28th September 2019
Boris Johnson – guilty as charged
The past week has been dominated by the judgement of the Supreme Court that the proroguing of Parliament by Boris Johnson was not legal. In effect the proroguing was pronounced null and void and Parliament resumed sitting on Wednesday. The furore was fuelled further by the debate in the House of Commons on Wednesday night when, following a statement by Johnson in which he expressed disagreement with the Supreme Court outcome, he went on to make a series of provocative statements in support of his stated position to leave the EU by 31st October.
In a remarkable outburst Johnson told MPs the Supreme Court was “wrong to pronounce on a political question at a time of great national controversy”.
Many regard the current period in UK politics as one which will be the subject of intense study by future generations, a period upon which history will pass unfavourable judgement upon the actions of the politicians of the UK. Textbooks will be written, theses will be drafted and philosophers will pontificate.
It is unlikely that the judgement of history will conclude anything other than that David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson were weak and ineffectual Prime Ministers. Many hope that the Supreme Court ruling this week will be seen as evidence of the independence of the judiciary, reinforcing that no-one, not even the UK Prime Minister, is above the law.
Within the current parameters of the debate this is true. While the decision of the Supreme Court has split legal opinion, it is widely accepted that it represents a final judgement on the proroguing of Parliament and its effect of stifling the ability of MPs to scrutinise the actions of the government. The judiciary can bring the executive to heel and only the Queen is above the fray. The system works….except…..
What is actually being played out is a struggle exposing the splits within the UK establishment over the country’s future direction. Within these boundaries the Supreme Court judgement is one which gives slightly more emphasis to one side than the other but is only independent within the terms set by the establishment itself. Having been wrapped in a life of ermines and fur the Supreme Court judges, many Eton educated like the Tory Party politicians, could only pontificate within the class boundaries set by the system.
If the judgement of history is to be any measure of progress it must be far harsher than anything pronounced by the Supreme Court this week. History must question why any system would allow for a small minority to become rich beyond imagining, while sections of the population live with unemployment and poverty.
It must judge with amazement the desire of political leaders to persuade the population to be tied into a European wide structure which reinforces the inequalities and prejudices inherent in the system. It must question the motivation of those on the other side exhorting the population to leave the EU in order to pursue their own personal aggrandisement and ambition, rather than the real interests of the people.
History must surely frown upon all of this being played out against a backdrop of austerity, insecurity and uncertainty for much of the population, while a small minority continue to get rich playing the gambling halls of the City of London.
History may be able to judge that a Jeremy Corbyn led Labour government was able to stem the tide, that the period of mendacity and misjudgement turned a corner in 2020 and the first steps towards a socialist Britain were taken.
A vote of no confidence in the government this week would be a first step in the right direction, followed by a swift General Election in which the forces of progress, inside and outside Parliament, mobilise for a Labour government to be elected on a progressive platform. Anything less and the judgements of history will, in all likelihood, be being made from a dark place.