16th June 2019
It’s no joke – a Johnson premiership is possible
Anti-working class, misogynist, racist, homophobes seem to be the order of the day for what passes for leaders of the so-called free world at present. Donald Trump is the exemplar of course, with a sprinkling of European demagogues close behind. However, the Tory Party election for a new leader in the UK sees failed Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, coming up on the rails.
Laughingly described, largely by themselves, as the world’s most sophisticated electorate the Tories are engaged in a process of sucking themselves and the UK into a vortex, the outcome of which is likely to see Boris Johnson with the keys to 10, Downing Street.
The media insist that this process is driven by fear of Nigel Farage, as many Tories are scared of losing their seats to the Brexit Party at a general election if they do not elect an openly pro Brexit leader. Johnson is also seen by many Tories as the only candidate with sufficient ‘personality’ to oppose the people’s stockbroker.
This is course plays into the media’s hands. The UK press have for many years insisted on reducing the political process to a personality contest, it makes for easy confrontational headlines. The BBC has for some time also been complicit in this delusion. Having been a cheerleader for Farage for some time the state broadcaster would like nothing better than a Farage vs Johnson heavyweight Brexit bout. Pay per view watch out!
Back in the real world there is only one thing that all eleven Tory candidates, now down to six at the time of writing, have in common. That is their antipathy towards, and fear of losing a general election to, Jeremy Corbyn. The Labour leader has studiously avoided the politics of personality throughout his political career and is showing no signs of wavering from the politics of principle which have characterised his political judgements.
The fear of the Tory candidates is not about Corbyn’s public image, it is about the substance of his policy positions and the manifesto commitments likely to form the basis of a Labour General Election platform.
Tackling austerity by reinvesting in public services, nationalising the rail network, building much needed Council housing, increasing rates of corporation tax, creating jobs for young people, tackling the military budget, squeezing the corporate tax dodgers who leech on the economy; these are the sorts of policies that make every Tory candidate afraid. These are the sorts of policies which won Labour the Peterborough by-election, seeing off the challenge of the Brexit Party and reducing the Tories to a feeble third place, following their derisory fifth place finish in the European elections.
Whoever wins the Tory leadership race will become Prime Minister. A new Prime Minister does not however change the existing arithmetic in Parliament without having a general election, the very thing they all wish to avoid, for fear of a Labour victory.
As a consequence, the bluster about renegotiating the EU withdrawal deal, which the EU insist is not up for renegotiation, has in one form or another been in all candidate pitches. Johnson insists up front that preparation for no deal is necessary, both as a negotiating position and in order to be ready for the potential reality.
Johnson’s stance relies upon the EU shifting its position massively or the UK Parliament allowing a no deal option to be on the table. Neither look likely at the moment.
It has been the case for some time now that the only way out of the political deadlock facing the UK is a real people’s vote, in the form of a general election. For all of the bluster, the Tory leadership race may turn out to be a prelude to just that. Boris Johnson’s grip on the keys to No.10 may not be very firm after all.