incapable of change and as such is a perfect figurehead for a corrupt and shambolic Westminster which is incapable of reform.
That means we are going to be stuck with Johnson for the time being. He’s possibly the best recruiting sergeant the Scottish independence movement could wish for and the longer he remains in office the more obvious the need for Scottish independence becomes to the undecided and the switherers.
— AUTHOR —
▫ Wee Ginger Dug, also known as Paul Kavanagh. Blogger. Biting the hand of Project Fear.
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- Text: This piece was originally published in Wee Ginger Dug’s blog and re-published in PMP Magazine on 24 November 2021, with the author’s consent. | The author writes in a personal capacity.
- Cover: Flickr/Number 10/Simon Dawson. - Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives a keynote speech at the Centre for Policy Studies annual dinner at the Guildhall in London. | 22 November 2021. (Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)