The question I would like to see asked is who is orchestrating this well timed campaign against the prime minister.
I am not interested in defending him, but I would like to understand what is going on.
“Hell hath no fury like Dominica scorned”*
(*Apologies to William Congreve.)
Dominic believes (with some justification) that he took a bumbling celebrity backbench politician and made him Prime Minister. And once he had done so, Boris gave Dominic the push because he had upset some of his fiancée’s friends.
He will never give up!
Yes the baleful influence of ‘Princess Nut Nut, England’s answer to Agrippina, is all too obvious.
I’m starting to think that we might see Rishi in No 10 soon and DC returning as first lieutenant!
Which answers the question posed in the article about what authoritarian Machiavelli might surface to be the father figure the British public is apparently seeking.
Tempting, but I’m not sure Dom hasn’t already made too many enemies.
Personally I’m no longer certain of Rishi for PM – too much WEF-inspired for me…. As a track record I would think Liz Truss but some of her orations have been tumbleweed moments (and in her heart she’s perhaps pro-EU?)…
Who cares the most about our country right now…?
David George Hamilton Frost…?
Whoever replaces Boris, it won’t be Starmer.
you’re not wrong
The trouble for Cummings is he is destroying himself as much as Johnson (that’s a minor tragedy for sure)…he was good as backroom tactician, but in making it all so personal I feel he is harming himself, or at least his own career, alongside the harm he is doing to Johnson.
Ah Johnson’s enemies have been waiting, waiting to pounce on something that will get him out. It was never going to be a big thing – like waging war; or losing Brexit; or COVID deaths. It was always going to be a little thing – like parties that broke dem rules.
And the echo chamber of his enemies has gathered its forces – Remainers, Labour, SNP, Scottish Tories, overseas politicians, EU politicians and combined with the whole media – with the essential killer blow of libertarian Tories who have always hated Johnson for his popularity (polls are meaningless).
The end result of this echo chamber could be the Tories lose the next election; a Labour government will start negotiating with the EU for us to rejoin asap at significant cost of course; and the libertarians on Unherd can pat themselves on the back for a job well done, and failing to see the long game: keep him in to win the next election (which he will) and then replace him with someone more competent, thus setting Brexit in tablets of stone.
The BBC and the left wing media are the engine room that is driving the campaign against Boris because he pulled a fast one on them by driving through our Brexit.
It was exactly the same forces that did for Trump. He did a lot for the underclass and black and Hispanic Americans unlike the regular politicians who always devise policies tthat benefit the well off and the “Elite”
Trump’s a bit of a read-across case study despite American politics not usually being so. The same hyperventilating type of people are after Johnson…both Johnson and Trump are their own worst enemies, which doesn’t help them…but at the end of the day the Democratic party is almost destroying itself in a situation where, without Trump, to provide whatever non-Newtonian force he provides, it seems to be imploding into a black hole of hyper wokery unspoiled by any actual working policies.
Rather than authoritarianism I think people just want to and end to the media and political establishment setting up every single difference as some epochal armageddon of whatever vice they wish to ascribe to anyone who they feel isn’t of their tribe.
Basically they want things to settle down and get a bit boring. I think Remainers thinking if they get rid of Johnson it brings Brexit back into play are deluded. I do think Johnson will go, maybe not sooner but quickly enough…I think to mangle the Godfather paraphrasing, he IS a good wartime Consigliere but people want a peacetime one now.
I hear the reservations about Sunak, and personally I would go for Mourdant, I have heard her speak up and always do it sensibly.
But whether Mourdant, and I don’t think she will get it, Truss, Javid, Sunak, or ehoever else..I think the most worried will be the SNP and indeed Labour…because the endless demonising of Cardboard cut out Bullingdon Club Toryism will be impossible.
It seems that he is driving the campaign himself; he needs no help!
It’s the Remoaners. They’ll never give up and they still infest all the major institutions.
Boris Johnson provides the titbits and everyone is enjoying feeding on them.
This campaign has been going on for months. Someone has a record of every Downing St party and whether or not Johnson attended. This information is being fed to the public piece by piece. Each time a lie is extracted from Johnson that compromises him when the next piece of information is supplied.
TBH I think that’s why he has to go…in a way he seems a weak boss, over delegating, and wanting to matey with the troops.
Given the fact his *home* is like a couple of rooms in a sizeable SME head office (pre WFH era) working across all time zones so 24/7 it isn’t surprising a *drinking culture* of *booze fuelled parties* has grown up…I am sure Harold Wilson’s chip suppers with TUC leaders weren’t washed down with tea…
But at the end of the day politics is Showbiz for ugly people… and he knows the rules of the game..even 2 glasses of wine or one bottle of beer will be *booze fuelled* and the quietest recap of the day become *a party*.
His problem has been no apparent danger detector or even the slightest back covering… had that email caveated like any normal management in any half competent company and people covered their backs, this would never have happened.
But now it has appearance is everything and he should know that.
Has it something to do with the fact that Boris leans towards the Swedish approach to Covid and is now talking about the end of any controls?
What is going on is that we have a Prime Minister who “seeks the palm, but not the dust,” and who has been seduced by his self-image of being so talented that his laidback attitude of entitlement will always be forgiven.
Unherd has its favorite contributors with people like Mary Harrington probably being near the top of the popularity poll. But I feel Peter Franklin is one of the unsung stars of Unherd. His style isn’t flashy but he’s contributed a ton of articles and each one is lucid and readable (and usually with plenty of embedded links to research the subject further if desired).
I don’t follow UK politics closely but I suspect Franklin has spotted an important possibility here. Johnson has a solid conservative majority but is failing to enact a solid conservative agenda. Surely P. Franklin is correct that the time is ripe for someone in Johnson’s party to step into that void and offer leadership that will be proactively conservative perhaps to the point of being authoritarian. Doesn’t seem like that would be such a bad thing to me, although I’m not a Brit.
The other really interesting aspect of this article is some of the poll results, such as:
“According to the Deltapoll end-of-year survey, 56% of us support vaccine mandates against 32% who oppose them. There’s strong support for vaccine passports too (65%) and even for making people wear masks in outdoor public spaces (63%).”
Many of us here in the Unherd comments section become quite heated about government infringement on our personal liberties in response to covid, and the fact that many covid measures do not, in fact, “follow the science”. Yet look at those poll results. It would appear the general UK population (not just the hard left) are more than willing to sacrifice personal liberty for the illusion of safety (how on earth can a majority of people still believe outdoor masking does any good whatsoever?).
I don’t like to think Unherd readers form a “bubble”, but it’s increasingly clear people who read Unherd do not represent a cross section of UK (or US) society. Whether that’s good or bad is, I suppose, a matter of debate.
“I don’t like to think Unherd readers form a “bubble”,”
We are just sheep in our own echo chamber…. a different one to the one occupied by the survey participant sheep though.
The old idiom (dating from 117 BC it seems, translated from Ecclesiasticus in ancient Greek)
“birds of a feather flock together”
is still true millennia later….
Really? Both Plato and Aristotle mention this phenomenon well before ‘ Ecclesiasticus’.
Scholars think Ecclesiastes was written c.450-180 BC. It contains Persian and Aramaic words dating from around 450 BC. Some scholars argue for the later date because they think the book shows evidence of Greek influence. This is contested. It could be the other way around, ie, Ecclesiastes influenced the Greeks.
Plato c.428 – 347 BC and Aristotle 384- 322 BC.
So it’s not clear.
Perhaps Plato got the idea from Socrates? c470-399 BC*.
(* For those, unlike your good self, who maybe unfamiliar with the chronology.)
Possibly. Interesting that Kierkegaard thought Socrates was a “Christian before Christ” and his death a prelude to the crucifixion.
What an extraordinary idea!
I wonder how long Christ would have lasted in front of Plato’s Academy?
Not long I suspect.
Ecclesiastes and Ecclesiasticus are two quite different books.
Oh flip. Thank you so much for pointing that out, my mistake and apologies.
Let’s face it, it never really is.
gee… mine`s a pint of lager please, ( preferably whatever Nigel is drinking, while i digest all this sagaciousness!
Oh, and a packet of salt & vinegar………
Fun is’nt it ?
Bubbles are the best place to find dissent provided its about the prevailing dissent-target.
The ‘birds’ who read, or at least those who comment on, Unherd, favour the bird’s right wing!
I agree- he is excellent.
I don’t have a view on this vaccination lark myself but surely the point about masks is not whether they do any good, but whether they do any harm? If they don’t, what is the problem?
I think she means Lesley van Reenen, who appears below, true to form!
How did you guess ?!
Hmmm, name calling? Really?
No name, but you knew who I meant.
I knew exactly who you meant
Their manufacture is a massive diversion of resources. Used masks are an environmental blight. They are a major alteration to the way we are used to interacting with one another. They promote the idea that your neighbour is a threat to you, sowing distrust and conflict where there should be openness and trust. They prioritise supposed “safety” and pander to the illusion that any of us is really in control of matters of life, death and disease. On a minor individual level, they can cause skin irritation if worn for any length of time. There is a build up of germs and dead skin cells. People like me with heart/lung difficulties find them impossible to breathe in. Should I go on…?
No, that’s pretty comprehensive, thanks
Very well said! I was also shocked by the polling in the article re vaccination mandates. This useless government has consistently pushed vaccination (Pharma shares anyone??) over prophylactic vitamin D, readily available early treatments etc, and failed to educate anyone at all about natural immunity. I am resigned to never leaving the UK again, but what of the young, and business people??
You wouldn’t be that shocked if you frequented you gov. Very many left leaning authoritarian types on there.
Vitamin D is as effective as vaccines? Where do people like you find this fake news?
A good list. They also isolate the deaf by preventing lip reading.
During the Blitz, would you have observed the blackout?
‘Black Out’ made no difference whatsoever during the Bliz.
Even a dreaded Luftwaffe bomber flying at two thousand metres, travelling at about 220 mph was NOT going to spot some 30 watt bulb shining from the upstairs window of some careless brothel keeper.
Then as now it was about conformity.
And they fog up my glasses. They’re horrible. A few months years decades ago we were getting all het up about women in burkas and now we’re all at it. God must be pissing itself
The problem is a bunch of extremist libertarians who believe any infringement on their right to do exactly what they want whenever they want wherever they want is a crime against their person.
For them society with its mutual obligations does not exist, only their personal purely selfish egos. Rules and regulations are for other people.
So anything that smacks of cooperation, teamwork, good manners, voluntary sharing, etc., is denounced as “police state”, “nanny state”, etc.
Off course they are a problem, they make everyone look like a common ‘cutthroat’ and don’t work.
Desmond Swayne, MP for the New Forest, is the authority on the efficacy or otherwise of the wretched masks.
They serve mostly as a visual reminder of the pandemic (and/or that the government still holds onto – and extends – emergency powers granted by the citizens)…
I’m sure you’re right. The views expressed on here are definitely not a majority position in the UK, certainly iro the Covid hysteria.
Western society, generally, has been transformed, in the last 150 years, to a level of ease unparalleled in human history. Societal expectations now contain a level of risk aversion verging on paranoia.
You can blame the MSM’s fear mongering, social media, “soft men make bad times” or even reducing levels of testosterone, but it’s now a well entrenched phenomena.
It’s fear that drives the “authoritarian” tendency. To paraphrase Galeti, sheep, it seems, crave a shepherd.
Rishi and Dom, shepherd and sheep dog?
You mean Rishi is the sheep dog?
I was thinking more Dom the man with the canine teeth but who knows?
Anyone can make any claim citing polls. Particularly, when the questions are not known, and the sampling procedure is biased.
One of the significant points that Peter Franklin picks up on is the incompetence of the Civil Servants involved in not pointing out vigorously that the party was not only illegal but would look terrible if it received any publicity.
Sir Humphrey Appleby would never have allowed Hacker to get into such a mess without stern warnings against the course of action. Instead Boris’s Sir Humphrey seems to have been the prime enabler of the party. Mind boggling incompetence on the part of the civil servants.
We do seem to have ended up somehow with a Civil Service that lacks basic competence. Politicians should be able to rely on them to steer them away from their stupider ideas. When were you last impressed by the operations of any Civil Service run department?
Didn’t Sir Humphrey once organise a secret drinking room so the British contingency could have a few swift ones at a reception at an arab embassy? “Johnnie Walker on the phone for you Prime Minister”.
The UK electorate would have approved of that in those days.
I still do.
I wonder if it’s because successive governments have denigrated/underpaid/displaced/overridden/demoted/disempowered the Civil Service? In contrast to 50 years ago, it certainly isn’t somewhere that a thrusting young Oxbridge graduate would want to work these days. It’s more likely to be call centre fodder that fits the bill.
Great point. I assume 50 years ago it was quality of people not quantity – the civil service being a fraction(?) of the size it is today…?
I think Sir Humphrey would have described the party as ‘very brave’
When I see these stats I like to question how much they have been influenced by the Nudge fear tactics discussed in the first article today. I suspect when the dirty washing secrets are laundered in the enquiry the public stats will change significantly.
A lot of people in my circles have always referred to the UK as a nanny state – therefore it isn’t surprising that polling indicates this. I even use the UK nanny state as a benchmark to measure other countries against. So if a friend in London goes to Australia and calls it the biggest police state in the world, I know just how bad Australia is.
It seems that a small amount of Brits (as reflected on this page) are loud enough and intelligent, enquiring, independent, thoughtful and brave enough to keep the ‘liberal’/libertarian/independent spirit in view. So people are voting for a basket of dominant issues and maybe politicians are assuming that more issues automatically are required as a default for a Western democracy.
Why so rude and unpleasant?
She prizes wit above substance. Unfortunately, much of her wit is abuse.
There is an impenetrable logic at work here: I am always right, therefore my friends are always right because they are friends of mine, therefore if one of them denounces a whole country on the basis of a visit, that friend must be right, because she is a friends of mine… and of course, i and my friends are not part of any herd mentality, since we are all quite wonderful individuals, lovers of freedom, which means we must be right because we said it…
And if your friend was born there ?
Er, not sure where you’re coming from… could you spell it out a bit more for me please?
At least you’re not resorting to caustic one-liners. There are a number of herds in the world but for the last two years there’s been one gigantic herd which has been shepherded by mass indoctrination. Then there are number of other smaller herds where Unherd commenters may belong to one or more of these and maybe sometimes to the big herd. Different opinions and veiwpoints may be correct, right, wrong, or misguided but Unherd is one of the few media channels I know of where people belonging to different herds and from different backgrounds can discuss and disagree without resorting to personal abuse. None of us I suspect are wonderful individuals but at least the comments are giving a clear idea of where the commenter is coming from (not only geographically) and what lies behind their comments. Then there are the few and far between moutons noirs who stick out and don’t engage in meaningful comment. What inspires them? Does anyone care?
IIRC black South Africans didn’t think AIDS was a hoax; they thought you could cure it by having sex with a virgin (the wish very much the father of the thought). So there was an epidemic of black men raping babies, who they could be reasonably sure were virgins. Usually, neither survived.
Suggestion: perhaps the Brits are truly freedom-loving but think that the best way of maintaining that level of freedom is ensuring strict compliance with the rules that do apply.
A libertarian, I think, accepts that there must be rules, but that they must be well-chosen, well structured and kept to a minimum in terms of volume or scope of application to leave as much choice as possible to the individual.
What will rise from the ashes of the phoenix that was Boris Johnson? How long’s a piece of string?
Really? After how much difficulty MPs had in rejecting previous incumbents? Think Theresa May (long campaign), Jeremy Corbyn (long campaign), Tony Blair (chose to go, eventually), Margaret Thatcher.
And if Garden Party hypocrisy were ‘enough’ how many other politicians would have had to go in the past? I suspect most of the ‘Boris must go’ are just journalists willing the next big article into being.
Good grief, you continuously outdo yourself in the ‘vile’ stakes, don’t you ?
Julie seems to enjoy attacking other women. Assuming that she is in fact female, evidence that some of the worst misogynists are themselves women.
No the UK population isn’t ‘authoritarian’. It’s increasingly demanding a government, and a set of institutions, which will draw a line in the sand, then, when the usual mob of activists and lawyers shriek that it is wacist and infringes their rights, will confidently stick to the line rather than kneeling in subservience and apologising for drawing it
The lines they want to draw are not too radical either. You would get a lot of votes if you just drew the following lines:
I think this piece over simplifies the state of affairs. No one is ‘free’, even a new born baby isn’t free, he or she relies on caring parents to look after and nuture it. Peter Franklin seems to think looking to the state in times of emergency or when seemingly threatened equates to authoritarian rule. This isnt the case, and there is quite a large spectrum involved regarding protection/support and totalitarianism. Where covid is concerned, people have just been tuning into the BBC, or God forbid GMTV, or whatever it is called now, and are scared witless, hence the misplaced ‘govern me harder’ approach. Regarding Johnson, the writing was on the wall when cummings left. Johnson is merely a jovial front man, with nothing to back it up. On who will replace him, there are 3 or 4 candidates, who will be best depends on who realises the majority of people want left of centre Economics coupled with right of centre Culture. Strict left and right parties, for me, have had their day. In fact, I think it’s time for PR, as this will allow the Labour collalation of hard left and blairite right to complete separately, as it will the blarite left of the Tories to compete with the thatcherite right of the same party. This will also leave room for parties such as the greens, SDP and reform. Personally I think its the best way forward, a more honest way at least.
This will also leave room for parties such as the greens, SDP and reform.
Why would anyone want that?
You mean ‘Why would you like that?’. As stated, it will lead to a more honest representation of the country’s opinions.
Whilst a parliament might more broadly represent swathes of opinion, government direction of travel is then always influenced by the fringe nutters who prostitute themselves to various coalitions to get their single issue on the agenda.
Fringe nutters already have way too much sway, via the MSM’s booster effect on the concerns of a tiny Twitter minority. PR would exacerbate that.
PR works well in numerous western countries. Minorities get a voice without sending things off track in the main.
It is good for people to learn to cooperate, to make space for the other person. Bipolar jousting between Mars males has had its day.
No it won’t. It’ll lead to sleazy backroom horse trades so that nobody ends up with what they actually voted for and fringe loonies are able to force their monomania onto the lawmaking agenda because the hold the balance of power. In 2010 next to nobody voted for a referendum on electoral reform, but thanks to coalition government, that was what we got.
No, Jon Redman, your claims do not stand up to the facts.
Various forms of PR are in use across Europe and also in Australia, where I live. They provide a fact-based record of the way PR works.
Certainly, PR facilitates or necessitates discussions between parties with a view to forming government. But the neutral, unbiased term here is “discussions”, or “agreements”, not “horse trades”, let alone “sleazy horse trades”. By using that term, you cut off unbiased discussion before it even begins.
Recent German discussions around forming a new government were both ethical and successful. They evidenced an ability to compromise and cooperate, both of which are positive, not negative, political attributes.
In Australia, PR has produced both negative horse trades which allowed your “fringe loonies” to secure the balance of power, and forward-looking agreements which have enabled the country to progress.
At present, we have a flexible balance of power shared between a number of cross benchers whose positions range from extreme alt-right to socially liberal right to centrist to left-leaning. Depending on the issue, those independents and representatives of minority parties may align themselves with different major parties and with different fellow crossbenchers.
The net result of PR in Australia at present is that it has served to bring to the forefront of public awareness a number of important issues which the main parties did not want to address. While we have had to listen to the deranged alt-right ramblings and rantings of Pauline Hanson and watch in horror the power-seeking deals she has done, we have also seen a spirited pushback from an alliance of other crossbenchers against the corrupt practices of the present government in areas of government grants, climate change, energy policy, tourism, sexual abuse, parliamentary culture, freedom of religion.
PR indubitably fosters public discussion, nuance in policy-making, and participation in democracy more generally.
And while I’m at it, so does Australia’s system of compulsory voting. We don’t have to expend vast amounts of money and energy just getting lazy and poorly educated people out to vote. You know you have to go into that booth and make your mark, so you have to decide where you’re going to put it. That’s called participation.
Yes, there’s always a donkey vote where people just mark the top box, and people who just can’t complete the ballot correctly. But they are a tiny minority. And yes, we do have the provision to opt out, but the system is designed so that you have to actively decide to opt out, otherwise, you’re in. That caters satisfactorily to anti-democratic religious extremists such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Exclusive Brethren. And yes, others who don’t vote but were supposed to, do get fined. Even here, though, the system allows you to provide an excuse—but you have to proactively exercise that right.
Compare our system of active, but still reasonable, open and transparent, liberal democratic encouragement to citizens to actively participate in their society, with the UK or US systems where power seekers of the worst sort actively work to maintain default non-voting of vast swathes of the population, counting on catering to their laziness, irresponsibility, ignorance, poverty, lack of education, wrong skin colour, cynicism, or other negative factors. That ensures we of the self-chosen elite hold on to our grip on power, doesn’t it? If lust for power by the elite is not monomania, then I don’t know what is. Oh, and I forgot to mention the propaganda of lies and disinformation which tries to dismiss our Australian voting system as “authoritarian”.
I don’t think your argument has a leg to stand on.
Yes, this was the great mistake made after WW2 by the most disastrous and evil government in British history that led us to the the permanent socialist totalitarianism we have had to live with since, that led by that old communist fellow-traveller Attlee, a 1950s Hugo Chavez, and his merry men of thieves and criminals, to wit, equating the necessity of a firm government in times of crisis with the idea that such expanded government would be beneficial in more normal times. Well, the collapse in Britain’s global economic position that had been built through the supposedly evil period of Victorian classical liberalism pretty much shows you how well that went.
All of which was warned by Churchill before the 1945 election when he tried to disperse Hayek’s pamphlet The Road to Serfdom as a warning, but was of course cruelly mocked by those who should have known better. But of course we made the great mistake of universal sufferage in 1918, allowing the propertyless in society a vote to immorally confiscate other people’s private property.
Despite being almost too old to serve, Attlee fought as an Infantry Officer throughout the Great War, on the Western Front, Gallipoli, and Mesopotamia, where he was severely wounded. You malign him unnecessarily, and should direct your venom towards Herbert Asquith & Co, the real progenitors of Britain’s downfall.
The English are very much “Do the right thing” people. Does that make them authoritarian, or just well brought up and good mannered?
Exactly right. Famously annoyed by queue jumping and much given to tutting.
I wonder whether the high value put on behaving well, which is a good thing in itself, has contributed more than a little to Boris Johnson’s popularity. He has a certain flair, an outer polish and style… he comes across like a “good chap”.
When forced to choose between style and substance, have the English opted for style? Does this connect with their acknowledged love of pomp and ceremony, the preeminence accorded the monarchy and the outer show? Putting on a good front? But what does the front conceal?
I have been trying for some time to reconcile in my own mind the equally noticeable tendency to a certain masochism, which seems to extend in some situations to positive self-harm—to reconcile this with the emphasis on good behaviour. The English seem to want to behave well, while at the same time needing to beat themselves up. Can it be that their protestantised consciences will not allow them to accept success? That the concept of original sin has been drilled in too deep? Or is it all a result of bad boarding-school educational practices? The beaten become beaters?
What do you think?
I think Boris’s appeal was partly self deprecating behaviour (trip wires etc), which is an English trait, particularly an appearance of authenticity, and mostly embracing Brexit, which gave the little man a voice. Most politicians are so obviously saying whatever a focus group has told them to say, his bad behaviour was refreshing.
Only a minuscule proportion go to boarding school, so that’s a red herring. Having read recently on here how the French denigrate themselves, I’m not sure it’s a problem of the people. It’s a problem of the media and academia. In a normal social setting in England, boasting is frowned on but self flagellation certainly doesn’t feature.
The classic man on the Clapham omnibus is not given to wild extremes of anything. He gets on with his life, usually has a good sense of humour, obeys reasonable rules, but will get very obstinate if he thinks somebody is trying to have him over. Globalisation, and all its cheerleaders, have been having him over for decades. Boris seemed to fight that but now he’s having them(us) over and may pay accordingly.
I take your point about “the classic man on the Clapham minibus”.
Where I’m coming from is this question: How much does the English trait of self-deprecation stem from, and to what degree might it still be tied to, a deeply ingrained class system?
I am a researcher in human futures and progressive spirituality (based in the work of Dr Rudolf Steiner). My concern is how modesty about one’s own achievements might be encouraged as a genuine consciously developed personal trait, and not a reflex doffing of the cap to one’s superiors, which reflects the class system, and hence hails back to an ancient tribal society.
I am English by birth, and have lived in Britain both as a child and an adult, but nevertheless have spent the majority of my adult years resident in Australia. This gives me some ability to say “we English”, but also, “those English!”. I alternate between the insider and outsider’s view.
From where I stand, looking from the outside in, persistence of the English class system appears to be the factor par excellence holding the country back from real progress. It is here that bad boarding school practices may be very relevant, if that “tiny minority” still dictates the general public’s attitudes and behaviour. Hence perhaps some of the reason why it is taking so long for people to see through Boris Johnson and his present government.
Looking from the inside out, though, I can also fully appreciate your point about finding Boris’ bad behaviour refreshing. This, too, can be a positive sign of personal development, of our having a healthy sense of self. It underlies the important role of satire and protest movements.
It seems both factors may be operating simultaneously in the English psyche. Perhaps we English are fighting an inner war between these apparently conflicting tendencies in our make-up.
That said, the point that then comes to the surface is the way both these potentially positive tendencies have been harnessed to bad causes: namely, the ever-increasing accumulation of power and wealth by shady operators hiding behind the scenes.
Possibly terminology is important here. Self deprecating might not be entirely accurate. The British don’t actively denigrate themselves (other than the media, per above) but don’t like boastfulness or huge displays of emotion. Stiff upper lips and sang froid, admiration of hard work and contempt for overt displays of emotion, are related parts of this culture. You could probably sum it all up as undemonstrative.
As with all things this broad, there will be many sources, but I would point to Protestantism as a much more significant cause. Compare the stereotypical Irishman (blarney, gift of the gab, party animal) with the Orange man (dour, obstinate, distrustful).
I would suggest British culture aligns, in this “undemonstrative” preference, with most other Northern European cultures. Compare and contrast with the stereotypical (catholic) Italian or Spaniard.
I’m a born and bred Englishman, but did live abroad for 15 years so have some exposure to different cultures. I can honestly say the class system hasn’t consciously impacted my life in any way. My origins are C D income level. Whatever successes I’ve had I would attribute to being lucky with stable parents and access to a decent education. The failures have been failures of my own. My accent (northern), or background, has never been a feature.
“The ever increasing accumulation of wealth and power by shady operators” is hardly a uniquely British issue. It’s a feature of all cultures at all times.
I think it was on here I was recommended to The Status Games by Will Storr. I would recommend you to that as an explanation of the games human beings play, which are innate rather than culturally instilled.
The real question is why now?
Also, saying British people like authoritarian governments based on one (non-representative) YouGov poll seems a bit outlandish to me.
Oh gosh. Come on people! Can’t the first comment actually be related to the actual topic of the article?! We’ve now read and written thousands of words on ‘.Partygate’.
To start, yes, we could potentially have a much more effective, possibly more authoritarian state, than we do. Look at the examples of Singapore or South Korea. Mediocrity prevails almost everywhere in British public life, as Cummings has said a massive lack of technical nous, but even as this case shows, not a great deal of common or garden sense.
However there are masses of vested interests which would have to be overcome, that is what would probably require a lot of ruthlessness, as Thatcher showed.
I spent a large part of my free time in the years from around 2004 trying to persuade people not to vote for this charlatan liar.
He isn’t stupid. I don’t like him one bit. I think he is a lazy and mendacious narcissist.
But he is better than any of the drones – Sunek, Truss, Starmer, whoever who could replace him. They are the greater evil. I am now anxious to ensure that this buffoon remains in power for now because at least he can do limited harm. If the self-deluded Starmer gets in it really is case of getting out asap.
Like the Speaker in Parliament says, “Order, order.” That basically is what people want. It includes not letting people cross the border whenever they want and the Channel is calm enough for a cheap rubber boat. Why is that so difficult to achieve?
It’s curious that no one is asking why Martin Reynolds sent that email. It must have been on his own initiative. But you don’t get to be an ambassador (to Libya) if you’re a complete idiot.
‘Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned’.
Beware Boris, stick to Carrie’s agenda or get seriously p***y-whipped. The rest of us can go to hell in a handcart according to her.
I doubt if there are many people outside the London chattering classes and Labour agitators who ae outraged about the Downing Street staff parties. A tut-tut is as far as most people would go, it having no relevance to their daily lives and uncertain futures.
Labour and the SNP should be concentrating on policies for attracting trade and investment to the UK, upgrading our infrastructure and generally making proposals to boost our prosperity
By making a song and dance about this issue (which has harmed no one) masks the fact that they don’t seem to have any concrete policies..
Party goings-on in the heart of Whitehall.
It sounds like an Ealing Comedy.
Finally somebody in the media has noticed this. In future, every time a politician cites ‘the freedom-loving British people’, try not to die laughing.
“Back in the spring of 2020, with the whole country under lockdown”. I didn’t see much sign of ‘lockdown’ in Brighton on 20 May 2020. People were out on the promenade, and on the beaches, in ‘socially distanced’ groups admittedly enjoying the sun and a few drinks. Road traffic was reduced, but still heavy. Who knows where they were going or why? When I hear people talking about ‘lockdown’ I get images of fundamentalist preachers ranting about ‘sin’. I suspect hypocrisy is and was more widespread than just in the ‘corridors of power’. There is no escaping the terrible effect on care homes (for specific reasons) and on individuals who lost relations, but the latter was a lottery. There is also no escaping the real effect of ‘shut down’ polices on high street businesses and livelihoods, that was largely indiscriminate. As the early waves seemed to follow their own course regardless of ‘measures’, I wonder whether there were some in government who were already sceptical about their effectiveness, at a time when cases seemed to be declining of their own accord.
The real question is not *who*, but *what* will arise from the Boris chaos. And the answer is pretty clear. No *who* can possibly arise, except, um, Boris. And the *what* is the Boris Church.
There will of course have to be a day when he is fully resurrected (“…touch me not, Carrie, ….”), before the ascension (to a very highly paid role of Consultant-Priest-In-House for a tech giant – Facebook’s taken, but Tencent are still seeking, I believe).
I fully expect, within a few years, little statues of Boris in every home, floating above us from a zip wire, Westminster business suit instead of blue negligee, face mask instead of a crown of thorns, arms akimbo, not nailed to anything (because it’s very difficult to nail anything on Boris) but holding aloft a couple of Union Jacks.
And we all, the UK population, full of contrition at our responsibility in His downfall, will forever mark the day of ‘Masking Sunday’ as a day of collective mourning.
Rule of and by the lower middle class…. oh for the 19th century when they would all have been ‘ below stairs’ or quill pushing Pooteresque clerks….. they crave certainty, loath risk, and get an almost peverse neo erotic stimulation from being patted on the head and being told that they have done a good job…
If I.D. cards, compulsory vaccine cards and protecting sea borders count as authoritarian ( gosh, thanks for explaining you don’t mean fascist), I thunk the essay is simply describing a normal country dealing with unusual problems. I would have said the outstanding quality of British society and politics is moral cowardice, plus a sort of masochism similar to that showed by the Russian aristocracy under Kerensky.
This is so true. On the whole, most Brits do favour authoritarianism – pragmatic authoritarianism that feels fair to them – over liberalism. Order is preferable to chaos. On vaccines, how can it be fair that restrictions on life are imposed – yet again – to protect the NHS – yet again – when the media tells us the hospitals are full of unvaccinated people? From that perspective, mandates are logical and fair. Hard to argue against. On this, on Djokovic, on the desire for a firmer approach and much else in that vein, opinions I hear from many up here in Scotland are no different. They just have no expression at in the Scottish Parliament.
For Westminster, based upon the authoritarian leanings of many voters, Boris Johnson was entirely the wrong character to ever lead “a British government — with the strength to exercise control on their behalf.” At heart Boris is a libertarian. He also lacks the self-discipline and iron will to reinvent the country post-Brexit, even if he did have a vision, which I doubt. Gifted an 80 seat majority, he has blown it because of his flawed character and political laziness. The country may limp on (as he won’t willingly go) but this is definitely a ‘moment’. The ‘gap’ has re-appeared. Somebody will come along to fill it. What the past decade or more has taught us (and too often commentators in England forget to include the political earthquakes in Scotland since 2011) is that ANYTHING can happen. The unlikely becomes the likely. Unsettling times.
Why does the author assume that the next political surprise will not come from the Left. Corbyn would have won the 2017 election had the campaign lasted another week. The campaign turned on May reducing inheritances and the chance of using them to get on the housing ladder. Housing remains the issue and the solution involves controlling bank lending, forced use of land banks, overrule of local government planning rules, rent controls and immigration control.