We don’t expect balance from James Forsyth (the Times today) or from The Spectator and the Hard Right think tank world he inhabits. In the shadows to the vast majority of the population these people, largely unelected, do more than pull the puppet’s strings – they provide cover for him to shelter in. Dominic Cummings was for some time part of the conspiracy. Now he is a Trotsky type figure – once at the centre now in exile. He’d do well to look out for pickaxes.
Students of history know that revolution doesn’t require people actually to take to the streets, just to vote when you need them. To get the vote in image management is much more important than policy. This doesn’t mean you don’t need ideology-driven policy. It’s there in spades, but you don’t need to use it when attacking the Red Wall.
If image management requires lies and cover-up so be it. You don’t need conventionally able people even in the highest offices of State, just those that are compliant. There are not only no dissidents in the Cabinet – there are none in Parliament nor the Conservative Party at large either. You don’t have to be very good – just very loyal.
One trick is to get the opposition to descend to abuse. Every cry of “Fascist dictatorship” reinforces the governing cabal’s power rather than threatening it. But, ironically, painting opponents as extremists is part of the Rightist strategy. Remember the attacks on Corbyn as a “Marxist” spread, of course, by the lickspittle media that has been a crucial element in the Making of Johnson.
Keeping it simple is the key. Issues as complex as Britain’s role in Europe or the management of the Pandemic cannot be reduced to binary you would think – but the evidence of the last five years challenges that. If there’s opposition bulldoze it – after you’ve prepared the ground first by lying of course. The battle between Johnson and Cummings? The same ! Only one winner. Take cover Dom, and stay clear of Mexico City.
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Is it not a strange oddity that a matter of months ago Cummings was seen as the Svengali that created Johnson from a political figure of comedy to taking power. The architect of Brexit and the rightist takeover of the working class vote? How the worm turns.
In fact, historically a sizable portion of the blue-collar vote has always had a right-wing element. A prime example was the caricature of Alf Garnett in Till Death do us Part. Johnny Speight got the soul of the loathsome character exactly right. So did Cummings. he just knew the right buttons to press. Johnson could not have achieved power and his majority without him. Nor I believe can he sustain it very long.
“Revenge is a dish best eaten cold and there is no sweeter dish than outliving an enemy”, Johnson will do well to remember his former mentor seeks blood on the carpet. As Harold Wilson once said, a week is a long time in politics.