British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been compared to a greased piglet and Houdini because of his ability to get out of a jam. This political escape artist extraordinaire has finally been cornered because of a series of parties. I am not making this up.
He’s done worse but Johnson biographer Sonia Purcell thinks this is more damaging than past scandals, which she lists with some gusto in a NYT op-ed:
As his former colleague at a British newspaper in the early 1990s and as his only independent biographer, I’ve watched closely over the years as Houdini Johnson has emerged scot free time and again from debacles that would have sunk anyone else: the accusations of corruption over the funding of a lavish upgrade to his Downing Street flat; the alleged lies he told during his campaigning for Brexit now exposed by a British economy badly struggling to cope with the consequences; the diversionary sabre rattling against the European Union that could both wreak further economic pain and even endanger peace in Ireland.
Blatant hypocrisy is at the center of the “drinks party” scandal. The British government imposed tight restrictions on the public because of the pandemic. The Johnson government didn’t believe they applied to them. The most galling of the 13 drinks party took place on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral. It led to an apology from Downing Street to the Queen. The Queen was obliged to accept the apology, but the disrespect from the Tory government must have been irksome as they’ve traditionally been the royalist party.
The connecting thread between all the Johnson scandals is lying. Johnson lies early and often. I don’t think he’s lied as much as the Impeached Insult Comedian, but mendacity thy name is Boris. They both have bad hair, which has nothing to do with lying but it makes them look like clowns as they prevaricate.
The similarities between Johnson and Trump do not extend to their hold over their parties, political, not drinks. The Tories are a bloodthirsty lot. They deposed Margaret Thatcher after three landslide victories. Johnson has only one under his belt. There are already signs of political unrest.
Trump is the sorest loser who ever lost an election. Yet, he seems to have a vise-like grip over his party apparatus and its voters. It does, however, seem to be slipping as he is less omnipresent on teevee and is absent altogether from social media. His statements do not have the same impact as his tweets but he’s back to holding super spreader rallies, which uh rally the troops.
The United States has had a year-long hangover from the Trump bender, but thanks to a flaccid political press corps, many Americans think of the GOP as a normal political party instead of a proto-Fascist movement.
As to Boris Johnson, he’s still in power and the massive majority the Tories rolled up at the last election will be a steep hill to climb for the opposition Labour party. Disgust, however, is a powerful political tool and disgust is growing over Johnson’s disgusting government.
There was a mordant column by the Guardian’s Marina Hyde that captures the current mood across the pond:
Not the greatest surprise, then, to see a voter in a TV vox pop judging that “Boris has lost his moral compass”. (I love the idea that he ever had one. What would this contraption have looked like? A custom-built device where the needle pointed magnetically to the words World King Get Big Drunken Shag?) If things carry on at this rate, it won’t be long before the Conservative party decides to Build Back Borisless. For now, the most positive reading of Johnson’s situation is that he’s in the last chance saloon – but hey, at least that means there’s booze.
Brexit foreshadowed the rise of Trumpism in our country. Here’s hoping Boris’ bit of bother is similarly portentous. I’m not optimistic about that but hope is imperative for the human condition.
Party on, Boris.
The last word goes to Nat King Cole and Bryan Ferry: