First there was Brexit. That didn’t go very well, did it? But then along came Covid 19, to take our attention away from all that. The Government handled that badly too: incompetently and corruptly; so we needed a distraction from that. That’s when brave Prince Andrew stepped in, to hog the front pages with his (alleged) misdemeanors, and then his (un-) dressing down: his ‘HRH’ and ill-gotten medals falling off him like autumn leaves. This is the story currently. But people will soon get bored of that too; and so we have today’s new scandal: a Chinese spy, for pity’s sake. Spies always steal headlines, although this one doesn’t seem terribly significant, except to the Right-wing tabloids, because of her alleged – but in fact risible – relations with the Labour Party.
So, we have a sequence of supposed scandals, each one distracting popular attention from the one before. And in fact Brexit itself could be regarded as a distraction from the much more serious scandal that preceded and should overshadow all of them: our political leaders’ failure to respond adequately to climate change.
You’ll remember the Australian propagandist and amoralist Lynton Crosby’s ‘dead cat’ political strategy? If there’s a problem, throw a dead cat on to the table in order to get everyone talking about that instead. I’m not claiming that Covid was a deliberate distraction; but this has been its effect. And the other ones could have been deliberate: except that Johnson doesn’t seem clever enough to think of them.
Perhaps the arch-amoralist Dominic Cummings had a part in them? Not in order to protect Brexit, necessarily, and certainly not Boris; but to divert attention from the other key development in British politics today: which is the trend – scarcely noticed beneath all these distractions – towards a form of authoritarianism. Which seems to be his baby.
PS. By the way, Bojo and Partygate got the full treatment on Swedish TV News this evening. I felt quite proud.