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June 14, 2021



As ever you miss the point. Johnson's popularity is like that of Sturgeon's, they are both heads of nativist parties whose claim to power is not policy results but about nationalist affirmation. As long as they fight their national enemies they will have FTPT majorities. The difference is that Scotland's elderly racists ID as British because they were born at the height of the British nation state experiment. Also Scotland has fewer non-white Scottish people than any major English city or three London boroughs including the white flight ones like Bexley.

The Labour party was founded as a British Socialist party that represented "the British working class" which was viewed as a homogenous group of white unionised industrial workers. All three of those pillars have collapsed. Labour is a Welsh nationalist party in Wales, a Unionist Scotch Nationalist party in Scotland and a British only party in England.

As long as English nationhood is treated with contempt and forced into the prison that is this failed nation state it will be unable to do anything positive. Johnson and co keep it in straightjacket because as long as they can annoy/hurt/harm the enemies of England the English electorate will choose them over parties that are not English. They haven't got anything else. The Labour party has never dared admit England exists, it doesn't even have an English affairs office. Its a failed political movement. Its another country's left-wing party, a country that doesn't exist if it ever did.


As with Trump, quite a few like that Johnson pisses off the kind of people who piss them off.


I have long felt that one of the greatest strengths (and weaknesses!) of the English (specifically) is our ability to say complete nonsense with an utterly straight face so that no-one know if we are being serious or not.
In any other era, "Boris" Johnson would be the perfect 'poster child' for that; he personifies it in a way that no-one before had really managed (unless one thinks that Margaret Thatcher was actually a performance art piece); it's important to remember that "Boris" had been a project in the making for two decades or more.

Alas for us, he arrived at the top at a moment when that was what the electorate wanted but was the antithesis of what the electorate actually needed. The only minor upside right now is that the Tories simply don't have anyone to replace him which could be a problem for them.


We're busy doing nothing. And have been for the last 20 years. No one can think what to do with a very mature democracy in a low growth environment. Brexit was touted as a cure - a leap forward. But Brexit has changed nothing, the old problems are still there. And we still have no idea where to go. We'd like to be unhappy but we never do have the time.

Which leaves Sunny Boris as warmup man but even he has no followup act. That leaves Starmer in a bind, he has no clue what to do either. Neither Tory nor Labour has any useable idea let alone plan for where to go. We have a Micawber state of politics.

For something to do we might cut the Royals to a slack handful, get rid of aristocratic titles, cut The Lords to 200 elected and the HoC to 300. Amusing, but all that would achieve is increase the dole queue. To achieve anything useful we would have to increase public sector housing - not the usual drab sink estates. But what of education - always a good thing? But mainly to get one's own kids ahead and away from a McJob. For the middle classes a good job looks like a diversity assistant assistant's assistant for the National Trust.

In the land of the dumb a one-joke comedian is king.


It’s a good point about the Guardianistas litany of woes and grievances; not only is it uninspiring, but it’s also blatantly self-serving. The people who market this schtick retrofit all possible phenomena to whatever grievance they happen to be selling, which ultimately makes it incoherent as a base narrative. ‘Building back better’ may be waffle, but it’s a more positive spin than ploughing money into scattergun initiatives primarily benefiting rent seeking grievance entrepreneurs.


I thought this, as ever, an interesting piece. It’s probably about right as an explanation for Johnson’s popularity.

Where it’s maybe goes off the rails is that it just doesn’t matter. Why do I say this? The right wing media will never allow a situation to arise in Britain where a party which is not the Tories ever takes power again. No narrative can be constructed in which a Labour leader is allowed to be seen as a credible alternative to a Tory leader. Until the media is re-arranged, to change the information soup we swim in, the opinions of earnest little whiners are entirely irrelevant.


"Nevertheless, the question arises: could the left emulate his success? In one sense, no. Whereas working class people can be lovable rogues – think of Jack Duckworth – only posh people can achieve wealth or power through this route."

Well this just raises the question of whether a "posh" Labour leader could get away with it. The Parliamentary Labour Party has never just been 250 men in cloth caps and hobnail boots!


Everyday johnson wakes up and there on the bedside table is his free pass for the day.This pass is given to him by the public everyday, until they stop sending the pass, he stays.
In the past the tories have done all their own butchering when it comes to getting rid of leaders, those conditions maybe some time away and whether any oppositions can bring about that situation sooner is anyone's guess.


Good analysis, Chris. Especially the Guardian bit.

Nobody wants to vote for the party that thinks the country is shit and its people are racists.

But I think you're also missing the obsession with minority issues. From BLM to migrants' rights to Palestine, to trans rights, most people have no direct and urgent connection. Yet Leftist MPs, columnists and commenters are obsessed with minority issues.

By contrast, it was a Tory government that legislated for gay marriage and the Tory party that's given us two women PMs, two Asian Chancellors and two Asian Home Secretaries.

Droning on about minorities and minority issues turns off the majority. Taking action on such matters doesn't seem to create any problems at all.


June 15, 2021

A government out of control

The commitment that the UK government gives 0.7% of its GDP as overseas aid is enshrined in law. Johnson’s government decided to cut this to 0.5%, but didn’t need to put this to parliament because the cut was supposed to be temporary. A large number of Conservative MPs were unhappy with this, and wanted to use parliament to reverse this cut. The parliament’s speaker ruled their attempt invalid, but requested the government to allow a vote on the issue. The government refused. The executive increasingly views parliament with contempt.

So much for the sovereignty of parliament. We knew this government thought little of parliamentary sovereignty when it closed it down, illegally, before the last election. The courts forced it to retract that measure, so now the government is intending to pass laws that would prevent the courts doing so again.

Of course it is open to MPs to pass a vote of no confidence in this government, just as it is possible for a majority of Tory MPs to bring down their leader. But that is never going to happen while Johnson looks like winning the next election. As a result, parliament has no effective control over what this government does.

The government, in the form of Michael Gove, has recently been found guilty of giving public money - our money - to friends in the form of a contract with no competition at all. That is breaking the law. This is corruption. He has no intention of resigning and Johnson will do nothing. In other words this government has been found to be corrupt, and no one can do anything about it.

-- Simon Wren-Lewis


I agree with you that a lot of it is just timing. Many people did not want to vote for Johnson, especially remain voters (which are actually half the population). But the alternative was Corbyn. That was just unpalatable for too many. Then he had the vaccine bounce.

But the luck may run out. Starmer is right to keep his offensive for the right time to be in the spotlight. He should ignore the commentators for now. As long as the left has an intellectual paradigm ready to answer the challenges of capitalism (I would not rely on neo-classical economists and ZIRB-like red herrings for that) he is an absolutely electable leader.

But I have to say when I think of Johnson it reminds me of what someone said about Giacomo Meyerbeer: "he has the luck to be talented and the talent to be lucky".

As with Trump and other nationalist-populists, however objectionable, people should not underestimate their political nous.

Aren't a lot of things about timing?

Alison Bowman

There is another nuance to the unfortunate popularity of Boris, anybody who offers the despairing hope however extreme will appeal. In no way am I comparing him to Hitler, but that is what Hitler gave to a Germany trodden down after WW1. The North has seen all its traditional industries and thus heritage trashed and not much put in its place - so why not try the guy who says he can make it all better? He can't, but it worked for Donald. It is the triumph of hope over experience, and it is this the Labour Party needs to address - what can it produce to offer real hope?

Nick Drew

Can we just acknowledge that " rent seeking grievance entrepreneurs" is a magnificant phrase!

thanks, MJW

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