If it was Demonic Cummings who invented that last election slogan, ‘Get Brexit Done’, for his former buddy Boris, it was a brilliant wheeze. There seems to have been a simple calculation behind it. Most people aren’t worried about policies these days, and even less about ‘character’ (apart from in the ‘Ooh! Isn’t he a character!’ sense). They want a prime minister who will ‘get things done’; especially things like Brexit, which had been boring the pants off them for years. They’re fed up with politicians, who they’ve been told are ‘all the same’, and only out for themselves; told, that is, by a Right-wing press whose main agenda is to undermine respect for politics in general, so that it can pursue its own mercenary agendas without interference. That’s why they rubbished Jeremy Corbyn so thoroughly: a man who was so transparently honest that he would be bound to undermine their general case. And it’s why they don’t seem to mind, and the public doesn’t seem to care, that Boris Johnson is the most lazy, clueless and deceitful prime minister Britain has ever had – ‘mad and totally unethical’ according to Cummings himself yesterday (https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/apr/23/dominic-cummings-launches-attack-on-boris-johnson); and some of his ministers (and one ex-prime minister) the most corrupt in at least recent British history. With the result, of course, that when Johnson did ‘get Brexit done’, and in short order, it turned out to be the disaster in so many ways that is now being revealed almost every day of every week.
The promise to ‘get things done’ is a common rhetorical device for politicians with an authoritarian streak. It was a big part of Mussolini’s appeal; and of the British Union of Fascists’, who called their party newspaper Action with reference to it. I imagine that it was also one of the things that propelled Donald Trump to victory in 2016, and explained the popular support for him despite his huge character failings, which – as with Johnson – his voters overlooked (originally) in return for his ‘getting things done’: especially that ‘wall’. And it is why both of them, Trump and Johnson, were so prepared to override or to exploit constitutional niceties in order to get things done: Trump by his use of Executive Orders, Boris by manipulating constitutional procedures – and threatening to amend them, later, in the interests of ‘efficiency’. Apparently that was one of Cummings’s wheezes, too.
Boris can I think be characterised as a proto-Fascist, albeit a cuddly English one. But he and his acolytes in the Cabinet also seem to be taking on the character of something more mediaeval: of robber barons, who feel that their position and status entitle them to a degree of patronage which is entirely personal, and can be doled out without proper scrutiny to party supporters and chums; even blokes they meet in pubs. Is this getting through to people? And do they care? I suspect the answers to those questions are ‘yes’, and ‘no’, in that order. Which is what is depressing about present-day British politics.
And that’s without mentioning Israel’s oh-so-damaging influence: Priti Patel’s undeclared links; Keir Starmer leaving a Moslem meeting because he was told there was a ‘boycotter’ there: and so on. But then of course we’re not allowed to mention these, for fear of being tarred as ‘anti-semitic’. – In connexion with which have you seen the ‘Jerusalem Declaration’ on anti-semitism – https://jerusalemdeclaration.org? It’s a response to the IHRA ‘definition’ of anti-semitism which underlay the attacks on Labour in 2019. As a pro-Jewish pro-Palestinan – but even more, a pro-rational argument fellow – it made my spirit soar. I’m nervous of fellow Leftists becoming anti-semitic because of the baseless attacks of the ‘Israel lobby’ on them. Keir Starmer: please read, learn, and inwardly digest.