Wednesday 24 March 2021

Why Boris Johnson is Teflon

He musses his hair, he fluffs his lines. He presides over a corrupt and ongoing shakedown of government Covid contracts, and is responsible for the mismanagement of a pandemic to have claimed 126,000 lives on his preferred figures. This is Boris Johnson, and none of this, none of this has touched him. Routinely poor performances in the Commons don't have an effect, nor do his innumerable lies. Of all the politicians to have occupied Number 10, none have proved as untouchable as he. How do we explain this? Preternatural good fortune? Magical powers?

Paul Goodman over at Conservative Home, in passing, offers the rudiments of an explanation. And? It's all about the vaccine bounce, apparently. True enough, the Tories have enjoyed an uptick in support but putting it down to this alone is not satisfying. For starters, it's a theory (and a threadbare one at that) doing a lot of heavy lifting. Nor does not explain how Johnson and the Tories have maintained their polling position since the election. In other words, the secrets of Johnson's success resides not in the conjunctural but the underlying features of our politics.

Long-time readers know my opinion about the drivers of Tory support, but let's try putting it another way. Two important factors assisting the Tories' cruise control of the polls are the approach of the opposition to their management of the Coronavirus crisis, and the institutional power of the legacy media. I'm not going to try readers' patience with a rehash of recent criticisms of the Labour leader, but undoubtedly the failure to contest the terms of the government's pandemic strategy has left Keir Starmer with little to say. No wonder the feedback received from the focus groups find them complaining about his "carping criticisms". But it's not all on him.

The broadcast media and the press remain the powers in the land where opinion-forming is concerned, but its strength lies in conditioning and defining the framing by which older people - the core Tory vote - see the world. They disproportionately consume the editorialising of the papers, and naively accept the images and statements served up on television. An essential gullibility, incidentally, that is extended to the internet and social media. If it wasn't true, it wouldn't be allowed goes the refrain I've heard many times before. This is not a case of brainwashing or indoctrination, but a consequence of long-term dependence on a small cluster of establishment-friendly news sources about politics and, well, pretty much everything else. Why switch from what you're habituated to? Likewise, why engage the critical filters when most of their audience already agree with much of the fare pumped out to begin with? This isn't to say the media, and the right wing press, aren't uncritical of the Tories. The Sun last week put out a critical editorial having a go at the Tories for their plans to cut troop numbers. But these criticisms are safe because they come from a friendly place. The despicable but common sight of former soldiers sleeping in shop doorways has never caused the currant bun to deviate from its rasping populism and stanning for Tory politicians.

True, the media reinforce Tory support on a daily basis but this is neither foolproof nor completely totalising. For most of the Major years the press were largely on side, despite their delight in dishing the dirt about cabinet-level infidelities. This did not stop Labour from posting double-digit leads, so what's happening now has to be more involved considering the Brexit and Covid calamities besetting the country. Client journalism can only do so much. What matters are interests and how they are articulated.

The rich tend to support the Tories because the Tories tend to support the rich. The same applies for the bulk of the Tories' electoral coalition. They are seen as the better option for small business people and landlords, from the petty to the large. They protect asset prices and have shielded pensioners from their post crash programme of public sector cuts. Likewise, they're not going to pony up the costs of Brexit nor suffer the economic shock of the pandemic. The Tories don't speak the same language of class as the left does, but to its voters their rhetoric is perfectly clear. What the left have to grasp is how this appeal is both conscious, and reaches deep into the unthought and the unconscious.

As explained here many times, Tory support among the old isn't just about how they're more likely to own property, have index-inked pensions, and depend on some measure of share ownership, but to be old and retired is a qualitatively different social location from that most spent their working lives in. There's no boss, and their time is their own. The consequences of this is greater freedom, which resolves itself in pursuing one's inclinations, be it voluntary work, the bowling green, or sitting down each day with a copy of the Daily Mail and reading it cover to cover. It can also be a privatising and atomising experience with the tendency, in aggregate, for one's social universe to shrink. This constitutes a certain unmooring from responsibilities and with it a narrowing of horizons, but it also comes with a fear. This fear is of the sudden shock, or the slow undermining of their situation. If crisis befalls them, they can't readily re-enter the work force and make good any shortfall. In other words, despite being relatively secure and shielded from the world thanks to Tory commitments to maintaining their income (though not the services they are more likely to depend on), anxiety is baked into their daily bread. And this anxiety sublimates itself into a preference for authoritarian, nationalist, and often times racist politics.

Consider Brexit, for example. While it represented uncertainty and danger for the majority of the working age population, for many of the (mainly older and retired) people who backed it the terms were reversed. Europe was the source of the UK's troubles. It forced Britain to become the melting pot of languages eavesdropped in the supermarket or while wandering around town. It was coddling the country with its absurd regulations, and it meant "we" were no longer in charge of these islands. For them, Brexit was a leap from uncertainty into certainty, of a rejuvenated Britain who could build afresh and ensure everyone had and knew their place. For a substantial proportion of these voters, it promised turning the clock back to a whiter and, for them, a more certain time where one could be unapologetically British and not mind their Ps and Qs on matters of race and ethnicity, on sexism and homophobia. This was where their structurally induced angst led them, and Brexit's "successful" resolution has meant Boris Johnson made good his vow to get Brexit done was fulfilled.

And this, ultimately, is why Johnson is impervious to the political consequences of Covid-19. From his declartion of intentions in the 2019 leadership contest and ever since, he consistently appeared to subordinate everything to Brexit and ostentatiously demonstrated his seriousness by splitting his own parliamentary party, flirt with breaking the law, running on this at an election and securing the UK's exit. The people who supported Johnson know he's incompetent, an idler, and a knave. They don't care about the he-said she-said of Westminster, breaking manifesto promises, crapping on the poor and, sad to say, his responsibility for Covid's terrifying death toll. They identified Brexit with their interests, he proved himself by sorting it out to their satisfaction, and are happy to carry on backing him.

And he's delivered another promise. Who cares about the billions frittered away on procurement and test and trace? Johnson has always said the vaccines are the way out of the crisis, the the NHS's speedy roll out of the jabs are, again, proof positive of his seriousness. Experience is worth a tonne of theory, noted a grey beard in a very different context, and Johnson has, for them, delivered big on two occasions. As he talks about levelling up Britain, why would his solid bloc of 40% or so of confirmed voters doubt him? This is why "exposures" and gotchas, forensic scrutiny and point scoring, nor angry denunciation, name-calling, and lecturing Tory supporters are not going to work in and of themselves. The only strategy that can work, and 2017 showed the potential of, is building an opposition large enough to outflank, go around, and overwhelm what Johnson can put together. Criticise Johnson by all means - there's plenty of that here, for instance. But do not be puzzled, nor disheartened by the failure of them and his utterly ruinous record to connect with the millions who back him.


Manek Dubash said...

Fine, up to a point.

But as a retired individual who has never and could not ever contemplate voting Tory, let alone for this shower of conniving, trough-swilling incompetents led by the country's biggest inept, cockwomble of a liar, the security of an index-linked state pension does not even begin to tempt me to vote for them, ever.

So there has to be more to it than that.

Anonymous said...

"The only strategy that can work, and 2017 showed the potential of, is building an opposition large enough to outflank, go around, and overwhelm what Johnson can put together"

But surely in order to build an opposition capable of doing these things, one has to establish a critique of the Tories' policies since they took power (and, I would argue, of the Labout government which lost power most recently, but that's beside the point in a sense). Such a critique must appeal to a majority of the population in a way which overrides any visceral support they may feel for the Tories. I don't see how that can be done without challenging Tory lies, bad Tory policies, and ultimately, the slipshod intellectual bases within which those lies and bad policies function. But also it can't be done without changing the minds of a lot of people who currently vote Tory.

I may be misreading you, but I feel that in your eagerness to point out that not liking the Tories and being outraged by their leaders is not enough, you are failing to see that in the end such dislike and outrage can be created provided that your arguments are sound enough and are in some way related to a solid political campaign. In other words, I think that you are both underestimating the problem by thinking that it can be done relatively easily, and overestimating the problem by suggesting that in the case of people who vote Tory, it can't be done at all.

Phil said...

Just so there's no avoidance of doubt Manek, we're not talking about all retired people here - just *most* retired people. If there were no stark age splits in voting behaviour and political values this, hundreds of posts on here, and my book would never be written. But there is, and somewhere in the region of two thirds plus of over 65s vote Tory or other, minor right wing parties. Understanding why this is and what the left have to do about it is the inescapable political challenge of the moment.

Phil said...

Anonymous, the point about outrage and critique not being enough in themselves is aimed more at the centrist types and soft leftists who might come across this piece. Of course cultivating criticisms and disgust has to be part of the left project and, as we saw in 2017 and in 2019, it was this visceral hate that held so much of the coalition together. But the question is how can that make inroads into the Tories' support. I'd suggest talking explicitly about interests and offering a prospectus couched in these terms aimed at older people, rather than appealing to their better natures with worthy but ultimately moralistic paeans to the NHS might be a good start. Thinking about how to make them scared of the Tories, thinking about how to use the angst underpinning their social location is also a good point of departure.

Playwright said...

As a 70 something who has never voted Tory in my life and will not now be voting Labour until we have a Labour leader worthy of the name, I suggest the problem with older generation Tories is their lack of vulnerability. They have their home[s], their pension pots and their working lives are over, so how can any non-Tory attract their vote? They don't need anything, so are happy to vote for the party that has looked after their interests all their lives. The NHS probably does not matter to them as they probably have insurance. The climate crisis may or may not have impinged on their consciousness, but if they have children or grandchildren who are actively concerned about the future of the planet, maybe they are the ones who can change their grandparents' opinions? My brother is a Tory who asked his kids how he should vote in the Brexit debacle and he voted Remain for their sakes.

Dave Taylor said...

How do you see the age distribution of Covid deaths play into this? One might imagine that loosing a virus on us that predominantly kills those in the group under discussion might cause some anxiety. Does that anxiety turn in on itself and manifest as increased support for the political source of that anxiety? i.e. Can Johnson's government literally kill their base, and see the solidity of their base's support rise in consequence?

Leo Nasskau said...

I agree that the next big test is levelling up for the Conservative vote is levelling up - particularly for those who stand to benefit from it.
What happens if the Conservative's don't succeed in this? We've seen the levelling-up fund get directed to wealthy Tory seats and only token gestures in relocating government offices. You seem to imply that only genuine success will be enough (similar to how actually securing Brexit and actually running vaccines well was necessary). But the failures to date in levelling-up again don't seem to stick.

Is it because attention is on Covid? Is it because levelling-up policies are working - by moving money to Tory seats? Or, is it because this theory is wrong, and that voters are not paying attention to what actually happens, and will believe levelling-up has been a success if they read it in the press?

McIntosh said...

Those voting Tory now might or must have voted Labour in the 1964 and 66 elections, and in 1974. They were young then and may even have participated in the 'swinging 60s' or in alternative lifestyles in the 70s.
So, how and when does the change take place. How do they move from Labour voting to Tories?

kesphelps said...

Author never said all older people. Just a lot of them

A. Pessimist said...

I’m a property-owning, pension-receiving, comfortable “baby boomer” Phil, but without the Daily Mail habit, as you describe it. Indeed, I have belatedly realised that for me, The Guardian is way too right wing.

I tried to do my (small) bit for the Corbyn-led Labour Party and retreated massively bruised by the eventual outcome, much, much wiser as to what and who’s interests control our “democracy”, and the underlying reactionary nature of many of my friend’s and acquaintance’s views.

Not the least of my bruising was from the betrayal of previously respected politicians, journalists and media (see “The Guardian” above).

It’s not that my contemporaries felt threatened by the 2017 and 2019 manifestos, they didn’t know what was in them, they just believed the poison they were fed, and willingly lapped it up.

Even when they (we!) are all dead, the forces that manipulated them will manipulate the next demographic cohort, and the next.
Until, somehow, these forces are weakened, things will only get worse, as we are seeing every day.

Your premise that the Tories voter base will fade away seems hopelessly optimistic. The Tories are consummate shape shifters, and in control and consolidating that control.

I’m afraid that we have to wait for the likes of Johnson, his successors, and their backers to create sufficient actual disaster to catalyse change, and it will be painful. I hate to say it, but hopefully not in my lifetime.

Unknown said...

Labour voters die of at a greater rate than tory ones...

Unknown said...

Appreciate that Kesphelps. But a lot of them must have voted Labour in the 60s and 70s, and some of them must be poorer pensioners today without meaningful asssets eg in some of the North East eg on Teeside, and North West constituencies eg Barrow, Whitehaven, Workington and they now find the Tory Party a respectable choice. It is, to them, a rational choice now when it wasn't in the past.
What makes it rational and respectable. You hear them say, 'I never thought I would vote Tory but . .. . '

Phil said...

The problem for the Conservatives is Tory voters are not reproducing themselves, whereas Labour ones are. The conservatising effects of age are being dissolved by the very politics that keep the present coalition of Tory voters onside.

Mcintosh said...

But what if the idea that the Tories will decline as their core voters die isn't fully correct. What if enough of those who those who voted Labour in their youth and middle age change their voting habits in old age in the future.
Perhaps their ( our/mine) mental structures alter as they leave the politico-economic production process and the different rhythms of life turn them away from collaboration and equality to passivity and a different set of values, desires and imaginings which systematically contrasts with those of the non-elderly and are better met by Tory rhetoric and symbolism?

Boffy said...

The majority of Tory voters today were not Labour voters in the 60's and 70's. That is a myth. The majority were Tory voters then too, or worse. For Brexit, and in 2019, they were joined by the reactionaries who often in the past voted BNP, NF or else usually do not vote.

If the majority of Tories today voted Labour in the past, then we would not have had Tory governments from 1951-64, 70-74, or 79-97. Nor would we have Labour governments when they were elected in the 60's and 70's, having such small majorities requiring alliances with Liberals and Nationalists to stay in office.

Phil said...

This, of course, is a possibility. The two drivers of Tory support now are the experience of retirement, and property acquisition. The problem the Tories have is they're blocking property acquisition among younger people. Some will never be able to afford their own place, and others are going to have to wait for later in the life course until they inherit from their parents. Neither are helpful for the acquisition of conservative politics.

The second is the boomers were never left wing in the same way the millennials and zoomers are. Look back at polling in the 80s. Despite churning out era-defining youth movements, left politics were the purview of few. Young people and younger workers, on the whole, were more likely to back Thatcher than Labour. And so for the present generation of the retired, it's not like many of them are betraying their past. Meanwhile, as there are majorities for Labour among the under 55s there is little to suggest this is going to erode if the present polarising and polarised political economy continues.

The irony is the best opportunity the Tories had to jumpstart property acquisition and the conservatising effects of age again was with a Jeremy Corbyn government. Ho hum.

Blissex said...

«So, how and when does the change take place. How do they move from Labour voting to Tories?»

Tony Blair described it very well already in 1987 (more than 30 years ago), my usual quote:
«I was canvassing in the Midlands on an ordinary suburban estate. I met a man polishing his Ford Sierra, self-employed electrician, Dad always voted Labour. He used to vote Labour, he said, but he bought his own home, he had set up his own business, he was doing quite nicely, so he said I’ve become a Tory.»

The tories also have their own similar observation, another of my usual quotes:
«There were even prophetic council house sales by local Tories in the drive to create voters with a Conservative political mentality. As a Tory councillor in Leeds defiantly told Labour opponents in 1926, ‘it is a good thing for people to buy their own houses. They turn Tory directly. We shall go on making Tories and you will be wiped out.’ There is much of the Party history of the twentieth century in that remark.»

Blissex said...

«This was where their structurally induced angst led them, and Brexit's "successful" resolution has meant Boris Johnson made good his vow to get Brexit done was fulfilled. And this, ultimately, is why Johnson is impervious to the political consequences of Covid-19. From his declartion of intentions in the 2019 leadership contest and ever since, he consistently appeared to subordinate everything to Brexit»

While *obviously* I agree with our blogger that there are major reasons of interest and secondary reasons of psychology and socialization for voting Conservative, this putting the survival of B Johnson on brexit seems overdone to the point of being ridiculous.

The destiny of B Johnson is in the first instance in the hands of the 1922 Comittee, and they know very well that he is a complete creep, but also that he will do whatever it takes to *win referendums and elections*. That's the entire point of having him as PM. As to that it is not brexit any more that makes them confident that he can win again but mostly:

* Voters are conservative: they won't dump a government unless it fails on their "vote-moving" issue. Which is not brexit by and large any more, but continues to be for most their incomes and their (imaginary) safety/security. That is why B Johnson has not been dumped yet.

* So far the government has done pretty well for Conservative voters. For other voters and most non-voters it may be beastly but most tories are sitting pretty. B Johnson will make sure that continues and that is dhy he won't be dumped soon.

Blissex said...

«The problem the Tories have is they're blocking property acquisition among younger people.»

Our good blogger and his book sometimes fail to make a distinction between the Conservative and Unionist Party and "tories"/"whigs". The ruling class of course loves the Conservative Party, but it is ultimately not such a such a big deal, as long as all major parties have reliably thatcherite leaders and

«The irony is the best opportunity the Tories had to jumpstart property acquisition and the conservatising effects of age again was with a Jeremy Corbyn government.»

That “property acquisition” is what gives a tory mentality is not something I quite agree with: the primary effect is not given by property, but by its giving huge fast tax-free work-free capital gains. That is "extractive redistribution".
A J Corbyn government could only have had the potential effect of widening property acquisition by first stopping and then lowering southern property price rises, for example by ending the concentration of job creation in the south and then redistributing some existing jobs outside the south. That would have actually *reduced* property acquisition because nobody wants to buy property with falling prices and not many would bother borrowing a lot to buy assets with merely stagnant prices.

The real long term weakness of the right is that "extractive redistribution" can only work if a small minority extracts from a larger majority, and the whole tory+whig strategy, both economic and political, of the past 30-40 years has been based on the conceit that the 60-70% of voters who own property can extractively redistributed to themselves massive living standard increases from the poorer 30-40% of the voters who don't.

That can work for 15-20 years, but after that the amount of debt (and immigration) necessary to bridge the gap between what the lower 30-40% can pay to keep the upper 60-70% in the style they have entitled themselves to become just too large, and there are consequences like 2008-2009 and 2016. After that the "magic circle of prosperity" has to shrink, and extractive redistribution benefits an ever smaller number of voters.

And there is the political opportunity for social-democrats: the many disgruntled property owners who are not profiting from extractive redistribution, mostly in "the north" (of Watford).

Boffy said...

The irony of the Tories lockout strategy is that it is going to cause a sharp rise in interest rates, because of all the massive borrowing by the state, households and businesses, at the same time that the source of new money-capital (profits) as well as the ability to mobilise other savings has been decimated.

Indeed, a look at the four fold rise in US 10 year Yields, and 9 fold rise in UK 10 Year Yields since last Aug. illustrates its already happening. When lockouts ease and consumers start to borrow and spend, and business borrow to invest, and governments borrow even more to bail out core industries, interest rates will rise even more sharply. Central banks fighting the last battle will print more money tokens, causing inflation to rip roar even faster. Global primary product prices are already up by more than 50% since last year sue to all of the QE. And, that increased cost of productive-capital means businesses will have to borrow even more to invest.

Those higher rates are going to crash asset prices, including all of those properties of the elderly Tories. We will then test the thesis that its these prices that makes them Tories, and see if they all become ardent Labourites. At the same time, as house prices crash in real and nominal terms, and young people again become able to buy them, we will test whether that means they all become ardent Tories. I doubt it.

TowerBridge said...

Boffy, could you kindly give a time scale as to the economic crash you see. Then, it can be tested and we can say whether, in 6 months' time, you were right. If you were good, if you were not, we can re-evaluate as to why. So far, you are predicting an interest rate increase and a housing crash. That's fine, and courageous, if you give a scope. Also then, please tell us by how much interest rates will rise and by how much house prices will fall.

TowerBridge said...

In relation to the subject in hand, thanks Phil for offering something in the way of ideas as to how we dislodge the Tories. Zoltan was making a similar request in a previous piece's comment section.

The way you suggest is by tapping into that said same fear that motivates these people to vote Tory.
Perhaps reminding them of how many people the Tories have killed would be a start? How about each labour MP wears a blue ribbon or something representing 10,000 people? Every time they were interviewed, I suppose, it would appear. So fear of own death and illness due to underfunding is one strategy, underfunding the police mught be another. What else? It needs to be something tangible, like, your house is in danger because of flooding ...look I don't know. That much is clear, but I'm trying to put flesh on the bones of what is otherwise an abstract strategy. I fear much of the thinking left occupies this space and doesn't move out of it.

Boffy said...

@Towerbridge. No its not possible to predict when a financial crash will occur. I I could accurately do that, I would already be a multimillionaire. As Keynes, who was a successful speculator as well prominent economist once said, "Markets can remain irrational for much longer than anyone can remain solvent." Moreover, today, as the last 20 years, and last ten years have shown in particular, there seems no end to the extent to which states and central banks are prepared to destroy the real economy in order to continually reflate asset prices or halt their fall.

Movements in financial markets are not governed by the same rules that govern the economy, and so its actually easier to assess what should, and so probably will happen with the economy than it is to say what will happen to asset prices, particularly in the short to medium term.

In certain conditions, its possible to see things in financial markets, and say with a high degree of probability that something is going to happen. For example, in 2008 I predicted, including the scale of the crisis "Biblical proportions" quoting Ghostbusters, the crash that occurred just a few weeks later, and set out the spark for it.

Its possible to use Marx's analysis to uncover what should happen with the real economy, and its possible from there to analyse what should happen with things like interest rates - real interest rates not yields - and we know the effect of rising interest rates on asset prices - they cause them to fall due to capitalisation.

We can also look at the prices of assets, as against their long-term average, in respect of house prices, and say that they are about 3-4 times that LTA, so that reversion to mean implies either a longer period below the average or else a sharp fall below the average, or combination, which might include fall in real terms against inflation/wages.

The economic facts are fairly easy to see. Profits (supply of new money-capital) decimated, borrowing astronomical. Rate of profit still high, when economy functions. Likelihood of sharp rise in demand when economy opens - already seen in China and elsewhere - meaning competition drives firms to accumulate, requiring more capital/borrowing. Interest rates rise.

So, there is the mechanism. How it plays out only time will show,

Boffy said...

@Towerbridge. Just to make another point. The prediction of rising interest rates, and falling asset prices is also not a prediction as such, but simply doing what Marx himself does, which is to take existing reality and events, and extrapolate.

So, interest rates have already risen, and are continuing to rise. Its disguised by things like the government backed loans that banks have been encouraged to give, but its showing up even in the heavily manipulated bond markets. US 10 Year Yields up 4 fold since August, mostly in the last few weeks, UK 10 Year Yields up 9 fold, in the same period, meaning as Ray Dalio has said, we are in a bond bear market, i.e. prices down by more than 20%.

US mortgage rates have risen, causing a sharp contraction in US mortgage financing. And, as I wrote recently, inflation is rising sharply, which will put pressure on rates. Primary product prices are up by more than 50%, in the UK price indices adjusted for spending patterns modified by the lockdown also shows sharp price rises.

See: The Search For Yield Myth.

According to Bloomberg,

“Food prices are soaring faster than inflation and incomes”.

In the UK, according to an index compiled for the BBC, they have risen by 8.3% since January, while meat and fish are up by 22.3%. There is a global semi-conductor shortage, and the price of rhodium and palladium has risen to an extent that thefts of catalytic converters is on the rise again, with a Twitter account devoted entirely to CCTV footage of such thefts!

In the past, the inflation of asset prices always precedes a crash, which also sees authorities try to respond by printing even more money that causes inflation to spike, which causes them to have to then take drastic action to curtail it. This time will not be different.

Boffy said...

If you want to see how rises in interest rates, or tightening of credit can have significant impacts very quickly, look at what has happened in the last few days as a result of banks - probably Goldman - making a margin call against Archegos Capital Management - this comes after the collapse of Greensill, of course, and its effect on Liberty Steet etc. The margin call against Archegos resulted in a firesale of its stocks - this is similar to the situation I described in 2008, when I noticed a big sell off in oil futures by banks scrambling to get cash, as a first sign that something very big was happening.

The result was an up to 27% fall in those stocks, including Baidu, Tencent, ViacomCBS, and Discovery. There was no change in the fortunes of these companies - just as in 2008 the fundamentals for oil hadn't changed to cause the oil price to fall sharply - it was all simply down to massive selling to raise cash. Reminiscent of 2008, Goldman probably protected itself by making the margin call, whilst other bans that have loaned to Archegos, such as Credit Suisse and Nomura have also seen their share price fall by around 16%, as they may face huge losses if their loans don't get repaid.

Not yet, 2008, but remember it was rising interest rates in 2007/8 as the new global long wave uptrend that started in 1999, began to increase demand for capital, and rising inflation and employment meant wages were rising pressuring profits that sparked the collapse in asset prices that states have been trying to reflate ever since via QE and austerity.

Financial markets are determined in the short term by subjective feelings of speculators, whereas economic and commodity markets are determined by objective conditions and laws. But, ultimately, the latter impose themselves on the former too. No Ponzi Scheme lasts forever, and the longer it continues the bigger the crash when it happens. In which case, given that financial asset prices have been inflated about 2-3 times to what they were even prior to the 2008 crash, and now yields on bonds are in many cases negative, as a result of all the QE, and asset purchases by central banks, all I will say is watch out below!

Kamo said...

There's a lot of waffle around 'Culture Wars', this being what the 'other side' engages in, but obviously not the side we're on (whatever side that is), the 'other side' obvioulsy being 'ideologically driven'.

The Conservatives are quietly reaping the benefits of popular, latent, and often rational suspicion of the 'woke agenda' (change to preferred euphemism as desired). One of the biggest mistakes a commentator can make is to judge the popular mood by the personal salience an issue has for them. Lots of people try to make a professional living telling the British people how racist/homophobic/Islamaphobic/bigoted/etc they are, but it's a tough market as even where true the claims are often subject to flaws, contradictions and questionable reasoning. Younger people buy this stuff more easily, for them it is modish, but as they get older and learn more of the wider world, they start to see those glaring contradictions, and the commercial motivations of the people selling the claims become clearer.

As for BoJo he's a charlatan, but everybody knows that, so proving over and over is going nowhere. By contrast, the danger of anyone taking a self-righteous tone is getting called out on their own dubious motives.