I have no time for any Conservative politician, as you might expect given my obvious political leanings. But one above all is guaranteed to make me cringe, every time I see his face, read about his antics, or watch him being interviewed on TV. That person is Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, better known as Boris Johnson, the Conservative member of parliament, former Mayor of London, and the current Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom.
The mere fact that we present this wild-haired buffoon as the representative of this country is enough to get me riled. Then the fact that I share his (albeit common) surname makes me wish he had something as elaborate as his forenames instead. But what really gets to me, is that he pretends to be a clown. He acts stupid, trading on his shambolic appearance, and trademark unkempt hairstyle. He blusters and stutters, takes part in stunts and photo opportunities, and seems happy to allow himself to be viewed as a harmless figure of fun by all and sundry.
There are two reasons why this is unacceptable, and the first is that he is representing this country as our Foreign Secretary, our face to the world. The second reason is that none of it is true. It is all an act, a contrivance, a device. All set up to make him appear to be harmless, like some cuddly cartoon bear that inadvertently slipped into politics, and doesn’t know what he is doing.
Have a quick look at his background, courtesy of Wikipedia.
Born in New York City to wealthy upper-middle class English parents, Johnson was educated at the European School of Brussels, Ashdown House School, and Eton College. He studied Classics at Balliol College, Oxford, where he was elected president of the Oxford Union in 1986.
Joining the Conservatives, he was elected MP for Henley in 2001, and under party leaders Michael Howard and David Cameron he was in the Shadow Cabinet.
During his first term as mayor of London, he banned alcohol consumption on public transport, championed London’s financial sector, and introduced the New Routemaster buses, cycle hire scheme, and Thames cable-car. In 2012, he was re-elected mayor, again defeating Livingstone; during his second term he oversaw the 2012 Summer Olympics.
After Theresa May became leader of the Conservatives and Prime Minister, Johnson was appointed as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on 13 July 2016.
Does this look like the track record of a fool to you? I would regard it as the clever insinuations of a well-educated man looking for his moment to take the most powerful job in UK politics.
Don’t be fooled by Boris, and look behind the hype.
We are about to see a new resident in Number Ten Downing Street. Tomorrow, David Cameron goes to pastures new, (and no doubt very prosperous pastures too) leaving his post, and handing over the most important job in the UK to Theresa May, the current Home Secretary. She will become the second woman to hold this office in the UK, the first being the reviled Margaret Thatcher. Let’s hope that she is not planning on becoming a ‘Thatcher 2: The Sequel.’
After a brief but acrimonious leadership election, it was always her that was the favourite to win. Despite some slurs about her not relating to families because she has no children, she kept her nerve, and was an easy winner. Her political pedigree is second to none, and she has held many important cabinet posts since she was first elected as a member of parliament, in 1997. She is known for her tough stance on some issues, and for a liberal opinion on others, including support of same-sex marriage. Naturally, I hold no brief for this woman. She is a Conservative, and I dislike them all, by default. They are friends of business, big money interests, and the preservation of the status quo. They have little interest in ordinary working-class people, and tend to revel in the age of Empire, surrounded by fluttering Union flags. Despite her own position of wishing to Remain in the EU, she now represents a party that voted overwhelmingly to Leave.
Of course, the voters of this country had no choice about who would become their next Prime Minister. Like many before her, she was foisted upon us, by an electoral system that has gone unchanged for decades. In the UK, we vote for a local member of parliament, not for a leader; a person to take charge of the country, and to be its political figurehead. In the last century, half of those who became the Prime Minister did so by being elected leader of their party after the death or resignation of their predecessor, and not as the result of a general election. So, nothing unusual about Mrs May, and her rise to power. As all this is going on, the so-called Opposition, the Labour Party, is also torn apart by a challenge to its current leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Like Theresa May, Corbyn was the choice of the party members all over the country. And like her, he was not the natural choice of his fellow members of parliament.
Whatever the outcome, it is certain that the opposition parties will remain weak and divided. They have little to offer in the way of solid policies to counter the current Conservative regime, and remain locked in a cycle of remonstrations and regrets about the possibility of departure from the EU, as the whole party campaigned for a Remain vote. As long as they fail to show solidarity, to get behind the elected leader they already have, they are unlikely to unsettle someone as steely and determined as our new Prime Minister.
Theresa May was born in 1956, making her four years younger than me. I would say that she has a lot still left in her, at the age of 60. I have a bad feeling that we are going to have to get used to seeing her around for a very long time.
You would be forgiven for not realising that a general election in this country is only a few weeks away. I have hardly seen a poster, received nothing through the door, and had no canvassers calling. The TV news channels dutifully report the comings and goings of the party leaders. Oh look, the Prime Minister is visiting a building site, and there’s the leader of UKIP saying that he will sort out immigration. Nick Clegg made a paid for appearance tonight, asking us to open our doors to his policies, and trying to assure us that he doesn’t really like the Conservatives that he has been working with for the past four years. Miliband has been shouting a lot in Parliament, and some grey has appeared in his hair; but he is fooling nobody. He still has no personality, and a complete absence of any qualities that might make voters change to Labour.
The three main parties are once again lining up in the same old way, to offer us the same old lies and platitudes. UKIP are flushed with recent success, and appealing to the lowest common denominator. They might get some more seats, but they are not going to be in power. So, their politicians can say anything they like, make any promises that people want to hear. They know that they won’t have to implement them. Not so long ago, people would be arguing about the forthcoming election at the drop of a hat. They would be in earnest discussion at any opportunity, hoping for change, for something fresh and new. Windows and front gardens all over the country would be festooned with posters of all colours, urging us to vote for this or that party.
In 2015, apathy rules. Nobody believes any of them anymore, so they have just switched off. Party memberships are at an all-time low, and even the fringe parties can’t be bothered to make a fuss. If there was an Apathy Party, they would have a landslide win. There’s no election fever. There’s not even an election heavy cold, or high temperature. It’s not even in the league of a hot flush.
We just all know that it won’t make a blind bit of difference.
In a few months, we will have the long-awaited General Election here in the UK. As far as I can tell, we have already lost it. The people that is. Hoping for an end to this lamentable coalition, it seemed that any alternative would do. Even a Labour government, led by the ineffectual Ed Miliband, a man devoid of presence and charm, had to be better than a bunch of smug Tories, and their Liberal-Democrat lackeys. Despite some defections from the Conservatives to UKIP, including an unexpectedly successful by-election win, giving UKIP their first MP, even the most optimistic Nationalist could only really see them getting about eight or nine seats, on a good day.
The outlook for the Lib-Dems is bleak. They will be lucky to retain the seats they already have, and there is every chance that they could face electoral humiliation next time. They seem unable to do little more than nod agreement to Conservative policies, and their own identity, such as it was, has been swallowed up by their involvement in this unspeakable coalition government. They are a bit like Bulgaria during WW2, hanging on to the coat-tails of the Nazis, sending some troops to fight. Yet seeing none of the benefits of victory, whilst taking undue blame in defeat. Like the Bulgarians, the Lib-Dems chose the wrong side.
Despite the unpopularity of this government, polls and pundits suggest that the Conservatives will actually win in 2015. They won’t even need the assistance of their weak bedfellows to do it, apparently. They might well have to suffer a reduced majority, and will also have to enlist the support of Nationalists from Northern Ireland, and UKIP. (If they have any members) This seems incredible. They have attacked the benefit system like never before, blatantly supported their rich friends, and have driven most of the working people down to levels of existence unheard of since Victorian times. But they are expected to win, so how can this be?
The answer is simple, Ed Miliband. This 44 year-old with the looks of an awkward schoolboy is one of the least effective party political leaders since Neil Kinnock. He is a poor speaker, finds it hard to answer difficult questions, and other than the gang of supporters around him in the shadow cabinet, he is incredibly unpopular with most Labour voters. His only policy seems to be that of staying in the EU, and whenever he is face to face with anyone from the opposition, he always falters. In recent polls, few voters could even recognise his photo, yet even those not from London, could put a name to Boris Johnson, the Conservative Mayor of that city. In a political world where decisiveness, charisma, and strength is all, he possesses not one iota of any of these qualities. He may well be a sincere man, and a good family man, and he is undoubtedly well-educated. But he is not a leader, and is neither suited, nor qualified, to be the leader of this country.
This leaves us with a few options, all of them bad. A victorious Conservative party, allied to the extreme Right. A Labour-Lib Dem coalition, winning with a minuscule majority, failing rapidly, leading to a quick second election. A hung parliament, with no party in overall control, leaving groups to do deals, renege on deals, and do new deals with different partners. In short, Italy.
Whatever happens, the ordinary people have lost. Again.
After all the hype and anticipation about the right-wing UK Independence Party (UKIP), they failed to win the Newark by-election this week. Despite a good showing in local council elections, and success in elections for the European Parliament, (which they oppose?) it seems that they cannot capture the imagination of the public sufficiently to gain a proper parliamentary seat in Westminster.
Their two most publicised policies, of Immigration Control, and departure from the EU, may be popular in modern day Britain. However, their other policies, those rarely discussed, do not stand up to scrutiny. Luckily, it appears that would-be Nationalists and protest voters have looked behind the populist smoke-screen, and let their consciences decide. The dismemberment of the NHS, the eventual erosion of the Welfare State, possible forced repatriation of non-Britons, and other Right-wing policies are not really palatable to the mostly conservative (small C) general public.
During a week of celebrations of the 70th anniversary of D-Day, and the war against the Nazis, and other far-Right regimes, it would have been inappropriate, to say the least, to see a Nationalist elected into Parliament. Despite a reduced Conservative majority, Labour pushed into third place, and the derided Liberals in their worst showing ever, UKIP failed to secure this seat, at the time when their wave was riding its highest. All the fear and panic prior to the election turned out to be unfounded. This country does not appear to be swinging madly to the Right, as many (including me) feared.
Commonsense prevailed, at the eleventh hour. As it often does here.