The UK is now at that critical point where it is about to slide into full-blown authoritarianism, presided over by an entitled clown.
First published: December 2021.
To say that Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson’s attitude to the laws, norms and standards that are expected of the rest of us is casual is a bit like saying that a distant cousin who turns up for your grandmother’s funeral naked except for a gimp mask and some glittery body paint on the cheeks of his arse spelling out the words “tradesman’s entrance” is a tad under-dressed.
There have been numerous instances of Johnson acting as though all laws and regulations have an additional caveat which says: Does not apply to Boris Johnson if he finds it inconvenient. We saw him wandering about a hospital in the north of England not wearing a face-covering despite the rule that everyone who sets foot in a medical establishment must wear a face covering in order to protect any immuno-compromised patients or people with underlying medical conditions who may be at higher risk from COVID. Of course, none of this bothered a hair on Johnson’s artfully tousled head. It appears that to him any risk to other people paled into insignificance compared to the trauma he would suffer by having to put a piece of cloth over his lying mouth for a few minutes.
Just a few days later he again refused to wear a face-covering while attending a London theatre for a performance of a Shakespearean play. I don’t think that the Bard of Stratford-upon-Avon ever wrote a play titled ‘Tis the Twelfth Night Thou Hast Forsaken the Masque upon Thy Visage’, but if he did it would have been a tragedy about a Tyrant who willfully put his subjects at risk of infection during an outbreak of the Plague while the news pamphlets and town criers looked on indulgently.
The latest instance of blatant rule-breaking is the furore over the Christmas party at Downing Street last year at a time when such gatherings were prohibited by law. Indeed the Home Secretary Priti Patel, whom no one has ever confused with a ray of sunshine, said when the regulations to curb the spread of the virus came into force that she would call the police if her neighbours were hosting a party that broke coronavirus restrictions. Patel has been notable for her silence now that we know that, despite Johnson’s increasingly implausible denials, a staff Christmas party took place at Downing Street. A video obtained by ITV News showed Number 10 staff joking about the party which they admitted was not socially distanced. The leak of the video comes after days of Johnson denying that a party had taken place.
Johnson has been forced to apologise, saying that he was “furious” when he saw the video. You bet he was, he was furious that he’d been found out.
Of course, Priti Patel herself had no knowledge of the party at the time, you don’t invite Priti Patel to a party unless your idea of a party game includes stoning migrants or finding novel ways to make a refugee’s life more difficult. Mind you if they had invited her their denials that a party had taken place would have been more plausible. The mere presence of the Home Secretary is guaranteed to destroy anything approaching a party atmosphere.
Patel is not alone in going into hiding from the press. All government ministers have cancelled their scheduled press appearances and Scotland’s spineless Conservative MPs have all gone to ground, which given the fact that they’re all supine at least means they didn’t have far to go. Mind you, it is entirely possible that Andrew Bowie has put in a media appearance, it’s just that no one recognises him with the smirk wiped off his face.
This latest unedifying episode in a string of unedifying episodes comes just after the news came out that Johnson is seeking to introduce a measure which would allow the government to retrospectively annul any court rulings which ministers disagreed with, for which read politically embarrassing or uncomfortable. Johnson wants to give himself a literal Get Out of Jail card and give himself the power to retroactively change laws that the government doesn’t like. As they used to say in the Soviet Union when recorded history was altered at the whim of the party and undesirable events were airbrushed out of existence, you never know what will happen yesterday. Johnson is determined to give himself the same power and to give himself an actual caveat in all laws and regulations which says that they don’t apply to Boris Johnson if he finds it inconvenient.
Plans have been drawn up by Justice Secretary Dominic Raab and Attorney General Suella Braverman at the behest of the Prime Minister. The plans will allow for a so-called “Interpretation Bill” to be passed by the Commons on an annual basis, allowing the Government to summarily dismiss any court rulings they did not like from that particular year.
It is no exaggeration to say that this is the road to tyranny and autocracy. Neither is this an isolated measure. The Conservatives are already intent on introducing voter suppression methods with their Elections Bill. These measures will disproportionately affect groups which tend not to support the Conservatives. Additionally, the Johnson regime has made it clear that it intends to do away with the Human Rights Act.
Other anti-democratic measures from this government include severe restrictions on the right of protest. The Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Bill has been described as the most oppressive legislation tabled by a British government since the end of the second world war. The Bill potentially bans any effective protests, pickets or any other kind of action in places “such as” roads, railways, ports, airports, oil refineries and printing presses.
The Bill does not formally affect Scotland as crime and justice are devolved matters, however, given Johnson’s willingness to intervene directly in Scotland and to bypass and undermine the devolution settlement, that is scant comfort. The UK is now at that critical point where it is about to slide into full-blown authoritarianism, presided over by an entitled clown. There is nothing in what passes for a British constitution which is able to prevent an unprincipled and amoral Prime Minister who commands a large majority in the Commons from doing exactly as he pleases. It is now clear that democracy in Scotland can only be safe once this country regains its independence. Otherwise, we’ll be stuck in a Brexit Britain where you never know what will happen yesterday.
— 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 14 December 2021, with the author’s consent. | The author writes in a personal capacity.
- Cover: Flickr/Number 10 – Tim Hammond. - PM Boris Johnson attends the UK Food and Drink Street Market outside No 10 Downing Street. | 30 November 2021. (Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)