I ask this question as we are living through extraordinary times and we need to be alert to the events that are happening right in front of our eyes.  And then there’s the question as to how Boris de Pfiffle is doing as the leader of the United Kingdom? Not very well, actually.  More about that in a minute, because, in the interests of balance I have subscribed (online so haven’t paid) to the Telegraph (the exact opposite of the Guardian) and there he appears to be doing exceedingly well.  Amazing.  But we are a divided nation. On the day that the news of the proroguing of Parliament (see below) came through whilst we were cruising somewhere on a Norwegian fjord we witnessed someone toasting this prorogument in a bar and proclaiming ‘about time’ while another passenger, who noted our dark looks said, perhaps it’s not a subject for now.  Yet another who was horrified at the situation brought about by Mr J said to us, ‘this will end in civil war’.

I was careful not to bring up the issue of the two Bs (Brexit and Boris) on our cruise (don’t judge it was very relaxing). It was other people who did this and we had three in-depth conversations with fellow passengers on these divisive topics. Two were Remainers like us but the first discussion was with a delightful 86-yr-old woman who, as a paid-up member of the Conservative Party had a vote in the leadership race between Hunt (the outsider) and Boris (the one – in the Matrix sense). And interestingly, she could not bring herself to vote for Boris, on moral grounds more than anything else.  Her main complaint was that he was a disgrace as a parent.  If that was his only fault……

My view of Mr Alexander Boris de P Johnson is akin to the Lincoln phrase about fooling people some of the time, but not all of the time, you know the one.  And this is Boris’ fate. He is, of course, a bumbling, over-confidant narcissistic fool. The thing is, he can bumble around as a backbench MP earning a crust as a journalist on the side and fooling people with his written words, he can write a few books (11, apparently) in a faux-Churchillian way, he can be a really bad Mayor of London. He can even be a major embarrassment to our country as a Foreign Minister (actually he was a disaster) but he cannot fool around when he is the Prime Minister. Oh, wait a minute, he is fooling and fumbling around – well, who knew that would happen!

I cannot tell you how many times the phrase comes up, ‘but he is clever’. No. He. Is Not. Clever. Not in an academic way, which is how I judge ‘clever’. If we have to judge clever at all, because what is the definition of clever anyway?  If we look closer, and think of the subtlety of the English language, ‘clever’ is not always complimentary. Clever can be applied to a superficial quickness and brightness.  Yes, that’s more like it, because while Boris has had a great education (see my last post) what he does not possess is wisdom and depth of understanding.  And, really, he is, in my opinion, in possession of a middling, mediocre intelligence dressed up in a blustery jokey persona that is bumping into the reality of his position – the leader of our nation.

Do we want wisdom from a leader of a nation though? Perhaps a leader has to act quickly without over-thinking.  Let’s row back from my views and examine what Mr Johnson has been doing over the past couple of weeks, and crucially look at where his actions might take us. And I say the past week or so, as at first Alexander just ran around the country offering everyone more money. All false, of course, I hope no-one was taken in.  We should also be asking ourselves who holds the reins of power; Parliament or Government? Or someone you think should not have any power, like Mr Johnson’s advisor, Dominic Cummings, who apparently does hold a considerable amount of power? Or maybe, it should be the people?

Ah yes, the people, the point I’d like to make here is that the United Kingdom is a representative democracy. We are not ruled by the people, and never should be. Good grief, do we want the rule of the mob? And never should we have been asked a complicated question in a no/yes/in/out referendum – you already know my views on David Cameron.  Having been asked, I think a huge number thought, well that’s it.  But, of course, it wasn’t, as this exit will go on for years. Forget the date for our withdrawal being around the end of October, or maybe a little later. The Withdrawal Agreement we leave with, or a ‘no-deal’, as the jumping off a cliff scenario is deemed, is just the beginning, as we have no trade deals with anyone whatsoever (well a few, the lovely Faroes comes to mind) and anyone care to define the WTO rules and regs as I’ve already forgotten them. Looking forward to a trade deal with America, are we? But let’s end this particular rant of mine with the knowledge that much of the British population is totally fed up, turned off and just longing for all of this Westminster faff to end. People have had enough of delays and just want to leave, any old way, please.

But this is dangerous. We have to remain alert as there are some extraordinary happenings occurring right now and the circumstances through which we are living need to be monitored rigorously. We have to stay vigilant and, absolutely, keep our eyes wide open to current events.

I’m writing this piece because last night, and until 14 October, Parliament is prorogued. Now the likes of Rees-Mogg will lecture us that this proroguing is a perfectly normal procedure and nothing to worry our little heads about. And that is true in any circumstances other than the one we are in, because yes, this ‘proroguing’ is sometimes used in normal proceedings to end a Parliament for a short time and then set out the day the Queen will reopen Parliament. And indeed, as we know, the Conference season will begin shortly, and Parliament would not be sitting anyway. But now?  In these circumstances?  And re-opening mid-October? It is mendacious in the extreme to say this is a normal procedure as the government is in effect shutting down debate on Brexit. For you over the pond, it’s like Trump shutting down Congress just because he doesn’t like what Congress is saying. Does one even have to point out that shutting down Parliament is an extreme action emanating from what is now an over-zealous and extremist government, and yes, I am saying that. Because who has done this before?

At the same time, though, this government is floundering as what a week Mr J had last week. He made Corbyn look positively statesman-like, made Mrs May seem a brilliant orator, and the Labour Party, despite all that party’s internal rows, a broad church. Plus, he lost out big-time in Parliament.  The events of that week were as follows:

Monday 2nd – Boris comes out of No 10 and says he doesn’t want a general election but minutes later No 10 says that if the Benn (a Labour MP working across the House) bill blocking a no-deal passes, the government would seek a general election before 31stOctober.

Tuesday 3rd – Much activity in the House of Commons with MPs earnestly debating while Rees-Mogg is taken to task as he reclines horizontally on the benches (this goes viral). The government loses a vote to control Wednesday’s agenda. Those voting against the government include 21 Tory MPs who are then told that the whip will be withdrawn, and they cannot stand as Conservatives at the next election. Amongst these moderate Tories are several long-serving grandees including Winston Churchill’s grandson. I’m not a Tory but found this quite shocking.  We see in the media Tories calling these venerable types ‘traitors’.

Wednesday 4th – Prime Minister’s Question Time is a bit of a disaster for Boris as he appears to not be able to put two words together succinctly.  Again, who knew that bluster wouldn’t wash once he became Prime Minister. In the evening the government loses the vote and the Benn bill blocking a no-deal is passed. Yet another vote is lost as the MPs refuse to back the government when Boris calls for a ‘snap’ election.

Thursday 5th– Boris gives a rambling speech to police cadets saying he would rather be dead in a ditch than ask the EU for an extension after 31stOctober.

Friday 6th – It is clear that there is no majority for a ‘snap’ election on Mr J’s terms. That’s the key to the refusal because of course, Jeremy’s been asking for an election for yonks – sigh. Meanwhile the bill to block no-deal is rushed through the Common and the Lords and is now, as the Queen consented to it on Monday, the law of the land. An aside here, I said the UK is a parliamentary democracy – actually we are far more tied to the monarchy than perhaps a modern state should be. I might say more about this in another post.

Over the weekend, there was another quite significant resignation from Amber Rudd, who is a Cabinet Minister. I don’t warm to this person, but she says that even within the Cabinet there is no evidence whatsoever that Boris is negotiating with the EU for a deal. And although she supports a no-deal as being part of the negotiations she can’t support it being the only deal. So, if you accept what Rudd is saying, it is, as we thought, we leave, do or die. This is truly shocking. However, see below, for more developments to block this route.

And now prorogation. Late last night and into the early hours of this morning the House became quite unruly with shouts and singing and attempts to stop the Speaker leaving the Commons for the Lords with Black Rod, an act necessary to implement law and events such as prorogation.  Mind you, I’ve witnessed the Black Rod performance, in the House of Lords no less, and truly it is akin more to pantomime. You could think, in this day and age? Really? Needless to say, the Speaker did leave the Commons, although before he said this of prorogation:

“It is not typical. It is not standard. It is one of the longest for decades and it represents, not just in the minds of colleagues, but huge numbers of people outside, an act of executive fiat”

Yes, I agree, this is the executive shutting down any debate on one of the most important issues that this country has faced. I have to stop myself saying this is shocking – I’m saying it too often – but it is.  One other sad little point is that in the polls the Conservatives are way ahead of any other party. No wonder Boris wants an election. What has this country become?

However, I end this piece with some hope and a possible answer to who holds the power – the Executive or Parliament?

The Benn bill passed in rapid time is in actuality the work of a cross-party alliance of MPs, and it appears to have halted Johnson’s wish to force a no-deal Brexit at the end of October. Within the bill if we get to 19 October without requesting, via a letter, a deal with the EU to leave, then he must request an extension. Note the word request – it will be for the EU to grant this extension.

If Johnson refuses to do the above, he will not only be in contempt of Parliament he will be breaking the law, hence this could go to the courts – this is interesting.

So, what is going to happen? Actually all the pundits are in the same place as ever – we don’t know.

However, my predictions are that there will be:

  • A lot of shouting over the next few weeks at the various ‘conferences
  • A General Election?  Not in the next few weeks, as there isn’t a majority for that, but see below…
  • Another referendum? Unlikely but you never know – possibly if there was a General Election…
  • A different deal to Mrs May’s Withdrawal Agreement? There isn’t enough time for that
  • A no-deal crash-out? No, not with the Benn bill but… will Johnson ask for
  • An extension? Well, only if he’s forced to ask and that might make him
  • Go to court. That’s quite likely, equally he might
  • Resign. This is also quite likely, therefore, there might be
  • A General Election!

Penny Kocher 10thSeptember 2019

P.S. There is so much more to say but this is enough for now.

Further reading:

Editorial. The Guardian view on the world and Brexit: rue Britannia. The Guardian 8 September 2019

John Harris. Britain is facing a stark choice. So why are so many people tuning out? The Guardian 9 September 2019

For a different and opposing view to the Guardian read The Daily Telegraph

And from The Financial Times read their perspective on a no-deal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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10 thoughts on “What have we become?

  • 10th September 2019 at 12:47
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    Oooh, you said it Penny! xx

    Reply
    • 14th September 2019 at 08:03
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      Thanks! I’m already out of date, though, as Tuesday will be interesting – which way will our High Court go?

      Reply
  • 10th September 2019 at 12:49
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    I’m angry, in despair, furious and a remainder still. I can’t quite believe that the Torys are ahead in the polls but then the right wing media are in charge of what us plebs see and read.
    The best quote I’ve heard recently is from a man in N Ireland on channel 4 tv:
    Johnson’s knowledge is a little gap in his ignorance. Eton smooths out the ignorance of the British ruling classes polishes them up and sends them out into the world to rule the lesser breeds.
    That is how Johnson and Rees Mogg view the electorate, lesser breeds. Mind you listening to some of the reasons for voting leave they aren’t far wrong

    Reply
    • 10th September 2019 at 13:49
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      Oh and don’t get me started about needing a written constitution and a different voting system

      Reply
    • 14th September 2019 at 08:05
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      Yes, Johnson is very much a polished bluffer and this bluffing could work and then again it probably won’t. I see they’re ever so slightly edging towards a line being drawn down the Irish Sea. Will the DUP allow this though? And the answer is – who knows!!!!! What a way to run a country……

      Reply
  • 10th September 2019 at 13:03
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    Hi Penny

    A particularly brilliant blog today, well done! Your characterisation of Johnson is spot on – he’s not nearly as clever as he would like us to think he is. His hi-falutin’ language – frequently incorrectly used – is designed simply to impress us lesser mortals, and his lobbing around of Latin phrases is no more than puerile (from ‘puer’, Latin for boy child…) showing off.

    Matthew d’Ancona got it right when he described Johnson as “a breathtakingly incompetent braggart with a Churchill complex” (More from d’Ancona here… https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jul/22/boris-johnson-prime-minister-blame-standup-journalists)

    But at least we now see this caricature of a politician tasting significant defeat…

    Onwards!

    xx Chris

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    • 14th September 2019 at 08:11
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      The thing with Johnson is that he has that confidence which has been bought through his education. The delightful 86-yr-old we spoke to on the cruise gave me a blow-by-blow account of why Eton was such a good school to which I let her go on and then replied of course it is a good school, why wouldn’t it be, but why for the very few and how can we spread this ‘good school’ to all. She didn’t reply to that. I mean it wasn’t an unpleasant conversation, it was a good conversation and she and I knew we were talking from very different viewpoints. Fascinating really.

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    • 14th September 2019 at 08:13
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      P.S. I don’t think Johnson has really got to that stage yet, now Cameron………………

      Reply
  • 10th September 2019 at 14:06
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    Great blog, Penny. Two things in particular keep occurring to me:

    1. Johnson, Rees-Mogg and the rest of the ERG/ hard right Tories have already openly shafted Leave voters by not voting for Theresa May’s deal. They are the people most responsible for us being in the EU after 31st March precisely because a) they voted against a deal that would have taken us out of the EU and b) they are the MPs most loudly proclaiming their wish to be ‘out’, allegedly at all costs. Yet they are apparently hailed by Leave supporters as THE politicians who will now ensure leave happens.

    Which brings me to the second point:

    2. Much of this feels (more and more) like wide scale, institutional/institutionalised abuse: it’s completely based on emotion not facts (and generally that emotion is anger); the gaslighting – lies – are horrendous, from multiple sources including politicians, journalists and presenters, social media; any dissenting voice is belittled; any dissenting institution – such as Parliament – is to be silenced.

    Reply
    • 14th September 2019 at 08:31
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      Yes, you are so right about the voting pattern of Johnson, Rees-Mogg and the ERG. I mean do you remember that once upon a time people used to talk about a ‘soft Brexit’ although I wonder now whether that was ever on the cards with those who were driving the agenda.

      Watched The Great Hack last night. OMG. Although it didn’t really tell me anything I didn’t know it was shocking to see the blatant laid-out for all to see brain-washing of an electorate through Facebook ads. Why are we such fools and yet I love getting the News Thump ads on my timeline and Bill chortles away at how the public is trolling Johnson on his walkabouts around the UK. And it’s because Facebook knows we want to see these things!

      The Great Hack began with the man who wanted his data back from Cambridge Analytica saying that there are people and institutions out there that want to break us up into little pieces so they can lick up the crumbs. We are living the Shock Doctrine.

      Eyes Wide Open, Lorna, as I think that’s all we can do. It’s a no to the gaslighting – we have to bear witness to this abuse of power.

      Reply

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