- Date published:
9:24 am, December 10th, 2020 - 18 comments
Categories: boris johnson, International, national, politicans, Politics, same old national, uk politics - Tags: economist, politik
There are the odd occasions when you find a political opinion that is a joy to read and quite revealing.
This morning whilst reading the Economist, I read a Bagehot column – “Tidying Boris Up“. Despite my almost total lack of interest in the UK from this fifth generation kiwi, it read exactly like my opinion on the current conservative scene in the UK.
I thought I’d share it. But it is paywalled. So you may need to give them a email to read a few articles a week and allow them to pester you. But it is often worth it.
Setting the scene
THE FIRST months of Boris Johnson’s tenure as mayor of London, back in 2008, were, by common consent, a mess. Projects fizzled. Senior aides flounced. Chaos reigned. Then “bungling Boris”, as the newspapers dubbed him, appointed a talented chief of staff. The self-effacing but effective Simon Milton brought order to chaos and turned dither into decisiveness. Mr Johnson became Britain’s most popular Tory and was re-elected by a landslide.
His first year in Downing Street recalls those early days in the mayor’s office. A slow response to the outbreak of covid-19 may have doubled the death rate; clumsy handling of the purchase of personal protective equipment left front-line workers vulnerable and led to dodgy deals to get hold of the stuff; faffing about exams generated confusion and anxiety. The angry departure of Dominic Cummings, Mr Johnson’s former chief adviser, and his Brexiteer acolytes left Downing Street shell-shocked. Party discipline has collapsed.The Economist: Tidying Boris Up“
There are other words being written about Brexit right now. It looks like brinkmanship is the only resort after the negotiators appear to have left the field exhausted. Personally I’m feel that there will be some kind of agreement on Northern Ireland, but not that much else. A hard and painful exit looks likely.
The internal title of the column is “Introducing Dan Rosenfield, Boris Johnson’s organisation man”. Essentially it argues that this is exactly the kind of person to bring some order to the UK Prime Ministers office. It is probably a pity for the UK that the organisation only joins the place around the time that Brexit goes hard and the economy starts really getting damaged.
Mr Rosenfield’s first day in the job could be difficult if, as looks quite possible, Britain leaves the European Union without a deal. Even if there is one, he will be wading into quicksand. The prime minister’s biggest problems are political rather than purely organisational. Brexit was always a bundle of contradictions held together by a shared hostility to the EU and a vague optimism about freedom. Mr Johnson’s taste for waffle and fudge made him the perfect leader of the movement as long as it was about protest. With the end of the transition period he will have to focus on what he likes least: making difficult decisions and tough trade-offs.
Party management is also becoming harder, as the dysmorphic Tory party completes its transition from the natural party of government into a British version of the Taliban, dominated by a bunch of right-wing revolutionaries and in a permanent state of fury and factitiousness. It was always going to be tricky for a prime minister who made his career by rebelling against the leadership to impose party discipline. The party’s disintegration into factions that reflect warring ideological and regional priorities has made it almost impossible: the One Nation group of liberal Tories, the 109 Group of new MPs (oddly named, since there are 66 of them), the Northern Research Group, the Covid Recovery Group and the grandmother of them all, the European Research Group of Eurosceptics. Many of the last lot are battle-hardened, addicted to revolt and already convinced that the Downing Street reset is an establishment plot to neuter Brexit and return to business as usual.The Economist: Tidying Boris Up“
That the conservatives look, from here, of “British version of the Taliban, dominated by a bunch of right-wing revolutionaries and in a permanent state of fury and factitiousness” also seems to be a genetic complaint amongst conservatives world wide at present
The conservatives in our own National party look just like that these days. The moderates are gone or leaving. The struggle that caused two turnovers inside National leadership this year were not only about trying to not lose so heavily. They were also about the factional conflict between the liberals, conservatives and the religious. This is expressing itself deeply in the candidate selections. See Richard Harmon’s pay walled article “Shaking up the Nats“.
Basically it is the struggle of who National is going to represent in the future. Most of NZ as Jacinda Arden and the current Labour caucus seem to be doing (almost despite the do-more pushes here and in other places on the left) or just their own in-fighting aged melanin deprived males with the thin XX leavening of Judith Collins and a handful of others.
It is no longer the ‘same old national‘ – one of our favoured categories. It is getting far worse.
You can see the same thing across the Tasman. The sagas of Barnaby Joyce, Abbott and Peter Dutton come to mind.
It is hard to look around the world at present and see a coherent right. Most of them appear to have contracted some form of the frothing madness of dogs or Taliban. Either rabid or cowering like most federal and state Republicans in the US. More concerned about culture wars than combating crises.