All posts by Graham Lithgow

Perpetually befuddled miserabilist.

The Tory Party and the Art of Shameless Deception

Feeling confused? Frustrated? Finding yourself forever lost in a state of total bewilderment as you wade through an endless torrent of especially pungent bullshit, all in the vain hope of salvaging even a brief foothold of understanding as you become further swamped by empty promises, meaningless slogans and the uncomfortable sensation that everyone is lying to you?

It can only mean one thing – a general election is here. Perhaps Brenda from Bristol had a point after all.

For the most part it had been pretty bog standard – what with all manner of wonderment promised with little in the way of detail from which to achieve it forthcoming, coupled with the inevitable Boris blundering inexplicably having absolutely no negative effect on the polls.

However, in the past few days, an especially insidious change was afoot – emerging from the murky waters of the Twittersphere during ITV’s showpiece ‘Johnson v Corbyn’ debate.

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Seems legit.

The debate itself was fairly standard fare, what with Boris Johnson’s ceaseless tangential waffling around any question more difficult than being asked to explain what a potato is, while Jeremy Corbyn was continually pressed yet continued to be frustratingly hesitant on whether he’d back Leave or Remain in a hypothetical second referendum – despite the fact that his personal convictions are ultimately immaterial when it would be the people making the final choice.

Though, away from the debate and within the realms of the eternal dick measuring contest known as social media, something peculiar was happening. Twitter suddenly found itself awash with Tory propaganda masquerading as indisputable fact courtesy of a previously unheard of account calling itself ‘factcheckUK’.

Now independent fact checking organisations are nothing new – you can find many scattered throughout Twitter attempting to extract morsels of cold, hard reality from the onslaught of bombastic political bluster – but seeing one spawn at such a pivotal moment from the void of non-existence would rightly unnerve any sceptical mind.

Yet there it was – the much heralded blue tick of certified Twitter approval right next to their name. So they must be the real deal, right?

Fortunately, a few eagle eyed souls managed to not fall victim to the Twitter norm of offering a cursory glance at most while scrolling through a timeline and noticed the biggest red flag outside of Soviet Russia – @CCHQPress. This wasn’t just an account sympathetic to the Tories – this WAS the Tories; engaging in the sort of shameless subterfuge normally associated with your garden variety Facebook troll.

You’d think that being caught red handed in a sinister yet clumsy act of brazen deception would lead to many a grovelling, hamfisted apology being on offer. This is an election after all – surely it would electoral suicide to be busted holding the voters in such blithe contempt?

While that would be the sane and indeed vaguely honourable reaction, regrettably this isn’t an episode of Happy Days in which mistakes are made, lessons are learned and the Fonz calls the gent’s toilet his “office” without a hint of irony. This is the Tory Party. They don’t do integrity – but they do have an apparently inexhaustible supply of frighteningly cynical morality vacuums to churn out in the aid of ostensible “public relations”.

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Regrettably related photo of Dominic Raab.

Dominic Raab, James Cleverly and Michael Gove to name but a few were asked to explain this most lamentable of con tricks, yet their response wasn’t one of contrition, rather one of obstinate defiance.

“There was no trickery!” they insisted in carefully rehearsed tandem. “Look! It says ‘from CCHQ’ right there!”

Superficially, this protestation is indeed accurate – but they typically neglected to mention two key points. Firstly, were the account to retweet anything (which it did), any reference to CCHQPress would be entirely absent, owing to the longstanding Twitter aesthetic.

And secondly, the member of the design team responsible for the page banner was clearly briefed to ensure the “From CCHQ” subheading was in the smallest possible font size which still allowed to be in any way credibly legible to human eyes.

However it wasn’t the pitiful attempts at claiming refuge in the most ludicrously ramshackle shelter of plausible deniability imaginable that was the take home message from this sordid display of skulduggery, rather how little regard they had for the very notion of integrity. Dominic Raab in particular seemed to actively revel in his obfuscation, seemingly offering himself a mental pat on the back whenever he indulged in a spot of misdirection or pretended to have no understanding as to how Twitter works.

This is really the fundamental problem we’re faced with as this election looms ever closer on the horizon. This isn’t just about Brexit – it’s about whether we as a nation are about to hand a working majority to a gaggle of historical incompetents who have absolutely no qualms about deceiving you for their own self interest.

It’s often noted that the Vote Leave campaign under the stewardship of Dominic Cummings did their utmost to baffle the public with a tsunami of misleading data and fanciful untruths – and now he’s the most senior adviser to Boris Johnson as he heads into this most critical of elections, the disinformation disseminator has been cranked into overdrive. The campaign is barely a couple of weeks old yet there’s already been enough bullshit to fertilise the entire planet, overwhelming your senses as you struggle to distinguish between the dubious and the outright deceitful – the actual truth becoming forever lost in the ever thickening haze.

In a sense, you’ve almost got to hand it Cummings. Not only is he undeniably adept as propagandist, he’s managed to get his minions so well drilled in the art of bare-faced blagging that the message has become almost impervious to reality. While the truth is what we should value, the narrative always reigns supreme – which is why, even when caught with their pants inconspicuously stuck around their ankles, you’ll still get a chronically hapless goon like Matt Hancock simply ignoring any valid counterpoint and sticking rigidly on message. Laughable perhaps, but he knows exactly what he’s doing. The message, regardless of credibility, must remain unblemished – as it’s this message that will create the false reality in which the Tories aren’t a cabal of hopelessly detached jobsworths who have spent the past decade screwing over the country.

The message that will win them the election.

I wish I wasn’t so pessimistic. I long for an election night in which all my worst fears are vanquished and relative sanity finally establishes a grip on the country I call my home – but the polls are increasingly ominous, barely shifting irrespective of the scandals which befall Boris Johnson on what seems like a daily basis.

This is being referred to as the most important election in generations – and it is. But it’s not just about Brexit. It’s about what type of people we want running the country – and if Boris Johnson and his reality distorting cronies are granted a majority, it’ll be all the validation they need.

Because their deceit won’t stop with an electoral victory – it’ll simply confirm that their approach of unscrupulous dishonesty gets results.

 

 

Boris Johnson and the Denial of Reality

I loathe the term “fake news”. It’s fair to say I detest it with every facet of my curmudgeonly being.

Having seemingly started life as a suitably simplistic, go to response for anything which didn’t sufficiently jive with Donald Trump’s delusions, it’s now become ingrained in the common vernacular; poisoning all manner of discourse by allowing ease of access to the most obnoxious of dismissals while perfectly pandering to the detail deficient sloganeering which has similarly infested our politics.

Which is why, having rather firmly established that fake news as a concept is a festering boil lodged up the arse crack of our culture, it’s somewhat disconcerting to see our own government not only employ it with jovial abandon, but actively revel in it.

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This is factually incorrect – but don’t kid yourself into thinking they care.

As troubling as it is to see a government we rely upon for maintaining a vaguely functional society indulging in such brazen deception, it would be inaccurate to portray it as in any way surprising. With a cabinet stuffed with Vote Leave cronies who somehow managed to escape the associated miasma of corruption and deceit with their careers inexplicably intact, the ghoulish, almost ethereal visage of Disinformation Disseminator in Chief Dominic Cummings has left conspicuous fingerprints upon every single government communication.

And with terminal deceiver Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, you’ve got both a totemic figurehead and morality free vessel through which the bullshit can really flow.

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They’re even resorting to utilising the Comic Sans typeface for propaganda purposes – like utter bastards.

While keeping tabs on the often snooze inducing, beyond tedious world of general government business is largely a venture reserved for the politically inclined or misery sadists, the current administration have, in the blink of an eye, got to work upturning the proverbial apple cart and setting it ablaze in a bewildering display of propagandic pyrotechnics. Barely a session on social media passes by without happening across a peculiar mix of gaudy press releases from the Tory party; either hammering you with painstaking rhetoric which is regimented to the point of being robotic, or cynically yanking on your heartstrings with video shorts eulogising the NHS – eking out every last drop of political capital from a highly valued institution before it’s sold off to a megalomaniacal Wotsit with a toupee.

My own cynicism and admitted political biases aside however, there’s something undeniably unsettling about all of this – and I’m deeply concerned that it seems to be passing through the zeitgeist largely undetected.

Perhaps we as an electorate have simply become too blasé as to the current political landscape – beaten down to the point of begrudgingly accepted submission having lived through the past few years of relentless subterfuge and endless scheming from those who claim to represent us.

Brexit hasn’t just torn us apart, it’s all but irrevocably neutered us as a discerning nation. Dazzled to the point of blindness with nebulous concepts and baseless assertions being fired at us from all angles, no longer do we as a collective seem to even partially raise an eyebrow at governmental incompetence or staggeringly illogical rhetoric. Little is made of Boris Johnson claiming there won’t be customs checks in the Irish Sea as he signs a deal which places customs checks in the Irish Sea. Barely anyone seems especially bothered by members of Johnson’s own cabinet directly contradicting both their Prime Minister and each other as to how this deal will even work. Most chilling of all, barely a whiff of widespread public outcry is to be found as the government not only attempt to force it through Parliament without due scrutiny or any economic impact analysis to hand, but outright decry such logical procedures as “for the birds”.

Concerned? Don’t be. It’s the “will of the people”, remember? After all, they “know what they voted for” and any attempt to question either the feasibility or sanity of proceedings should be considered a bitter attempt to “overturn democracy”.

Sound ridiculous? Well, it is – but nevertheless, it remains a persuasive narrative. I live in an area wherein which Leave achieved a substantial majority. People buy this – irrespective of whether or not I’m able to understand exactly why.

It is due to this that the mere thought of an election anytime soon fills me with a cold sense of dread. While I’d love to be fully on board with the notion that we can rid Number 10 of this most ghastly of administrations, I suspect many are underestimating Boris Johnson.

Sure, he’s a demonstrably awful Prime Minister – of that there can be little doubt. However during electoral campaigns – and indeed referanda – the game significantly changes. The regrettable concept of optics comes into play and the message being transmitted takes overwhelming precedent above apparently outmoded criteria such as competence and suitability.

It may be commonly accepted amongst political aficionados that Boris Johnson is more full of shit than a herd of diarrhetic elephants, but is the passive swing voter (of which there is a substantial demographic) suitably engaged as to be aware of this lamentable character trait?

The answer to this question is one that unfortunately escapes me and will be revealed only through the passage of time. An election at some point in the near future is now a grim inevitability and you can be sure that Johnson and Cummings will be prepared to say whatever it takes to drag them over the line.

Naturally the actual truth will be in perilously short supply in the oncoming propaganda blitz, but I fear that won’t especially matter.

After all, who doesn’t like being told exactly what they want to hear?

Boris Johnson and the Degradation of Democracy

“You’re a nasty piece of work, aren’t you?”

It was this piercing, unabashed line of inquiry from Eddie Mair which lifted the lid on Boris Johnson’s character; offering a curious yet troubling insight into the darkest recesses of his psyche – at which point, back in 2013, weren’t especially well publicised.

Back then he was “Bojo”- a seemingly fitting moniker to describe a man more befitting to the role of stand in circus clown than serious politician. Mair’s damning condemnation of the then Mayor of London bore little resemblance to the carefully staged managed public persona of cuddly old Boris. Of course this darker side was no secret to the initiated, themselves being acutely aware of a career underpinned by brazen dishonesty and shameless cynicism – but to the passing observer such revelations slipped conveniently under the radar.

They didn’t see a conniving charlatan indulging in morally bankrupt political chicanery – they saw a bemusing, floppy haired tit getting stuck on a zip-wire.

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Oh Boris. What are you like?

Fast forward the clock from these comparatively halcyon times to the increasingly regrettable present day however and what do we find? Just what is that fuzzy haired embodiment of cartoonish buffoonery up to now, I wonder?

Turns out Boris has been a rather busy boy since being inexplicably rescued from the aforementioned zip-line escapade – and a very naughty one too. Following his stints as the figurehead of the notoriously mendacious Vote Leave campaign and as the most professionally despised Foreign Secretary of the modern era, Johnson has finally found himself where his supreme ego always insisted he belonged – Number 10 Downing Street.

And to say it’s not quite gone according to plan, would be an understatement on a par with describing the Hindenburg disaster as a “mild technical hiccup”.

A mere glance at a timeline of Boris Johnson’s first few weeks in office reveals what would be a sorry record of calamity were it attributed to a departing Prime Minister who had just finished a full term – yet Johnson has only just started.

Resounding defeat in his first six votes, his majority decimated – the tipping point being the moment it literally walked away from him as he was giving a speech – a conflict of interest scandal arising from back when he was London Mayor which he’s been unable to explain and, the final turd atop the shit sundae, was found by the Supreme Court to have acted unlawfully and providing misleading advice to the Queen.

And that’s without even mentioning the latest uproar with regards his deliberately inflammatory invective.

In truth, keeping up with the Johnson Travesty Train is a fruitless endeavour. Barely a day goes by without this shambling charlatan igniting another political dumpster fire with a cretinous utterance or hapless blunder. There was a school of thought, of which I aligned myself with, who considered a chaotic Johnson premiership to be a grim inevitability – but nobody, not even in the shadowy corners of their most nefarious nightmares, expected it to be quite this horrific.

While we live in a time of undoubted division, further dragged through the mud by a chillingly vituperative vernacular, I struggle to recall a more sinister administration than this one. Institutions and ideals which formed the bedrock of this country and its rise through history are now derided, besmirched and callously undermined. Parliamentary sovereignty? An overbearing inconvenience. The rule of law? A matter of opinion. The eleven most senior judges in the country? Inherently biased – and besides, what do they know about the constitution? The entirely unqualified Jacob Rees-Mogg clearly knows better.

And at the head of this grisly cabal, an absurdist caricature of Etonian privilege – utilising bemusing verbal flourishes and painfully rehearsed tomfoolery to cast a veil over his most insidious jaunts toward the murky depths of demagoguery. Each and every instance of cynically constructed whimsy serving as a deliberate distraction from a shameful back catalogue of conscious deception and attempts to drag the discourse right down to the gutter in order to galvanise the base he’s staked his political career upon.

It’s fair to say the charming clown act has suffering a timely yet jarring death. Befuddling japery, even with the joviality cranked up to eleven, simply doesn’t wash when it’s preceded by attempts to arbitrarily shut down our democratic institutions and crass dismissals of his parliamentary colleagues receiving death threats.

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Case in point – his speech at the UN went down about as well as a cup of cold sick mixed with gravel.

In some respects, I’m able to at least glean a small semblance of hope from the justifiable horror his recent actions have caused. This isn’t normal, nor should apathy allow it to become established as such. Though this poisonous deluge of relentless propaganda isn’t going to abate anytime soon – not with Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings prowling the corridors of Number 10.

Democracy and the rule of law in this country were built up over centuries, establishing a reliable base from which our society could thrive by enjoying a free and comparatively unhindered existence; nor can it be obliterated overnight, save for a military coup.

But that’s not to say it isn’t fragile or that vigilance is unnecessary. The cracks are already beginning to show – growing in size with every government lackey who pushes the notion that independent judges are swayed by political bias and establishment loyalty; edging ever closer to the point of collapse as Boris suggests that the very institution of Parliament is somehow betraying its own people.

Boris Johnson plans to run an election characterised by a mantra of  “The people vs Parliament”.

Say no more.

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.

 

 

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?

Boris Johnson and the Inevitability of Failure

Well, it happened.

While an incredibly unedifying state of affairs, nobody can genuinely claim to be surprised. For years such a scenario was viewed as a grim inevitability, the direction of travel long being apparent as we bore witness to the perpetual circus of the Tory Party sliding from mere dysfunction into outright ideological insanity.

Many refused to believe it would happen, desperately clinging onto whatever disparate morsels of reason came along in the hope that, somehow, rationality would win the day. After all, the very idea in of itself was frankly ludicrous. We’re a sensible and highly respected nation – indulging in such self defeating buffoonery simply shouldn’t be on the agenda.

Yet, somehow, Boris Johnson is now our Prime Minster – so apparently it is.

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I’d like to say that this is going to end well but – it won’t.

Yes, in a regrettable turn of events which piss squarely in the face of an old adage insisting that cheats never prosper, Boris has got his wish. Having managed to mould a political career, a vocation which was ostensibly designed to serve the public interest, into a relentless, self aggrandising quest to gain supreme power through whatever unscrupulous means were necessary, his years of skulduggery have finally bore fruit. It matters little that it’s a harvest only an infinitesimal fraction of the country actually asked for – we’ve all got to swallow it down, no matter how bitter the taste.

So now what? Just what can we expect from an administration headed by this eternal political cipher, forever a hostage to his own desire for personal advancement rather than any sincerely held principle?

Nothing of value could really be gleaned from his leadership campaign because, let’s face it, what insight can really be gained from a shambling buffoon bellowing out shallow proclamations about the continued production of Mars bars while waving a kipper around? Granted it may have tantalised a hypothetical demographic which consider confectionery to be a hot button issue, but it’s not exactly an inspiring pitch from a man hoping to lead a country in which scores still live in poverty.

His maiden speech as Prime Minister unsurprisingly followed a similar theme. Boisterous optimism was the predictable order of the day, with Boris breathlessly promising that all manner of wondrous advancements will be ours to seize. There was no detail of course but then again, did there really need to be? Sure there are many of us who are suckers for apparently outmoded concepts such as substance and detail, but what use does Boris have for us? We didn’t vote him in, nor will our legitimate concerns hold any sway on the new Prime Minister when he can callously swat away the doubters with baseless defiance.

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Satire isn’t dead, it became real life.

There’s simply no place in Boris Johnson’s world for those pesky doubters, always out to puncture his grandiose bluster with scrutiny and expertise. The mass exodus of relative sanity from the cabinet both before and after his appointment is testament to this, making way for only his most obsequious and deluded acolytes to lavish him with the adoration he’s always craved. Boris cares not if his desires are unattainable, he just wants his fantasy to continue.

However as seductive a sensation as self delusion can be, being especially pervasive in the minds of the wilfully credulous, its credibility crumbles to dust when faced with the impassible obstacle of reality.

The Brexit conundrum facing Boris Johnson is as daunting as it is gargantuan, being underlined by the delicious irony that the most unobtainable desires he needs to somehow fulfil were entirely of his own creation.

While today is his day of triumph, tomorrow will be his day of reckoning – precipitating a turbulent journey of strife and frustration that no amount of reality denialism will be able to overcome; irrespective of how jovial it may be.

One by one his promises will fall, each being accompanied with a resounding thud as they crash to the ground. The faithful will keep their fingers firmly lodged in their ears of course, but that won’t change the uncomfortable truth of his failure. He won’t get the Withdrawal Agreement re-opened, he doesn’t have any solution to the backstop, GATT 24 isn’t the magic solution he’s claimed it to be and we sure as shit won’t be seeing £350m a week for the NHS.

I’ve got no doubt that his supporters (and there are many) will greet my cynicism with instinctive scorn, offering up the superficially reasonable objection that I’ve not given him a chance.

In truth, the ever dying optimist within me would love to subscribe to visions of a prosperous and fulfilling future under the reign of Boris Johnson. I’d love to throw negativity to one side and look past a career ridden with deceit, startling incompetence and enough bullshit to fertilise an entire continent.

But alas, I’m unable to do such a thing. Probably because he didn’t promise me a job in the cabinet.

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.