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.