Well, it could almost be a great super-plot, by the people who really control Britain’s ‘democracy’: finance capitalists, press barons, clever propagandists, the extreme Right.
This was the plan. Get the clown Boris elevated to PM in order to ‘get Brexit done’, and in the course of this – maybe as its real object – removing the decent Tories from the party, on the grounds that they’re not Brexity enough. Then wait for Boris to self-destruct, which was eminently predictable, and a replacement needs to be chosen: but by a process that leaves the decision to be taken by the neo-liberal rump of the Parliamentary party in the first instance, and the old fogies who constitute the (very small) membership of the party in the country after that. That can be squared with ‘democracy’ by pointing out that we all voted for Boris three years ago, knowing what he was like – yes, I know we technically voted for the party, not for a personality (this isn’t America), and without knowing as much about him as we should have done: but, hell, that’s how it can be spun – and consequently it’s our democratic duty to live by the consequences.
And those consequences could be dire. For Boris was not the major cause of the British state’s problems today. In a way he was a distraction from them: a distraction exploited – and possibly intended – by the super-plotters who lay behind it all. The fundamental problem was, and is, that the Tories and their backers are still wedded to an extreme and old-fashioned version of ‘freedom’, placing individual ‘liberties’ above everything, and wilfully blind to the dangers that this poses for wider society. This is vividly exemplified by the current debate in the Tory party over Johnson’s successor, which has focussed almost exclusively on which candidate has promised to reduce personal taxation the most. And this at a time when many would say that lower taxes are the very last thing the country needs, if it is to repair the damage done to society by ‘austerity’, and to counter the ultimate threat to the planet posed by unrestrained capitalist-industrial growth.
Whether this really can be characterised as a ‘conspiracy’ is questionable. I doubt whether it was a deliberate or conscious one, planned and implemented by a small group of diabolical plotters, as ‘conspiracies’ are usually conceived. I’m more inclined to the view that it’s a historical necessity, arising ‘naturally’ out of the late stage of capitalism that we’ve entered into now. ‘Nature’, of course, can be tamed. But I can’t see any of the current crop of Tory hopefuls doing that. Corbyn might have done; but then he was ‘unelectable’, wasn’t he? So it looks as though we’re in for at least two more years of recession, food banks, incompetence, authoritarianism, and civil strife.
Here in Sweden the papers are full of it – a whole-page spread on the ‘runners and riders’, and the arcane electoral rules of the Conservative party, in yesterday’s Dagens Nyheter. For continental Europeans Britain is now a laughing-stock. Well, that’s one way of raising our national profile in the world.
(Publication day today – for Britain’s Contested History. Lessons for Patriots. Mollie at the publishers has been doing sterling work in trying to publicise it. So I’m looking forward – albeit with some trepidation – to the reviews.)