Category Archives: Embittered political ramblings

Britain, COVID-19 and the Perils of Electing a Government of Liars

It’s fair to say that I wasn’t best pleased at the outcome of the 2019 general election.

This wasn’t due to any undying loyalty to the resoundingly vanquished opposition mind, nor was I sufficiently enamoured with any of the night’s many losers to the extent where their pain vicariously became my own.

However, there was one oh so simple hope I did carry with me throughout the campaign.

Owing to my sense of optimism being beaten down, desecrated and terminally punctured over the preceding few years, I wasn’t hoping for anything outlandish or crazy – I just didn’t want the mendacious demagogue who’d spent his entire career violating the very concept of integrity to win the majority he so craved.

So, inevitably, that is precisely what happened.

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Hello darkness, my old friend…

However, as loathsome a prospect a Boris Johnson premiership undoubtedly was, the greater threat undoubtedly lay in the cabinet of misfit toys he would bring into power alongside him.

And we weren’t talking your garden variety political jobsworths either – these were premium chancers. Unscrupulous careerists to whom being a conduit for the most brazen of lies isn’t so much a question of integrity, rather a rite of passage to attain a higher position on the proverbial greasy pole.

You could argue that the political realm has always been awash with the amoral and callous, relentlessly pursuing their own self interest. “T’was ever thus” as Johnson’s most slippery of lieutenants once said – and, by and large, that’s often been the case.

The key difference however, is that a ghoulish lack of empathy and perpetual undercurrent of astonishing ineptitude becomes really apparent on the rare occasions a legitimate life or death crisis holds the nation in a relentless stranglehold.

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And that’s just the hospital deaths.

Of course I’m referring to the coronavirus – a pandemic which needs absolutely no introduction as it continues to keep vast swathes of the global population marooned at home.

The outbreak of this new and highly contagious virus has exposed both the alarming fragility and rank hypocrisy residing in both Britain’s public services infrastructure and the powerful establishments to whom its ultimate fate is tied – the treatment of the NHS being the most obvious example. It’s all well and good praising them to high heaven and offering up tokenistic applause when they’re the only thing standing between Britain and an unthinkable fatality count, but don’t expect superficial gestures to erase a decade of gutting their resources and having your sympathetic pals in the gutter press undermine their plight at every turn.

The more obvious examples of failures of leadership and historical negligence on the part of the government are well documented by this point. However, the true extent of their blundering is effectively impossible to quantify – owing almost entirely to the deliberate obfuscations and contradictory communications from the government.

Let’s use a recent example to illustrate the point – Britain’s involvement (or lack thereof) in the EU ventilator procurement scheme.

This was an unedifying cavalcade of calamity and confusion from the get go. The first stance attempted was that we simply didn’t need to. We were out of the EU and didn’t need to cooperate with those pesky eurocrats anymore as Britain could stand alone.

So far, so Brexit – but, soon after, word got out that this wasn’t actually the case and Britain hadn’t taken part on account of “missing an email”. A convenient and undeniably useful excuse for when you’ve forgotten to do a work assignment perhaps, but considerably less credible when a global pandemic has the country you’re attempting to run gripped tightly by the gonads.

This confused and apparently gleeful indulgence in contradictory messaging rumbled on for a while, essentially relegated to a background gripe with more pressing items of woe being at the forefront of the news agenda.

However, the moment senior Foreign Office official Sir Simon McDonald informed the Foreign Affairs Select Committee that the decision was indeed political, Pandora’s box lurched open once more – the sorry spectacle attaining its peak level of intrigue when the following bizarre and seemingly coerced retraction was hurriedly released into the public sphere:

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If you listen really closely, you can hear the sound of Sir Simon McDonald falling on his own sword for “the greater good”.

So what really happened? Who’s actually responsible for this procession of pitiful incompetence? Nobody on the outside could ever realistically hope to know – and that’s precisely the point. Clearly something is amiss, otherwise the messaging wouldn’t be so erratic – yet with each jarring gear shift the truth becomes ever the more buried beneath increasingly vague and repeatedly contradictory lines of communication.

And, if the spin doctors are especially lucky, it’ll serve as a suitably convenient distraction to an altogether more horrific government induced catastrophe elsewhere.

You could be forgiven for thinking a torrent of disinformation, itself being bolstered by incredibly cynical timing has a fairly familiar ring to it – and you’d be right. It’s the Vote Leave modus operandi – and its reemergence is no coincidence; not when many of its key figures now ply their trade at the very top of our current government.

Dominic Raab is Foreign Secretary, Priti Patel is Home Secretary, Boris Johnson is the Prime Minister – and, of course, we have former Vote Leave Director Dominic Cummings as Boris’ senior adviser. To name but a few.

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Don’t forget Michael Gove either – as much as you probably want to.

With this in mind, it’s important to realise that this isn’t just a government dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, it’s a government with a constant focus on its own PR – and when you’re an administration with such a startling penchant for hapless bungling, you need a crack team of shameless bullshitters to do the donkey work.

Naturally such donkey work ranges from the sinister to the downright embarrassing. Whether you’re subtly attempting to retrospectively change the nature of the target you’re about to fail, or heralding a decrease in reports of shoplifting while the vast majority of shops are closed as some sort of achievement – integrity is left forlornly at the door when you sign up for Team Boris.

Just stick to the script, never concede even a semblance of fault and never, ever, under any circumstances acknowledge the amount of care workers who have died. This isn’t just a grisly statistic for the generic Tory drone, but a political inconvenience which must be evaded at any cost.

Besides – if you let empathy seep too deeply into your thoughts and flaunt these rules on moral grounds, it would be an admittance of culpability – and that will certainly leave you in a very uncomfortable position when the inevitable public inquiry rears its vengeful head.

He’s not the Messiah – he’s just a convenient distraction

Death has a curious way of affecting opinion on public figures – at least when viewed through the admittedly dubious lens of a media narrative.

This is perhaps understandable. After all, what more emotive subject could there be to tug on the collective heartstrings than one concerning a very public life being snuffed out before its time? Whether you loved the individual in question or became agitated by the mere mention of their name, once that vicarious journey slams unexpectedly to a halt it feels churlish to offer up even the mildest of criticism. Wall to wall veneration becomes the order of the day – whether that be from the shocked and sympathetic public or the brazenly cynical media hoping to eke out as much mileage from the tragedy as possible; even if that means performing a judgement u-turn so vast it’s visible from the far side of the galaxy.

As inadvertently cynical as my tone may appear, I do get it. Death is a grisly subject and the finality it brings can lead to even bearing witness to a close encounter scattering your emotions far and wide across the spectrum.

However, that’s not to say we can’t sometimes find ourselves guilty of sanctifying the unfortunately stricken individual to a nauseatingly absurd degree.

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Irony not included.

Surprisingly enough, it’s actually not Jesus to which Allison Pearson is referring to here – rather Boris Johnson; a man with a such a long list of calamities and moments of shame it stretches around the Earth’s equator twice.

However, putting personal opinion and diametrically opposed politics to one side, there’s no doubting that Boris Johnson was dangerously ill with the coronavirus – and, in a moment which provided a refreshing demonstration that simple human empathy hadn’t quite abandoned the general public at large just yet, people of all political stripes stepped up to wish the Prime Minister well.  The emergence of Covid-19 hasn’t just sparked a national crisis, it’s caused the entire planet to grind to a halt. Nobody is immune, nobody is safe and everybody’s life is now haunted by the lingering worry that some of our loved ones might not make it through to the other side of this. If ever there were a time to put personal grievances to one side for the greater good, it’s now.

Fortunately, despite being confined to an intensive care unit for a couple of nights, Johnson did indeed survive and is currently undergoing a period of recuperation at Chequers.

Less fortunately however, is the manner in which his illness and recovery have been hijacked – for both the purposes of political capital and to serve as a totemic success story to divert attention away from a back catalogue of confused leadership, dereliction of duty and a crisis which is now severely out of hand.

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If you squint, you can just about make out the fact that over 10,000 people have died in a matter of weeks.

The coronavirus pandemic has perpetuated a desperate struggle, the likes of which the majority of us have never witnessed. This, combined with the fact that we’re still mired somewhere in the middle of an ongoing emergency with no known conclusion on the horizon, makes it rather difficult to predict what the overarching story of Covid-19 in Britain will actually be – which leaves a tantalisingly blank page on offer for anyone who wishes to slant the upcoming history book in their favour.

So it comes as absolutely no surprise that Boris Johnson, purely by the virtue of surviving the coronavirus, is being painted as a quasi messianic figure whose personal victory over the disease somehow equates to Britain scoring an overall win, regardless of how many dead bodies pile up around him.

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Also – 980 people died.

This rather callous descent towards the realm of cynical spin was always inevitable. Not least when you consider how the government initially handled the coronavirus outbreak – specifically by doing absolutely nothing while subtly attempting to sell the sinister notion that the “herd immunity” approach was a good idea; clearly unconcerned that this would lead to countless preventable deaths.

“We’re following the science” it was claimed, which isn’t the easiest claim to dispute as a layman. Though it was rather disconcerting to see that no other nation in the world was following the same science as we were – not to mention wasting little time in implementing strict and coherent lock-down measures.

When it became clear this strategy was heading for unmitigated disaster, the government changed approach. However, no sign of humility or contrition was on display – rather they made the peculiar claim that “the science changed”. Conveniently enough to the same science most others were utilising weeks before.

Even when the lock-down was finally imposed on Britain, it was ramshackle. Effectively starting life as advisory rather than a state imposed restriction, this confusing, ham-fisted attempt at leadership reached a crescendo of abject absurdity the moment Boris Johnson’s own father appeared on TV to undermine his son’s advice less than 24 hours after it was issued – which isn’t a sentence  that should appear when writing a retrospective of competent government strategy.

Furthermore, such critique makes no mention of the grim fate being experienced by NHS workers. Despite having no choice but to literally face down a highly contagious illness, many have been forced to go without basic PPE on account of a startling lack of availability. Rather than admit any culpability for failing to properly equip an organisation they’ve been gutting for a decade, Health Secretary Matt Hancock opted to suggest that the NHS staff were at fault for not utilising what was available in a suitably economic fashion.

Naturally, such a slight was PR suicide for the government – so it must have come as a considerable relief that the media were more interested in the fact that Boris Johnson was binge watching Lord of the Rings.

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The last time I saw the Tories cheer the NHS to this extent, it was to celebrate denying their staff a payrise.

It has to be acknowledged that we’re currently living through unprecedented circumstances in which the occasional strategic misstep is somewhat of a bleak inevitability – but that doesn’t mean it’s time to treat the government with kid gloves and award them a suitably naff “I tried my best” badge.  At the time of writing, there have currently been 11,329 deaths in the UK from the coronavirus – and that only accounts for those who died at hospital. They must be held to account – with the piercing, concise and constant opposition a genuine life or death situation demands.

However, given that the actual death figure is likely to forever remain a chilling mystery and the nations media is singularly enthralled by the individual survival of Boris Johnson, while barely paying lip service to the thousands no longer with us, the full spectre of what still faces us remains unclear.

In such uncertain times it would be of substantial comfort to be able to trust in our government – but, owing to their tendency for evasive sophistry and a pliant, sympathetic media all too happy to obfuscate, it just gives the distinct impression that they’re hiding something.

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.

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.

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.