The guillotine falls- the sharp ring sound of blade on flesh rings out followed by the heavy thud of head into basket. But the body keeps writhing.
Johnson’s milkwater speech & his removal as the leader of the conservatives is not even a step forwards for those of us with a keen interest in reconciling decency and politics- for Johnson is the head of the hydra, and now head is being severed from body, new problems begin to form at the stump.
Johnson was a problem for conservatives as much as he was for those of us suffering under his leadership: at most recent poll, sixty nine percent of the polled public wanted Johnson out. It’s understandable- he has mainstreamed political mistruths with the same unrepentant showmanship as his counter in the US, Donald Trump and has contributed to the “footballification” of politics. Many of us began to find politics interesting as it began to directly affect us and a core of this currently deeply engaged group will flit back to political indifference once the times stabilise. But for some of us who have the pleasure of meeting our forerunners, activists who warned of all this to no avail, the times are no less frightening now the sword of Damocles hurtles towards Johnson’s crown than before. We must not stop fighting.
Some amongst our number fear Johnson will not leave. He has levers at his disposal to consolidate his power even with minority support from ministers and the public, levers which would deeply damage British democracy if pulled- yet the grubby hands of our erstwhile PM rest upon them regardless. Johnson has demonstrated time and again that he does not care about the damage his presence and continued displays of political substandard parlance has done so to assume he has a level, a point at which shame would kick in is incredible. PMQs threatens to be even worse- what does the man who has lost it all have to lose? Will he make more accusations of Labour’s leader that led to him being harangued by crowds of far right extremists? Could he lean harder on the war in Ukraine to clutch power? He could well be in backroom discussion with loyalists planning the UK’s no doubt quintessentially more ridiculous January 6th. Let us not forget the levels of unabashed stupidity Johnson has sunk to before- from doxxing a fellow journalist to having an affair, being sacked for lying, homophobic and racist statements he still refuses to walk back on, Johnson’s political legacy will have been to inject his own poisonous disregard for honesty, decency… humanity, into mainstream British politics.
But even if, somehow, against all odds he is ousted, he goes gently into that good night, his party will continue to rage against the dying of the light. The tory party was gutted by Johnson’s appointment as those tories who don’t openly distain human beings were shuttled out, and loyalist parodies were parachuted in. From those foolish enough to punt for the leadership role to back benchers, the party is a shambles and has been for longer than Johnson’s woeful tenure.
Sunak has released a video desperately appealing to the farcical notion that he’s a man of the people: Sunak was chancellor of the exchequer and he doesn’t even know how to pay for goods with a contactless card.
Braverman was unfailingly loyal to Johnson, blithely defending his lawbreaking over the NI protocol and partygate- she is unashamedly “anti woke” and though I dont feel its appropriate that I as a white man go into the particulars of why this may be, several friends of mine who have Bravermans in their family have given me an understanding as to why she so reviles the notions enshrined in the right’s imaginary bogeyman: the woke.
Liz Truss has been such a terrible equalities minister it is rumoured she is referred to as the inequalities minister in the corridors of westminster- the only reason Truss wasn’t papped at the parties in Downing Street is that she has been too busy running from photoshoot to photoshoot, desperately plying a very bored public with images of her pretending to be Margaret Thatcher 2.0
Steve Baker speaks for himself- unfortunately everything he says is unrepentant nonsense, usually a bastardised bible quote.
As to the “more decent” tories, I’ve heard many people quietly applaud Penny Mordaunt for standing with LGBT+ people: just like every right winger, suddenly people like Mordaunt realise the virtues of my hated word, “tolerance” when related to an LGBT+ person. Mordaunt’s brother, a gay man has rightly criticised the conservatives for being unabashedly anti LGBTQ+.
Tom Tugendhat- everybody’s favourite placeholder tory, a man who still voted cheerfully for all the hideous things the tories have wrought upon us, a man who continued to sit behind Johnson no matter what he did. “Maybe he wanted to temper Johnson” many people say- and to that I simply reply “temperance does not arise from complicity”.
The long and the short of what I’m saying is frankly, this: there are no decent tories, no Conservative party to salvage. When they sold the British public out by allowing a suffusion of far right entrants through the brexit party and the other violent nationalist parties, they invited venom into their veins. That toxin has crept into every artery, suffused the entire party and now their corruption is laid bare for those with willing eyes to see. The party who at least had plausible deniability is gone and in its place is a grouping of extremists who have the taste of power in their mouths along with the astringent bite of rot.
The public desperately needs change and a functional government. When a battery dies you don’t just flip the battery around and put it back in- you put a new battery in place. So why must we accept more sub-standard words from insincere political shysters who will only propagate the problems they have so far failed to fix?
The way forward is clear but forked: do we go the route other nations appear to be embracing with full scale revolt? As I write this, Sri Lanka’s president has been chased out of the presidential palace… violence is not an answer but in times of great economic strife it becomes a brutal means to an end. We should strive to avoid it- but it should also be something the government actively works to calm, and with MPs like Andrea Jenkyns flipping off crowds and known liars like Sunak and Truss attempting to wrest control of the party it does not appear they are doing so.
The common sensical path is a coalition of leftist parties, deep discussions on the factions of the left to create a plan of how to move forward through tactical voting, installation of the government we want, pressure for what we need like voter reforms, PR, the removal of the tories destructive writs and more open dialogue in the UK on what type of policies we both want and need.
Clear before us lies political upheaval- the question is, will it arrive by fracture or by coalition?
Whichever way lies the path forward one thing is clear- the tories have inflicted much misery upon us, and we must at all costs prevent them from doing so again. Johnson is a fan of quoting Shakespeare so let us remember: there are daggers in men’s smiles- and only by raising shields against those weapons will we see a new Britain we can at last be proud of.