Written 24 May 2022
Partygate has never really gone away and has burst back to the top of the news this week as pictures emerged of a party in No10 in November and we are going to have the Sue Gray report published this week. It’s looking tricky for Boris Johnson and it remains to be seen whether he can navigate the coming days.
I don’t really have too much to add to my earlier post from January on the question of whether Boris Johnson should resign. I think he should, and I still hope he does, but I can’t really pretend to care all that much. The voices telling us that there are a hundred and one more important issues to worry about are right in one sense of course. Our energy policy is falling to pieces, the product of twenty years of unserious feel good policy making. The war in Ukraine still rages, and just a week or so ago the question of whether Russia would use tactical nuclear weapons reemerged. There’s talk of serious food shortages that could lead to millions of deaths from starvation. Oh, and a speech by Biden reminds us that the prospect of CCP China invading Taiwan hasn’t gone away either. All these are many orders of magnitude more important than whether Boris Johnson had a drink during a lockdown or what this means for our democracy.
But even if what these voices say is true at one level, it’s not really good enough is it? The fact remains that a man with such poor judgement really shouldn’t remain Prime Minister and that’s that. I do wish the Tories would just get on with it and shift the buffoon sideways.
The really interesting thing about the whole sorry saga remains: how on earth has our society got itself into such a state that we have such a complete clown show at the top. Obviously Johnson is the main man of the moment but the rot goes far, far deeper and wider. I can’t really think of any of our current politicians, commentators or journalists who would have passed muster even under Tony Blair (and God alone knows how awful his governments were) let alone previous Prime Minsters. The world faces huge issues, and politics remains the way we navigate these as peacefully as we possibly can. But looking around not only at the UK but at Germany and the US one despairs. I look at Russia and CCP China and there is only malevolence, the mask of the last twenty years having slipped. I don’t rate Macron, he’s basically a two bob Tony Blair, but he at least knows how to carry himself (if nothing more).
The usual mantra is that Johnson is a populist and is dismantling the liberal order built up painstakingly over the last few decades, but this isn’t really true. He’s harmless to those in real power, he holds no thought in his head and is certainly incapable of taking on the embedded structures that have brought us to where we are. He has no agenda other than to be liked and his only real talent is in provoking non stop histrionics among the highly political and very online people who constitute the majority on Twitter. Has any Prime Minister ever done less with an 80 seat majority?
I’m not feeling hopeful at all. I doubt our politics can deliver competent government delivering anything but further drift into the rule by ageing and irrelevant treaties, unelected bureaucrats, NGOs, billionaire rent seekers, think tanks and lawyers we’ve had over the last quarter of a century and so that’s what we’re likely to get for the foreseeable future. It’s a pattern being replicated throughout the Western world. We could do so much better, and hopefully we will produce a generation who can deliver, but I’m not holding my breath.