I see what they’re doing. They’ve worked out that very few people really care about politics, or about the conduct of their rulers; so long as it doesn’t involve paedophilia or… actually, I can’t think of anything else that would turn people seriously against them. Politicians’ minor peccadillos – cheating on expenses, using their influence to reward themselves and their chums, sticking their dicks into dead pigs’ mouths, and of course barefaced lying – are now accepted with a shrug, as characterising the whole breed – ‘they’re all the same’ – and so discrediting politics overall. ‘OK, Boris is a disaster, but Corbyn would have been worse.’ Which incidentally makes me half-grateful that Labour lost the last election: just imagine what the press would have made of a Corbyn government coping with Covid-19 only a tenth as badly as Johnson’s! (Or even better.)
The demeaning of ‘politics’ is nothing new, of course, but it has been immeasurably exacerbated by politicians’ own scandals over the past decade or so (expenses, especially), and blown up by the Right-wing popular press in pursuit of its own agenda, to prevent regulation of itself (Leveson), and – beyond that – to stop the ‘people’ from interfering with the ‘market’ generally. One result has been a noticeable decline in the intellectual and moral qualities of the men and women who are elected to represent us. That must be obvious. (Especially the Old Etonians, of course. When will we summon up enough courage to abolish that appalling institution?) Another has been the collapse of all resistance to the ultra-authoritarian measures that are being enacted right now – most of them on Priti Patel’s initiative – to undermine basic democratic and liberal rights that were fought for in Britain over centuries. They include our freedom to protest, for example, and to uncover government wrong-doing, now to be categorised as ‘spying’; and the constitutional ‘checks and balances’ which used to protect us from hasty and foolish legislation; in addition to offending against our wider global and indeed humanitarian obligations, like the duty to rescue people found drowning at sea. These are being protested, but seemingly ineffectively, and not particularly popularly: indicating, again, the weakness of our – I would say traditional and patriotic British – defences against these appalling assaults. ‘The people’ don’t care. It’s the genius of our ultimate rulers – the ‘they’ of my first sentence – to have jumped to this. (Maybe Boris isn’t as stupid as his comedic persona suggests.) Brexit and the myths surrounding it, against the background of an anti-political popular media, gave them the perfect opportunity to manipulate this situation to their own advantage. That’s why we are where we are now. What ‘their’ real purpose is, is not difficult to deduce.
I can’t see a way out of this; short of Michael Gove being revealed as a kiddy-fiddler. (No, of course not.) So it’s neo-fascism – of the cuddly Boris variety – next stop. Never trust an Etonian; and an Etonian comedian least of all.