It’s just over a week since the General Election result cemented our darkest fears, which saw unkempt pathological liar Boris™ returned to Downing Street as the country’s Supreme Leader. A whole week since I drove to work in oppressive silence, unable to bear the sound of gloating Tory Brexiters congaing through the Today programme’s studio.
Don’t get me wrong, the result was clearly decisive. But the result tells us that the country now belongs to the far right, which is incontrovertible when you consider that notable celebrants of Boris’s victory included everyone from Tory convert Tommy Robinson™ to the unbearably thick blue line of Britain First, working tirelessly to keep the wolf of a Sharia State from our door. Their leadership recently urged its members to join the Conservative Party “to make Boris Johnson’s leadership more secure”. So if you’re someone who enjoys racially abusing people at bus stops, or in supermarkets, or just in passing, because they’re wearing a hijab or a burka, or speaking a different language, or perhaps eating something slightly exotic, like a Bounty, this victory was for you!
But it was racist harridan Katie Hopkins who really enjoyed ‘owning the Libs’ on Twitter the day after the election. She even cracked a Boris-inspired letterbox-burka joke at the expense of Sayeeda Warsi, who’s been one of the most outspoken critics of the Tories’ failure to tackle anti-Muslim sentiment within the party. Because racism and Islamophobia is funny now; a real crowd-pleaser!
Perhaps most chilling, though, among Hopkins’ rib-tickling retweets of food bank jokes and triumphant assertions that “the Right is on the Rise” and “Britain is fighting back for its own”, was when she quote-tweeted Baroness Warsi and informed her that the Conservative party was no longer hers. “I think you will find it’s OUR party now,” she hissed ominously.
Boris Johnson even received warm congratulations from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, sections of which were placed under surveillance by Germany’s domestic intelligence agency earlier in the year due to “clear evidence of an anti-immigration and particularly anti-Muslim attitude”. You can tell a lot about what Boris stands for by those cheer-leading his victory.
But that’s where we are. And we got here because nothing seems to matter anymore. There are no consequences or repercussions for anything. Because political power and the sheer determination to deliver the nonsense of Brexit is now more important than truth, honesty, morality and decency.
Ultimately no one cared about Jacob Rees-Mogg arrogantly reclining on the malachite-green front benches of the House of Commons during a crucial emergency debate on Brexit. A few mildly comical memes bounced around our social media echo chambers for a day or two, and a recumbent ‘Jacob Leeks Mogg’ took second prize in the Newent Onion Fayre vegetable character competition. But that was about it.
Similarly, calls for Rees-Mogg’s resignation over his suggestion that victims of the Grenfell fire lacked the common sense to flee a blazing building quickly melted away, amounting to nothing. The Conservatives then hid him from public view for the duration of the election campaign and he went on to retain his Somerset North East seat at a canter. No consequences.
Simply hiding something from view is the new low-tech way of avoiding scrutiny or any kind of negative backlash. The Russia report was inconvenient and potentially problematic for Boris Johnson and the Tories, so they buried it. Sure, we all angrily huffed and puffed and used hashtags on Twitter to call for its release, but they got away with it. No consequences.
When the Conservative campaign headquarters press office Twitter account rebranded itself as factcheckUK during the ITV Leaders’ debate, Twitter wrote a sternly worded statement that accused the Tories of misleading the public. And by crikey, if they pull a stunt like that again Twitter might write a similar statement but with the caps-lock on…IN BOLD. (Incidentally, when Ralf Little mockingly rebranded his Twitter account as the ‘Conservative Party Press Orifice’, his account was instantly suspended.)
And when Boris Johnson was too busy taking selfies with daytime TV’s Woodward and Bernstein to commit to a thorough public grilling from Andrew Neil (like every other party leader had been subjected to) the Conservatives claimed that the public is “fed up” of TV interviews that are “all about the interviewer”. It’s similar to how we’re all apparently fed up with experts, fed up with anything that the Conservatives wish to discount or brush aside. We’ll soon be told that we’re fed up with food hygiene standards and maybe even the rule of law. But one thing’s for sure: there will be no consequences.
History is littered with people who’ve suffered the consequences of their actions. In the 1980s and 90s, I don’t think it was actually possible to become a Conservative MP unless your career goals included doing a stretch in Belmarsh for perjury and obstruction of justice. Jeffrey Archer managed to write three volumes of prison diaries during his time in the big house, so I guess we all suffered the consequences there.
John Profumo’s indiscretions – and subsequent lies to Parliament – brought down the Macmillan government. A different time, when swords were often fallen upon. These days, however, the government would likely claim that the public has grown tired of figurative bladed weapons.
And who could forget the consequences faced by Doug the hospital security guard (aka Paul Flart) who was fired for recording himself farting on the job for six months? If you haven’t already seen it, you should watch his 90-second fart compilation video. As Doug looks earnestly down the lens of his smartphone, with his pallid jowls momentarily flushed with a pinkish hue as he strains to force another fart into the world, there’s more heart and honesty in that minute and a half of flatulence than in Boris Johnson’s entire election campaign.
But who cares about honesty, eh?
During the election campaign, I heard Sajid Javid on the Today programme defending more untruths from Boris Johnson after he’d stated a wildly incorrect figure on personal savings related to the Tories’ plan to raise the threshold on National Insurance contributions. Javid laughed off Mishal Husain’s suggestion that Johnson had deliberately spun the figures or had simply given the wrong answer, claiming – on two occasions – that his boss had given “a straight answer”. Based on this logic, where a straight answer – any old bullshit, basically – is deemed completely acceptable, Boris Johnson is roughly on a par with the Family Fortunes contestant who once gave the answer “turkey” to three of the five questions in the Big Money round.
But to compliment the almost daily lies from Boris and many of his Tory colleagues, it also seemed like the BBC had Boris Johnson’s back at every turn during the election campaign. The furore over their archive fuck-up on Remembrance Sunday was apparently the result of a “production mistake”, which just happened to use a three-year-old clip of Johnson at the Cenotaph in which he looked smarter, leaner, more reflective, and not so much like he’d slept in his clothes in the courtyard of Palazzo Terranova with an empty bottle of Beluga vodka for a pillow.
A genuine mistake would have been to insert that clip of Boris Johnson barrelling into a 10-year-old child during a game of street rugby while on a trade visit to Japan, exhibiting the same runaway momentum as someone fleeing a village fete with an entire hog roast under one arm. Or instead of cutting to a close-up of Boris solemnly approaching the cenotaph, they could have dropped in that flag-waving clip of him hanging on a zip-wire like a tripe-filled piñata, with his nuts bulging over his harness like proptotic eyeballs.
But none of that matters anyway, when you’ve got former Labour voters (and Leavers) in Northfield, Birmingham, telling focus groups that Boris is “such a character” and “a loveable buffoon”. If he’d impaled a load of school children on giant kebab skewers outside Conservative party HQ and used their fresh blood to scrawl ‘Get Brexit Done!’ on the pavement, while wearing a suit made entirely of rubles, a deafening cheer would probably have erupted around the country. “That’s just so Boris!” people would say, accepting the horror before them as entirely necessary in order for them to get their blue passports back.
The day after the election, writer and broadcaster Guto Harri was on Good Morning Britain talking about Boris, when he said: “He can stuff a sausage roll in his mouth and it looks like it belongs there, when a Labour leader can’t even eat a bacon sandwich.”
The Ed Miliband bacon sandwich photo was taken on 21 May 2014, over five and a half years ago. It was such a ridiculous statement that he may as well have said: “Boris is brilliant at being alive when former Labour leader John Smith couldn’t even survive a fatal heart attack.” Furthermore, Boris doesn’t even know the price of a fucking sausage roll. And how it fits in his mouth alongside the lies, deceit and general horseshit is a mystery?
But anyway, we are where we are. Which is to say: we’re fucked. I thought writing this would be cathartic. But it wasn’t. The country is fucked and the future is terrifying. We’re on the cusp of a new decade…and fuck know’s what awaits us?