Tuesday 5 July 2022

Ambition Over Integrity

It's possible, but by no means certain, that Boris Johnson's premiership has entered the end game. But even now, with the resignations of Sajid Javid and Rishi Sunak hot in the Prime Minister's in-tray, he can't stop lying to the party faithful. Beset by some unexpected nibbles in the Johnson flank from the resigning junior and bag carrying ranks, it's reported that he's promised 80 or so loyalists that a bonfire of tax can now commence with cuts galore to come. People with memories may recall how Johnson had long briefed to the press that "levelling up" wasn't working because Dishy Rishi kept kiboshing Johnson's schemes. Not only does Johnson lie as easily as he breathes, he treats his loyalists as credulous fools too.

The problem with writing while events are unfolding is the danger of immediate irrelevance. With two senior cabinet members gone, politics turns upon the decisions of those who haven't declared their loyalties. As this post has gestated, the normally loyal Nadhim Zahawi entered Downing Street. Would he pick up Sunak's mantle at the Treasury, or find a spine and tell Johnson it's time to pack up? If the tittle tattle was to be believed, there was a barney as he demanded the chancellor's job while Johnson was minded to give that to Liz Truss. In the end, Zahawi prevailed - suggesting Johnson isn't as invulnerable as, even now, it is supposed. He moves to Number 11, sans the heated stables for his nags, while Michelle Donelan gets to inflict on schools the misery she's forced on universities. The fate of high politics determined by low ambition, it was forever thus.

Instead of committing to predictions likely to unravel within minutes, what do the two big beast resignation letters have to say? Like all the notes published this evening, it rattles off the Tories' success in raising tractor production before coming to the rub. In Javid's case, he says the Tories are no longer seen as sensible decision-makers guided by values. The no confidence vote was supposed to be a moment of "humility" and "new direction", but what the party got instead was the same old, stale old Johnson shtick. Though he thanks the Prime Minister for seeing off the dastardly Jeremy Corbyn.

Sunak's resignation was a bit more on the nose. Opining with the challenges the country face, he makes a play about standards in public life - forgetting his own recent brush with the law. Sunak lays out his record of obsequious loyalty after he said government was not "conducted properly, competently, and seriously." He goes on to say this might be his last ministerial job, before reminding the reader - and the voter in an upcoming Tory party leadership contest - that he's keen into "low taxes" and "tough decisions". Ideological catnip for a party faithful begrudgingly accepting of the "socialism" under Johnson's watch.

In reality, in a cabinet not overly blessed with talent Javid and Sunak, who have a bit more about them than the rest of their erstwhile colleagues, can see the Johnson moment is coming to a close. The question is not a matter of if and when, but how much damage Johnson can inflict and who will pay the price of eternal irrelevance on the backbenches with Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nadine Dorries. If there was a decent bone in either men's bodies, they wouldn't have presided over tens of thousands of unnecessary Covid deaths, the miseries of an NHS being run into the ground, and trying to clamp down on people's hopes and aspirations that have been opened up over the last five or six years. They want to emerge from the carnage of the Johnson government as future players, if not leaders. As Sunak said, he was loyal and he pushed Johnson, bigged him up, supported him. Until he became inconvenient to his ambition. Neither Sunak or Javid deserve plaudits or pats on the back for "being brave". They are as culpable as Johnson for the present mess. If this was a truly just world, the only thing they would be entitled to expect is contempt.

Image Credit


David Lindsay said...

Right now, there are some very posh 16-year-olds who have just finished their GCSEs, and who are thinking of going into politics. They are therefore making coffee and such like in the offices of Conservative MPs who are their relatives, or who went to their schools, or what have you. They are in that building tonight, and they are going to be there all night. Whatever does not kill you makes you stronger.

Would you believe Boris Johnson if he told you that he was lying? One by one, the Cabinet trooped in and told Margaret Thatcher that it was time to go. They respected her enough to do it to her face. There is no such respect for Johnson. Instead, they are sending letters and then tweeting them, presumably before the hard copies could possibly have arrived on Johnson's desk. They despise him this much.

In the midst of the cost of living crisis, we now have a Chancellor of the Exchequer who claimed parliamentary expenses to heat his stables. An emergency Budget of tax cuts would at best be useless to the 42 per cent of adults whose incomes did not reach the income tax threshold. No, not "before benefits". Those are taxable income. Two in five adults have gross incomes, from all sources, of less of than one thousand pounds per month. If that does not sound like the Britain that you know, then you need to get out more. You might start by visiting a key marginal constituency here along the Red Wall.

Meanwhile, Keir Starmer has accepted a fixed penalty notice, but has decided that he will resign only if Boris Johnson did. That was not what Starmer said before. Johnson has little with which to work at this week's Prime Minister Questions, but under parliamentary privilege, he does at least have this.

PurplePete said...

"Nadhim Zahawi: a self-made, solid minister in rapid ascent" The Guardian.

This self-made man went to a school that charged £8K a term. I suppose for The Guardian that's working class!

Old Trot said...

David Lindsey - I don't think it is yet official that Starmer (and Raynor) have actually been issued with Beergate fixed penalties - despite the Skawkbox et al claims to that effect. Jumping the gun a bit there. Though, like you, I doubt the serial liar, Starmer WOULD actually resign.

So the Johnson regime is in freefall , BUT, unless Johnson pulls a ' bringing down the temple' stunt and calls a General election, the Tories still have that massive majority - and probably still a working voting majority in the House, to push through yet more tax-cutting, poor-bashing, NHS privatising, legislation - that all the Tory factions can agree with. The ever-flexible Tory Party may yet manage to dump Johnson, acquire a less toxic Leader and PM, and sail on down the neoliberal path to social catastrophe for the many - and ever-greater enrichment for the few.

And NuLabour2, under either Starmer or another gormless careerist neoliberal class collaborator, is still going to have no real policy differences with the Tories to either attack the Tories effectively , Or to win a snap General Election. In fact, a snap General Election would mean the so-far amazingly sympathetic, or at least tolerant, to Starmer and NuLabour Tory-supporting MSM would really take the gloves off - and NuLabour 2 would be destroyed by a deluge of poisonous media coverage. Nulabour2 would be electorally destroyed on just these Labour toxic policy areas alone: 1. Labour's inability to even define what a 'woman' is , never mind defend female sex-based rights. 2. the Labour Left to Right wings, easily exposed desire to rejoin the EU single Market, Customs Union, AND the implicit re-adoption of unlimited freedom of movement, ie, unlimited labour supply , 3. Labour's economically ignorant obsession with 'balanced budgets' , requiring they would carry out a continuing programme of local government budget and health service budget and benefits level austerity. 4. NuLabour2 have no intention of renationalising any of the services that gave our 2017 Manifesto such voter winning power, eg, the railways, the entire NHS, energy and water . They have got NOTHING , but empty slogans, to offer . UK politics has indeed entered a grim, dark era , a mere 'facade democracy' - from which a European-style radical pseudo anti-elite, style mass Far Right Party can only emerge eventually to fill the yawning gap for at least a nominally anti status quo electoral 'offer' for the ever-more impoverished and hopeless mass of our citizens.

Blissex said...

«They despise him this much.»

B. Johnson has not changed a bit since he was Foreign Office Secretary and since he won the leadership election, so it is not a question of personalities, it is just opportunism.

«Two in five adults have gross incomes, from all sources, of less of than one thousand pounds per month.»

"Losers" don't matter to Middle England, and all parties only represent Middle England interests.

«If that does not sound like the Britain that you know»

That is the case of "Middle England" voters, include the "progressive" ones who read "The Guardian" and love how Starmer is "prime ministerial" and "anti-communist".

«Meanwhile, Keir Starmer has accepted a fixed penalty notice, but has decided that he will resign only if Boris Johnson did.»

It is clear that these primary issues are far more important than a mere 9% of GDP trade deficit (which is probably the real reason why T. Dunak and S, Javid have resigned, the Chancellor is well briefed by his advisors and surely understands the consequences, and S. Javid most likely understands them too, especially for the NHS).

Jim Denham said...

"Meanwhile, Keir Starmer has accepted a fixed penalty notice, but has decided that he will resign only if Boris Johnson did": David, what is your source for this very important story? How is it that the bourgeois media has so far failed to pick this up?

Blissex said...

«This self-made man went to a school that charged £8K a term. I suppose for The Guardian that's working class!»

Maybe he got in on a studentship for token "losers", and made good on it. But then I reminded of this wonderful details:

«A No10 aide admits that Brown does not have the natural empathy with the middle classes that Blair did. "The moment Tony sent his son to the Oratory those voters thought - 'he gets it'," he says.»

Compare with:

«Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn has admitted that he divorced his wife of 12 years – because she refused to send their son to a failing comprehensive school. Mr Corbyn [...] admitted that he felt 'very strongly about comprehensive education' and could not agree to send his son to a grammar.»

JN said...

"In 2015, he joined Gulf Keystone Petroleum, an oil and gas exploration and production company, as a part-time chief strategy officer.[11] From 2015 to 2018, he was paid £1.3 million by the company."

How is that not a massive conflict of interests and blatant corruption? But of course, it's not unusual just a particularly glaring example.

Anonymous said...

Johnson didn't bring that up at PMQs - how strange.

Jim Denham said...

Breaking news:

Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner will not be fined over beergate, Durham police announced.

No apology or correction yet published by 'Skwawkbox'.

David Parry said...

Old Trot,

Your transphobic hobbyhorses are not shared by most of the electorate, certainly not to the point where they decide a general election.