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”
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
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
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.Follow @grahamlithgow