A very fine essay. I’m reminded of Enoch Powell’s remark, “All political lives, unless they are cut off in midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs.” (am I still allowed to quote Powell?).
I agree a fine synopsis of the predicament we know find ourselves in. Let’s hope for a Damascene conversion whilst there is still time, but I fear this a classic case of “An apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”.
In answer to your query about the late Enoch Powell, MP, certainly not as it will undoubtedly horrify the Legion of ‘Bleeding Heart Liberals’ such as Ian Stewart Esq, who infest this forum.
Ah you didn’t like me calling you out as a racist then? I’m surprised you took that badly as you seem to wear the badge with pride.
‘Calling him out’…. Have you the slightest scintilla of evidence he is a racist, rather than that you disagree with his politics? Of course it may well be that the Left insists on the redefinition of words to its own advantage so that, someone with the ‘correct’ views cannot be a racist (e.g. an anti-Semite), but anyone not agreeing with far Left positions on white ‘guilt’ and ‘privilege’ is.
Yes, or course you are. He spoke and wrote about almost everything and his views often surprise (like effectively supporting trade union strikes for wage increases in the early 1970s – since he put the blame for inflation firmly on the government and money supply). He also predicted 50 years ago exactly where the minority rights campaigns would get us.
There are superficial similarities, but Boris Johnson is a far weaker character than Churchill. It is necessary to look beyond their unhappy childhoods to consider their adult experiences: Churchill spent his twenties as a war journalist, particularly during the South African wars, and then entered politics and had direct experience of the Front in WW1. Boris messed around at Eton; messed around at Balliol; messed around in Brussels writing bogus stories about banana regulation; and then became mayor of London. Is it surprising that nothing seems important, permanent, or indeed real to him?
Churchill did get off to an epic start serving as a Subaltern in the ‘Malakand Field Force, on the North West Frontier of India under the redoubtable (and wonderfully named), Sir Bindon Blood* in 1897.
(* As he later became!)
And he participated in the last great cavalry charge of the 19th Century at the Battle of Omdurman as a lieutenant galloping against a mass of Muslim fanatics hidden in a gulch. Fortunately, having traded his sword for a revolver after injuring his shoulder slipping on a dock in India, he shot two or three from his saddle who otherwise would have hamstrung his horse with hooked blades with fatal consequences for him after it fell. Many of his regiment died in that skirmish including those who slowly returned with their guts hanging out. I suppose their bones still lie in the shallow graves dug in the desert.
Please begin your posts on any subject with “As an Irish Catholic I think…” It helps orient the reader.
However yes he did, I think the pistol is what was called Mauser ‘broom handle’ was it not?
Not that it matters, but the handgun with which Churchill replaced his sword was not a revolver, but a Mauser automatic. Of course, Omdurman wasn’t the last full-scale cavalry charge in Imperial history: that distinction belonged to the Australian Light Horse at Beersheba in 1917.
That was the 20th Century.
I’m neither, but thanks for asking.
I didn’t know you were into identity politics?!
Broadly true – though on a technical point, it wasn’t a revolver: it was a brand new, state-of-the-art Mauser automatic pistol. If the CO had realised that the wadi was packed with hundreds of Dervishes, rather than just the few dozen he could see lining the rim, then charging them would have been out of the question. It was a rash move that cost a lot of men their lives.
Yes, this rather wet article does seem to be based on the premise that childhood experience determines everything. I have just (finally) read Jordan Petersen’s “12 Rules of Life” and he makes a very convincing case that this is one of the worst and most self-defeating attitudes of the modern West. Take responsibility, make something of your life, stop whingeing and feeling sorry for yourself. (I am not doing his views justice here, I realise..)
All one needs to recall is that Churchill was a fine Hussars Officer, horseman and racing affecianado…. Boris would not have been accepted for, let alone passed Catterick recruit training…. he is a phoney, charlatan and con man…
Who? you or Winston?
This was an exceptional piece of writing which held my interest throughout – so few essays do that these days, the scroll bar often the most attractive thing about them – though I now feel a bit glum. Can’t have everything.
When was Johnson ever a hero?
He got a watered version of Brexit finally over the line in Jan. 2020. Yet that was achieved for him by Dominic Cummings whose incredible skills negotiated the rapids, the rocks, the quicksands galore of July 2019-December 2019 (a 4/5ths hostile Parliament struggling with might and main to make Brexit lapse and the Johnson government fail).
It was D Cummings who kept the 2016 Vote Leave campaign simple (with his own coined slogan ‘Take Back Control’) and won that, like the previous 4 major campaigns he had led and won. It was D Cummings who kept the December 2019 election campaign equally simple (‘Take Back Control’).
I am all in favour of the principle of giving credit where it is due, but I fail to see much credit in anything BoJo has been or done.
Unlike Churchill – who in my entirely unfashionable opinion was right about the Empire, and the Gold Standard (if only we could still be on that and not facing world economic collapse), and at critical moments in his career did the unlikely and inspired thing; e.g. keeping the Navy out on N. Sea manoeuvres throughout July 1914 when everyone expected the fall-out from the Austrian Archduke’s assassination, like so many other crises 1890-1913, to blow over.
This extension of the Navy’s N. Sea task hobbled the German surface fleet for the duration of WWI.
Additionally no lesser man than Clement Attlee was a great supporter of Churchill’s over the Dardanelles adventure, and he should know having actually fought there.
Incidentally ‘urban rumour’ has it that Cummings was the ‘Prince of Lockdown’, can you corroborate that?
Finally Churchill had a fantastic ability to rapidly change course if absolutely necessary. His conduct over the 1914 Home Rule Crisis being a good example. His initial reaction seems to have been to let his emotions rip, before quickly returning to a more measured approach, and usually coming up with the right answer.
Perhaps we may hope the PM can really emulate him this time?
It’s not out of the question, which many commentators seem to think (or should i say, wish). It’s possible, for instance, that Johnson sees Partygate as his Gallipoli.
I agree with Lloyd’s premise that Johnson seeks to emulate Churchill, but don’t think he’s entitled to draw the conclusion that it’s ‘broken’ him. For a start, he wouldn’t be where he is today without that self-image, given his personality.
I agree, this is his ‘Rubicon’ moment, not so much to play Churchill, but Caesar. If he succeeds, and I earnestly hope he does for all our sake, it will be a triumph of epic proportions.
Caesar was famous for his speed (celeritas) and magnanimity (clementia). Boris knows this and will I trust, seek to emulate him.
“Iacta alea est!”
His speech in which he launched his house buy-back scheme doesn’t look Caesar like but a lack lustre exercise in bluster and rhetoric with an ill-judged announcement of a reheated policy. I thought it pathetic and unimpressive.
There is certainly room for improvement.
Yes, Johnson is 57. When Churchill was 57, in 1931, he was nobody’s idea of a hero. Like most commentary e.g. on Covid or the Ukraine war, journos are just so keen to write the history, the conclusions. There’s a long way to go.
One of the reasons that Churchill wrote history was to make it ‘His Story’.
Example: In 1914 it was the First Sea Lord, Battenberg, who took the initiative and ordered that the reserve fleet should not demobilise after the summer exercises. Chuchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty, wasn’t even in his office that day. When he returned he backed Battenberg’s judgement. After Battenberg had died (in 1921) he did what he could to ensure that it was remembered as his decision.
Yes – and Churchill’s somewhat dishonest account of the Battle of Jutland, exonerating his crony David Beatty, is another example.
Cummings made the mistake of making an enemy of the present Mrs. Johnson. Few wise courtiers make that mistake and survive.
Nice piece but he missed the elephant in the room. Churchill didn’t create Nazism, whereas Johnson has catalysed all the crises he comes on his steed (or photo-op bulldozer) to rescue. Johnson has the politician’s version of Munchausens by proxy.
Did Boris create Covid? No. That has tested every premier in the world.
How would his administration have faired without Covid?
Hopefully much, much better.
Exactly and the mainstream media made it impossible to do anything other than mimic the policies enacted pretty much everywhere else
Very nearly. He could practically have ‘cured’ it simply by ignoring it.
Who else would have got Brexit through? Certainly not May. He was a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately N Ireland, the fishing and immigration needs to be sorted but I am grateful for what he did do. A man like David Davies would be able to finish it I think.
There’s a danger here that, as with Churchill in the inter-war years, people are being too quick to write Johnson off. That’s not to say he’ll do anything to emulate Churchill’s wartime leadership (although he does have Brexit under his belt – being probably the only UK politician this century who could’ve extricated us from not just the EU but the parliamentary impasse that came about by Westminster’s refusal to implement the result of the referendum – the NI question was always going to be a continuing issue); but he still stands, albeit wounded.
I’m prepared to wait until at least the next general election, and if he’s still standing then, a lot of today’s tittle-tattle might just start to appear not just premature but plain wrong. Let the public decide, not the MSM or the commentariat.
“The man who broke Boris”. There was me thinking it was Carry and the woke green lefty-twatory that was the problem.
Spot on Sir!
Boris could have been a great prime minister. Having won an eighty seat majority with a break through in the red wall, all he needed to do was grasp the opportunities of Brexit. Deregulate, cut taxes and open the country up for trade. Instead, he locked down, regulated the energy sector and raised taxes. He was often compared to Trump, having been elected on a populist wave, but Trump used his opportunity well to make America great. Boris squandered his chance for greatness.
Trump has failed at most things in his life, and most recently, attempting a coup.
Call that a coup? Ridiculous!
It was minor disturbance that led to the Capitol Police overreacting and murdering at least one young woman.Bravo!
You’ve got to be joking-minor disturbance. New footage this week is terrifying. They were breaking in at every level, through windows and screaming at any defenders. It was a riot. It was horrible. The hangmans noose outside the building supposedly as a protest against Mike Pence was unnerving to see. What might have happened if they had captured him and dragged him out there?
Compared to the Antifa-BLM Democrats’ murderous, Corporate-sponsored rioting and looting, which torched urban Main Street America from coast to coast and killed 60 people (most of them black), the White House protests against the theft of the election were a tea party. You should also be aware that the Biden junta purposely edited out the sections where a Capitol Police thug beats one unarmed women to death with a stick, while another shoots an unarmed woman dead through a locked glass door.
If the protesters had been Antifa-XR-BLM Democrats, those cops would now be in jail for 25+ years. As it is, they remain uncharged, while the patriotic protesters get exemplary Gitmo-type treatment.
If attempting a coup was sending a rag tag group of overweight light beer drinkers, unarmed, to the capitol building, then we live on different planets. Keep watching CNN.
You’re not EVEN wrong. Trump has no real knowledge or curiosity about the world. Can you actually imagine him writing a book, let alone reading one? Of course not. Trump’s a failed, one-term president, who then tried to overturn the will of the voters by a coup. And he failed at that, too. Trump tried to make for his extreme lack of abilities with unprincipled bluster and amoralistic horseshit, which people like you seem to enjoy feasting on. His presence is a large stain on America, a dark taint on its soul, and has set back the country two generations, and frankly the wide rift he helped create that divides and weakens the country may never be bridged.
Trump and his ilk deserve ridicule, lampooning, and large time behind bars. Trump’s a gutter-mongering w***e who tried to become king, yet remains a common w***e.
Trump is the best president for years. The Dems had fiddled the election and thence the complaint, not a coup. Much evidence has come forward since then proving dirty work by the Dems. With Trump gone Putin decides to invade Ukraine which would never have happened under Trump.
Much of what you say may well be right, but can you be sure he’ll be a one-term president?
You miss the point that Trump, for all his failings, legitimately won an election against apparently insuperable odds. The reason was certainly not because of an engaging personality or exceptional leadership skills, but rather because he articulated, however crudely, the greed & corruption of our feckless political class & the failures of globalism. Like le Pen / Mélenchon in France, and Corbyn / Farage in the UK, Trump gave simple, ordinary people hope. And like them he had a thick enough skin to resist the vicious smears directed at him non-stop by an enraged corporate media. Your “coup” exposition shows you’ve swallowed the elite narrative on the Jan 6 capitol disturbances hook, line & sinker. Next thing you’ll be tell us Trump was (& still is) a “Russian asset”; that the capitol disturbances was an “insurrection” perpetrated by heavily armed grannies who came within an inch of overthrowing the government, instead of just an unruly protest egged on by a few hotheads, including the mysterious Ray Epps. And that the single government casualty was beaten to death with a fire extinguisher.
Virtually every wretched member of the British Establishment, with the notable exception of Lord Jonathan Sumption, KS, was squealing for a Lockdown, even the vaunted Cummings ‘Beast’ himself!
What chance did the poor chap have? As he reached for the Victor’s Palm it was brutally snatched from him, in a manner very reminiscent of an Ancient Greek Tragedy.
He started out right and was going for herd immunity until Labour accused him of not doing enough and then he seemed to comply with them. In addition he seems to have taken up the Global Warming Deception which could destroy our country, especially after already virtually bankrupting us over Covid. I think he has a fear about not being seen to do nothing and then doing the wrong thing to show that he is. That isn’t really leadership which is about keeping your convictions at the same time as listening to counsellors.
A fat, useless, arrogant blancmange of a man, desperately trying to appease the Left and failing – just like Ted Heath before him.
It wasn’t Labour; Johnson panicked following images of Italy, exaggerated ‘forecasts’, the ONS adopting an extreme definition of death by Covid unlike any other country apart from Belgium, and the BBC and similar starting to prominently accumulate casualties, thinking they had a means to destroy him.
Don’t agree with George Galloway very often but he got this right, Boris is indeed a pound shop Churchill.
Interesting, thank you. Reminds me again of the importance on choosing just what your higher purpose in life is, or as Stephen Covey said, “choosing what wall to lean your ladder against”, because when you get there, you just may find, you got to the top of the ladder only to learn, you leaned it up against the wrong wall.
As they used to say about the rat race, ‘Even if you win it, that means you are a rat’.
Highly amusing to choose to perpetuate this Boris/Winston comparison. Funny that Boris never says it, yet commentators love to draw the comparison. So who wins? Boris obviously; by writing this you play perfectly into the story whether or not Boris desires it. Basically this article (I would not call it an essay as that would be to compliment) is a left field way of denigrating Boris, an all too apparent pastime for journalists at present. A little more originality, a little more research, a little more creativity; all would be welcome to lift an otherwise mundane, me too post.
No. Johnson himself pushes it all the time, the ridiculous balloon.
The critical difference between Churchill and Johnson in office is that in 1940 Churchill provided leadership. In 2020, when a bunch of statistical modellers and pharmaceutical hucksters told Johnson that the people of this country (and the wider world) were likely to die in huge numbers, unless he brought in draconian restrictions on everyday life, he agreed to obey their instructions.
“Regardless of what he says, the Prime Minister’s time as a mover of events, rather than a prisoner of them, is up”. –
All politicians, indeed all humans, are prisoners of events. And yes, Boris earns few kudos from comparisons with Churchill, whether self referential or drawn by others. However, from my point of view as an offshore observer, Boris stands head and shoulders above the intellectual pygmies who have been clamouring for his head these past few weeks. [And that’s even including Boris’s unfortunate adoption of his wife’s mistaken belief that we are all doomed by Climate Change – he is wrong, but far from alone in holding to this idiocy, as will become manifest as we get closer to 2050 and the economy becomes a burnt sacrifice on the altar of stupidity]. Those pygmies, lock-down Lemmings to a man (or Lemming), were all clamouring for the order to be given: “jump off the cliff”, without ever considering whether the order to jump was proper or sensible. Boris’s real mistake was to submit to the demands of the pygmies and issue those stupid lock-down orders, when any intelligent people knew that the same were grossly ill-considered.
Churchill went to fight in the trenches in WWI at the age of 41, I believe, in order to make amends for Gallipoli. Can anyone imagine Johnson doing that?
It also seems to have escaped Johnson that Churchill was voted out of office in 1945 at supposedly the height of his fame.
Given that he spent four years at Sandhurst and much od his 20s as a professional soldier in India and saw action in the Sudan and South Africa as well as the NW Frontier, it would have been odd not to. 41 is the right age for a battaliion commander.
How ill was Johnson from covid? Was he at death’s door? Was he as unwell as was said? Will we ever know?
Johnson is quoted as writing ‘Churchill is the “beaver who damned the flow of events”’. A nice Freudian slip, especially when applied to BJ’s own political destiny!
I was expecting this to be about Dominic Ejaculatings.
Do you think there is a chance of a comeback?
Nurse! The screens!
Mr. Lloyd is clearly a man who doesn’t believe in heroes or even their possibility. Churchill’s very long career had many ups and downs, which this writer does not assign enough importance to or doesn’t fully understand. We are at a low point in Johnson’s career, but he can come back as Winston did — often. That great man wrote enough journalism to know how words are blown away like so many dry leaves in the first autumn wind after they are written.
And thinking beyond hubris politics, I wonder how will Johnson’s many children turn out..? Will they automatically ride into Westminster on daddy’s “conservative” coat tails??
Daddy will have to be able to recognise them first, won’t he?
Shouldn’t be too difficult. With that great blonde thatch, everyone will.
There won’t be a Conservative Party or perhaps even a Westminster by the time they’ve grown up.
Roll on Ukip or the Heritage Party then.
Yes.By then, I hope, the Palace of Westminster will have been sold off to the Abu Dhabi Investment Corporation and turned into an hotel, Nigel Farage will be ruling as elected Lord Protector and the Republic of England of Wales Delegates’ Assembly will meet in Leamington Spa – for only six weeks every two years, so as to act as a natural check on its ability to vomit new ‘laws’ on us.
Insightful essay, but the problem is deeper that Johnson: our entire political system & the illusions that sustain it the problem: thus “the man who led my country to victory against all the odds” overlooks the fact that Churchill led an empire & the most powerful economic power in the world. The war ended the empire, just as Brexit will end the UK.
The key issue is how we begin an irreversible transformation of our political system: until we do we will be locked in one pantomime after another.
Boris is much worse than even Tony Blair. See Paul Watson on What Happened to This Small Village Told to Accept 1500 ‘Refugees’?
This article is both good and disgraceful.
Good in that it points out some of the flaws the two characters have in common. Disgraceful in that it fails to point out the staggering differences between the life experiences and achievements of Churchill and the blowhard charlatan Johnson. Churchill served the Empire that he believed in on several continents, had an enormous wealth of knowledge and experience based on his learning, successes and failures, and had 10 years in the wilderness to reflect on his own multiple failings before his moment came. He didn’t only possess the quick wit, like Johnson, but also the enormous power of oratory which Johnson definitely doesn’t have. And AFAIK he wasn’t given to constant lying.
Johnson’s main achievement and skill, apart from aspiring to high office and mysteriously being given it despite repeatedly proving he is unfit – see his time as London Mayor, seems to be impregnating attractive if slightly horse-faced women – he should never have been given a higher office than reading the teleprompt on HIGNFY.