23rd November 2021
The bumbling of British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, through a speech to the CBI this week, was characteristic of Johnson’s lack of attention to detail and inability to judge his audience. Johnson’s political rise to date has often been ascribed to his ability to connect with ordinary people, speak plainly and shake free from established political platitudes.
That such an assessment has gained any credence is only due to the activity of Johnson’s spin doctors and the determination of the political establishment and media to build any alternative to Jeremy Corbyn, after Labour’s showing in the 2017 General Election.
No one has ever suggested that Johnson has a clear ideological stance, other than the default Tory position of hanging onto power and defending the capitalist system, but recent events suggest that the powers that be may be preparing to cut Johnson loose.
As well as the CBI debacle, Johnson also faced a minor rebellion in the House of Commons as 19 Tory MPs opposed government plans for changes to the social care system. With abstentions a reduction in the Tory majority to 26 was the outcome. This in itself may not be a sufficient harbinger of Johnson’s departure, governments with large majorities can absorb a certain amount of rebellion, but Johnson does not appear to have strong core support.
The coalition of disparate Tories which propelled Johnson into No.10 is beginning to unravel as hard core Brexiteers are frustrated by the pace of change; low tax Tories are frustrated by the level of public spending; and the new intake of so called red wall Tories begin to see through the smoke and mirrors of the illusory ‘levelling up’ agenda. The failure of the governments recently announced rail plan to reach, never mind reinvigorate the North, being just the latest example of policy car crash.
Prime Ministers have survived bouts of bungling, backbench muttering and Commons revolts but they rarely survive indefinitely. As Johnson blusters his way through his catastrophic handling of the pandemic his credibility with those previously fooled by the blather drains daily.
The political establishment also have other concerns, not least the health of the Head of State, currently being kept from public view as both spin doctors and medical doctors work to keep the Monarchy from slipping into crisis. Planning for the Platinum Jubilee in 2022 continues apace but sources suggest than a Plan B is being taken off the shelf should the magic 70 year mark not be achieved.
While the media establishment continue to perpetuate the myth of a popular Monarchy, that would soon dissipate should the septuagenarian Prince and his consort get the keys to Buckingham Palace. An unpopular Prime Minister and an unpopular Monarch may be more than the political establishment could tolerate and one or both could come under pressure to clear the way for a more media friendly alternative.
In political terms that would not rule out a Labour government. Kier Starmer has made a clear pitch that capitalism will be safe in his hands and any difference in policy with the Tories at present is largely one of nuance. A spell of tame Labour government, while the Tories sort out their differences and find a leader they can unite behind should not be ruled out.
By the same token the easing out of the jaded Charles and Camilla, in favour of the family and media friendly William and Kate, is not hard to imagine. The notion of the Royal Family as being the embodiment of the nation has always been a conjuring trick designed to divert attention from the real class interest the Monarchy defends and represents.
The British ruling class has survived for so long, in spite of periods of pressure and challenge, because it has been able to change just enough to keep ahead of any demands for a real transfer of power from the ruling class to the working class.
There is little sense of pressure for real change coming from within Parliament. A vote for Labour, when the time comes, will be the lesser of two evils but reliance on Parliamentary action has never been enough for change. Mass extra Parliamentary action will be necessary to truly shift the balance of power, challenging not only the illusion of democracy under capitalism but the historical anachronism of the Monarchy in the twenty first century.