This article could have started with any number of examples as to why this government, majority or not, should be called to account. But does not each event already seem to be ancient history, even though it happened only a few weeks ago? Each egregious episode, each headline, is followed hot-foot by the next.
Although each one stains the government’s record, the next pushes its predecessor back into oblivion. This suits Johnson, even when he himself is the focus for his lies, his clowning or his incompetence: to keep attracting hostile fire while, thanks to his majority, he is immune, distracting us from his real agenda – The Plan, and what enables it.
Despite the temptation to do so, the lengthy catalogue of idiocies should not be seen as a clown act. Each should be seen through a clearer lens as one of four behaviours:
- Enabling: while democracy still survives in country and Parliament, Johnson’s hands are still tied, preventing him from reaching his goals. Therefore, amid the noise generated by his cock-ups and distractions [see below], he is step-by-step breaking down obstacles and building a legal pathway towards The Plan by passing enabling legislation. Brexit freed him from compliance with EU norms. He awarded himself emergency powers to deal with Covid. He has appointed into positions of power those on whose support he can rely or buy. He has attempted to remove judicial safety nets for democratic norms. He has enabled private sector influence over tax-payer assets. He has criminalised protest. These are no joke.
- Cock-ups: this is a cabinet of enforced loyalty rather than competence, generating policies leading to damaging outcomes. Successive delays in addressing Covid-19. Brexit with little thought as to the future. The Northern Powerhouse denuded of funds. Social care policy failing to address the main issues – all big issues incompetently designed. More? Sewage discharges into previously clean [thanks to EU standards] beaches. The post-Paterson attempt to remove proper scrutiny of MP corruption was too much even for Johnson lobby fodder.
- Sacrificial lambs: the government has enacted measures which it was warned could only have deleterious effects on this country’s people and economy. That the fishing industry would suffer was clear from before Brexit. Agriculture likewise, even before encouraging unnecessary imports of lamb from New Zealand, chicken from USA etc. That whole regions previously supported by funds from the EU would not receive promised replacement funds was glaringly obvious and has already become painful. Warnings that UK businesses would suffer from the consequences of Brexit were repeatedly made but nonetheless allowed to occur, as was the impact on individuals either forced to leave their homes here or return from abroad. These have all paid the price for valueless “sovereignty”.
- Distractions: a serial adulterer in Downing Street? Openly flouted norms for Party donations? Quick wins when it comes to attracting righteous indignation in the media. “New décor for your own home? “How much would you like, Boris?” “A holiday or two for you and the family? Yours, gratis, Prime Minister”. “Need some cash for the Party? Bung me a peerage, PM.” “A party during lockdown? Why not?” These are all sacking or even criminal issues in normal times but not when you are the entitled buffoon! Scattered around like wartime “chaff”, such tit-bits easily draw hostile fire away from the hardly-debated enabling Bills rushed through Parliament. Hence, similarly, the disingenuous Worzel Gummidge image and rhetorical fatuities. Worse still, he has adopted from the fascist playbook the demonisation of “others”, pointing the accusatory finger of blame at refugees and at Europe, our friends, to distract from his own accountability.
Destroy the BBC?
What is really behind this appalling chapter in UK history is far beyond the rather limited creative capacity of Johnson and his cabinet. They are in thrall to Big Power and Big Wealth. What these really want is more power and more money accruing to their already bursting vaults. However, they do not act as one. Some, such as Putin, may wish chaos on an old enemy, through which to enhance his own global status. Others, like Murdoch, seek a greater share or destruction of our assets.
Destroy the BBC and whose media gains? Billionaires with no stake in our society simply see State assets as plums to be picked into private pockets, the biggest of which is the NHS. When Johnson or his successor in Downing Street achieves full control of the State, unencumbered by inconveniences such as an opposition, courts or democracy, these puppet-masters can have their way with what we thought was ours, leaving us deprived of public services.
By then, it will be too late to unmask the clown.