Saturday, 19 March 2022

Bloviating in Blackpool

Boris Johnson was probably right about two things in his address to the Tory party at their Spring Conference in Blackpool. If Vladimir Putin prevails in Ukraine, that might well embolden him to make demands of his neighbours. And autocrats and dictators everywhere will take heart at an authoritarian snuffing out a weak and not untroubled liberal democracy. He went on to criticise those in Western governments who, in the name of real politik, seek to make accommodations with tyrannies. Statesman, if one was being thorough, that would include ... Boris Johnson, and his humiliating cap in hand approach to the Saudis and UAE just this week. Accustomed to tame coverage of his speeches, perhaps the Prime Minister thought no one would notice.

After praising the tough, freedom-loving people of Ukraine, Johnson's speech segued into a clumsy comparison with the British. The vote to leave the European Union was a blow struck for freedom. Likewise, 90% of Britons queued up for their booster jabs to throw off the restrictions that weighed heavy on their everyday lives. Sticking with the freedom theme, he criticised Putin for "pushing hydrocarbons on the West" to increase dependency, again forgetting the alacrity with which the Tories grab oil money. Putin is also named and shamed for punishing us by driving up the cost of living - a trend well in train before the cruise missiles found their Ukrainian targets. This set the scene for the big announcement, and one that no doubt played like a pleasing tune in the ears of Tory-adjacent oil executives: a British energy security plan with domestic hydrocarbons part of an otherwise green mix. Nigel Farage may well have won after barely starting.

At this point, Johnson's congenital boosterism overcame the tissue-thin restraints in place. He invoked images of international investors queuing up to build the country's green infrastructure, attracted by the barely discernible levelling up wheeze and, he said, replacing the coppers the Tories had spent the previous decade cutting and tackling ... county lines drugs gangs. He followed this up with 10 minutes of bumbling that Tory members chuckled their way through. Why this act hasn't grown tired by now beats me.

Remembering the Labour Party exists, he banged the tried and trusted you-can't-trust-those-lefties-with-defence drum, noting eight shadow cabinet member were against Trident replacement. "Can they be relied on to stand up to Russia?" Johnson asked his audience. Which is funny considering how tardy the Tories have been sanctioning their bourgeois counterparts, and the news this evening that on the day of Putin's invasion itself Johnson was hobnobbing with a cash rich Russian donor.

All told, the usual puff from Johnson then. Nothing new under the sun, and surely the same lines will dutifully appear in The Sun as they have many times before. Already acting as if the Met inquiry and PartyGate fall out is behind him, he knows he has to play up to the opportunities of the moment. And as distasteful as liberal Johnson watchers have found it, linking the freedoms of a nation struggling to throw off an invasion with Brexit is exactly the kind of bulldog flattery swathes of the Johnson base lap up. He's seen the partial Tory recovery in the polls, and thinks reminding those Tory voters who've moved from the Conservative into the Don't Know column can be wooed back by playing to what they see as his strengths. It could work.

Image Credit


Jim Denham said...

This was Johnson at his most shameless and outrageous. Apart from the grotesque comparison between people dying in their thousands to defend real national self determination, with a pathetic referendum, based upon trivial and largely imagined grievances against "bureaucracy" ... the Charlatan conveniently ignores the fact thyat the people of Ukraine are fighting for the right to *join* the EU ...

Jim Denham said...

One further point: what exactly do you mean, Phil, by "*liberal* Johnson watchers" finding this "distasteful"? Do you mean finding these comments "distasteful" is the mark of a "liberal"? Only "liberals" would find it "distasteful" ... or what?

Blissex said...

«between people dying in their thousands to defend real national self determination»

But he never mentioned the "terrorists" of the Donbas, and why would he? "Terrorists" have no right to national self determination, "objectively".
“3,393 civilians killed (349 in 2016–2021)
13,100–13,300 killed; 29,500–33,500 wounded overall
414,798 Ukrainians internally displaced; 925,500 fled abroad”
“Zelensky extends sanctions against Donbas terrorists”
“Ukrainian courts refer to Article 1 of the law “On combating terrorism” classifying both “LNR” and “DNR” as terrorist organizations.”