Seeing through the illusion to the reality of Johnson’s policies

As we enter 2020, all the signs are that his 80-seat majority all-powerful, all-conquering position is an illusion. Boris, that exploiter of illusion par excellence is sitting astride a seemingly impregnable illusion, while we continue to wonder who is the real Boris. Meanwhile all beneath his considerable backside is shifting sands. He is busy “getting Brexit done”, while he is being bluntly made aware by the EU that the price Britain could pay if he does not compromise will be very great, mostly recently the exclusion of the City from Europe. It appears that he has ruled out an extension, and has ruled out the single market and customs union, and yet presumably hopes to force some middle ground from the unyielding Europeans under time pressure. At home, the ERGites will pressurise him not to concede and if necessary to … Read more

Does Johnson plan to “protect our democracy” or fatally weaken it?

As people shake off some of the post-Christmas lethargy and blearily contemplate the new year and even, God forbid, the new decade, Britons may be variously still celebrating their decisive victory over “Remoaners”, reeling from the drubbing they received at the hands of a brilliantly organized and delivered Johnson campaign, or a certain relief from interminable Brexit news. At one level, Johnson can now “get Brexit done”, with all the flaws in that promise still to be revealed, and Europeans heave a sigh of relief that at last the troublesome British have finally agreed with themselves and can go away and leave them in peace. It might be that simply getting “Brexit done” will restore peace and harmony and enable people to live better together, and yet the thoughtful observer might wonder about that notion, if they pause to reflect … Read more

Is Johnson’s victory a brilliant achievement or a disaster waiting to happen?

Many before the UK election thought that this was going to be an election of historic importance and that is how it has proved to be. It was truly the Brexit election, much though some leaders tried to pretend otherwise, and the Brexit Conservative Party were the winners. Brexit was above all a crisis within the Conservative Party. They were thought to be in existential danger several months ago, and of being about to split irretrievably. Yet, if there was no Conservative Party, one would have to be invented. It has a genius for reinvention and in the pressure of the Brexit crisis has out-manoeuvred its opponents and emerged the victors. As such, in its election victory on Thursday, it confirmed itself as one of the most successful post-war European parties, much though many in Europe would not like to … Read more

Will the “Condition of Britain” question out-trump “Get Brexit done”?

The 2019 Get Brexit Done election campaign is under way, and Johnson is suddenly up against the “condition of Britain” question. So far, the parties have been making their pitches and it seems that both the “major parties” are busy trying to outbid each other in their spending promises. If however, you turn to look at what concerns the voters, and bear in mind that most tend not to get switched on to the fact that there’s an election on till about 2 weeks before D-day, the monthly Ipsos Mori poll of political issues is interesting. They started with Brexit being way ahead as a “very important” issue, but the NHS has now almost caught it up (55% to 54%) and this is despite Johnson trying to make the focus how he can “get Brexit done” and it’s “The People … Read more

Brexit has exposed a big weakness in Britain’s political system and culture

What is going on in Britain that has paralysed its politics and led to a near-civil war amongst the political elite? One might very reasonably think that it’s about EU membership and a near complete and equal polarisation between Leave and Remain, but if one steps back to take an overview, there are also more fundamental issues about the British political system and political culture that can strike more detached observers. The UK is entering its third general election in 4 years, called by PM Johnson to try to break the deadlock in Parliament and secure his deal just agreed with the EU and leave the EU on 31 January 2020. Attention naturally shifts to the offerings of the parties and who is likely to emerge the victor, the Leave side led by Johnson, or a mixed bag of opponents … Read more

To be or not to be – the battle for Brexit reaches its climax

Next week could see a Parliamentary victory for Johnson on his negotiated Brexit deal but this might merely be a battle won and not the war Yet again the right wing Brexiteers have been frustrated in their attempts to take Britain out of the EU by the sheer fact of a lack of a majority and thus opposition in Parliament to their efforts. His goal has been to try to realise Brexit by 31 October in order to fulfil his promise in his earlier campaign to become leader of the Tories. This goal may also account for the very arbitrary and overly forceful way that he has proceeded and the resistance that that has engendered. Prime Minister Johnson returned from Brussels brandishing Brexit Deal Mark Two only to see it shot down on Saturday as MP’s realised that his attempt … Read more

When the Prime Minister threatens democratic norms of behaviour

Where do we go from here? One might now be urgently asking the question, where is our democracy heading now? While the Tories are conferencing this week in Manchester, the city of Peterloo, one might reflect on the irony of their choice of city in the bicentenary year of the Massacre by the local yeomanry of peaceful Mancunian citizens who did not have the vote and who had turned out in their Sunday best with families to hear “Orator” Hunt demand Parliamentary reform and the extension of the franchise. The achievement of democracy in Britain, admittedly within the limitations revealed this week, was hard fought in the 109 or so years that followed, and in 1819 the landed aristocrat-led government was clamping down on such radicals, seen as “Jacobins”, for fear of revolution. One might legitimately wonder what version of … Read more

Johnson is acting as a populist demogogue for Brexit and against democracy

Last night the UK’s populist demogogue Prime Minister returned to face the music after his defeat at the hands of the Supreme Court judges over his prorogation of Parliament, not with contrition but with aggressive defiance. In so doing, he confirmed in many people’s minds that this man is determined on his strategy to force a General Election over his push for Brexit as a “People versus the Politicians” election. A populist demogogue This is the behaviour of a dangerous populist demogogue with, it appears, potentially “strongman” authoritarian leanings and democracy as we know it is in danger in pursuit of both Brexit and a neoliberal hidden agenda behind Brexit. Their approach is that the end justifies the means, as No. 10 chief advisor Cummings has said, “Brexit by any means necessary”. Far from respecting the verdict of the judges … Read more

A victory in the Supreme Court for the rule of law and constitutionality

On the face of it, today’s Supreme Court verdict has been a triumph for the rule of law and constitutionality in the UK conflict over Brexit. However, the conflict has still a long way to go, and there is still plenty of scope for near-illegal action by the Johnson regime and for his Parliamentary opponents to bring the regime to heal and halt the slide to systemic breakdown. The Supreme Court ruling Today in an historic landmark ruling the UK Supreme Court ruled as unlawful and void PM Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament. Despite fears that it would not want to intrude into relations between the executive and the legislature as regards the exercise of the royal prerogative, it chose to do just that. It ruled that: The case was “justiciable”, that the courts could rule on the prorogation of Parliament … Read more

A profound political gap underlies the Brexit storm and the right-wing shift

For some time there has been a profound political gap between the excitement of the UK politically engaged and the indifference or rejection “out there” beyond the Westminster bubble. For those willing to take a closer look, the attitude of the latter towards the Brexit crisis, and its origins, goes a long way to explain why the crisis is evolving as it is now. This detachment from, and in some parts of the country an outright rejection of, liberal democracy, can help explain Johnson’s current belligerent and almost anti-democratic tactics. Johnson is firing up his base To many in the Westminster bubble and the politically active sections of society, there is a massive struggle going on over Brexit, in which Johnson has recently prorogued Parliament to, it is assumed, limit debate and reduce the chances of Parliament obstructing his strategy … Read more

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