Sleaze will eventually sink the Tories

Andrew Rawnsley looking into his crystal ball in April.

Tories are wrong to think that they will never face a day of reckoning for sleaze. (last two paragraphs)

What won’t fundamentally alter is the character of Mr Johnson’s government. If you’ve missed the latest sleaze story, don’t worry, another one will be along in a minute. As I like to remark from time to time, the personality of institutions is hugely influenced by the example set by the person at the top. When the prime minister is a man with a lifelong contempt for the norms of decent behaviour and a career history of behaving as if he can get away with anything, the government is going to reflect his amoral character. Never forget that Mr Cummings was not sacked when he went for his lockdown-busting excursions around Durham, an example of “one rule for them” that mightily cut through to the public. They only parted company months later when the svengali fell out with the prime minister’s fiancee.

A culture of impunity in which unethical behaviour, however outrageous, never goes punished, is pretty much a guarantee of even worse to come in the future. I cannot tell you how the Johnson government will end or when, but it will surely not be a happily ever after. Sleaze may not catch up with the Tories tomorrow or next week or next month or even next year, but there will be a day of reckoning. To paraphrase Ernest Hemingway, governments become bankrupt in the eyes of the voters gradually, then suddenly.

One thought on “Sleaze will eventually sink the Tories

  1. Oh how I wish that the headline will be true, but based on recent history I fear that it will not be the case.

    In a genuine functional democracy, we would never have got to this point in the first place.

    In a genuine democracy, a lying clown would not have been elected PM. Someone whose track-record of judgements has been shown time-after-time-after-time to be extremely poor. Someone who has shown beyond dispute to have no ability to understand the consequences of his decisions (count the U-turns). Someone who has demonstrated (as judged by the number of people dead) that his political ambitions and popularity will always come before the needs of the electorate.

    In a genuine democracy, the promises made in a campaign running up to a vote (election, referendum) would be truthful and complete and would be binding. So no false promises, no hidden agendas.

    In a genuine democracy, you would have transparency and accountability – and consequently integrity – but where the government believes that it doesn’t need to be transparent and which does literally everything possible to avoid this (see literally hundreds of previous blog posts here listing such actions by Conservatives at both Government and Council levels), and where (on the rare occasions like this one) they are proven beyond reasonable doubt to have been lacking but they wriggle out of accountability, then there is no need to have any integrity, and that is what is demonstrated day in, day out by the current government.

    But perhaps most telling, in a genuine democracy, where MPs understand that their role is to represent the best interests of their constituents, and not simply to kiss the ring as told to by the whips, this would have never won a vote.

    IMO DEMOCRACY in the UK, if not completely dead, is certainly at death’s door.

    It is not just this fiasco about Parliamentary integrity, though this is undoubtedly a good example.

    The big picture of UK politics today is IMO almost indistinguishable from that imagined by George Orwell in his book 1984. We have a government (PM and ministers and MPs) who do make decisions behind closed doors, who say what they believe the public want to hear, and who have a Ministry of Truth (the fawning, propaganda press epitomised by The Express and the Daily Mail, but also the Telegraph and Independent) who repeat those lies and demonise the opposition. And we have a population, almost all of whom (in my experience) swallow this propaganda to a greater or lesser extent, most notably in my experience about Labour and Jeremy Corbyn. It is remarkable how few people I talk to who can actually discuss Corbyn’s strengths and weaknesses (he is human and therefore is not perfect) rather than parrot a simplistic statement about how awful he is, and yet they are equally willing to excuse massive character flaws with Boris on a similar simplistic basis – and IMO this is symptomatic of brainwashing, which brings us back to 1984 again.

    The question is whether this state of affairs is actually reversible. The Conservative Party – with the help of billionaire media barons and bullying of the BBC – have a massive propaganda machine at their disposal. They have a solid base of ultra-rich donors who will fund whatever publicity they need. They have an excellent understanding of how to use social media to micro-target individuals with lies and the money to use this to the maximum possible extent. And they have no moral compass or ethical integrity to hold them back.

    As far as I can see, the Conservative Party has a death grip on Democracy and they are never going to let go.

    The only chance I can see is a genuine progressive alliance, where the non-Tory parties combine to back the best alternative candidate – but my own experience in discussing such things with local Liberal and Labour party organisers in the run up to two general elections indicates that neither party is willing to stand aside in order not to split the vote.


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