Jeremy Corbyn is to blame for the UK government’s woeful handling of the coronavirus. Boris Johnson may an easy target but it’s Corbyn and Corbynism should, by rights, be in the crosshairs instead.
A little out of left field? Hear me out. I can make the case.
Anyone who’s been watching politics in the UK since late 2018 will know Boris Johnson is a front-man for a particular class of entrenched power, his own above all. He has been consistently loyal, since the start of his career, to his tribe of crony-capitalism “winners”.
BULLINGDON BORIS THE UNCONVENTIONAL
Media used to try identifying this phylum but got mesmerized by the upper class Bullingdon Club, of which Boris and ex-PM David Cameron were members in the 1980s. The ostentatious club’s devotion to old school aristocratic excess, exclusivity and exemption from accountability trapped journalist imagination. The raft of articles railing against toxic masculine white privilege got lost in the harmless look of things and left the dangerous substance untouched.
Boris wore the Bullingdon uniform for a time, but he was never in love with Conservative traditions. Boris isn’t a patriot or a lover of the discerning worldliness, gentle grace and respect for institutions idealized by the quintessentially English Conservative mainstream***.
Boris Johnson’s professional goal has always been to enrich his small subset of English County Conservatism. It’s an approach to political life most don’t seem to understand. If there’s entitlement at play with people like Boris Johnson, it plays out in the ease in which they integrate their public and private lives then subordinated both to their personal objectives.
Boris’s political power extends the tools available to him, for prosecuting his personal ambitions. Considerations like the expectations of public service as a “prime directive” felt by most members of Parliament, painfully aware it’s a rare privilege to serve in Parliament and that there’s great responsibility implicit in asking for, winning and then presuming to represent the trust of 120,000 constituents (or more, once in government).
Most pundits judge politicians by standards that assume these responsibilities are axiomatic. It’s a mistake to do so. Boris doesn’t operate by these rules. Power gained by public office won’t sober Boris into conforming to conventions of mature statesmanship. The thought won’t even cross his mind. Power extends the potential for achieving personal goals (including those of his confederacy of “winners”). More reach, a larger scale of influence.
Journalists, public servants, fellow politicians and political opponents fall into the “Great Power Great Responsibility” error all the time. We watched it happen repeatedly through most of last year and it gives Boris Johnson a significant advantage over his opponents. They limit their behaviour to fit the observed standards of peers and respond to circumstances constrained by a laundry list of conventional rules.
Boris, with no effort at all, probably without noticing the imbalance, acts and moves freely in pursuit of his goals. He can be conventional, or maverick, or whatever’s necessary to get from A to B. Nothing matters, except that which involves power and profit for Boris and the small class of “winners” he represents.
BORIS JOHNSON AND HIS ADORING PROLETARIAT BASE
It was obvious Boris didn’t give a flying fig about the plight of the general public before and after the general election of December 2019. It has been obvious before and after every election he’s contested. The “winners” subclass Boris champions has always walked a line straddling the reality of significant wealth and privilege, with the coarse fantasy of anti-elite anti-establishment lumpen proletariat. Boris is a paradigm of this apparent duality.
More typically called the “common touch“, this key populist trait can attract voters in their millions, especially if the opponents are bland conventionalists. Boris’s moniker among some close political allies is “Heineken Tory” i.e. reaching the parts other Conservatives can’t reach. Donald Trump is part of this subclass, as were George W. Bush, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and a dozen extant demagogues across the world.
In Boris’ case, his feelings about the working class go beyond disinterest. He was brought up in a privileged but combative family integrated with Britain’s political and economic establishment. Like everyone from this amorphous class of upwardly mobile cosmopolitan conservatives, their experience interacting with lower class culture ends up affirming the orthodox British social hierarchy. The working class in England is a singularly degraded, wretched demographic.
Ten years working into the political centre of power from an albeit advantaged position on the periphery brought Boris into contact with plenty of intractable working class realities and it should be no surprise the self-sabotaging spiders in a jar lifestyle of the English proletariat offended Boris’s “winners” philosophy.
Despite ostensibly liberal, libertarian social roots and a laissez-faire attitude to grand social causes, Boris Johnson’s distrust (politically) and disdain (personally) for the working class has never been a secret. It might have been unremarkable, given Boris’s background, in a non-political profession but in public service, considering most of your own citizens an irrelevance is a sociopath recipe for imposing on and exploiting millions of human beings who deserve better.
Boris Johnson is not a man to be imposed upon by conscience about mere austerity-ravaged working class cannon fodder. It’s not the “winners” way to become bogged down by detail; or slowed down by sententious promises like “no man (or woman) left behind”. Boris is an ancestral Turk and there is no noblesse oblige in his pragmatic freewheeling term of office.
PRIME MINISTER WITH AN AUTHORITARIAN MAJORITY
Authoritarian majority was always Boris Johnson’s aim, once Brexit referendum and Prime Minister ambitions became credible. It was the surest route to the level of power necessary to best accomplish the goals of his in-group of Conservative populists. Boris publicized his intentions to make the United Kingdom a deregulated, corporate, investment friendly land of opportunity – a grift bonanza, in other words – precisely as planned by the Brexit confederacy formalized in mid-2016 prior to the EU referendum.
Getting Brexit Done has always been the aim. They sold it to the population using any means effective, whichever enemy, contradiction, fairytale or vanity-titillating promise proved popular got amplified by complicit media; any stories contradicting the Brexit objective quickly rubbished then shelved. It didn’t matter what nonsense was floating around the empty heads of the public so long as it played to the theme.
In Westminster, however, Boris and the ‘loyal’ Conservatives pursued the Brexit coda with single-minded determination, pushing through obstacles and riding roughshod over objections. Stakeholders in the business world supported the program, well aware of the stakes, and the unparalleled potential profit bonanza if successful.
It has been another theme of failing to understand Boris Johnson’s government that media and pundits continue to presume an outcome that’s bad for the British economy, in a national and average citizen sense, should influence Brexit policy. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for the private enterprises (and wealthy individuals) with a stake in the Boris-led mission. This doesn’t change because some Institute of Directors publish a report warning of lost GDP.
It was never difficult for Boris to secure investment in anything credible promising to maximize the chance of success, i.e. opening the UK for systemic exploitation. This includes money to back his bid for Prime Ministerial power.
Boris’ disdain for the electorate has vindicated itself repeatedly, much to the chagrin of the left-wing social conscience. Nowhere more so than the convergence of support for the Brexit end-goal. Boris and his pals wanted to remove EU institutions (and law), to leave the UK at the mercy of their audacious wealth grab.
Most of the English voter public wanted Brexit done and dusted too and fell in line with Boris as the leader best representing this goal. Most of the working and lower class base roundly rejected Corbyn and Swinson, despite both prostrating themselves as public servants promising to help rebuild the welfare state and focus on those working-class communities most in need.
HONEST BORIS THE WINNER – HONEST CORBYN THE LOSER
The point, in any case, is Boris telegraphed his intentions from day one. Nobody can say he didn’t put his personality on the front-line for all to see. It is senseless to complain of government’s failure to engage coronavirus and keep the public safe. Let’s be fair to Boris. Duty of care for those in need was never on the table. It’s cloud cuckoo thinking to expect it to appear, suddenly because a bad flu is doing the rounds. Boris has a job to do.
On the opposition side, promises got made, to focus on wealth gaps and fix communities run into poverty by Conservative negligence. Duty of care, pushed front and centre, was the central plank of “Communist” Corbyn and his Corbynite cult. Cancelling Brexit and other shock-pandering grasping for votes defined the spoiler campaign of the Liberal Democrats. Opposition parties remained disunited against the so-called common threat of a Boris Johnson mandate.
None of these work-a-day “public servants” were credible to the lower and working class voting demographics, despite conditions that ought to have favoured their candidacies. Their failure, rather than Boris’ inspired campaign, made the December 2019 election a foregone conclusion. Boris was barely present throughout the lead-up to election day.
The choice boiled down to entitled nepotism versus unelectable idiots. Can we say it’s surprising the British voters handed the HMRC treasury keys to Boris Johnson? His subordinates, the coterie of in-crowd Conservatives, and his confederates, the big finance banker boys of the City, were winners by default. They won in the end by masterly inactivity.
It’s worth adding a warning to the opposition: if you stay blind to this failure, you will never find success. Failing to win the working-class votes was not evidence of Boris Johnson’s statecraft but evidence of Jeremy Corbyn’s intransigent conceit alienating the very people his manifesto presumed to want to help.
What happens today is a consequence of what happened days prior. Boris isn’t Prime Minister working on plundering the United Kingdom and virtually ignoring the coronavirus crisis in a vacuum. Boris is conforming to type, carrying out the same plans, same approach as always. Coronavirus neglected by government is inevitable if the country elects a government with no interest in wasting time on public health. The Conservatives also conform to type. If anyone’s to blame for coronavirus, it must be Jeremy Corbyn and not Boris Johnson.
CLARITY ON CURRENT EVENTS – CORONAVIRUS AND CRONY-CAPITALIST “WINNERS” LEGISLATING INTO POSITION
NOTE: in late 2019 the coronavirus wasn’t yet even an obscure report of a discolouration on a diseased bat’s wing. It was not in the popular consciousness at the turn of the new decade.
Now, six months later, tens of thousands (or more) are dead from COVID-19. Britain, despite being one of the richest, most high-tech countries on the planet, continues to find itself ravaged by the spread of corona. Govt response has been a lazy mix of disdain, incompetence (though disinterest) and a steady stream of bullshit. It’s not impressive. It’s rather bleak. But let’s call a spade a spade: Boris and his cabinet’s flimflam has been EXACTLY as expected. Also, given the lack of meaningful progress since being “caught unaware” by the first outbreak, it should be clear that conditions will get worse before they get better.
If you’re an average citizen, the medium-term economic pain will be a torture that’ll make austerity look like a picnic. For as long as coronavirus is fact, the Govt will exacerbate infections, deaths and disruption; not because they’re doing the wrong thing but because they’re not interested in spending money or taking responsibility for systematic fightback against it.
Government focus is elsewhere. Their only sincere interest in coronavirus is the opportunities it gives to slice profit out of the HMRC purse masked by an additional category of legitimate projects turned into big finance grifts. There’s easy money to be made in testing, personal protective equipment, fielding the infected, treating the sick, deals with big pharma for drugs and vaccines, the list goes on.
These opportunities for grift, in the guise of legitimate public services, are in accord with the recent explosion of public-private partnerships (PPPs). It’s a form favoured by the UK government because PPPs can face public scrutiny and look fit for purpose but, via tried and tested steps, be adjusted into taxpayer-funded, unregulated, unaccountable revenue streams for the big capital cabals.
Coronavirus is incidental to the Government profiteering dynamics, however much it occupies media attention and forces inconvenient public press conferences. Deregulation and public-private wealth redistribution objectives carry on with or without coronavirus.
Boris Johnson will continue to drive forward the legal plunder of UK institutions for the next 4-5 years (at least). For Boris and his crony-capitalists, the real aim of Brexit had always been deregulation, stripping away layers of accountability, and unshackling restrictions on the government’s freedom to grift**. Coronavirus has changed none of that.
“Impoverishing many, enriching a few.”
We’ll be leaving a pig’s breakfast for the future, impoverishing many, enriching a few. The principle is nothing new. British government grift in the 2020s is only different to the big capital partnered nepotism of the 1980s in scale.
And let’s not forget, it’s all thanks to Corbyn and his politburo of far-left sociopaths. Cheers, Jezza!
* Public-private partnerships can insert itself, with the full force of Govt authority, anywhere in the UK’s vast multi-trillion pound GDP economy. Legislation can ring-fence their business from competition and oversight. Newly appropriated companies can profit like a private enterprise, enjoy guaranteed revenue from a Govt-directed flow of taxpayer money, without being accountable to market forces. The only accountability becomes the Govt, who’re part of the profit-share.
** Deregulating government-corporate activity can become a neat, flexible, profitable form of inverse taxation, i.e. tax money goes from the citizens to HMRC to the wealthy corporate families (and Govt enablers), not from citizens and corporations to serving the nation e.g. public services.
*** The Bullingdon Club is a private all-male dining club for Oxford University students. It is known for its wealthy members, grand banquets, boisterous rituals, and occasionally poor behaviour, including vandalism of restaurants and students’ rooms. The club is known to select its members not only on the grounds of wealth and willingness to partake, but also by pre-university education.
If you’re curious about the Daily Mail / Sunday Mail in the UK market, here are some representative snapshots of headlines and front pages. It gives a fair impression.