The Bad, the Worse and the Gove – The Week That Regrettably Was

With Parliament undergoing summer recess, you could be forgiven for being lulled into a sense of calm. Sure the economic abyss of no deal is right around the corner, but when there’s less politics on TV it’s easier to pretend that everything is just hunky dory.

That said, Boris Johnson and his gaggle of duplicitous cronies are still on the prowl – so allow me to completely ruin your day with a few selected shots of misery from this past week.

Don’t thank me all at once:

Michael Gove Blames a Potential No Deal on the EU’s “Refusal to Negotiate”

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Never before have I found the sight of a man drinking water unsettling, but Michael Gove raised the bar.

We all remember the carnival of cretinous cock swinging that was the Tory leadership debates. Why we had it all; the empty platitudes, the nauseating grandstanding, the deep, dark sense of foreboding that the country is about to disappear unceremoniously down the toilet.

Still, as agonising an experience as this was for the helpless onlooker, the tortuous nature of proceedings at least allowed it to be memorable – meaning it has become oh so easy for the wonder of hindsight to recount any instances whereby the ostensibly honourable candidates were later found to have been delivering their bold proclamations by way of their rectal passage.

Chief amongst the deluge of dubious declarations was the peculiar idea that somehow, in spite of all credible logic, a new leader would bring about a seismic shift, breaking open the long since concluded negotiations with the EU and finally delivering the fantastical Brexit deal they were simply too mean to allow us before.

Naturally every single candidate insisted that they were the right man to succeed in this implausible endeavour – expect Rory Stewart of course but, as the solitary sane candidate to make the TV debates, he had no chance of winning and was swiftly eliminated.

Perhaps the most notable of those insisting that they had a deus ex machina stashed away in their back pocket was one Michael Gove.

Despite bearing the look of a man who spent his formative years being deprived of his dinner money on a daily basis by Walter the Softy, Gove is clearly of the opinion that he’s a formidable opponent. Proudly referencing the time he supposedly got the better of Jeremy Corbyn with such gusto you’d have thought he’d actually defeated Darth Vader, it seemed he was of the unshakeable belief that he would force the EU to scramble back to the negotiating table through sheer force of will.

Which is why it was such a curious sight to see Gove and friends, not even two weeks into government, already being resigned to the novel idea that a negotiation the EU have repeatedly described as closed was actually closed.

All of a sudden the self-assurance had vanished. Gone was the vigorous chest-beating and steely defiance – in its place a pitifully feeble attempt at shifting the blame for a looming no deal at the feet of the EU; all for the apparent crime of maintaining a consistent stance.

The logic behind this blame game is as transparent as it is sinister. Despite the repeated gaffes and utterly ludicrous public statements, the likes of Michael Gove aren’t stupid. They know what they promised, they also know the damage a no deal Brexit would do to the country and, most importantly, they’re acutely aware of the staggering dissonance between their aforementioned promises and the increasingly desperate reality.

Nobody would want such a cataclysmic deception attached to their name, not least if you’re planning on attempting to quench your insatiable lust for power at the inevitable election. So sure, go ahead – blame the EU. Not only are they a convenient scapegoat, past experience has proved that, with enough strategically targeted shots of disinformation, a sufficient portion of the populace will find them a seductive enough fall guy upon which to attach liability for the woes you and your cronies inflicted.

Why else do you think Dominic Cummings is slithering around Number 10?

As No Deal Draws Closer, Claims of “Project Fear” Become More Absurd

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Just in case you weren’t worried enough about potential shortages in medication, here’s our Health Secretary looking as though he’s been possessed by the very concept of despair.

You’ve most likely noticed that the phrase “Project Fear” has been cropping up more and more recently, which tends to be the case when the country is about to indulge in the monumentally stupid.

Despite its inherent laziness and total lack of recognisable logic, it has remained remarkably effective when it comes to swaying public opinion. Warnings of medication shortages and economic doom have never been the most palatable messages to swallow, irrespective of how credible they may be. So it naturally comes as a great relief to see a supposedly reputable figure glibly dismiss such worries, blithely ignoring the opposing arguments while making enough references to “Project Fear” to ensure that it burrows itself deeper into the zeitgeist.

Perhaps the most prominent target of this callous campaign to undermine any and all concerns is the NHS – which is perhaps unsurprising when you consider that people generally aren’t keen on the idea of dying on the back of there being no available treatment.

As a potential no deal Brexit lingers ever closer, the astonishing inadequacy of the UK’s preparations has become all the more stark – and no real answers have been forthcoming.

Armed with no solutions whatsoever, Boris Johnson and his cast of lamentable stooges had but one alternative – spin.

This began with the announcement of an extra £1.8bn in NHS funding. Sure, it wasn’t anywhere near the £350m per week that mendacious bus had told us about, nor was it quite the influx of new cash it was being heralded as, but that will have mattered not to Boris. It offered up the chance to embark on an apparently triumphant media onslaught and collect a few nauseating photo ops with the very NHS staff he was so cynically exploiting – reality be damned, in his solipsistic mindset this was a win.

However this was nothing compared to what former chancellor Lord Lamont came out with on Newsnight, turning in a performance as farcical as it was surreal as he transcended the concept of spin entirely and staked all his chips on a tactic of flat out denial.

Time and again he was presented with grim analysis from industry experts and doctors, only to casually bat them away on the rather unconvincing premise that he simply didn’t believe it. Not a single credible counterpoint was given, instead opting to rely on the somewhat conceited notion that his dispassionate word alone was enough.

Granted this detached arrogance and complete lack of empathy is perhaps what you would expect from a Tory peer but, as ludicrous as his self delusion was, it is necessary for their government to survive.

Boris Johnson’s government have effectively backed themselves into a corner, purely on the basis of successfully flogging a no deal being their de facto central policy. With the parliamentary arithmetic overwhelmingly against them and their majority cut to a single MP, any credence whatsoever given to the notion that a no deal would be a disaster will turn an already toxic package into an impossible sell.

The only potentially effective weapon they have in their arsenal is a narrative of perceived public support, hoping – however credibly – that when the inevitable stand off ensues the electorate will take their side.

The repeated spin and mindless cries of “Project Fear” aren’t really designed to win over their fellow parliamentarians, rather for keeping a potentially volatile public in check lest enough of them discover that the no deal Brexit being proposed by the government is likely to kill people.

The Government Considers the Backstop Undemocratic – Despite The Fact it Was the UK’s Idea

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Would you buy a used car from this man? Hell, I wouldn’t even buy a pet rock.

When Boris Johnson unveiled his not at all far fetched plan to make Britain the greatest country on Earth based on mindless optimism and a curiously unquantifiable “can do spirit”, many were sceptical. This was the harsh reality of real life, not an Enid Blyton novel – just how the hell was this supposed to work?

The simple answer is – it wasn’t. After all, it doesn’t need to work if you carry out a suitably effective propaganda blitz of shameless dishonesty to distract away from your litany of failings.

This week provided us a perfect case in point, as we watched the disconcertingly ethereal Dominic Raab embark on a tour of the Americas – seemingly in a bid to position brazen deception as the top UK export.

While there, he engaged in many a media interview. While they all featured Raab’s signature brand of entirely unwarranted haughtiness, if you did manage to sit through them without feeling the need to conduct a frontal lobotomy on yourself, there was one subtle change to the script you may not have picked up on.

The backstop has long been derided, most often by sedentary garden vegetables like Mark Francois and his chums in the ERG, but Raab had introduced a different angle. It wasn’t just the backstop anymore – it was the “undemocratic backstop”.

Now why would they suddenly be calling it undemocratic?

A cursory look on your Google machine would reveal that it was suddenly everywhere, cropping up in interviews like a mantra designed to seep into your brain and cloud your perspective. Though there was something undeniably absurd about this latest narrative device, with even the slightest scratch to its surface revealing a deception so obvious, it was staggering that they would even try to pull it off.

Not only is the backstop a creation of the UK, it was Dominic Raab who negotiated it. Furthermore, as if the levels of hypocrisy involved hadn’t already pierced through the stratosphere, both Dominic Raab, Michael Gove and Boris Johnson voted for it as part of the Withdrawal Agreement.

So why take such a transparently dishonest stance? The answer to this, as with the majority of what is sinister coming out of this current administration, lies with Dominic Cummings.

Cummings sees himself as a disruptive force – a Machiavellian iconoclast whose approach isn’t so much about fixing what he perceives to be wrong with the system, rather demolishing it entirely. The sort of bloke who’d treat a gashed leg by hacking it off and handing you a crutch.

While his nihilism may not be entirely shared by the population at large, there is both a significant quantity of bitter resentment and a pervasive enough feeling of disenfranchisement brewing out there – and Cummings knows exactly how to fan the flames of anger towards his desired targets.

And what better way to divert the inevitable ire a no deal would bring towards the EU than by characterising them as malevolent oppressors, desperate to tighten their stranglehold on Britain by trapping them in the black hole of the “undemocratic backstop”?

It’s not true of course, as was previously demonstrated in a single paragraph, but the truth is always superseded by popular belief and, let’s face it, if they can get away with corrupting enough minds with as clear a falsehood as this one, there’s likely no limit to what they can get away with.

 

 

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson – The Week That Regrettably Was

As difficult as it may be to believe, the apparent eternity of bullshit laced proclamations and shambling buffoonery known as the Boris Johnson administration we’ve suffered through was actually just over a week.

No really. It was. I’d offer my congratulations on making it through, but any residual pride you may have left over from from your survival will be immediately drowned by the realisation that we’ve got another few months of this preposterous carnival to navigate. At least.

Still, while our national prospects and collective dignity may be disappearing round the u-bend, our brazen deception industry is set to boom, with Johnson’s newly assembled cabinet of misfit toys providing enough stupefying insanity to make you want to catch the next shuttle out the Solar System.

To clarify the point, here’s a look at a few selected ‘highlights’ guaranteed to send debilitating chills through your very soul.

So, if you’re of a shamelessly masochistic disposition, read on:

Dominic Raab Claimed He’d Sold No Deal as a Possibility Before the Referendum

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Don’t look so nervous Dominic. If you balls this up, just pretend you said something else later.

Remember Dominic Raab? Our erstwhile Brexit Secretary and suspected pod person who was lamentably ineffectual to the point whereby he made his predecessor David Davis look almost palatable by way of comparison?

Well he’s now our Foreign Secretary, which is quite the promotion for someone who’s only recently got to grips with the concept of an island. Still, he’s a dyed in the wool Brexiteer and, if the make up of Boris Johnson’s so called “war cabinet” is anything to go by, ideology far supersedes fusty old values such as competence and integrity – so Raab’s position in this hierarchy of horror was assured.

Apparently aware that they were a ramshackle gaggle of eternal incompetents which no sane electorate could ever approve of, this newly appointed cabinet embarked on a PR drive – with risible Raab front and centre.

Round the television studios he went, in his own mind delivering the bullish, uncompromising vision of a respected statesman while simultaneously appearing as a woefully inept charlatan attempting to bullshit his way out of every corner to those of us still left in reality.

There were many dubious claims and astonishing moments of reality denialism to pick through, ranging from the notion that our negotiating leverage will somehow increase having thrown everything away with no deal, to indulging in the now customary attempts to blame all our woes on supposed EU intransigence.

Though there was one particular claim that got people’s attention – the moment when the increasingly embattled Raab insisted that he himself had laid out a no deal Brexit as a possible option during he referendum.

Surprisingly Raab was challenged on this, finding himself immediately flustered when confronted with the apparently radical notion of a politician not being allowed to lie with impunity. Naturally he was unable to provide any actual examples, instead opting to mumble out vague allusions to an unspecified moment in which he might have said something.

But alas, it didn’t put the fact checkers off the scent and, upon closer scrutiny, it was revealed that the claim made by our unscrupulous Foreign Secretary came directly out of his arse.

However the sad conclusion of this pitiful debacle isn’t so much that Dominic Raab is a mendacious ideologue willing to play fast and loose with the truth to suit his agenda. That’s long since been known, even with the painfully late arrival of actual media scrutiny.

Instead it’s the hope sapping realisation that, irrespective of such an unashamed lack of integrity and abysmal ministerial record, Dominic Raab is our Foreign Secretary – duping the nation towards the abyss while the citizens he claims to serve watch on helplessly.

Andrea Leadsom Overloaded Her First Business Roundtable Meeting With Brexiteers Who Already Agree With Her

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“One to Weatherspoons please”

Given that the central motif of this newly formed government is one of blustering defiance, it is of little surprise that cabinet stooges are falling in line with this baseless PR drive.

So who better than newly appointed Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom to clamber aboard the bandwagon of bullshit? After all, it was Andrea Leadsom who, two years ago, called upon broadcasters to leave justifiable concerns to one side and indulge in some state mandated propaganda, so any chance to wave a little flag and report that everything is unfathomably fantastic was always going to be something she’d dive into with glee.

And what finer an opportunity to bask in the superficial glow of mass scale self delusion than by inviting a group of business owners who just so happen to be heavily involved in eurosceptic campaigns to your first business roundtable meeting? 

Contributing to the pungent stench of confirmation bias was Gerald Mason from Tate & Lyle Sugars, also noted for running the ‘Brexit Golden Opportunity’ campaign, Tom Crotty from Ineos, a company run by noted Brexiteer Jim Ratcliffe and, of course, Weatherspoons’ Tim Martin, a man so terminally incorrect you’d be dubious of his answer if he claimed we were living on planet Earth.

Considering that the vast majority of business owners, both large and small, are generally of the opinion that Brexit is a fundamentally bad idea, this heavily slanted discussion was curious and many a theory sprouted as to the logic behind it. There’s a certain school of thought which, perhaps accurately, views this as a means of shovelling more coal into the PR train. Leadsom unsurprisingly described the meeting as “positive” and, let’s face it, the more optimistic soundbites you’ve got in your repository the easier it’ll be to repel the inevitability of difficult questions. The legitimacy of the answer is of little concern, Leadsom’s primary focus is to survive on a day by day basis.

However, given the incredibly disconcerting lack of competence in both Leadsom and indeed the entire cabinet, I can’t help but wonder whether this ideologically biased roundtable meeting is merely a comfort blanket for the faithful.

After all, our current destination is light years away from the sunlit uplands Leadsom so memorably promised. The idea that hey, maybe she was right all along must be rather seductive – regardless of how fallacious it may be.

Certainly preferable to contemplating the incensed backlash which would materialise when your deception is laid bare for all to see.

Boris Johnson is Spending £100m of Public Money to Prepare Citizens For The No Deal He Insists Won’t be a Problem

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Who needs food when you can feast upon the succulence of baseless optimism?

The Tory leadership contest was quite a surreal experience to witness. Not only were the participants essentially presenting a sales pitch which the overwhelming majority of the audience had no actual means to either accept or decline, the ever insidious spectre of Brexit ensured that the headline act of this entire risible spectacle was a bizarre pissing contest in which contestants had to convince the befuddled nation they were the most serious about committing economic suicide.

Since Boris Johnson is now our Prime Minister, it would seem he emerged the triumphant rhetorician. However it was also worth noting that, with perhaps the exception of dead eyed soul vacuum Dominic Raab, Boris Johnson’s candidacy stood out from the rest simply due to his eagerness to dismiss the threat as no deal as only a minor concern. “Vanishingly inexpensive” was his phrase of choice as he spewed out a relentless stream of vapid soundbites, presumably in a bid to avoid scrutiny from the “doomsters” by causing their very bodies to shut down by way of sensory overload.

The trouble is it becomes somewhat more difficult to take the “vanishingly inexpensive” claim especially seriously when your first move is to spend £100m of public money on a glitzy ad campaign to not only prepare the nation for an event you’ve sold as unproblematic, but one you’re under no credible obligation to enact – and that’s not even mentioning the mind numbing absurdity of adopting a theme of boundless optimism while you simultaneously push public information campaigns ripped from the very same playbook you’d refer to in a time of war.

Cognitive dissonance aside, what we’re really seeing here is the simple incompatibility of Boris’ bluster and observable reality reaching critical mass. Johnson is basically trapped. Having risen to the highest office in British government by feverishly clinging to the coattails of specious populism, the mound of bullshit upon which his kingdom was built is now beginning to collapse – and there’s no plausible escape route.

An admission of deception wouldn’t help him, nor would an attempt to wind back the clock and call the whole thing off. As excruciatingly obsequious as his acolytes currently are, an admitted betrayal would see his base desert him and, given that his duplicitous shenanigans and woeful ineptitude saw anyone who values integrity in their public officials long ago, they’re all he’s really got left.

All he can do his plough onward, hoping against hope that the increasingly precarious balancing act he’s locked himself into doesn’t come crashing down and bury his career beneath the debris.

It will of course, providing perhaps the only fitting end to a charade of a public service career explicitly undertaken to cater to his own self interest.

The only question is, who else will be caught up in the blast radius as Boris Johnson’s cavalcade of catastrophe comes tumbling down?