I have to confess to being rather perplexed by the shock and consternation prompted by Boris Johnson’s withdrawal from the Tory leadership race. Not to mention the behaviour of his former ally, Michael Gove. I was always irritated by the media’s simplistic assumption that Johnson was the “leading contender” for the job. I never could accept the idea of Johnson as the Prime Minister-in-waiting. See here, for example.
Johnson was always going to be stabbed in the back. And Gove was always going to be the one wielding the biggest knife. The only slightly surprising thing is that Iain Duncan Smith has not played a more public role in Johnson’s humiliation.
But let’s not mistake his absence from the dagger-wielding rabble as hinting at anything akin to human decency. If IDS isn’t in the spotlight, he’s in the shadows – and all the more dangerous for that. My guess would be that he has remained silent only because he has already done a deal with Gove and/or Theresa May. Whichever wins, and I think we can expect it to be a race between these two, start getting used to the chilling idea of Iain Duncan Smith as Chancellor of The Exchequer.
There is a point in all of this – beyond the obvious one of blowing my own trumpet as a political prognosticator. Beyond even the hardly startling revelation that British politicians tend to be a bunch of back-stabbing bastards. What I find significant and disturbing in all of this is the readiness of the media to run with the narrative of Boris Johnson as the “obvious choice” for party leader and PM. The analysis is woefully shallow. The facile resort to a cosy consensus speaks of a sad deficiency in political journalism.
Perhaps worse, however, is the readiness to promulgate and perpetuate the myths spun by media manipulators in the pay of professional politicians and their backers. The image of Boris Johnson as “the people’s choice” was always improbable, at best. As was the portrayal of the main protagonists in the official EU referendum campaign as basically decent types trying to do what they felt was best for the country. It’s all a facade. And a flimsy one, at that.
The British political establishment is corrupt. Expect the worst of the principal players, and you will seldom be as mistaken as most of the media was about Boris Johnson.Views: 2634
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