Ah, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. Or, plain old ‘Al’, as we recently discovered some of his family refer to him as. A sado-populist. An eternity politician. A human virus. The straw that broke the camel’s back.
Our hearts sank in December 2019 when we heard the announcement that he had won the election by a significant majority. We were in complete disbelief and needed a cup of tea to settle our nerves (how very English). Honestly, we were utterly speechless. Everything ran through our minds of what this would mean: we would just have to crack on until the next election because nothing was going to get better under Boris. More than that, we felt the disappointment for millions of people that a Corbyn-led government would have made such a change for.
All of this, and the Covid-19 catastrophe was yet to hit.
There were times – and you can read plenty of articles here on Notes From Plague Island: …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of the Dead, Boris Buys Curtains Whist The People Die, The Name for What They Are Doing is ‘Social Murder’ – where Johnson was getting away with the most scandalous things (remember the “Let the bodies pile high in their thousands?” comment), simply because he was Boris. Somehow it was acceptable, funny even, just because it was him doing it. ‘Boris is trying his best under difficult circumstances’, ‘Things would be a lot worse under Corbyn’, and the classic ‘Boris is a character!’ How swathes of society fell for his bluster, continually made exceptions for him, palmed every deplorable thing he said or did off as somehow part of his ‘charm’ and continued to follow him despite his evident contempt for anyone and anything but him, remains beyond our comprehension.
Now the time has come for him to finally fuck off. Except, like a bad dose of Covid, we fear he will linger. Long Boris, if you will. Truss will be a sub-variant of Johnson, of course, which we will have to endure for some while yet. Definitely not as charismatic, but just as dangerous and will act to keep Long Boris with us.
When the Tory ship totally sinks with Truss at the helm, remember that it was Boris Johnson who made the ship capsize in the first place, and then completely checked out on July 7th as his final dereliction of duty (Guardian). You could argue that he never actually checked-in and that being prime minister was nothing but a side-hustle. Truss’ disaster will be his, too. No doubt he will try and pass off any mess as Truss’ own making, in a vain effort to give himself a clean slate when he tries to return to big politics.
You might think all of this sounds a tad pessimistic, but it’s not all bad. There was a time where we really feared that Johnson would be PM forever, such was his popularity. He thought of himself as the King and acted as such. Through his own vanity though, he lost that popularity; the populist schtick only works when one is popular. His ‘Get Brexit Done’ mantra wore thin and mainly because of the Partygate scandals, people finally began to see him for the wretched charlatan he is, was and always will be.
Everything was forever until it was no more.
Just like the transatlantic populist variant, Donald Trump, Johnson’s skin is paper-thin. People who can’t cope in the real world buy their friends and surround themselves with sycophants. As soon as they are questioned and taken to task about their grasp on the truth, they deflate like a popped balloon. In the final months if his premiership, there he was, without his bluster; his funny little words and ludicrously dishevelled hair failed to rescue him. None of it worked anymore, and people saw through him. But we need to be careful because like any good showman or confidence trickster, they go away and hone their act (as in the case of Nigel Farage), ready for a new public mood susceptible to the snake oil they sell.
He will, in no doubt, be remembered as one of the worst UK prime ministers. Martin Hammond, Johnson’s housemaster at Eton and teacher of classics, perhaps write his political epitaph before his career even began:
‘Boris really has adopted a disgracefully cavalier attitude to his classical studies . . . Boris sometimes seems affronted when criticised for what amounts to a gross failure of responsibility (and surprised at the same time that he was not appointed Captain of the School for next half): I think he honestly believes that it is churlish of us not to regard him as an exception, one who should be free of the network of obligation which binds everyone else.’
Our country is in complete disarray at the moment but we sense that, at last, the broader population are beginning to realise the depths to which Johnson and his government have taken us. We are witnessing ‘a moment’ (one that probably wouldn’t have been needed if the other guy had won the 2019 election); we have suffered crisis after crisis which have been exacerbated by ideological choices made by this nasty government. Perhaps Johnson’s legacy will be that because of his insouciance, a broader section is society have realised that politics can’t be left to politicians. Perhaps this will be a legacy of Johnson’s, whether he likes it or not.
He was the zenith for this culmination of the Tory Party; he moulded them into his image, so now that he has fallen, the party will inevitably fall with him. Just watch. As we spoke about in the sado-populist article, this sort of politician has no succession plan because as far as he is concerned, without him, the party is over.
Quite literally in Johnson’s case.
~ L&A 5.9.22 ~