Illusion and reality in the world of Boris Johnson

JOHNSON: bumbling, Trump-like and unfunny (Photo: Andrew Parsons)

by Ken Ferguson · Nearly a month into the reign of the new Tory leader, the torrent of right wing media praise for Boris Johnson is unabated. Even the reduction of the Tory/DUP commons majority to one by the defeat at the hands of the Lib Dems in Brecon was spun as a near thing and in fact changes little.

The objective is clear—like the infamous “shock and awe” blitz that opened the tragic Iraq war—to silence opponents ,marginalise Farage and forge the myth that “there is no alternative” to the Johnston way. Like all politics its been done before.

Thatcher’s brutal regime with its unashamed anti working class politics, war on the miners, mass unemployment and war was justified by the message “TINA There is no alternative.”

This was bolstered by a purge of party opponents and the work of free market extremists who pioneered the sale of council houses, privatisation and—her ultimate downfall—the Poll Tax.

Fake bumbling persona
Strip away the fake bumbling persona, the Trump-like utterances and the faux Churchillian posing laid on to make easy copy for a willing media to parrot, and the reality is anything but funny.

Put simply Johnson heads a Tory government which is about far more than Brexit but embraces a Neo Thatcherite world view founded on free market economics “freed” from EU rules. In other words a hard line Tory government making the calculation that they can impose a no deal Brexit irrespective of consequences with the willing aid of the right wing media and move swiftly on to next business.

This is a familiar vision that was followed by Thatcher and held power for 18 years on minority vote of the UK electorate thanks to a divided opposition and the corrupt first past the post voting system. Marx may be right that history repeats itself first as tragedy then as farce but in this case the farce is likely to prove devisive and dangerous.

In domestic policy expect soft soap about aid for industry but please note in the latest proposal to spend £2 billion on “no deal preparations” business is listed for £108 million but “public information”—propaganda £138 million.

Repeated re-announcements of new railways, roads and so forth will serve as a smokescreen of concern to cover more of the Tory same as their vision of a “global” bargain basement Britain struggles to be born. Of course at the heart of this vision lies the truth that far from the fake Rule Britannia patriotism and ‘punching above our weight’ the project hinges on an entirely subservient tie up to the Trump White House and all that entails.

That’s why, even under May, the plush red carpet was rolled out, the royal crystal laid on the banqueting table and the guards paraded to honour the racist Trump.

And why else but to open the door to US sub standard food did our new PM—on the step of Downing Street— herald a lifting of bans on GM crops? Anybody told him about Scotland?

Military realities of “special relationship”
However, disgusting as it is, there is much worse than acceptance of chlorinated chicken to be swallowed as a price for trade deals with the current extremist in the White House.

Elsewhere in the Voice, we report on high level US military discussions on the viability of using limited nuclear war in the struggle for political advantage. Published by the US joint Chiefs of Staff then hastily withdrawn this dangerous document lifts the lid on the military realities of the “special relationship”.

Given that the UK naval fleet now totals 19 surface ships—around half the number of ferries run by CalMac—and the Trident sub technology, warheads, guidance etc is rented from the US the pressure to play second fiddle in US wars is likely to be accepted by our patriotic Tories.

However grim as this picture is it is conducted among politicians and policymakers who either ignore the major issues facing us or try to obscure them in cloud of spin.

This is most glaring in the case of the climate crisis which menaces us all and will bring hunger,war and death in its wake if left unchecked.

Declarations of Climate Emergencies will mean little if they are not followed by action which must go beyond laudable but minor plastic bag charges and deposits on bottles.

Revolutionary change
At the recent Voice forum, speakers agreed that taking the climate crisis seriously will involve nothing short of a revolutionary change in our economics, politics, production and social relations.

Most pertinent here is the role of the mass movement around XR set out by Eva Schonveld which has, by mass action, hoisted the issue to top levels of public concern and laid a basis for going beyond protest towards concrete actions for change.

Centrally, as set out by Norwegian activist Asbjorn Wahl at the forum, the working class majority need to be won for climate change action not by calls for hair shirt policies but through what he termed “interest based struggles”.

This approach would use democratic planning to design and build the infrastructure and equipment needed to de-carbonise the economy, provide stable well paid skilled jobs and put the needs of people and planet before profit.

Climate change is the most hideous, dangerous example of the failures of planet trashing capitalism and its loading of the consequences onto the working class both here and in the global south.

It needs to be tackled urgently if its dire consequences are to be avoided and it must be put firmly at the heart of the Left’s campaigning work.

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