Sunday, 7 October 2018

Boris does his best Boris tribute act for the Tory conference

Bumbling, hair tugging and lectern thumping all feature in Johnson’s greatest hits show

‘This was the golden ticket. A message of hope for the hopeless.’
 Photograph: James McCauley/Rex/Shutterstock

Say what you like about Boris Johnson, he delivers a second-rate speech better than most other second-rate politicians, many of whom have been on show at the Tory party conference in Birmingham this week. But the bottom line is that Boris is essentially still second rate. A man who imagines himself to be a latter day Winston Churchill, but is nothing more than an ersatz Donald Trump with little to offer other than his own narcissism masquerading as cheap populism.

Yet in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king, and Johnson is what passes for stardust in the Brexit circles of the Tory party. A faint flicker, raging against the dying of the light, as he struggles to avoid being sucked into the black hole. And for his one scheduled appearance at a fringe event, hundreds of delegates were queueing outside the 1,500-seater hall some two hours before he was due on stage. This was the golden ticket. A message of hope for the hopeless.

Shortly before the start, the usual VIP suspects began to fill the front row. David Davis, Steve Baker, Priti Patel, Owen Paterson, Andrea Jenkyns, John Redwood and Andrew Bridgen. The same crew that had been at almost every “Chuck Chequers” event. None of whom most sane people would trust anywhere near government. The scene was set. This wasn’t going to be a serious speech so much as an act of communion for the already converted. A greatest hits rally at which Boris would deliver his own Boris tribute act.

Johnson bumbled on to stage. Bumbling was what people expected of him – his trademark trope – and he didn’t want to disappoint. The audience rose to give him their first standing ovation and he relaxed a little. He still had the magic. “It’s great bumble bumble to be bumble bumble in Birmingham bumble bumble,” he bumbled, before insisting that he was standing before everyone “with all humility”. Always good to get the first lie in early. Boris has never done humble in his life.

 'Chuck Chequers': Boris Johnson attacks Theresa May's Brexit plan – video

After that he was straight on to autopilot. A lot more bumble bumbling, a bit of hair tugging and the occasional thump of the lectern to suggest he actually cared about what he was saying. Pretty much the same speech he had given the time before and the time before that. The same feeble gags about Toblerones and bus shelters that never failed to get a few desultory laughs from people starved of genuine humour. The same sob story about how he had once felt sorry for a couple in a Wolverhampton council house. The same lies about things the EU had never done and what the Labour party planned to do. Always the lies.

Bumble bumble. Loud whoops from the audience. Bumble bumble. The same broken record of why Boris thought that Boris would make a great prime minister and couldn’t believe that the whole world didn’t agree with Boris. He ran through a totally uncosted housing programme; he did a drive-by shooting of Michael Gove; he boasted of his record as foreign secretary. That last bit didn’t take long.

Then Boris turned his attention to Theresa May and Brexit. Chequers was against the law – it wasn’t, but what the hell? – and Britain was being cheated. What was needed was someone like Boris who would bumble bumble, make Latin references, ruffle his hair and say that Britain could be great again if only we believed enough. Someone who lacked even the basic level of self-awareness to realise he had broken the system and had no real idea how to fix it. Someone whose only visible plan was to say sod off to the EU and that if it was very lucky we would let it trade with us again sometime in the future.

Same old, same old. A vision of the future in which Boris was prime minister and the country was condemned to a seventh circle of hell in which the same speech, the same jokes, the same Latin, would be played on a loop indefinitely. Then a rare moment of clarity. Pathos even. Boris looked down at the front row and saw just a handful of the same hopeful faces. He might have the numbers to stop Chequers, but he was way short of what he would need to become prime minister. His speech bumble bumble tailed off into silence. As so often, he had made a splash. But the waters would soon close over.

Reproduced, without permission, from an article by John Crace in the Guardian

Tue 2 Oct 2018 18.11 BSTLast modified on Tue 2 Oct 2018 21.05 BST

John Crace

Monday, 30 April 2018

Honesty in Politics

After weeks of clinging on Amber Rudd has finally resigned her post as Home Secretary! Her reason was that she inadvertently misled the Commons by denying that there were quotas for “illegal” migrants.

She should have also apologized for being incompetent and for supporting such outrageous policies in the first place.

Assuming that Rudd didn't know and approve of what was being done in her own department, soon after the stories in the press about the difficulties experienced by the Windrush migrants started to appear, anyone with an iota of humanity and empathy would have investigated and carpeted the Home Office civil servants concerned. To ask individuals who arrived as children to now prove that they have the right to live, work, rent a flat and get medical treatment in the UK or face deportation is outrageous. To set Kafkaesque requirements for documentation that officials know has been destroyed, or is impossible to obtain, such as to require four pieces of documentary evidence for each year since they arrived in the UK as children is preposterous, cruel and designed so that the applicant will fail to prove their right to remain. But Amber Rudd doesn’t seem to have any empathy, neither does Theresa May, whose policies to create a hostile environment for migrants, developed when she was Home Secretary, are at the root of the whole scandal.

But as well as being responsible for the formulation and application of such inhumane policies, both May and Rudd appear to be seriously lacking in the politicians’ basic skills of keeping in touch with public opinion and reacting appropriately. As late as two weeks ago May was refusing to see Commonwealth leaders to discuss the sorry affair!  They both thought that public opinion would back their hard line stance, but there is still a sense of decency left in the nation.

May demonstrated that she was out of touch with the real world during the last election campaign so I suppose that we should not be surprised that she continues to do so. As for Rudd, who was being touted as a future party leader, her performance has disappointed the more liberal wing of the Tory Party and outraged members of the public including myself. The current leaders of the UK, which was once known for its tolerance, justice and fair play are responsible for destroying that reputation with a series of badly conceived, populist and racist policies.

It’s time that May dropped her unrealistic immigration targets and admitted that her policies are misguided and their execution cruel. The Brexiteers' lies about migrants and tabloid hysteria; together with genuine concern about the pressure on public services caused by savage Tory spending cuts on schools, the NHS, local authorities and their social care budgets, have created the conditions for May’s "hostile environment" policies. History has shown us that it’s always easy to blame foreigners, or people with a different skin colour or religion, for your own home-grown problems: but it's not too late for some honesty in politics and a new more humane way forward for the Tory party. Otherwise the tag line “The Nasty Party” will stick to them until the next election!