@The Economist & gideon.rachman@ft.com on Boris Johnson and the Tories. Old Socialist comments

I supply a selection of quotes from The Economist of September 5, 2019 :

Headline: How Britain’s staid Conservative Party became a radical insurgency

Sub-headline: The Tories’ transformation leaves surviving MPs feeling uneasy

The trio were among 21 Conservative mps to have the whip withdrawn and be barred from standing for the party again after they supported a plan to make Boris Johnson, the prime minister, seek a delay to Britain’s scheduled departure from the European Union on October 31st (see next story). The purge was only the most visible part of a revolution that is transforming the world’s oldest political party. Those who advocate fiscal prudence, social liberalism and an orderly departure from the eu have been routed. Those who demand free-spending authoritarianism and a “do-or-die” escape from the yoke of Brussels are ascendant. ConservativeHome, a blog for party activists, described this week as “the end of the Conservative Party as we have known it”. It proved too much for even the prime minister’s brother, Jo, who resigned as an mp on September 5th, “torn between family loyalty and the national interest”.

Setting the route is Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s chief adviser who will not even say whether he is a member of the Conservatives. When running for office, Mr Johnson promised an inclusive, “one nation” style of government. Instead, he has set about shaking the country’s institutions, suspending Parliament for the longest period since 1945 in order to reduce the time mps have to debate Brexit. Hitherto unimaginable tactics, such as asking the queen to veto anti-no-deal legislation, are now openly discussed. “This Conservative government…seems to not be very conservative, fiscally or institutionally,” noted Ryan Shorthouse of Bright Blue, a liberal Tory think-tank.

Sir Roger Gale, an mp since 1983, declared: “You have, at the heart of Number 10, as the prime minister’s senior adviser, an unelected, foul-mouthed oaf.” A “One Nation” group of about 100 moderate Conservative mps have demanded that Mr Johnson reinstate their sacked colleagues.

“What this country needs is sensible, moderate, progressive Conservative government,” declared Mr Johnson during a stilted performance in prime minister’s questions on September 4th. Yet with the Tory party in its current state, Britain will have to wait.


Compare the above with Mr. Rachman’s world historical view:

Headline:Boris Johnson’s Britain is a test case for strongman politics

Sub-Headline: If the UK can resist the virus, it will do a service to democracy around the world

In recent years, strongman politics has flourished all over the world. It is no longer confined to authoritarian states such as China and Russia. As Mr Trump, Mr Orban and Mr Bolsonaro have all demonstrated, even democracies can elect leaders who revel in a cult of personality and delight in their willingness to trample over political and legal norms.

The strongman playbook is now well-established. Its key features include a willingness to bend or break the law; to fire public servants if they fail to demonstrate loyalty; and to delight supporters with “politically incorrect” comments on race and sex. The strongmen justify their contempt for liberal niceties by claiming that they represent the people against a corrupt and out-of-touch political class.


With the aid of some further politically valuable garnish, strongman politics’ is the framing that allows Mr. Rachman to maintain his ‘world historicalism’ , the key to his Olympian view. Yet the Posh Boys and Girls of The Economist manage to speak, not in the patois of an Olympian, but in the politically demotic.

But note , what is utterly absent from both these political interventions, is the fact that  Neo-Liberalism, that caused the Depression of 2008, is the absent cause of the both the ‘Conservative Party became a radical insurgency’ of the Economist writers and the strongman politics’ that Mr.  Rachman inveighs against, to engage myself a bit of well placed reductivism! 




About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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