“Give me liberty, or give me death” is a well known quote attributed to Patrick Henry, reconstructed from memories of a speech he gave to the Second Virginia Convention. Even without context this is a bold assumption, but it speaks to the idea of liberty- freedom- as a fundamental right and a fundamental need, so basic as to warrant death without it.
Where, I have to wonder, as we watch events in the UK unfold, does democracy twine together with freedom, and how are we to access it against the headwind of an openly corrupt and incapable political party in the Conservatives: is democracy something we would die for? And if so, what is the mechanism that would trip to force that stand-up fight to access it?
Britain is a mess.
I’m not just talking about the obvious: the crises, the cost of living, the ever spiralling quality of life. I’m talking about the populace too, an embittered people- and rightly so. As an Englishman I’m painfully aware of the optics of being English, when it is amongst us that lie the biggest proponents of this failing government.
Many English folk cannot accept that the tory party are fundamentally antithetical to the UK’s growth, its needs and seem desperate to cling to an ideology that the party shucked in favour of extremism long ago. This has manifested several times in several ways: when the right wing press urged Nigel Farage’s brexit party to stand down over 200 MPs to strategically prevent vote splitting it was a grim portent of what was to come. Farage did this with theatrical aplomb, allowing those voters to assimilate into the tory party, and the tory party wanted this to happen, because having- and as we see demonstrated now- maintaining power- is the only success the tory party has had. Even their fabled exit from the EU has demonstrably worsened living conditions for anyone in the UK under an exorbitant living threshold, but under the thrall of press who pour poison upon its own readers, many of them still hail it as a win.
The reason Britain is a mess is in huge part this desperate Stockholm syndrome under which much of the population lives: the desperate willing to accept anyone provided their tie is the right colour is a disease that spans both wings of the bird we’re all hurtling towards the ground on. But the right’s need to cling to the tory party as its framework shatters and it becomes nonfunctional is bizarre on a scale I never expected to see.
Again and again since 2010 the party has demonstrated its inability to put the genuine needs of the British public first. They worsened austerity, causing a rumoured 330,000 deaths- more than coronavirus, but coronavirus threatens now to overtake that as cases skyrocket again and the tories do nothing. Cameron tried to heal the division in the party, arrogant as he was that he could make the case for remain: he failed, and left before he could sweep up the shards of his own mess. Teresa May- a remainer- took over to helm the party. She tried, three whole times, to convince people to back her deal. Her deal was bad not because she was a remainer but because the EU held, holds, will always hold- all the cards. When you’re the partner threatening to leave, you don’t get to demand what goes with you.
And so May fell, victim to the shadowy ERG if rumour is to be believed, and in her place rose Boris Johnson.
I’ve written extensively about Boris Johnson- the man sacked for lying three times now. The man who thinks 250,000 per article is “chicken feed”. The man who was raising glasses of whisky whilst one of my old clients choked slowly to death in an ICU bed. And the man who not only willingly hired a pervert into his inner circle, but joked about it- “Pincher by name, Pincher by nature” it was said. Johnson has clearly never been touched against his will, or he’d never sink to such humour. And we all know the other stories, the racism in his columns, the lies about the EU, cheating on his cancer stricken wife. So when Johnson was forcefully removed from the party by a rebellion the likes of which we’ve never seen in the UK, one was to believe that perhaps the party was trying to shrug off the cloud of ill-intent that had surrounded it and distance itself from him.
Along came Liz Truss after an excruciating leadership battle in which it seemed every member was trying to outcunt each other- Mordaunt throwing her only redeeming quality of supposedly being LGBT+ inclusive, Sunak and his promise to defund ailing areas, every day brought with it more reasons to despise those in power more as they revealed just how much lower they could sink.
I suspect that most of us knew that Truss wouldn’t last, not even a glass cannon and more of a lead balloon. But one suspected that after all of this- after originating a prime minister whose hubris initiated a chain of events that has wrecked the economy, after ineffectual leaders, protracted leadership campaigns in the face of encroaching terror, broken promises and a leader who was more concerned with drinking than protecting British citizens, I believe we all suspected that the Tories zeal for power might run out. In the face of the simple fact that being lord of an island whose economy is in minus figures, where everyone has a dangerous virus and where division runs so deeply that the entire island wants its own independence referendum from itself, I was sure that perhaps at last the conservatives might at last, for lack of options moreso than anything, bow to common sense and call a general election: but no.
Now talk is loud of a return of Johnson, all forgiven by those who were never angry at him anyway. The British populace’s obsession with this pathetic weaselly man defies all laws of logic. He’s condemned the working class and his premiership was naught but disaster, and not even of the coronavirus variety. He ignored the EU’s olive branch for ventilators, meaning British Citizens who could have been intubated and given a chance to live died instead.
Democracy is something to die for- but I suspect many of us never expected to have to make that choice and walked the streets and paths of the UK blithely unaware that we’ve never been in proximity of democracy. Our voting system is broken, our parliament bloated with those whose understanding of the lives of the 99% couldn’t even be described as ‘passing’ and our country is built on the house of cards lie that it must be someone like Boris Johnson who masquerades as intelligent in the face of his stupidity that must lead us.
So if we cannot have democracy, will not be given a vote, then I truly hope for Boris Johnson’s triumphant return to the premiership: and let me be the first to say that in the inevitable days to weeks until another scandal breaks, until it is revealed that Johnson did wilfully mislead parliament, until another indiscretion comes out, I hope you enjoy the reinstallation of his glib face. Because the tsunami of vengeance against tories and their enablers is building. It has been growing in strength by degrees for years and now it threatens to overwhelm the nation. Before long, the people will have their say, with or without an election and I wonder exactly what will be left of the Conservative party when the wave breaks upon the shores of number 10 and parliament.
If you so wish to maintain this system then may you lie upon its altar and prepare yourself – for you may well be the sacrifice it needs. But if we have the chance of better, of true reflective politics, politics that helps British people to live better lives, more honest lives, why continue to battle against it? The reason, I fear, is that the tories are too selfish to relinquish power even in the gasping death of their own party and of our democracy.
What we need is a drive to expel the bad actors in UK politics and to instil a fear of the populace in our MPs – not a fear of violence but a fear of the utter and total rejection of this failing system, a complete redundancy of their presence as useless to our ends. I suspect this drive will come in time, but every day the tories stamp harder on the accelerator towards its conclusion.
And so I welcome the return of Boris Johnson to finally begin the rictus dance of the party that started to die long before his bumbling years in charge, and may the decomposing meat of the long dead conservatives be the compost from which better politics arises at last. And if not Johnson, if another soulless hollow eyed tory, we need only move the expectation back- for every single member of that disgraceful party is a cancer upon the brain of British freedom- the only question is the level of malignancy.
Daviemoo is a 34 year old independent writer, radicalised into blogging about the political state of the world by Brexit and the election of serial failures like Trump and Johnson. Please check out the rest of the blog, check out Politically Enraged, the podcast available on all streaming platforms and share with your like minded friends! Also check him out on ko-fi where you can keep him caffeinated whilst he writes.