When you look at who is about to replace Boris Johnson, you realise he was a true leader – and that got him deposed
The global elites are no doubt still celebrating the political demise of Boris Johnson. In one sense, they are entitled to do so – after all, it was the dysfunctional and anti-democratic political culture they spawned over the past thirty years that brought him down.
With scant loyalty to the economic and cultural traditions of the countries in which they have accumulated nearly unchecked power, these new overlords have ushered in a globalised economy that has gradually and – ever more tumultuously since the 1990s – replaced the older economic order grounded in the nation state. The previous national elites were pushed aside in most Western democracies and now maintain only limited influence culturally and within certain traditional conservative parties.
All important institutions in most Western democracies have come under the control of the global elite. This includes the large transnational corporations, the financial sector, universities, the bureaucracy and professions, legal institutions, and large sections of the media. In addition to advocating an economic program that has impoverished and hollowed out the working and middle classes, their myriad ideologies – perhaps most prominent of which are catastrophic climate change, identity politics and political correctness – have decisively won the ‘culture wars’ in most Western societies.
The dramatic economic and ideological changes brought about by this cohort have also fundamentally reshaped and revolutionised politics in the West. Indicative of this is that both the Democratic Party in America and the Labour party in the United Kingdom have been fully taken over by these forces, and both have long since abandoned their traditional working-class constituencies.
These elites have also divided, and in some countries – such as France – completely destroyed traditional conservative and centrist parties. In the process, they have generated a powerful anti-democratic populist political backlash – personified by Donald Trump – that threatens to seriously destabilise democracy in the West.
It was the historian Christopher Lasch who first pointed out the intrinsically dysfunctional and anti-democratic aspects of the political culture created by the global elites in his book ‘The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy’, published in 1994.
For a brilliantly satirical account of precisely how the greed-driven global elites operate in the UK, both at a personal and institutional level, readers should consult Quentin Letts’ 2017 book ‘Patronising Bastards – How the Elites Betrayed Britain’.
Boris Johnson is at heart a traditional conservative politician (not for nothing is he the biographer of Winston Churchill), so it is not surprising that, within the West’s fractured and volatile contemporary political culture, his career has been a controversial and turbulent one.
Pushing through Brexit against the determined opposition of the global elites and the institutions they control – including the powerful Remainer segment of the Tory party (led by the gormless Theresa May), the former speaker of the House of Commons, the Supreme Court, and the woke establishment media – was a remarkable achievement.
So too was winning the 2019 election with an eighty-seat majority that brought substantial numbers of traditional working-class voters (in the so-called “Red Wall” seats) back within the Tory party fold for the first time in decades.
No contemporary British conservative politician other than Johnson could have accomplished either of these things. Paradoxically, however, it was these very achievements that the global elites could never forgive Johnson for.
Johnson tried to placate them by embracing their climate change program and even their misguided foreign policy of perpetuating the conflict in Ukraine. But these concessions were never going to be enough to save him.
Johnson’s poor political judgment and erratic behaviour – including his fragmented domestic political program, his sacking of Dominic Cummings, his indulging of the crassness and narcissism of his younger millennial wife, and his arrogant refusal to create a viable support base within the Conservative party – certainly played a part in his downfall.
It is a moot point as to whether Johnson could have survived had he behaved differently. I suspect that he was simply incapable of doing so.
What sealed Johnson’s political fate, however, was his anachronistic vision of the United Kingdom as an independent nation state that needed to integrate its displaced working class economically and politically (his “levelling up” program) – a worldview fundamentally at odds with the globalised perspective of the ruling elites.
The global elites are determined to destroy the nation state and the nineteenth century bourgeois values that underpinned it – hence their fervent and ruthless commitment to transnational ideologies and organisations, most notably the European Union.
They also despise the traditional working class, whose lives, values and culture they have upended, and whose economic security they have progressively destroyed over the past five decades. There is simply no place within their economic and cultural vision of a brave new world for those people that Hilary Clinton so contemptuously and revealingly described as “deplorables.” After all, didn’t this lot vote in droves for Brexit?
Now completely abandoned by traditional labour and centrist parties that once protected their interests, it is this group that has now – what other choice did it have? – turned in desperation to populist leaders such as Trump.
Therein lies the root of the intractable instability and irrationality at the heart of contemporary politics in most Western democracies.
Like Tolstoy’s unhappy families, each Western democracy is disintegrating in its own peculiar fashion. Johnson attempted to reverse this process in the United Kingdom by keeping working class voters within the Tory party. Now that Johnson has gone, however, these voters will desert the Tories and look for a populist alternative. This will create even more political instability and ensure that the Conservative Party cannot win the next election.
One aspect of this process of political disintegration is the poor quality of politician that it inevitably throws up.
The last thing that the global elites want are politicians of real stature; rather, they seek pliable non-entities that simply mouth their ideologies endlessly, and who can be controlled and dismissed when and as the elites see fit.
Johnson, for all his manifold faults, was a genuine political leader – and virtually uncontrollable.
Rational political discourse and debate is now impossible. It is the global elites that in the West created this irrational mode of politics, in which opponents are not debated but only “cancelled” – as Johnson has been.
It is now standard practice to use minor transgressions against the canons of political correctness – sensationalised ad nauseam by a compliant and debauched media – to depose political leaders. This is precisely what happened in Johnson’s case.
What were the egregious crimes that necessitated Johnson’s political cancelling? He and his staff at Number 10 had a few late-night drinks in breach of the Covid lockdown regulations (for which they later paid the requisite fines); and Johnson appointed an obscure MP party whip against whom historical allegations of sexual impropriety (some dating back to 2005) had been made. Johnson is also alleged to have lied about both matters.
These are not serious offences in any meaningful sense. But such ‘crimes’ contravene the deep-seated puritanism and narcissistic eagerness to be offended that are at the heart of the elites’ politically correct worldview.
These are mere hypocritical pretences for ‘cancellation’ – simply the ‘justification’ for the vituperative political campaign that the Labour Party and the Remainer faction of his own party waged against Johnson for months. A complicit and woke media did the rest.
Tony Blair took the UK into an unlawful war in Iraq that led to nearly a million deaths, but the elites took that in stride. Having a few drinks late at night, however, apparently requires the dismissal of a conservative prime minister.
As to the consequences of Johnson’s sacking, we only have to take a glance at the politicians who emerged as his potential replacement as prime minister.
Five candidates presented themselves for approval in the first two televised debates. Having observed them, Jonathan Swift’s epigram came immediately to mind: “When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.”
Such a group of political dullards has rarely been assembled in one room. None of them could possibly lead the Tories to an election victory in two years’ time.
Let us describe the leading candidates in turn.
Rishi Sunak is a failed chancellor and multi-millionaire who previously worked for Goldman Sachs. His wife is even wealthier than he is, and until recently had arranged her affairs such that she paid no tax at all in the UK. Sunak preaches the virtues of austerity to the average Briton. Like Johnson, Sunak also breached the Covid regulations and was fined. It was Sunak’s mutinous resignation from the cabinet that triggered Johnson’s resignation. A more typical representative of the global elite one could not find – even Quentin Letts could not have invented him.
Liz Truss, a former Remainer, of whom Alistair Campbell said this week: “Liz Truss would be so appalling as Prime Minister that it’s almost unthinkable, which means it could happen.” Journalist John Crace described her as “a politician totally without effect ….. an ideologue without ideas.”
Penny Mordaunt is a failed defence secretary, who Tory peer Daniel Moylan branded this week as “incompetent.” Former Brexit minister David Frost said that she was “missing in action” when they worked together. Mordaunt was this week caught out in a blatant lie as she attempted to backpedal from her unqualified support for transgender athletes.
The first two televised debates – in which the candidates tore into each other like deranged pit bulls – were such unedifying spectacles that this week’s third debate was cancelled at the behest of Sunak and Truss, no doubt in order to preserve whatever small shreds of credibility and dignity the candidates may still have possessed.
When conservative commentator Peter Hitchens was asked this week who his favourite candidate was, he replied: “What is your favourite disease?” Does anyone seriously believe that any of them can unify a Tory party that has been torn apart by Johnson’s political assassination?
The new prime minister will be selected by a vote of the 160,000 Tory party members – rather than the entire British electorate – and on Wednesday the party unsurprisingly selected Sunak and Truss as the final two candidates who will vie for that vote.
In deposing Johnson, a serious political crisis has been created – Nicola Sturgeon and Sinn Fein cannot believe their luck – that can only hasten the demise of democracy in the UK.
Flawed though he was, Johnson will leave office with a record of substantial achievement behind him – “mission largely accomplished, for now” as he jauntily put it in his bravura farewell speech in the Commons this week. (Pointedly, arch Remainer Theresa May refused to applaud Johnson’s speech.)
It is absolutely certain, however, that none of the dunces that joined together to depose Boris Johnson will ever will ever find themselves in the position of departing office with such an array of accomplishments.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.