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Why the elites have no shame Like every aristocrat, Boris Johnson thinks he's above moral norms

Is Boris a "person of genius"? Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Is Boris a "person of genius"? Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg via Getty Images


April 29, 2021   5 mins

During the jaded latter days of the Tories’ last long stretch in power I was a teenager with a paper round. As such I probably got more exposure to news headlines than the average 1990s adolescent. I remember such smash hits of “Tory sleaze” as David Mellor’s toe-sucking debacle, the cash-for-questions scandal that toppled Neil Hamilton, and, of course, the “Miss Whiplash” affair, in which Norman Lamont was revealed to have rented an apartment to a dominatrix — and then used taxpayer money to try and evade the fallout.

Something of the 1990s Tories’ Caligula-lite vibe has crept into the current administration. Boris Johnson’s extra-marital affair with pole-dancing American entrepreneur Jennifer Arcuri has emulsified queasily with a lobbying scandal involving former Prime Minister David Cameron. This has blended in turn with an increasingly bitter fall-out between Boris and Dominic Cummings, a rift that’s resulted in a series of escalating leaks of the sort that drive lobby journalists into a feeding frenzy. Meanwhile, onlookers are agog at the rumours of Boris taking private donations to redecorate the flat above No. 11 Downing Street, while also remaining avid for Before and After shots.

And yet Johnson seems unembarrassable. As the whiff of corruption emanates from Cameron’s lobbying antics and Covid procurement alike, pundits lament the moral decline of our “shameless elites”. But in truth the relationship between elites and shame has long been contested — and no one is quite on the “side” they claim to be on.

Shame is a fundamentally social emotion. Even if you’ve done something bad, you’ll probably just feel guilt — until you get found out. By then you’ve broken the proverbial Eleventh Commandment: ‘Thou Shalt Not Get Caught’. And when that happens, historically communities have used shame — often combined with creatively humiliating forms of violence — to exact retribution in brutally public ways.

In premodern times, someone who both breached social codes and violated the Eleventh Commandment was often held in a pillory of some kind, so they could be mocked, flogged or pelted with garbage. Finger stocks were used to punish minor infractions, while in 16th-century Newcastle people who abused alcohol were paraded through the streets wearing “the drunkard’s cloak”, a large wooden barrel with a hole for the head and sometimes hands.

More brutal forms of public castigation-as-spectacle included tying miscreants to whipping posts or behind a cart where they would be whipped through the streets, starting and ending in the wrongdoer’s own neighbourhood so everyone they knew could point and jeer. Other, permanent forms of punitive disgrace included branding and facial mutilation — a practice intended not just to cause pain but leave an impossible-to-conceal mark of public disapproval.

This kind of ritualistic public shaming occupies a zone somewhere between politics, violence and public entertainment — a space we mostly like to pretend doesn’t exist. As well as punishing a miscreant, the performance of disapproval works to warn others against the same crime. And seeing someone punished for breaching shared moral codes is a gratifying scene for the moral majority.

Why don’t we do this today? Some imagine this is because we’re more morally advanced. The cultural theorist Michel Foucault (himself recently, posthumously shamed for sexually abusing children) disagreed. He argued in Discipline and Punish that it was more about power and economics: over time prison, surveillance and training regimes came to be understood as effective means of moulding people to fit industrial society than spectacular public punishments such as whipping.

But even if Foucault is right about these large-scale shifts, there are plenty of moral infractions that don’t merit such severe penalties as corporal punishment or prison. And in cases such as these, societies didn’t want to stop using shame, even as reformers campaigned to abolish public flogging. Rather, we discovered new ways of shaming people, at scale, that rendered such practices obsolete.

Chief among these is the mass media. In medieval times, moral standards were largely set by communities, with interventions from aristocrats, the Church or the law. But the rise of newspapers through the 18th and 19th centuries drove the adoption of more standardised moral views — and also their enforcement, via public shame.

By the early 19th century, there were 52 London newspapers and more than 100 other titles. Local and national papers carved out a role covering court cases, and often played a significant role in swaying public opinion for or against more severe punishment. In tandem, punishments became less physical: flogging retreated behind the walls of prisons, and in 1830 the pillory was abolished.

You’d think this would feel less barbaric than the cat o’nine tails, or pelting people with rotten veg. And yet intellectuals chafed under the newfound tyranny of bourgeois public morality — with some actively seeking to undermine its authority.

In his 1859 work On Liberty, John Stuart Mill condemned the homogenising effects of 19th-century mass media for imposing a general condition of “mediocrity” upon everyone, including exceptional people. Mill lamented the way “public opinion now rules the world” — for, as he saw it, this rule meant the ascendancy of little minds.

People no longer took moral direction from church or government, Mill complained, but from “men much like themselves” speaking to them through “the newspapers” in support of a deadening consensus he called “Custom”. For exceptional individuals to be liberated so that they can innovate and improve society, this moral stranglehold must be ended. “The progressive principle’, Mill argued, ‘is antagonistic to the sway of Custom.”

Mill set in train a line of liberal argument that amounts, in effect, to a demand for a society’s top echelon to be exempt from both the moral constraints and also the enforcement mechanism of public shame — even as they continue to apply to the masses.

The modern inheritors of Mill’s patrician disdain for the petty moral codes of the bourgeoisie are those liberals who sneer at “Daily Mail readers” and other consumers of the tabloid press. These are generally depicted as mediocre minds induced by their choice of reading to lurch from moral panic to moral panic. A 2014 article on the satirical website Newsbiscuit sums this perspective, with an article claiming the Daily Mail‘s website is to be fitted with a “Moral Panic” button for readers to express their sense of outrage.

Implicit in this attitude is an ambivalent relationship to moral norms as such. It’s not exactly that there shouldn’t be any norms. It’s more that the person sneering at “Daily Mail readers’” views themselves is one of Mill’s “Persons of genius”, and as such is entitled to be freed from such constraints. This, suggested one commentator recently, is at the heart of our Prime Minister’s approach to, well, everything (including marital fidelity, and renovation expenses). That is, Johnson simply doesn’t think rules should apply to him, even if they do to everyone else.

So Johnson represents an impressively pure expression of Mill’s patrician moral exceptionalism — if not the uprightness Mill perhaps naively assumed would come from it. Those who have not yet attained Johnson’s Olympian state of exemption from ethical pettifogging, though, remain ambivalent about public shame, as well as about which norms it should be used to enforce.

On the one hand, the two most popular British newspapers are those most strongly — albeit sometimes self-contradictorily — associated with outrage: the Sun and the Mail. This fact suggests the population as a whole still sets considerable store by moral norms, and thoroughly enjoys the public shaming of people who breach them.

Yet on the other, received opinion among the elite is firmly set against the notion that there exists such a thing as right and wrong. Not a week goes by without one of our august liberal outlets seeking to bust yet another taboo. And yet it’s John Stuart Mill’s ideological successors, the progressive enemies of “Custom”, who are today’s keenest users of the digital pillory against their enemies through the growing political power of “cancel culture”.

And this, ultimately, gives a clue to why the latest crop of “Tory sleaze” seem so muddled, and so curiously flat. At issue is not just whether or not Johnson did this or that, but what this or that should even mean in moral terms. Ultimately, the outrage lacks force, because we’re no longer sure which court of public opinion has the authority to shame public figures for wrongdoing — or what even constitutes “wrong”.

These questions form the core of today’s “culture wars” and are a long way from being settled. And until they are, we can expect to be governed by relativists, chancers, and the congenitally shameless.


Mary Harrington is a contributing editor at UnHerd.

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Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
3 years ago

I think the reason for the lack of public outrage is because this is so petty. He tried to get private donors to pay to decorate his flat, failed and paid for it himself? Well didn’t Bercow do exactly the same, but used public money, succeeded and wasn’t remotely embarrassed? He didn’t want to impose lockdown, ranted a bit, then gave in and did it anyway? So is the outrage about him saying something tasteless in private? Personally I’m more concerned about a supposedly libertarian government passing laws which mean I needed a “reasonable excuse” to leave my house, and cannot visit my parents home until the government says its OK. The BBC and guardian are getting worked up about wallpaper while being fine about the imposition of a prison state.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

Boris Johnson is a pathological liar. There is no thing else to say. His oldest daughter described him as “a selfish lying p…”

Last edited 3 years ago by Jeremy Smith
Mark H
Mark H
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

I think the amount in dispute is ÂŁ28K because the PM is entitled to spend ÂŁ30K per year on the flat?

Duncan Hunter
Duncan Hunter
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark H

I think the ÂŁ58k is on top of the allowance. I’ve also seen reference to the total bill being in excess of ÂŁ200k – plausible enough at ÂŁ11k for one lamp!

David Boulding
David Boulding
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

It’s not the tax payer funding the No 10 “upgrade” although many articles suggest this. Frankly it’s just the usual leftist media out for Johnson’s scalp.

Philip Burrell
Philip Burrell
3 years ago
Reply to  David Boulding

Included in all this are of course the Daily Mail and The Sun, those notorious bastions of the “usual leftist media”.
Imagine the outcry if it had been Corbyn or Starmer, most of it undoubtedly emanating from BTL comments on Unherd!

John Riordan
John Riordan
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

Exactly. This is a petty and spiteful attack on a PM which ironically emphasises the awkward truth that his enemies haven’t got anything better on him.

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Apart from relentless lying, corruption, sleaze, and tens of thousands dead because he refused to implement SAGE’s advice for a lockdown in mid-September, and waited until the disease was out of control at the end of October before imposing…… a lockdown.

David Barnett
David Barnett
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

There are probably even more dead caused by the entire daft Covid suppression policy!
When you only listen to advice that supports your policy, don’t expect that policy to be good. For example, there are good immunology reasons NOT to vaccinate the young and healthy (setting up conditions for viral immunity escape) – yet the policy is to vaccinate everyone.
SAGE is anything but sagacious.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

If he’d ignored SAGE things would be better!

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

I disagree.
But neither your, nor David Barnett’s, comments are exactly an endorsement of Boris Johnson response to Covid, are they? We seem to be agreed, from our different perspectives, that he’s p*** poor.

Chris D
Chris D
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

Boris is terrible, but you’re still wrong. I wonder why you’re so keen to apportion blame, when the measures you claim should have been put in place sooner have all been shown by “the science” to be completely useless at controlling a virus.

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris D

What to do about the plague was and is a matter of policy, not morality, grand or petty. None of us is endowed with Godlike omniscience, and we make mistakes whatever our intentions. But huff away.

Terence Riordan
Terence Riordan
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

It is difficult to do international comparisons because of different reporting definitions. However if you look at all the major western countries it is fairly clear that none of the suppression policies really work. The only key decision was getting vaccines and for that we must thank the decision to appoint a competent person to manage and drive some very competent private sector and academic people all outside SAGE

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

I consider Boris Johnson to be a bit of a charlatan, but this is just a boilerplate left wing rant by numbers.

What “corruption” or lying are you referring to, and in what way is it so much worse than, say Tony Blair’s?

Last edited 3 years ago by Andrew Fisher
mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

The BBC and Guardian can be simply dismissed in any debate because “haters gonna hate”. Its part of their mennal elf problem.

Nick Faulks
Nick Faulks
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

Yes it is trivial, but the whole thing could so easily have been put to bed if he had just revealed how the ÂŁ58k was originally paid. I doubt there was anything sinister but simply don’t understand why he refuses to do that.
Continually saying “I’ve already answered that question” when he hasn’t does not help.

nick harman
nick harman
3 years ago
Reply to  Nick Faulks

It’s his modus operandi, it’s worked since he was at school.

steve horsley
steve horsley
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

for a start,johnson will lie to get himself out of an uncomfortable situation and as for lockdown he chickened out as soon as the msm squealed about deaths.the long term plan had always been to implement herd immunity.this had been decided upon years before by scientists and politicians as the most effective way to counterract a pandemic.would churchill have backed down?

Paul Grimaldi
Paul Grimaldi
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

If the public are not “outraged” at the continued sense of entitlement that we see from ex Prime Ministers, Prime Ministers and their girlfriends and cronies, we are doomed to be forever governed by those who just see the rest of us as ‘the little people’.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

Also wasn’t there a certain Lord Irvine and his Pugin wallpaper?

Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
3 years ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

You’re right, I obviously mixed up my odious peers.

Duncan Hunter
Duncan Hunter
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

Except Bercow will never be a peer !

Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
3 years ago
Reply to  Duncan Hunter

Right again of course. I was fooled by the ermine and attitude of undeserved superiority.

Duncan Hunter
Duncan Hunter
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

He was a vile, poisonous, unctuous dwarf. One of a few consolations in recent times is that we don’t have to endure his treachery – or him and his irritating, vacuous wife – any more. Apart from that, he was fine….NOT!

Jean Fothers
Jean Fothers
3 years ago
Reply to  Duncan Hunter

he should have been thrown off a pier.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

ID cards,styled on Chinese Social credit biometric(Covid innoculation disguised) this Can stop your credit Card or Building Society Payments,Stop Travel,Food purchases etc.. is far more worrying.I am ONLY candidate mentioning this in East midlands!

Terence Riordan
Terence Riordan
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

Absolutely correct the issue we have is whether Boris can actually make decisions and further has he lost his ability to surround himself with competent people and then let them do their job within a sensible reporting and management structure. I fear that now his latest female companion is unfortunately very political we have the personal proclivities overruling the decision making and ability to assemble a competent team. This, plus the fear that Boris clearly has after his brush with CV, has led him to be bamboozled and in thrall to the mediocrity of Witty, Valence, Hancock and the appalling SAGE. Those things have pushed us to the unacceptable dictatorial , intrusive and incompetent meddling with our hard earned liberty.

alanhross
alanhross
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

Reassuring to see that someone else believes the guardian no longer merits an upper case G.

Richard Lord
Richard Lord
3 years ago

Are the governments of recent years really any different from those going back centuries? The difference now is more technological. The rise of social media which, in the main, reflects the opinions of a tiny, yet very vocal, insignificant minority. The journalists, who are as disgusting as those they castigate. Laura Kuenssberg, Beth Rigsby, Robert Peston, etc who, despite being required to report the news, constantly big themselves up and try to catch people out. They sicken me.

Do the public really care about Boris Johnson’s garish decorations or the fact that someone paid ÂŁ58k for them, I think not. What they care about is getting out of this nightmare pandemic and, like it or not, Boris is still the person to do that. Whatever your opinion of him and how he goes about things, the next election will show that the public were pleased that the tories, and Boris, were in charge.

Stephen Murray
Stephen Murray
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lord

Thank you, exactly what I was thinking. Boris is as white as the driven snow compared with some of the rakes of the past! The difference now is the slavering MSM!

Last edited 3 years ago by Stephen Murray
Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lord

We have the highest death toll in Europe.
For much of the last year (until overtaken by Italy very recently) we had the highest death rate per million population of any medium large country (population >20m) in the world.
How do these inconvenient truths fit your tribal Tory claim of “getting out of this nightmare pandemic ….. like it or not, Boris is still the person to do that” ?
As for your comment that “the next election will show that the public were pleased that the tories, and Boris, were in charge” that will of course exclude the tens of thousands who died unnecessarily because Boris and the Tories were in charge and therefore don’t have a vote, and it also assumes that the public are as ignorant as people become if they believe what they read in the Torygraph, the Sun, etc.

Rick Sharona
Rick Sharona
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

Who said the dead don’t have a vote? Did you not notice the Dems 2020 election strategy in the US? Everybody and then some voted.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

Before making these very inaccurate statements please check the facts, which are easily available. You try to take the high moral ground against Johnson, fine, but you do just as he often does, making sweeping unresearched inaccurate statements

Last edited 3 years ago by JR Stoker
Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

Please could you list the inaccuracies? I’m relying on data published daily in the Times. Your own data source is what?

Duncan Hunter
Duncan Hunter
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

The highest death count in Europe? If we accept the ONS statement of overcounting COVID deaths by 23%, then reducing by 30,000 from the putative 127,000 puts Britain behind Italy, France and perhaps Spain. When you consider that there are some deep inconsistencies in recording of Covid deaths, many European countries may have worse relative or absolute death rates than Britain.

I liked your letter in yesterday’s Times, btw.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Duncan Hunter

And Germany,Brasil,Peru,USA ,India etc….Epidemiologists estimate 5% of 127,500 have died of SARS2 , nearer 7,000, the other 120,000 had underlying conditions like Asthmatic ,Blood disorders,Obesity ,Cancer etc..

Jean Fothers
Jean Fothers
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

You answered your own question. “Published in The Times”

julian rose
julian rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

You are too silly. The virus is a killer, no matter what the policy. But of course, the Lefties must blame Boris for.. well everything.

Chris D
Chris D
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

You’re monomaniacal.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

That’s a bit desperate, ‘false consciousness’ reigns!

As opposed to the Guardian, Mirror, BBC etc.

Stu White
Stu White
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lord

Really? I voted for the Tories but never again. For me all the mainstream parties are finished

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Stu White

VOTE INDEPENDENT May 6,2021 or SDP or Reform…the old parties are useless the Conservative trash Green countryside dont conserve, Labour hate their own Working People lib-dems are illiberal, scottish nationals are increasingly authoritarian&corrupt..Even when Caught fiddling they wont resign

julian rose
julian rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lord

DonÂŽt forget that ghastly Naga Muncheti, commenting her own opinions about the news sheÂŽs paid only to read. Only in the BBC.

Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
3 years ago

I think the penultimate paragraph sums it up perfectly. Rampant individualism, even narcissism has reduced our collective outrage (Twitter excluded). I find the headlines from The Guardian and The Independent rather amusing, trying desperately to generate that outrage with hyperbolic words such as vile and disgust, at the slightest infraction of progressive norms.

Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Raiment

Flagged

Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Raiment

Try debating instead of insults. Personally I don’t care for Boris Johnson and I didn’t vote at the last general election.

Last edited 3 years ago by Andrew Raiment
Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Raiment

Cherie Blair, Spent around ÂŁ300,000 on decade of decorating Number 11,&allegedly killed A cat…David cameron spent ÂŁ65,000 on number 11 kitchen,so they aLl spend taxpayers money like water

Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
3 years ago

Perhaps the endless 24/7 news cycle (from multiple outlets) also plays it part, people just tune out.

Stephen Rose
Stephen Rose
3 years ago

I don’t agree with the heading of this article “Aristocrats think they are above moral norms” This is patently not true. Lords, Longford, Shaftesbury, Earl Grey, Wilberforce et al, were all social reformers of high moral integrity.
We are all somewhat guilty of filing the vessel with our own prejudices.
Angela Merkel asked David Cameron, what plays, operas and concerts he had recently seen in London. A perfectly reasonable question for a highly cultured German to ask a highly educated Englishman. He replied (I para phrase) that it would be political death to be seen attending such an event.
I have seen many politicians, attending such events, skulking around. Far better to go to see the footie or express a love of grime music. Let’s fess up, we have created this attitude with our snobbery and inverted snobbery. ÂŁ860 per roll wallpaper is yet another dogwhistle,whoever pays for it.

Graeme Caldwell
Graeme Caldwell
3 years ago
Reply to  Stephen Rose

They do not think they are above moral norms, but that they are not bound by what the middle-classes consider right, proper, and genteel. Many of the wealthier people I have come across make a point of behaving in ways that would shock the sensibilities of your average uptight middle-class accountant or solicitor.
Anyway, the article is about “elites” and not “aristocrats”. The subhead was probably written by a subeditor who didn’t read closely enough.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 years ago

There is a division between an aristocrat whose has owned an estate for generations and other wealthy people. Those whose families who have owned estates for generations grow up with the village, play cricket together and fight in wars. Look at the dead in any village memorial; landowner and labourer died side by side.
The highest death toll of any class in WW2 was the aristocracy, about 20%. 27% of Harrovians serving in WW1 died. High level of probity, duty and honour lastedin walks of life until the 1960s when it was mocked. A family friend , former WW2 bomber and test pilot who was Conservative councillor said he voted against a proposal because ” I did not fight the war for this “. Since the 1960s belief in ” Do what feels good ” actions become based upon self interest. Those who survived combat in the wars invariably felt a sense of duty to those who died. Many considered better men died- We gave our today for your tomorrow.
The middle class left wing ( as Orwell noted ) have mocked duty, honour, patriotism, probity, good manners. civility since the 1930s and then since the 1960s pushed, if it feels good do it mentality. By the 1960s, The Non Conformist influence with it’s exceptionally high standards with regard to money, honest hard work, education, sex, gambling and drink on Labour had died out. Labour Prime Minister Lord Callaghan, a RN Officer and Sunday School teacher maintained high standards and retired to a Sussex Farm criticised many of the changes in the 1960s.
Many of the problems we have are due to lack of self -discipline. If a society has actions shackled by discipline and these are freed off, there will ne no self restraint because there is no self-discipline. We live in a society where self discipline is not needed to live whereas the The Beduin die if they lack water discipline.

Clay Trowbridge
Clay Trowbridge
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

“By the 1960s, …” In the US as well. Did news reporting of then current reality accelerate the moral decline? Until Ronald Reagan, we had no divorced/remarried presidents, at least as reported in newspapers. Then the shift to the three-ethics party of our present standards. Relativists, Chancers, and Congenitally Shameless, with frequent crossing of the aisles for unity. And all this played as a news curtain to distract the public from what else was taking place; the attempted rebuilding of a global Babylon despotism.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Stephen Rose

Sadly only 1 vote.

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
3 years ago
Reply to  Stephen Rose

A dog whistle for what? What’s the hidden text?

Vikram Sharma
Vikram Sharma
3 years ago

There have always been puritans. Once they were driven by religious beliefs, now they are driven by ‘progressive’ ones. Homosexuality used to be a sin, now it is homophobia. Not going to Church on Sunday showed you were immoral, now it is not recycling plastic.
As for Boris Johnson, I can’t think of anyone who would consider getting someone else to pay for your flat decoration as anything else but incredibly sleazy and shameful. For the PM of the sixth largest economy in the world to ask for wallpaper money is beyond immoral; it is squalid and utterly despicable. Even Boris would realise that. He doesn’t believe he is above the law, or he would not try to hide the facts. He knows it is wrong but thinks he can get away with it. They are not bad because they don’t know good; they are bad because they think they can hide with impunity.

Vikram Sharma
Vikram Sharma
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

I am as surprised by your response as you are mine. I think people care. They may not switch their vote for all kinds of political or tribal reasons, and they may look away at what they think is small scale corruption. But I doubt if anyone condones or accepts it as proper.
your post did make think though, about my own certitude. So thank you.

Last edited 3 years ago by Vikram Sharma
Stephen Murray
Stephen Murray
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

If I could get someone else to decorate my flat, I’d welcome them with open arms.

Richard Lord
Richard Lord
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

Surely it’s only right and proper that a person holding such an arduous role as prime minister should have a space that they feel comfortable in to relax. The state should pay, within reasonable limits, for the redecoration of the number 10 flat every time a new prime minister takes office.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lord

They do…. Boris (or should I say Carrie), went way over budget.

David J
David J
3 years ago

I paid around ÂŁ25,000 for a modest kitchen refurb, somewhat more than my budget. Rightly or wrongly, budgets are not difficult to break.

Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
3 years ago
Reply to  David J

Did you manage to get someone else to pay for it?

David J
David J
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

Sad to say, the ex kept her purse to herself and I coughed for the lot.
But the confected outrage of knee-bender Starmer and Co makes me want to vom, especially when set against Johnson’s performance in both Brexit and Covid-19.

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  David J

Covid 19: highest death toll in Europe, highest death rate per million population of any medium/large country (>20m population in the world).
Where do you get this idea that Boris has been even remotely competent in managing Covid? The Torygraph?

Duncan Hunter
Duncan Hunter
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

We do not have the highest death toll in Europe. Factor in the ONS correction of -23% and differential methodologies in recording deaths across Europe: in absolute and relative terms we are far from the highest.
Every / any premature death is cause for regret, including those who died of cancer, dementia, heart disease etc. who couldn’t receive treatment after the sainted (politicised) NHS turned itself into a Covid-only health service.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
3 years ago
Reply to  Duncan Hunter

Where does this -23% figure come from ?
Looked high and low on the ONS website and can’t find it.
And in your opinion what should the NHS have done last year and in January / February this year ? – I am genuinely interested in your perspectives on this

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

And did David J take secret donations as Boris may have done….. maybe in return for returning the favour when next allocating some contracts at work?
Those individuals who were ‘known’ to politicians went on the VIP list for PPE contracts. It included Tory party donors. This was originally claimed to be necessary in the May 1940 situation we found ourselves in in Spring 2020, partly of course because of the Tories running down the PPE stockpile as part of squeezing NHS funding, and for that reason I was initially inclined to think Labour were making too much of it. But the evidence of a civil servant recently was that the VIP list was hampering, not helping, PPE procurement. It had turned into a mechanism for diverting taxpayers’ money to cronies.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago

The decor looks like one of those Indian restaurants from the 1970’s. For a woman who is only 30 , her taste and style of dress seem rather dated ( and she criticized John Lewis!) and I think the matching pattern of the wallpaper and sofa would hurt the eyes.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lord

ÂŁ180,000 pa a UK PM , has modest outgoings on Food,Non on Travel,Energy,water,Driving unlike us ordinary mortals..i think boris looks ill, but Half the tories are Part of Thereason may’s remain cabal..

Mark Smith
Mark Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

How many times did you go to church?

rr99x8zqgj
rr99x8zqgj
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

For the PM of the sixth largest economy in the world to be paid significantly less than the CEO of even a relatively small Footsie company is also ridiculous. The MSM and the British public perhaps get what they deserve.

Vikram Sharma
Vikram Sharma
3 years ago
Reply to  rr99x8zqgj

I entirely agree. Our politicians are paid too little, when you look at the power they wield. I personally would pay them a lot more, but then have very strict rules against ‘extras’

Duncan Cleeve
Duncan Cleeve
3 years ago
Reply to  rr99x8zqgj

They get paid plenty after they leave office, but I supose it depends on how many favours they did whilst in. May getting a million quid for a speaking tour.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  rr99x8zqgj

Rubbish MPs expenses are More than their ÂŁ80,000 salaries,,three &half times average constituent Salary, ..To say these 2nd Rate Lawyers are underpaid is ridiculous, 2008 expenses scandal is Still going on, David Lammy claimed ÂŁ180,000 expenses in 2019,If you question it,he barks ”Racism” pathetic bunch &wallies who continue to vote for them!!

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
3 years ago
Reply to  rr99x8zqgj

I do actually have sympathy for this but only if there is the concomitant opprobium towards corruption if the salaries are raised. I believe this was Lee Kuan Yew’s policy in Singapore – pay public servants (politicians and civil servants) well, give them an honoured place. But if they are corrupt punish them harshly. It seemed to work well when you compared Singapore to other countries in the region.

Last edited 3 years ago by Ferrusian Gambit
Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

I’m still working on the idea that you can spend ÂŁ30k a year on decorating a flat.

Geoff H
Geoff H
3 years ago

I’m thinking that that could be a nice ‘Forth Bridge’ kind of job, I can wield a paint brush and hang wallpaper.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  Geoff H

As she is also well connected-father founder Independent newspaper , she could have got one of her pals to do it for free and let them have the publicity. However given their lifestyle , young child , dog etc is it stain and scribble proof and has she checked young Wilf and Dilyn can’t climb up & pull things down?

Stephen Rose
Stephen Rose
3 years ago

I recommend Anthony Seldon, “The impossible office” We have always swung between PMs who were either “car salesmen” or “vicars”, sometimes one poses as the other. We vote depending on whether we value a bit of guile and mendacity and sheer entertainment or the illusion of technical competence and a reassuring lack of imagination. I don’t imagine that this analysis offers a perfect dychotomy, but I’m not surprised that Sir Keir, got chucked out by that publican. I should think he would nurse half of Stella all evening, trying to estimate the takings. Boris would break a chair and piss himself. As for coalescing around a moral certainty, God help us!

Hosias Kermode
Hosias Kermode
3 years ago

There is one element to Wallpapergate that I’m surprised hasn’t been raised. It’s the unappetising spectacle of a man who is supposed to be governing the country, but appears afraid of his own spouse. (Yes I know they are not married.) We do not like people, who are neither elected nor appointed, having influence over us, purely because of their sleeping arrangements. It is not sexist to point this out. Male consorts like Dennis Thatcher and Philip May had the intelligence and strength of character to know and stick to their places. Yet from the fate of Dominic Cummings, to No 10’s comms strategy, to green policy, to migraine inducing wallpaper Bojo can’t afford, Carrie seems to dictate everything. Apparently he can’t stop her. What’s more, we airily dismiss a ÂŁ58k overspend on decor as if it were nothing, the day after our government votes through legislation that will force poor leaseholders to fork out tens of thousands to repair flats built with materials they could never have known were flammable. The government bribed these people with “Help to Buy”. The government failed to regulate the construction of the buildings they bought into. Yet it is the poor consumers who are left paying. No wealthy donors to bail them out. And interestingly some of those helpful donors are themselves developers. This country feels more rotten ow than in the fifty years I’ve been a voter.

julian rose
julian rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Hosias Kermode

I think youÂŽve nailed it man! ItÂŽs a fact that men are scared of women, and thereÂŽs nothing to do about it. They rule from the dark, they have always done and shall always do. TheyÂŽve got more brains man, and a few assets that come in handy.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  julian rose

BBC Football programmes have Seen Wimmin take over ..

hugh bennett
hugh bennett
3 years ago
Reply to  Hosias Kermode

While intelligence and emotional intelligence don’t occur together in any meaningful way (Smart people, on average, have just as much EQ as everyone else), when a person who thinks he`s really smart lacks EQ, it’s painfully obvious. Thing is people often forgive oafs.

Donald Sellars
Donald Sellars
3 years ago

The author is taking a very narrow, and presumably pejorative, definition of the word “elite”. Some elites may indeed act in the manner described but I do not think it is an elite-only problem. I have come across many people who do not think rules apply to them, have no regard for others or the moral case or what other people think of their behaviour.

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
3 years ago
Reply to  Donald Sellars

This is also true. In all human history, in all places and social classes there are some people who are just nasty pieces of work. It is an important life skill to learn to spot and avoid them.

Sam Cel Roman
Sam Cel Roman
3 years ago

Unfortunately, you are determining what “we” think and care about based on the MSM and censored social media platforms like FB and Twitter.
Try going into a pub and asking the “punters” what they think, and I think you’ll change your tune.

Steve Gwynne
Steve Gwynne
3 years ago

Most people I’m acquainted with, including myself, are not even sure why a private donor paying for the refurbishment of number 11 is illegal in the first place. What exactly is the problem as long as it is declared.

It is certainly a better option than using taxpayer’s money.

Beyond that, it is just yet more Woke hysteria as replacement for actual implementable policies that make a positive difference to people’s lives.

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  Steve Gwynne

The problem is that if it’s not disclosed, the PM ends up owing the donor a favour but the rest of us don’t know that.
Then the donor gets a contract to supply the NHS with PPE (or whatever), but no-one knows that it’s because of their bung to Boris. You’re aware of the VIP list, which people known to politicians – including Tory donors – get onto and it smoothes their path to NHS contracts?

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

That’s as succinct an explanation as I’ve seen – thanks.
Unclear why anyone not employed by CCHQ in an advocacy role would feel the need to downvote what seems like a factual answer, illustrated with a contemporary example of why it might matter.
Maybe Unherd need to rotate the thumb icons clockwise 90 degrees so that, instead of pointing up and down, the directions they point reflects how they are used.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  Steve Gwynne

What on earth does it have to do with Woke?

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

‘That is, Johnson simply doesn’t think rules should apply to him, even if they do to everyone else.’
This is patently true, but Mary omits all the sleaze of the New Label years when Peter Mandelson achieved the remarkable feat of twice resigning from government for various forms of impropriety.
But all this aligns with some of my thinking about the moral and intellectual collapse of the west. I guess it comes from the top, but I have found particularly interesting the extraordinary criminality of the UK’s police ‘service’, not least those at its higher levels.
Yes, there were ‘bent coppers’ in the past, but I think they know they were in the wrong and were simply trying to get away with stuff. Today, these people don’t even seen to have any knowledge of the two categories ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. They have simply disappeared as concepts.
Moreover, it’s everywhere you look: that evil mob in Brussels, the Clintons, the Bidens, the media, football, financial services (well, it’s always been the case there) etc, etc.
Are there any psychologists who have looked into this? Personally I don’t believe the falling away of religion to be to blame. The Scandinavian countries have been secular for a long time but their governance and societies have been very law abiding until recently.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

“…but Mary omits..” how many examples do you want the author to give?

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

By referencing historical Labour sleaze, aren’t you just making Mark Twain’s point about politicians (and nappies) needing to be changed frequently? Maybe the Conservatives are needing to be changed now.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

She wasn’t writing about the new label years!

Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
3 years ago

I have a message that has been up for 6 hours that now has been listed “waiting for approval”, why for what possible reason. Has UnHerd hired a bunch of ex Guardian admins that get triggered every time their ex employer is mentioned in a negative light.
I have had three comments removed over the last week, no trigger words, offensive language used or criticism of other commentators.
I’m awaiting an explanation!
Do not expect a renewal of membership

Last edited 3 years ago by Andrew Raiment
Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Raiment

I have had a couple of problems posting too. What I do not understand is why, when I select ‘thumbs up’ I sometimes just get a number and on other occasions I get -2. I don’t understand why, with so many glitches in this new system, no-one on the staff seems to have noticed.

Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

I put a complaint in and the message has now been restored, maybe somebody accidentally flagged it, assuming a generous interpretation

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Raiment

Thank you! It has directed me three times to your reply when I have been reading elsewhere on the site!

Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

Same here

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

Try one of 36 alternatives to facebook,Twitter..like GAB, Parler, BBC refers to any opposition as ”far right” why are they dim?..

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Robin Lambert

Many people commenting here refer to any opposition as ‘far left’!

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

You must have liked an unpopular reply 🙂
The “scores” are not updated in real time, but when you click, you do get an update that reflects the intervening deliberations of the hivemind.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Raiment

The exact words are “Awaiting for approval “ somebody obviously didn’t finish their English tripos at Cambridge.

Since the demise of the excellent DISQUS system we now have a new form of manual censorship in addition to the algorithm one.

‘Flash to Bang’ may a few hours, but by tea time in London, most of the offending stuff has been removed.
Even more bizarrely some of ‘it’ even returns later!

Kevin Thomas
Kevin Thomas
3 years ago

It’s hard to get worked up about a “scandal” in which no one has personally gained anything and no one has been wronged. I think Boris is more hurt by the impression he is unable to say no to his girlfriend than whether he tried to get a donor to pay for his official residence to be redecorated (technically a gift to the taxpayer). When you think what the likes of Peter Mandelson and Keith Vaz got away with under Blair, this seems all the more absurd. Certain people need to get over Brexit.

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Thomas

Certain people need to get over Brexit
May I have the honour to nominate you for the golden shoehorn award, for that truly breathtaking, non-sequitorial masterstroke?

AC Harper
AC Harper
3 years ago

Although Johnson is in the MSM spotlight at the moment perhaps the ‘Tory Sleaze’ aspect is overdone? All parties have had MPs accused or found guilty of shameless behaviour.
If I were Labour I’d be very careful of revelling in the Tories difficulties… there are some Labour difficulties due to be exposed soon.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
3 years ago

As Thomas Sowell has pointed out “If you take the fraud out of politics there will not be a lot left”.

David Brown
David Brown
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

Very wise man, Thomas Sowell.

Colin Sandford
Colin Sandford
3 years ago

Lets face it if you are the shy retiring type worried about public opinion you won’t get to high office.
It is only the thick skinned and risk takers who get on, be it in politics or business.

Paul Goodman
Paul Goodman
3 years ago

Where is the outcry regarding Joe Anderson (arrested under investigation), Claudia Webbe and Apsana Begum (charged, awaiting trials)? Can we also have an investigation as to what went on with the allegations which led to Mike Hill resigning as Hartlepool MP? How come the allegations disappeared just before the 2019 election and the reappeared again?
I actually think the PM loves all the “hating” from the press. I recon they have some algorithm that tells them all the “emergency, crisis, scandal” hyperbolic indignant press coverage just motivates the voters in his favour. In spite of the suggestions otherwise he is not Trump or Sarkozy or the messiah he’s a very naughty boy.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Goodman

I think he loves the hating because, like a child, he loves attention.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

They come by it honestly. Rarely is one of these folks held to account, and that goes from the elected class to many in the media and the assorted sycophants who surround power. Maybe if we stopped conferring celebrity status onto elected officials and instead treat them as what they are – our employees – this would be less of an issue.

Simon Newman
Simon Newman
3 years ago

“Like every aristocrat, Boris Johnson thinks he’s above moral norms”
Know a lot of aristocrats, do you?
AFAICS Boris’ belief that sexual mores don’t apply to him is de rigueur in the media world, even more than among politicians.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
3 years ago

The media and his political opponents (many of whom were and are in the Tory Party) have been telling us all about Boris’s character flaws for years. The MSM, through a mixture of political opposition and envy that a fellow hack could somehow achieve such eminence, attack Boris at every opportunity while giving his political opponents an easy ride. The public are not stupid and have noted this double standard.
Boris’s character was a key theme of the Tory leadership contest in 2019, Andrew Neil went purple with outrage when he interviewed Boris, and yet the membership preferred him by a large margin to the no doubt pure but smarmy Jeremy Hunt.
Character was also a key theme of the 2019 GE, with media and political opponents alike reminding us of Boris’s every false step from Bullingdon days onwards. The voters decided they didn’t actually care, yet the “blob” doesn’t give up. If they can’t get rid of him through the ballot box they’ll use the Electoral Commission and the Standards Commissioner instead.
Boris has been a feature of our national life for a quarter of a century. People made up their minds about him, for or against, long ago. Those who support him observe that his character has strengths as well as flaws. They remember he, with David Davis, was alone in resigning when presented with May’s Chequers ambush in 2018. He showed terrific political courage and fortitude in the first few months of his premiership, standing up to personal abuse, vicious political infighting and parliamentary shenanigans to get through to an election that roundly endorsed his leadership. He showed statecraft to woo Varadkar and the EU into agreeing a deal that was much less advantageous to them than the one May had bequeathed him. He showed personal loyalty to Cummings after #Durhamgate, which he no doubt now regrets.
Let he without sin throw the first stone. The public have observed the sinfulness in his opponents and resent their hypocrisy. We’ll see next Thursday that the voters haven’t changed their minds on Boris, which will only make Laura, Beff et al even more angry.

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago

Ah, the Boris cult.
How corrupt and lying would he need to be to lose your support? (Or is there no limit?) Because whatever limits on his corruption and dishonesty you were prepared to put into words, you would find that he’s already exceeded them.
Getting Jennifer Arcuri onto Mayoral trade visits abroad which she wasn’t eligible for, and giving ÂŁ126,000 of taxpayers’ money, just so that he could scr*w her, is one example. But only one example of many.

andrew harman
andrew harman
3 years ago

I have not become exercised over Bodygate or Curtaingate. I detested Johnson anyway for a host of reasons: mendacity, cowardice, vacillation and downright incompetence. I do give credit for the vaccine rollout but that has only partly compensated for his character flaws delivering the worst of all worlds during the pandemic. Until there is more quality control over who actually enters politics, we will end up with the politicians we deserve. Not at all sure how that may be achieved but a starting point would be to have mass party memberships that have fewer cranks and ideologues and perhaps, just perhaps making it worthwhile to undertake political office from a financial point of view. Johnson, like Trump is not the disease: both are merely a rash the body politic came out in.
The idea of mocking “bourgeoisie” morals is nothing new – I am fairly sure many looked down on the code established by Victoria and Albert and their eldest son actively rebelled against it
Moral relativism is often trotted out by conservatives who willfully seek to obfuscate complexity that challenges their certainties but in a sense the woke brigade are becoming the new conservatives as they seek to establish a set of morals which they wish to see as unassailable. The result is -and this is becoming endemic – false dichotomies are the order of the day
All this is so befuddling and complex – I admit I am trying manfully (if we can say that now…) to navigate my way through it all.

Last edited 3 years ago by andrew harman
Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  andrew harman

Andrew suggests increasing the quality of those who enter politics by

“perhaps making it worthwhile to undertake political office from a financial point of view”

I’m not sure that increasing the pay in politics will increase the quality of those who take part – in fact it could further increase the incentive for the venal and corrupt to to enter the field.
Maybe the capital “C” Conservative approach used in other areas of Law and Order would work here — much stricter penalties. I hear ten-year jail terms are the in thing in the Ministry of Justice these days.

Last edited 3 years ago by Paul N
Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago

People, not just the elite have behaved badly. Mostly, I would argue it has been the middle class (often away from the capital) that has tried to keep a good moral posture in private and public life.
In relation to Boris the man is a pathological liar, unfit for high office. But people voted for him,
What we have now is tribal politics. My tribe yeah! Your tribe boooo!

Last edited 3 years ago by Jeremy Smith
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

What’s your take on Ms Ashli Babbitt’s killer Jeremy;
Should he be prosecuted for murder or totally absolved and given anonymity?

* Not a loaded question but is a ‘he’, and he’s black

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago

I have seen the video, but I don’t know the details of the investigation. I also don’t see how any jury (DC being black) can sign on a prosecution. I but also don’t see how can anyone prosecute the shooter? She wasn’t supposed to be there, I would assume she was warned not to jump through the door and he did his duty.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Thanks for replying,

I thought you might rise to the challenge.
Yes she should not have been, nor attempted to clamber through a shattered window.
However for you to say that a Black Lieutenant Cop (or as you say Looootenant) “did his duty”, is frankly absurd.

If you saw the video you will have seen that Ms Babbitt was in a small room already packed with protesters and paramilitary police with Assault Rifles. None of these paramilitary police saw fit to shoot her.

The black Lieutenant, clutching a .45 automatic takes carefully aim over several seconds before killing her, at almost point blank range. Had he missed he would probably have hit one of his paramilitary buddies.

I gather very few Americans have ever actually seen
anyone shot, despite all the multitude of urban myths.
Well now is their chance to see the cold blooded murder of an unarmed white woman at point blank range in that Holy of Holies of so called US Democracy, the Capitol Building.

No doubt Pelosi will award the killer the Congressional Medal of Honour which many including perhaps your good self, may think he deserves.

In my book he should tried and hanged, and if it is simply impossible to get a black DC jury to convict him surely there is still somewhere in the benighted United Stares where Justice still functions, or am I being terribly naive?

Last edited 3 years ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago

1) she wasn’t supposed to be there – fact
2) she was warned not to jump over – my assumption
3) the cop had his gun drawn and pointed – fact
4) did the cop have the authority (under circumstances) to open fire and kill? That is for the legal system not me.
I have yet to read any comment (from respectable legal CONSERVATIVE minds) that there is a legal case against the cop. Injuring her (shooting in the air?) would have been a better choice but here we are.

Last edited 3 years ago by Jeremy Smith
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

None of that merits a sentence of death.
Perhaps that is how life is in “Barbaricum”, cheap!
How very unpleasant if you don’t mind me saying so?

Things will have to improve, ‘you’ just can’t go around murdering white loonies!
The OK Coral should be long dead. As you well know, it is even in Quislington is it not?

nick harman
nick harman
3 years ago

You don’t get to the top by worrying what people think of you.

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
3 years ago
Reply to  nick harman

Is that true, though?

According to a commenter here, Cameron had to avoid people thinking he was kind kind of person who would go to the theatre, the opera or to a concert.

In other words, positively desperate about what people thought of him.

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
3 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

I think you are confusing carefully crafting a public image with what people think of you or a sense of shame.
The first is essential to rise to the top, the second is very much a burden.

Last edited 3 years ago by Ferrusian Gambit
ian.gordonbrown
ian.gordonbrown
3 years ago

Who really gives a damn who (initially) paid for his wall paper? In case you were not aware, we currently have bigger fish to fry. Put these three phrases/words into a sentence “Everest”, “Mole hill.”

Dapple Grey
Dapple Grey
3 years ago

Every single aristocrat thinks he/she is above ‘moral norms’.
What a bizarre comment – how does the writer know this?

David Boulding
David Boulding
3 years ago

In this instance I don’t think there is any “sleaze” to discover. This is leftist media concocted nonsense.

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  David Boulding

What’s your definition of sleaze?
Just how bad does it have to be? Or how many millions of pounds?

Last edited 3 years ago by Paul N
vince porter
vince porter
3 years ago

Since the woke turned shame into an ad nauseum weapon, it’s coinage has been debased.

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  vince porter

Is the coinage debased by an increase in demand by the woke that people should be ashamed, or by the increase in supply by the government of deeds for which anyone should be ashamed?

David Waring
David Waring
3 years ago

Disgraceful no one has mentioned the free movement of people, goods and money which fueled the epidemic across the EU, or am I the only Brexiteer with a memory?

Last edited 3 years ago by David Waring
Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
3 years ago

I’m not sure that the article did explain why the elites have no shame, which is an interesting question.

However, the following observation really is worth developing:

‘ 
  received opinion among the elite is firmly set against the notion that there exists such a thing as right and wrong 
 And yet it’s John Stuart Mill’s ideological successors, the progressive enemies of “Custom”, who are today’s keenest users of the digital pillory against their enemies through the growing political power of “cancel culture” ‘.

If Mary Harrington could pursue this (seeming) paradox in another article, I would read it with interest.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

It was interesting that the link Mary used to illustrate her use of the digital pillory had nothing to do with cancel culture.

Dave Smith
Dave Smith
3 years ago

His class don’t get that to most people the money spent is a huge sum and it does not matter where it can from. It show a lack of tact at this hard time for millions. Carrie did not like the expensive kitchen Tough .My first child was born in a condemned basement flat and We just got on with what we had, The rich never grasp this. Unless they started off poor. Which in his case is untrue. Don’t know about Carrie but she is almost certainly of the same ilk.
Add to that his unfitness for office and it looks toxic.

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave Smith

Well. His attitude has been that he can always fine some more article. Knock out another article or two for a few grand.
It is actually a strong mentality gap between working class (and lower middle class) people and those higher up the foodchain. One side sees security in saving and not rocking the boat and sticking with the same job, the other sees security in being agile, finding ways to earn more than goes out and being on the look out for investment opportunity. It helps if you have the sense of self-assuredness that public school gives you as you don’t have these nagging doubts that maybe you aren’t worth that much.
I actually think this explains some stats I saw a while back about solicitors from working-class backgrounds being consistently paid less than those who had come from an upper-middle class public school background. Sure, polish and client rapport is probably a part of it but the self-confidence is in my opinion a bigger factor.

Last edited 3 years ago by Ferrusian Gambit
Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
3 years ago

This well written article deserves a lot more than the slanging match that is going on beneath it.

Simon Baseley
Simon Baseley
3 years ago

A lack of shame is not confined to elites. Indeed, it can be argued that when caught out elites at least try to do a passable imitation of feeling shame. The wider public feels no such obligation.  For example, around 40% of the UK population is obese, a situation which in the next thirty years is forecast to cost the NHS an additional ÂŁ10 billion annually; a cost which will be borne by everyone. Little progress is being made in changing that situation, a factor in which must be that so called ‘fat shaming’ is considered unacceptable. And yet some psychologists argue that shame plays an important part in making people behave responsibly. One who argues this is Daniel Snyder, a psychologist working at the University of California who told the Huffington Post: “The function of shame is to prevent us from damaging our social relationships, or to motivate us to repair them. It makes us care what others think of us and helps to us determine the “social cost” of a particular behaviour or action”. That seems to make sense. Shaming certainly worked and continues to work in reducing smoking and yet it is frowned upon to shame alcoholics and drug users and others whose choices cost the rest of us socially or financially. Under these circumstances expecting elites to behave any differently seems rather forlorn and pointless.

jim payne
jim payne
3 years ago

Maybe the “elites” are just hacked off about Brexit. They will try anything to discredit that which so many wanted.

briggscomputers
briggscomputers
3 years ago

1

Last edited 3 years ago by briggscomputers
Mike Fraser
Mike Fraser
3 years ago

Not only do I disagree vehemently with the title of this essay, but it is also clear to me, that the piece is clearly authored by a member of the elite who does not appear to have mixed with ordinary people very often; or at least has not been allowed to have been part of their conversations, seeing as how elite she is. I have been in business nearly all my life and in the last 50 years I have heard “ liberties being taken” by humanity as a whole, but mainly by the non-elite, or the normal, usual human being as I would prefer to describe him or her. The great majority of people in this world have at some time or other done something which the author describes as “immoral “ such as getting the firm to pay in a personal situation and not declaring it. Thus she and the title appear to be so out of touch.    

Simon Edwards
Simon Edwards
3 years ago

On its own it is just another notch in the vacuum of integrity that is Boris Johnson. His management of the pandemic has been disastrous particularly his resistance to the second lockdown. I suspect his denial of the ‘bodies mounting high’ allegation will still come back to haunt him. He has been temporarily rescued by the vaccine roll out which has been a success despite him not due to him. The credit goes to Kate Bingham – one good appointment doth not a good PM make – and more importantly the scientists who developed the vaccines. And among all this let’s not forget Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe who continues to languish in an Iranian jail because of Johnson’s ignorant intervention as Foreign Secretary.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Edwards

Really its Also Blair ,Brown,Thatchers,Cameron fault since 1979 The iranians Want UK to hand over ÂŁ400million for non delivery of Warship?..Nowt to do with Bonkers Boris

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Edwards

I think he’ll be fine as people don’t seem to care.
I do think though he is slowly probing the limits of the public’s patience and just as I predicted the Cummings-Johnson love-in would end in tears I confidently predict sooner or later Johnson’s career will be ended by a stupid misjudgement that goes against public feeling.

Last edited 3 years ago by Ferrusian Gambit
Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

The irony is that Johnson’s family background is not particularly ‘elite’. On his father’s side they are Turkish immigrants who have dragged themselves up. Good luck to them, but it does somewhat show in their blatant and non-stop pushiness.
Whatever, if only Sid James and Babs Windsor were around to star in ‘Carrie On Covid’

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Sending your children to Eton though is in someways a Year Zero event in the British class system. This is why Dickens when he had the money sent his offspring there, despite his complicated relationship with the elite.

Arden Babbingbrook
Arden Babbingbrook
3 years ago

Thing about Johnson is that he is no aristocrat. He feigns and simulates the habits and self-deprecation of Woosterism, but he is in fact an arch-social climber — the product of an Anglo-Turkish-American-Russian-Jewish family.

Ceelly Hay
Ceelly Hay
3 years ago

From afar ‘Borris Johnson’ public persona is ‘anti-political correctness’ ( or is that ‘anti wokeness’ ) seems to have made him immune to moral scrutiny on other matters. Today morality “culture wars” following the theme of control and power, focus on the tensions within society between groups, not individual transgressions (or other contextual problems such as lack of jobs) — perfect morality that justify the power of elites who don’t want to be held to account for their personal behaviour.

Last edited 3 years ago by Ceelly Hay
Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
3 years ago
Reply to  Ceelly Hay

Excellent comment

Jean Fothers
Jean Fothers
3 years ago

Give some credit to the PM, and also to Royalty and the MSM. At a time of REAL crisis they stood up to be counted and stand by the Great British public to prevent Football and its inherant money laundering being managed differently.
We’ve lost all our freedoms, but thank the Lord, Football was saved.

hugh bennett
hugh bennett
3 years ago
Reply to  Jean Fothers

You have come to this stadium as free men, and free men you are. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell the OWNERS that they may take us for granted and indeed rub our noses in it, but they’ll never take away our Saturday afternoon, never take away our meat pies and never sever us from our clubs cos we got Boris the Brave!

Angus J
Angus J
3 years ago

I’m reminded of the quote from Zsa Zsa Gabor: “Rules are for the little people.”

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
3 years ago

Tying this the JS Mill seems to me a rather desperate attempt to shoe-horn a post-liberal talking point.
Elites have always been held to a different moral standard. Why do you think medieval kings and baron produced so many bastards? Why do you think the Earl of Essex in the reign of Elizabeth I go away with so much? Why wasn’t Lord Rochester branded by his community of Lord Byron tarred and feathered? Look at Lord Rosebery or Robert Boothby who were notorious homosexuals at a time when it was a great social shame.
After all, as Nietzsche rightly pointed out, what is the point of being an elite unless you get to set the values that lesser beings have to follow and have the will to defint your own?

Last edited 3 years ago by Ferrusian Gambit
Andrew D
Andrew D
3 years ago

Boris is the amoral Professor Higgins, the Sun reader is the equally amoral Alfred Doolittle. Both, for different reasons, disdain ‘middle class morality’. Starmer won’t get the red wall back while Boris is around

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

I suspect the penny is dropping in the red wall…… cronyism and sleaze are cutting through and people are realising what Boris is really like.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

Garbage Liebour Attempt to ”Connect with its own Landlord Supporter” in Bath,backfired spectacularly,Shows Contempt Labour in particular has for Non Quislingtons..SDP is only mild left patriotic Party Worth considering, Labour like liberal party,Commonwealth party ,BNP is doomed..

John Riordan
John Riordan
3 years ago

I wonder if JS Mill would reach the same conclusion now, after 150 years of progress in which the principles of freedom of thought and expression weree democratised? I suspect not: very few philosophers of that time understood that society self-regulates in ways that confound the idea that philosopher-kings are either necessary or desirable.

James Chater
James Chater
3 years ago

bn

Last edited 3 years ago by James Chater
Patricia Ewing
Patricia Ewing
3 years ago

I thought the 11th Commandment was “You do, too, know what I mean!”

cajwbroomhill
cajwbroomhill
3 years ago

In what sense could Boris be regarded as an aristocrat?
Behaves more like a rat, without the aristoc.bit!

Would you trust him to repay even a small loan, for example?
His obvious psychopathy is no excuse, even of it is par for the course of most politicos.

Jorge Toer
Jorge Toer
3 years ago

Its a long story’s of broken moral standards in this planet,,moral is not exist for the people in power.
Responsability, no moral,,people on goberment administration is a conflicted process,,the shit is down to the citizens and is more complicated, because ordinary people pay the price,the powerful greedy not .

Jorge Toer
Jorge Toer
3 years ago

Is in the public administration in U.K bad smell ,smelling cowardy,the enemy are outside,,citizens expect honest truth, but have only greed and dishonesty.

Zorro Tomorrow
Zorro Tomorrow
2 years ago

Politics of envy. We just blew ÂŁ3-400 billion on furloughing 11 million people and 38 billion on a phone app. HS2 will keep hundreds, even thousands in work for years to come. If a few rolls of designer wallpaper and a lazy Lord or two bothers you get some perspective.

Jorge Toer
Jorge Toer
3 years ago

Greedy people are in public administration,,is a bad smell extended to all citizens ,but only ones pay the bills ,
Responsability is expected for all ,except for this present administration in U.K.

Neil Colledge
Neil Colledge
3 years ago

This is exactly what is happening. The wealthy believe they are superior, because they are lucky. His father is the same … He should resign!

Last edited 3 years ago by Neil Colledge
Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago

I think the ‘moral panic’ button referenced in the above would now be renamed a ‘woke panic’ button in many media outlets.
As someone points out below, homophobia and deliberately damaging the environment are now considered sins – and this is broadly accepted by the majority of the population in the UK (I can’t claim any direct knowledge of elsewhere but suspect it is the case in many Western European countries). Just as it was the more conservative elements of culture and the media that were lampooned by the ‘moral panic’ button I think in the very near future the most people will be asking what the ‘woke panic’ was all about. Accepting systemic racism exists will become the mainstream and accepted position of the majority and will not cause the collapse of society just as accepting homosexuality is not a crime against God didn’t cause the collapse of society.
It seems contradictory to state the population as a whole still sets considerable store by moral norms, and thoroughly enjoys the public shaming of people who breach them.’ and then state ‘we’re no longer sure which court of public opinion has the authority to shame public figures for wrongdoing — or what even constitutes “wrong”.
I don’t see any evidence that the majority of the country has changed it’s moral stance on corruption and dishonesty in public life. I do see evidence of some conservative minded commentators and publications trying to will that into being by being dismissive of these things when conservative politicians are accused of them.

Simon Baggley
Simon Baggley
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Do you have any examples of systemic racism in the UK ?

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

I don’t see any evidence that the majority of the country has changed it’s moral stance on corruption and dishonesty in public life. I do see evidence of some conservative minded commentators and publications trying to will that into being by being dismissive of these things when conservative politicians are accused of them.”
Precisely. For examples, see some of the contributions above, from people who would work themselves up into hysterics if Jeremy Corbyn had been given a Rolo by someone and not declared it. But “haters gonna hate”, as they say.

Neil Turrell
Neil Turrell
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

What got up the noses of most British people about Jeremy had little to do with inherited wealth, which he had so could supply his own Rolos, but his dislike of our history and culture, an attribute referred to by George Orwell and demonstrated frequently by the left wing of the Labour Party.

Last edited 3 years ago by Neil Turrell
Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  Neil Turrell

You’re missing my point. If Jeremy Corbyn were PM and took secret donations from someone, thereby being privately morally indebted to them, and thereby breaking the regulations designed to create openness and integrity in public life, those who on this thread are falling over themselves to exculpate Boris Johnson would be in hysterics over it. And actually, they’d be right to be critical.
This whole question is about whether Boris is under an obligation to follow the legal regulations, or whether his breaches of them can be laughed off because “that’s just Boris being Boris, and we cultists are slavishly loyal to our idol”.
Or, to put it another way, it’s a test of INTEGRITY for people on the right. And they’re mostly failing it.

Last edited 3 years ago by Chris C
hugh bennett
hugh bennett
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

I think the word Hate is over used I think dislike, intense dislike and then hate lets have a scale

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago

Boris is a Tory. He’s been soaked in privilege since birth, and taught from birth that his privilege makes him superior to others.
Even at Eton, his Housemaster noted that he believed he was exempt from the rules which applied to the other boys.
The fact that the Tory party made this individual their leader tells you a lot about their lack of morals.

hugh bennett
hugh bennett
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

Look at what labour was offering, look at the Brexit mess and the sad sight of Mrs May dancing to two many tunes, he was the man for the moment and whatever your politics it is undeniable his timing proved spot on, But maybe his moment has passed….

James Chater
James Chater
3 years ago
Reply to  hugh bennett

bb

Last edited 3 years ago by James Chater