Hunt vs Johnson – and how it finished Britain as a serious nation

Here’s a question for you.

What’s an hour long, completely devoid of reason, aimed towards a target demographic smaller than the average amoeba and features more impotent dick swinging than a bargain basement remake of The Full Monty?

Why it’s the ITV Tory Leadership Debate of course. A prime time extravaganza of toe curling misery in which we learn our future lies in the hands of one of two men – both incredibly wealthy, both with a track record of cataclysmic incompetence and both proposing ever so slight variations on the same unworkable plan.

It was a nice future we had once, wasn’t it?

Billed as a titanic clash between two fiercely competitive men, each convinced they had the magic solution to three years of unbridled woe, proceedings quickly descended into an unedifying pissing contest. Julie Etchingham valiantly attempted to regain control and wrestle some form of coherence out of the exercise, but this ultimately was in vain as important issues became clouded by farce and the onlooking nation left bemused and soaked in figurative piss.

Basically, it was dreadful.

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British politics – it’s somehow come to this.

Despite both plans, when viewed in direct contrast, being largely indistinct exercises in boneheaded futility, the two men did at least have opposing personalities giving the watching public at least some chance of distinguishing between them.

On one hand we had Jeremy Hunt. Current Foreign Secretary, scourge of junior doctors nationwide and an entrepreneur. How do I know he’s an entrepreneur? Because he’s told us he’s an entrepreneur, with the phrase “I’m an entrepreneur” achieving such mantra like status in Jeremy’s vernacular you can’t help but feel that he’s mentioning it through fear of his very sense of identity evaporating away if it doesn’t spill from his lips once every 17.8 seconds.

He wants to turbo charge the economy – whatever that means, though he assures us that, as an entrepreneur, he’s the man to do this. He’s also prepared to fashion a no deal exit if that’s what leaving the EU comes down to despite, as an entrepreneur who’s spoken with other entrepreneurs set to go out of business in such a scenario, being fully aware of just what a disastrous move this would be.

Confused? You should be – though you’re likely not viewing proceedings through the murky prism of Tory Party self interest. When you’re attempting to kowtow to a demographic of which 54% think the serially mendacious, botched satsuma spawn known as Donald Trump would make a good Prime Minister of Great Britain, you can leave reason and rational thinking at the door. It’s simply not welcome.

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Jeremy Hunt -Entrepreneur

Then we have the clear front-runner, Boris Johnson – a ghastly embodiment of self serving political chicanery. Lacking even a single scruple and holding the truth in the same withering regard as you’d possess for an outbreak of genital warts, this amoral societal tumour’s crowning achievement is somehow creating the charade of palatable legitimacy – largely on account of a carefully stage managed public image in which charming buffoonery has effectively acted as a Trojan horse to smuggle the malignant aspects of his nature through largely unnoticed.

For his litany of failings, Boris Johnson has always been adept at playing a crowd, and it was on full display last night – littering his pitch with grandiose declarations while making sure to throw in enough quips to divert the audience’s attention away from their painful lack of substance.

It seemingly mattered not one jot that what he was saying was either fundamentally wrong or vacuous to the point of being utterly worthless – the watching crowd lapped it up. Only a day before the Director General of the WTO had dismissed Boris Johnson’s Brexit masterplan as unworkable fiction, but did any of the whooping spectators really care? Of course not, he was making them laugh.

Easy answers, no matter how diametrically opposed to reality, are always gratefully received by the faithful when delivered with sufficient charisma – and so it came to pass.

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Presumably Tim’s second choice for Tory leader was Dr Seuss.

Given today’s frankly insane political climate, the metric for determining who actually won the night has shifted. Gone are the days where being triumphant in the battle of ideas will grant you victory – it’s simply not enough anymore.

Even in a debate as fruitless as this one, in which both propositions hinge entirely on a bullshit premise that the Withdrawal Agreement is open for change, the fact that Jeremy Hunt, while still delusional, won by virtue of having one toe tentatively within the realms of sanity is of no consequence.

In a post-truth world in which narrative reigns supreme, it’s a de facto irrelevance. Jeremy Hunt may have won the debate, but Boris Johnson won the crowd.

Regrettably, such superficial victories really are the bottom line these days. A calm, collected dissemination of the brutal reality we’re facing simply won’t tantalise this zeitgeist. It was of no surprise that Boris Johnson’s boisterous demand for optimism raised the biggest cheer of the evening. With a population lost in a state of tempestuous confusion, an uproarious declaration of self assured certainty is an enticing branch to cling onto. It’s solace that wins the day – the how and why is of minimal concern.

Perhaps it was all just an unfortunate inevitability. The circus of British politics has long been on an apparently irreversible slide into outright absurdity and the bombshell of Brexit only excavated further depths to which we could plunge. Not only does nobody know where we’re headed, the resultant debris has created a path too treacherous to even acknowledge.

As shallow and specious it may be, of course people are going to reach for the comfort blanket of easy answers.

After all, that’s why we have Nigel Farage. That’s why we have the Brexit Party.

And that’s why Boris Johnson will be our next Prime Minister.

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Boris, Nigel and the Politics of Deceit

For the longest time Boris Johnson, the inexplicable nailed on favourite to become the next Prime Minister of Britain, had kept a disconcertingly low profile. Weeks came and went, many a proxy blustered and faltered, yet the would be emperor remained in hiding – festering away in a pool of his own risible cowardice wearing majestic robes only his most sycophantic of acolytes could see.

Yet what was the reasoning behind this uncharacteristically reclusive turn? Was it down to a genuine desire to provide a credible pitch, spending each retiring day meticulously working out the angles in order to craft a proposal which wasn’t only inspiring, but actually feasible? Or was it merely a timely moment of uncharacteristic introspection, realising that the race could be won purely through damage limitation and keeping the abominable omnishambles of human wreckage known as Boris Johnson as far away from the piercing scrutiny of public interest as possible?

I’ll let you decide – but it’s the latter.

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Feel free to enjoy the last few remaining days in which Boris Johnson isn’t our Prime Minister. I intend to.

Having finally slithered from his lair into view, Boris Johnson’s campaign to be the leader of Great Britain and Northern Ireland was now in full flow – the torrent in question being one of unrefined bullshit.

High in waffle, low on detail and tangential to the point where you could be easily mistaken into believing you were listening to the hazy mutterings of a volatile acid casualty rather than a Prime Minister in waiting; which in turn begged the question – given that Boris Johnson has been preparing for this moment all his life, how was it possible for his pitch to be this dreadful?

Through the deluge of vacuous drivel however, there was one relatively consistent feature – specifically the notion that the naive mantra of “No deal? No problem!” will be made an improbable reality by the magic of GATT 24. A much cited technicality which has found its mentions rising in tandem with the general sense of desperation as a no deal Brexit creeps ever closer.

Regrettably, there’s one tiny problem – it’s bullshit.

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When even the disgraced Liam Fox is calling out your bullshit, chances are your plan is on very shaky ground.

This particular red herring has blighted the discourse for months, in spite of it being debunked time and time again. It’s been decimated so comprehensively it’s frankly staggering that, not only is it allowed to be pontificated as a credible point, it remains a disconcertingly pervasive deception.

Almost as if the truth stopped mattering a long time ago.

The sad reality is the GATT 24 swindle isn’t an isolated act of chicanery. We’ve become so hopelessly beaten down by a barrage of selective half truths and outright deceit that trying to firefight the onslaught has almost become an exercise in futility. Not only are you overwhelmed by the sheer volume of fallacious claims, each having long since spread through the populace like an especially contagious virus, you’re also up against arguably the most formidable element of the con – exploitation of personal bias.

To illustrate this point, there’s only one man you need to look to:

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Let’s be honest – who else was it going to be?

Yes, just when you thought it was safe to open your eyes and tentatively peer out at the world around you, the monstrous visage of Nigel Farage takes an unceremonious dump upon your visual cortex. If there’s ever been a greater beneficiary of cultivating paranoia and nurturing an initial sapling of prejudice into a vast forest of proactive bigotry, then I’d rather not be witness to them for the sake of my ever dwindling faith in mankind.

Nigel’s often painted as the political equivalent of a used car salesman, schmoozing his marks with a combination of machine gun rhetoric and a meticulously crafted ‘proper bloke’ persona – but neither element would be successful without the devious selection process which identifies his targets.

The base upon which he preys can somewhat neatly divided into three categories – the disenfranchised, the misguided and the outright bigoted. This unfortunate trinity not only has its potency amplified by considerable and regular overlap at certain points, all three are underpinned by an element which sends its impact into the stratosphere – anger.

There’s nothing that fuels a desire for action more than a deep seated sense of persecution, whether it’s actually justified or simply spawned as a result of your own delusions – and Farage has long since known which buttons to press for maximum effect.

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“And if you look to my right, you’ll see the root cause of your lifelong sense of unhappiness.”

Whether he’s blathering about “betrayal” or concocting a narrative that an insidious wave of migrants are arriving from overseas to steal your job in particular and flog it for £5.99 on eBay, the message always has the desired effect. Not only planting the seeds of unbridled fury in the mind of his quarry, but inspiring the notion that their personal dissatisfaction, far from being within the realms of their own responsibility, is actually the fault of a simplistic (yet conveniently too far away to verify) boogeyman.

And it is at this point whereby the small matter of whether there’s actually any truth to this or not effectively becomes an irrelevance. They don’t just want it to be true – they need it to be true. It matters little whether their initial resentment came from a place of ill founded intolerance or a set of unfortunate circumstances entirely beyond their control – the entire spectrum is now ensnared within Nigel’s trap, unwitting pawns to whichever whims work towards his own personal advancement.

The prevailing trend of narrative superseding truth may work on the campaign trail, allowing the likes of Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage to prosper in their respective aims by spinning whatever tall tale works best within the current zeitgeist, its continued and increasing success does give rise to a criminally overlooked societal tragedy brewing underneath.

As unedifying as it is to see a fringe lunatic spewing out spurious nonsense to a select few, the threat it poses to the collective is ultimately minimal. In the case of these two men it’s different. Their reality warping trickery has granted them a lot of influence – so much so that one of them is about to become our next Prime Minister.

Boris Johnson’s rise to power has been as cynical as they come, callously tailoring his policies to whichever crowd he happens to be in front of at the time. The fact that his entire political persona stands atop a pungent mound of duplicity won’t matter to him, but it’ll matter to all those who back him in the mistaken believe he’s about to make their lives better.

And when it all falls apart it won’t be Boris who’s left scraping through the debris to salvage some sense of hope.

It’ll be them.

Open letter to the Tory Party – Please don’t elect Boris Johnson

Dear Conservative Party members,

How are things? Life treating you well? I can only hope that it’s being considerably kinder to your good selves than your party has been to the country. I appreciate internal disputes happen within any sizeable group, but it was a tad rude to drag the rest of us down with them. For instance I can tolerate hearing my neighbours screeching at each other through the walls every other day, but I’d be rather more peeved if they tried to resolve the tension by burning the entire street to the ground.

But not to worry, right? After all, there is a chance for redemption on the horizon – at least ostensibly.

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“Hopeful” isn’t a word I’d personally choose.

Yes, the excruciating and protracted agony of a Tory leadership contest is reaching its inevitable conclusion – abject misery. However, there is at least a choice as to which flavour of misery to poison our nation’s future with. Ranging from the familiar to the delusional, all the way down to the plain demented; it’s less a choice as to who can lead us to a prosperous future, rather who can crash the bus in such a way that fewer passengers perish as it careens off the cliff.

However, who will become the next Prime Minister of Great Britain isn’t up to the British public – what a preposterous notion that would be. No, in fact the choice lies with you – the Tory Party membership.

Now I may have my quibbles about how approximately 130,000 potential voters isn’t especially representative of a country comprised of 65 million people but alas, that’s the hand we’ve been dealt and no amount of grumbling will change it.

That’s not to say there’s my arsenal is completely empty. Innocuous and ultimately impotent it may be, I still have the option of an impassioned plea.

And that plea is simple – for the love of all that is remotely sacred, do not elect this man:

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Hold onto your hats guys, it’s going to be a bumpy one.

Inevitably, we’re talking about Boris Johnson. Amongst a group of candidates that send  debilitating shivers right down to the very base of my spine, Boris stands apart as the most wretched alternative of all.

After all, why wouldn’t he? A man who spent £43 million of public money to not build a bridge. A man who happily aided and abetted the potential assault of a journalist. A man who has been repeatedly sacked for dishonesty. A man who is not only reviled by those who have had the misfortune of working alongside him, but whose grasp on diplomacy is beneath that of malignant tumour.

A man who could very well be our next Prime Minister.

Despite being somewhat of a pessimist, cynicism hasn’t entirely overridden my brain. I’d love nothing more than to place my trust in the collective sanity of your membership, to be reassured that this veritable car crash of a politician will be rejected by voters and finally bring this overlong cavalcade of risible ineptitude to an inglorious yet fitting end.

I wish this were the case – it’s just a shame that it isn’t.

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Now if there were a poll as to who you’d rather fire into the Sun, fair enough. But it isn’t.

Pretty horrific, right? Well, if you thought that was bleak, take a look at the results of the second round:

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Absolutely terrifying.

A grim inevitability if ever I saw one, with the elimination of MP for The Uncanny Valley Dominic Raab only bolstering Boris’ position on account of there being nobody else for the lunatic wing to vote for.

So that’s it. Barring a typically Boris Johnson style implosion (which, to be fair, Boris Johnson is known for) it looks like he’s already booked his place on your final ballot – and it will be then down to you.

Though if you are to dismiss my concerns and are set on casting your vote for the bequiffed bullshitter, then I have one question to ask you – what does Boris Johnson actually stand for?

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The lights are on, but Steve Bannon hasn’t arrived home yet.

The obvious inclination would be that he stands for Brexit – at least if your only exposure to Boris Johnson is the narrative his handlers are desperate to maintain. What Boris himself actually thinks is in significant dispute; along with the question as to whether he holds any opinion of substance at all.

Keeping track of Boris Johnson’s shifting politics is as futile an endeavour as chasing a mosquito in a tsunami, shamelessly riding whatever populist wave roars over the horizon with a brazen disregard for logical consistency; forever safe in the knowledge that a deluge of loquacious waffle will create a flimsy yet effective enough veneer of plausible deniability should his capricious nature ever be called out.

When Johnson makes a declaration, a quick Google search unearths a moment when he said the opposite. If he denies he made a claim, a slight scratch beneath the surface will reveal that he actually did. An ever shifting phantasm – impossible to define and whose entire political identity is as a servant to fashionable whims and unaccountable entities who offer a leg up on the proverbial greasy pole of power.

As much as it physically pains me to admit, there is a sense of grudging admiration to be had as to the effectiveness of Team Boris’ strategy – however inexplicable its success may be. To have elevated such a dismally unremarkable chancer of no virtuous qualities to the cusp of becoming the Prime Minister of Britain is no mean feat. Deviously exploiting the paranoia of the desperate and creating a pervasive narrative of credibility in the void left behind by a failing media, who allowed box office to supersede the quest for the truth a long time ago.

In truth, this plea is somewhat redundant. The Johnson Juggernaut hasn’t been deterred by demonstrable reality, let alone the futile protestations of just one man. Hell, even his laughable cowardice in evading scrutiny as though it were the black death hasn’t caused mass realisation that the emperor has his bollocks hanging out.

He wasn’t just hidden away for fear he’d self immolate, a PR campaign simply wasn’t required. The mythos of Boris has long since been ingrained in the faithful. Built up over years of stage managed buffoonery and ruthlessly calculated cynicism, all to create an identikit politician – vacuous and malleable yet perfectly crafted to game the system.

And now he’s all set to become your leader. Our leader. The last step in a meticulously mapped out long game, finally wielding ultimate power without a single principle to work with – an entire country at the behest of a charlatan.

That is, if you don’t stop it.

But that’s down to you.

The Tory Leadership Race – A Tale of How We’re Utterly Screwed

Well, she’s gone.

It’s hardly a surprise. Theresa May’s eventual demise had been as inevitable as Piers Morgan feigning indignation – yet somehow more excruciating. Observing the sorry sight of Theresa May limping through these past few months, her power ever dwindling and the already dubious proclamations becoming increasingly laughable, was like having a front row seat at the world’s most soul destroying pantomime.

On and on she went, lurching from disaster to outright calamity with each parliamentary speech being underpinned by a cacophony of derisive laughter. Every single time she wandered in front of the lectern, half of you would be expecting a resignation while the remaining half would be hoping for one.

Until it finally came. The end of Theresa May’s miserable reign, signed off with an actual whimper.

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I’d say “missing you already”, but that would be a massive lie.

While it’s true that May will be missed by approximately nobody, her farewell monologue providing a timely reminder of the self delusion that plagued her leadership as she rattled off a list of achievements which presumably belonged to a different Prime Minister, it would be the apex of folly to say we’re over the worst.

Far from it.

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Please pass on my deepest sympathies to your tentative hopes for a bright future.

Yes, that’s right. That unrelenting wave of optimism eroding misery which has suddenly engulfed you is another Tory leadership contest – and, if that wasn’t a cause for despair in of itself, the spectre of Brexit is still looming large, insidiously seeping into the minds of prospective candidates and raising the insanity level by a factor of sixteen.

Not to say that sanity is ever with the Tories in abundance. Indeed, the roll call of aspirants reads like a ‘Who’s who’ of the most duplicitous, incompetent and ideologically demented politicians of the past three years. It speaks cacophonous volumes that, when scanning the list of hopefuls, you’re left concluding Jeremy Hunt is one of the more palatable options. Sure, he left the NHS on life support and can’t remember the nationality of his own wife, but at least he can probably count to ten.

To say that the pool of talent amongst the front runners is meagre doesn’t really do justice to the cold dread that immediately overwhelms your senses as the image of them bumbling through the doors of Number 10 flashes through your mind. We’re not simply talking your garden variety of hapless jobsworth here – we’re talking Esther McVey.

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Potentially your future Prime Minister there, having absolutely no issue with parents picking which parts of the curriculum their children should undertake based on nothing but their own bigotry.

Chances are your mind will immediately revert to what, on the face of it, is a rational defence mechanism. “But that’s just Esther McVey.” you’ll protest. “As if that terminal dimwit will ever garner enough support to be Prime Minister!”

In a less asinine period, this would be a credible safety net. Esther McVey couldn’t be trusted to babysit a shoe, let alone run a nation that’s fractured right down the middle and about to topple into the abyss (which incidentally, is an outcome Esther is inexplicably pushing for). Yet, as improbable as a McVey premiership may indeed be, all bets are off when you catch a glimpse of the preposterously bequiffed new potato leading the pack:

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There is no God.

Ah yes – Boris Johnson. I remember him. A man so unremittingly focused on his self imposed destiny of becoming our Prime Minister, he forgot to pick up a few things along the way. You know – integrity, moral fibre, the respect of anyone who has had the misfortune of working with him? All the basics that make up a functional member of the human race really. A man so lacking in sincerity that even Grima Wormtongue is a more trustworthy source on matters of reality, the very fact that Prime Minister Boris Johnson could even be a distant possibility, let alone a probable inevitability is the sign of a country that has lost it’s collective mind.

Speaking of a total loss of critical faculties, the entire leadership race has fast turned into a painfully unhinged race to the bottom. Granted we already knew the likes of Dominic Raab (a man so notably inept that he only recently noticed Britain is an island) were ideologically entrenched beyond repair – but Brexit has poisoned the well to such an alarming degree that comparatively credible candidates are left scrambling in the haze, desperately grasping at whatever half baked solution comes within touching distance of their fingers.

People like the curiously affable Rory Stewart are reasonable enough to know that Brexit is going to leave us a few million light years from utopia and, in a less ludicrous time, would likely make a someway decent Prime Minister. But alas, unbridled insanity with a side order of blind faith is the order of the day and the rest of the menu neglects to cater for anyone with an allergy to self immolation – so poor old Rory is forced to tentatively set foot into the rabbit hole should he wish to have any chance of winning.

Even more troubling, for many of the Tory membership Stewart’s desperate pragmatism doesn’t go anywhere near far enough. Cutting off just one foot simply won’t do if you wish to ingratiate yourself with the disconcertingly sizeable manic wing of the party. If you want to win favour upon this key battlefield, you’ll need to really believe in Brexit and amputate every extremity below the torso; lest you be accused of talking our great nation down.

In terms of likely winners, this realistically leaves us with anybody who tows the line of “No deal is better than no Brexit” – sincerely or otherwise. So what we’re left with is a split between people credulous enough to believe completely cutting ties with the largest trading bloc on the planet is somehow a good idea, and cynical careerists who put personal advancement in front of the prosperity of a nation they claim to serve.

All in all, it’s paints a rather murky picture in terms of a hopeful future. While Britain has always had its problems, many of which are still prevalent to this day, the unceremonious dump Brexit curled out upon the canvas has served to deepen these woes further – cementing us in an especially putrid stasis, each individual citizen stranded waist deep in the mire.

Tossing rationality to one side, part of me finds itself almost yearning for Boris Johnson to become Prime Minister. After all, he was the figurehead of Leave. He was the one who stood on a message of “hope” and that Brexit was the key for a glorious future. A cry which has long since echoed around the hard line echo chambers is that, if a Brexiteer had been at the helm, everything would have been fine – so why not just let them have what they want, while the rest of us sit back and watch the bullshit fuelled prosperity train fail to leave the first station?

In many respects, it would be somewhat satisfying to watch the charlatans flounder at every turn as their previous bluster recedes to a perplexed murmur. At least until the rational part of my brain suddenly taps me on the shoulder and offers the timely reminder that I still have to live here.

Did Brexit really win the EU Elections?

So the predictable happened.

With both the Tories and the Labour Party left floundering on account of their internal divisions preventing them from offering something even vaguely coherent, the Brexit Party came out on top.

Naturally this outcome precipitated Nigel Farage and his gaggle of disingenuous chancers indulging in the most nauseating victory march imaginable – claiming it as a victory for the “WTO Brexit” they’re unable to explain beyond the name, justification for a seat at the EU negotiations they don’t want to happen and taking the curious decision to allow Ann Widdecombe free reign in front of the media, as she inexplicably decided to punctuate each bizarre utterance with an unhinged gurn right down the lens.

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Poor Huw Edwards won’t sleep for a week.

Of course the media were only too happy to lap this up without question. Not to say that the Brexit Party, as vacuous and ill thought out as their narrative may be, didn’t do well. They won the most seats so therefore won the night, right? Superficially yes, but it’s far from the resounding victory they hoped for – nor is it in any way a thumbs up from the people for the deranged strain of Brexit they’re eager to push yet reticent to dissect.

First of all while their success as a new party is, on the face of it, undeniably impressive, its grandeur recedes with each scratch inflicted upon its glossy surface.

Farage, then the de facto face of UKIP, managed 24 seats back in 2014. Whatever you think of the man and his litany of deception, he is an unequivocally effective campaigner. He knows his base, his knows which talking points resonate and, most importantly, the country and his dog know exactly who he is. This stark familiarity is gold dust when it comes to political capital and the minute he walked out the door at UKIP, an act which occurred in perfect tandem to their fetishisation of the far right heralding their utter implosion, the voters were always odds on to go with him – meaning 24 seats were pretty much in the bag to begin with.

As it happened, they came out with 29. A gain of five is not to be sniffed at by any means but, with the big two parties barely maintaining a pulse as they struggle along on life support, it was hardly “the country demands hard Brexit now” message that they were hoping to receive – especially when the key beneficiaries of this monumental collapse of the status quo were Remain parties in terms of actual votes.

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Though it’s not just the Brexit Party who have been keen to seize the narrative. The other side of the divide have been equally eager to spin the results in their favour – most notably the Lib Dems who point out that, going by votes rather than seats gained by the definitive Remain parties, it is actually Farage and his cronies who came up short.

However, while there is an argument to be made here, narrative wise it’s easily clouded. Do Labour votes count for Remain? Their MEPs are overwhelmingly pro-EU but the leadership are still rigidly facing both ways – so it’s a resounding shrug of the shoulders on that front. Then you look at the Tories – a Leave party manifesto wise but, in order to utilise this to bolster a pro-Brexit position, you have to get bogged down in the excruciating minutiae of whether it actually constitutes a “true Brexit” or not. Nigel certainly doesn’t think so, but do the 17.4 million?

And there you have the ultimate problem. Just as with the regrettably binary nature of the 2016 referendum in which simplicity was over utilised at the cost of our collective sanity, last night’s results simply offer no definitive answer as to what the electorate are asking for. No deal may have beaten what the Tories were offering but it didn’t beat Remain, who in turn are hamstrung by whatever the hell Labour were supposedly offering being thrown into the mix. Basically, the intolerable impasse that has plagued the country for three entire years is alive as it ever was, eating away at civil discourse at both ends of the spectrum and plunging the wedge of division so deep it’s nearly at the Earth’s core.

So where now? With Theresa May counting the days to her resignation and the Tory leadership yet to arrive at the ‘eating each other alive’ stage, what happens next is anyone’s guess. A second, confirmatory referendum seems the most logical answer, certainly being a more sensible option than attempting to massage a false equivalence from last night’s polls which are far too open to interpretation to glean anything conclusive, but with the Tories being likely to plump for a hapless ideologue as leader and Labour still failing to take any clear stance either way the chances of it getting through parliament seem slim. As for a general election, the current political climate is far too febrile for it to be looked upon as a reliable solution – with there being a significant risk that a whole new Pandora’s box of unrelenting despair is ripped open.

In any event, as easy as it is to dismiss Nigel Farage as a gruesome sideshow to the established political theatre, one thing last night did prove that there is a substantial demographic out there who aren’t interested in policy, details or indeed any of the things you need to successfully run a country. The Brexit Party have no manifesto, no policies beyond ‘leave and we’ll figure things out later, maybe’ and are so lacking in transparency that they don’t only refuse to answer substantive questions, but outright ban actually inquisitive media outlets from their events – yet they still ended the night with the most seats by far.

As with Trump and indeed the 2016 referendum, reducing political campaigning to catchy simplicity and exploitation of paranoia is disconcertingly successful. It’s snake oil salesmanship in its most stripped down form yet, rather than flogging genital enhancement cream, it’s deciding the fate of nations around the globe.

And that’s something everyone should be afraid of –  especially when that lack of detail becomes the difference between somebody you love being treated for cancer or not.

 

Mark Francois and the Celebration of Stupidity

While Brexit has many faults, what with it unleashing a perpetual barrage of ignominy and confusion upon what was once a comparatively sane nation, it’s not been a journey entirely bereft of hope. If nothing else, it’s shone a spotlight upon parliamentary proceedings – in turn granting the previously naive public a glimpse into the fierce dedication and admirable competence a number of MPs actually possess as they desperately try to divert the country away from an act of pointless self immolation.

However, while the likes of Yvette Cooper and Dominic Grieve have proved their mettle during these most testing of times, the arse end of Parliament’s capability spectrum has not only gained prominence, but undeniably managed to seize the vast majority of our attention – bringing all manner of bewilderingly unhinged characters to the forefront of political discourse, each carving out their own distinct niche as they build a considerable media profile on the back of incomprehensible stupidity.

This procession of ideologically charged chancers vying for media prominence, scrambling atop a self perpetuating mound of incendiary bullshit in a bid to secure a seat on the panel of this week’s Peston, has truly been a sight to behold. The onslaught of disinformation has been as varied as it has cretinous – ranging from the preposterous belief based waffle of Andrea Jenkyns, in which blind faith has been allowed to masquerade as a valid argument, to the hardcore denialism of Andrew Bridgen, basing his dismissal of the Irish border issue on an imagined entitlement to an Irish passport.

Yet, try as they might, these two hapless dullards are but mere pretenders when it comes to claiming the throne of fantasist firebrand in chief. If recent weeks are anything to go by, there is only one viable candidate on offer.

That man is Mark Gino Francois.

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He was in the army you know. On weekends, obviously.

Before Brexit forever diminished the concept of sensible debate, Mark Francois was a relative unknown. Virtually invisible on the backbenches without the aid of a booster seat, the rare utterance of his name would conjure up images of a potential lead villain in a cheap knock-off of Commando rather than a living, breathing member of parliament.

Such obscurity was a suitable setting for a distinctly unremarkable individual – however, in one astonishing moment of bullish stupidity, that all changed.

The setting was an interview with the BBC during the early weeks of 2019. With the stink ever emanating from Brexit now festering well into its third year, the putrid pong was well and truly forging a sorry path up people’s noses – one of which was the snout of Tom Enders, CEO of Airbus.

Enders hadn’t been especially impressed with the government bungling on Brexit, going as far to warn that if the “madness” of considering a no deal Brexit was ever enacted upon, they may well have to close factories in the UK.

Now Mr Francois, having apparently drowned his brain in intoxicating patriotism to the point where cognition had become impossible, wasn’t best pleased with his cherished no deal facing justifiable criticism. Also Tom Ender was German. Once upon a time a discussion with a semblance of decorum would have taken place, but Mark Francois wasn’t having that – not when that lot from World War 2 were pissing on his bonfire.

With his jowl ridden visage turning a distinct shade of pink, Francois tore up Ender’s written warning with a petulant defiance befitting of a grounded child. He wasn’t going to be lectured to by a German – not when he could parasitically invoke his father’s military service he had absolutely no part in.

Stupid, borderline xenophobic and about as well advised an advert for ‘Global Britain’ as curling out a turd on Merkel’s front doorstep but nevertheless, Mark Francois had established himself.

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That’ll show Hitler.

Granted he’d established himself as a bolshy simpleton with about as firm a grasp on reality as a seal attempting to hold onto a lubricated ferret, but media outlets didn’t care a jot. Good TV is good TV and, in a post Big Brother world in which acting a tit in front of a gawping nation guarantees you a portion of stardom, Mark Francois was suddenly everywhere.

The often derided concept of TV “balance” had well and truly been torn asunder. Rational debate now had to take a back seat as the focus became fixated on the latest Francois diatribe. Curious to know what the latest absurdly complex Brexit development actually means? Well be sure to enjoy the 20 seconds of considered analysis on offer – in the interests of “balance” we must now cut to Mark Francois indulging in an inane soliloquy in which he displays no understanding of the situation at hand but quotes Jesus for no apparent reason. That’s now the world we live in.

I’m sure I leave myself open to accusations of snobbery with such an analysis. In some respects I can somewhat appreciate the criticism. Francois is representative of a sizeable demographic with a predisposition to overindulge in mindless jingoism. The “feels over reals” brigade as it were.

However, in the midst of what is undeniably a national crisis, news outlets who are ostensibly there to inform and educate are doing a grave disservice not only to the public at large, but to the discussion itself – denying a voice for coherent criticisms of the EU in favour of a common denominator so low it’s wallowing at subterranean depths.

Now isn’t the time for legitimising ignorance, it’s a time for finally gaining a working understanding of the shitstorm of misery we’re about to potentially unleash.

The likes of Francois may offer a cheap laugh and a viral hit, but succumbing to distraction is precisely what led Britain into the mire in the first place – such a desperate situation a whistle-blower was forced to break rank and reveal that actually, in spite of what Mark Francois might claim, the NHS are dangerously under-equipped for no deal.

Cite the Second World War all you want – when you’re unable to get your hands on life saving medicine even patriotic nostalgia won’t be able to help you.

Brexit Wars – The Toads Awaken

British politics is in a miserable state at the moment. It’s undeniable. Wherever you look, yearning for some semblance of salvation, your efforts to salvage a slither of hope are met with an all new level of despair – with each fungus encrusted stone you overturn only revealing further evidence that our country is heading at a rate of knots towards the nearest u-bend.

Having been promised we were about to embark on a glorious journey nearly three years ago, we remain stranded less than a hundred metres from port. Rudderless and helmed by a hapless captain who, in absence of any map, has scrawled out an alternative destination that absolutely nobody is happy with on the back of a napkin. Let’s face it – when you’re promised paradise, Bultin’s doesn’t quite shape up by way of comparison.

If this were a movie, we’d be reaching the point whereby a hero steps into the fold – galvanising the fatigued and dispirited subjects, dragging our failing nation across the threshold into the very glory which was so nearly lost by sheer force of will alone.

But of course, life isn’t a movie – so we’re stuck we’ve these two.

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They’re a bit like Morecambe and Wise really – only instead of bringing laughter and joy, instead we’re all left with a cold sense of dread.

Yes, that’s right. The two self-styled, swashbuckling Brexiteers are back – ready to swoop in to ostensibly save the day, only to in actuality conduct a fevered scavenging operation, feasting upon whatever fragments of power and influence they can from the very same wreckage they instigated.

Like all double acts, Boris and Gove are two very distinct personalities. With Boris it’s all bluster – beating his chest, roaring out the nationalistic rhetoric and attempting to invoke figures of significance from days gone by, all of which show him up as the veritable political gnat he is by way of comparison.

Gove meanwhile opts for a lighter touch – skulking around in the shadows, schmoozing whomever necessary in order to aid his dogged slither up the proverbial greasy pole.

Until he has no use for them of course, as Boris found to his great cost.

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If you didn’t think life could get any worse, consider this as a possible future.

However, with the dust having settled on their respective, calamitous attempts at to worming their way into Number 10, there was always a sense of grim inevitability in their re-emergence. Having been forever hamstrung by attempting to harvest something of worth from the rotten fruits of their labour, May’s government is now critically weakened.

So what better time for the perennial opportunists to sweep in and seize the mantle? Whispers over the weekend of a coup brewing would indicate such a plan is already in motion.

And it’s absolutely sickening.

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No words are really needed. He’s just an idiot.

Putting aside my feelings of deep contempt for Theresa May and absolutely everything she’s done for a moment, what we’re currently witnessing is the very culmination of careerist skulduggery. Two vituperative chancers riding the choppy waves of national chaos to angle their own personal victory from the insuperable disaster their cowardice and ineptitude left behind. May has failed – she was always going to fail and it was an inevitability which always left things open for opportunism in the long run.

With Boris, such unscrupulous manoeuvrings have never really been a secret, being confirmed as far as something can be without an open declaration to topple the Prime Minister and assume control. Once he’d predictably thrown in the towel as Foreign Secretary, his absurdly pompous witterings in The Telegraph have effectively served as an aggressive PR campaign for his eventual leadership bid – parroting the very same litany of easy answers and cretinous sideswipes which may have helped win the referendum, but will immediately die unceremoniously on their arse should he ever have the power to put them into practice; all the while securing Britain’s status as an international pariah with his predisposition for bestial poetry. 

It’s rather different with Gove meanwhile. Saying what he actually means has never been his style. His reputation for honesty has now sank to such a point whereby the opposite of whatever he says can be presumed as true with a startling degree of certainty.  Though don’t be fooled into thinking this will work against him. When you’re mates with Rupert Murdoch, the PR aspect is all in hand, leaving you free to indulge in as much subterfuge as your heart desires.

Irrespective of methodology, the ultimate aims are indistinguishable. It matters not that they’ll run into the very same brick walls as their predecessor, when you’re driven solely by self interest the end always justifies the means. What happens next is of little personal consequence, the Brexit referendum being an ideal point of reference. The lack of any means of implementation in the event of victory wasn’t down to carelessness, nor was it coincidence – it simply wasn’t on their minds. Not when they had a party leader’s authority to irrevocably cripple by way of a narrow defeat which ultimately never came.

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The faces of “victory”

I’m sure from a Brexiteer perspective, a Gove/Johnson premiership is far from something to fear – instead viewing it as a Brexiteer finally taking the helm from a nefarious Remainer, paving the way for a true yet nonetheless intangible Brexit to be achieved. Furthermore, I’m sure that’ll be the manifesto each would run on.

However while the rhetoric will strike a chord with such a demographic, to expect any degree of improvement to our risible lot would be folly to the highest degree.

After all, Brexit has only ever been a vehicle – it’s never been the aim.

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The embittered mumblings of a serial malcontent.