PRESSGANGED : BORIS JOHNSON AND THE BRITISH MEDIA
1st September, 2020
Cancillería Argentina / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)
It seems that people on the Right in Britain are broadly split into two camps: those who say Boris Johnson is a bullshitting waste of space, and those who think the prime minister will come good if we can just get past coronavirus.
I can see both sides of this. Yes, coronavirus dropped from a clear sky onto a government fondling an 80-seat majority and a country collectively sighing with relief at having avoided a Labour Party captured by communism and also having voted in a prime minister who promised an end to Tory lies about Brexit. Just like the moments in movies when someone asks what could possibly go wrong now, everything went pear-shaped very quickly.
Readers of British Intelligence being clever and well informed sorts, I do not need to recapitulate the sorry story of the past six months. True, Johnson became very ill – and some say he has yet to fully recover – but his absence made it all the more clear that the cabinet is like a giant rock band with a great front man: once he goes it is fatally reduced. I know that people pay good money to see Queen and The Blockheads, but as far as I am concerned, without Freddie and Ian it is a complete waste of time. True, you still have Priti Patel on bass as it were but it’s not enough.
Then there is the media’s obsessive hatred of Johnson. Back in the Eighties when I held left-wing views about society I often heard people moaning about Tory control of the media. It is hard to credit how strong and aggressive newspapers were in those days, yet even then I was sceptical about the supposed control papers such as the Sun held over public thought. The public’s innate conservativism was reflected by newspapers, not the other way round. It is typical that the Left got this arse about face, and still does. I still have Labour-supporting friends who rant about ‘Tory hate comics’, imagining that dying publications such as the Sun, the Daily Express and the Daily Telegraph are all that stands between them and a socialist Britain.
In any case, the ‘serious’ media, including many ‘broadsheets’, the BBC, Sky News, Channel 4 and ITV news, is now largely controlled by what is best described as a Blairite worldview. This means they hate Johnson. That they cannot see him as one of their own is indicative of how ignorant, unimaginative and saturated in received wisdom these institutions are. For Johnson is very close to the kind of politician they want: a social liberal, a can-kicker on debt, a wildly enthusiastic burner of public money and very much pro mass immigration. What, as they would say, is not to like?
Well, what they don’t like is that he’s posh – though that is OK if you are in the Labour Party – went to Eton and above all has at times described women and certain minorities in jocular and pejorative terms. Yes, in his journalism he deployed a sub-Wodehousian style which while threadbare is not, to any sane grown-up, an indication of fascism.
The man deployed levity! He joked. He mentioned piccaninnies, bumboys and made mild fun of burkas. This is the most serious heresy for the media left. They know perfectly well that what Orwell said is true: every joke is a tiny revolution. The Left’s power increasingly resides in the controlling and policing of social attitudes. Real jokes, jokes that reflected events and behaviour in the world, were effectively banned a long time ago in the comedy revolutions of the Eighties and Nineties. The Left rejoices in snide sarcasm and social satire aimed at white people but jokes that kick against the fortress of identity politics can never be tolerated or forgotten, because if political correctness falls then the whole leftist project falls with it. Johnson’s crime is that he has never taken it seriously enough. That and also having the cheek to say he would stand by the result of the Brexit referendum.
Compare Johnson with the ultimate cuckservative Theresa May, with her capitulation to the Left on identity politics, policing and, don’t forget, her Frida Kahlo bracelet. What an easy ride she got from television news reporters (the most aggressively Blairite operators in the media)! She bought in to all their wrong ideas, accepted their premises and above all was committed to emasculating Brexit in broad daylight while promising the electorate that she was doing the opposite – a good old fashioned member of the political class in other words. If the media elite was not so fanatical and lost in a hammock-spin of fury over Brexit and Trump etc, it would realise that Johnson is not so far from May as his grassroots fans think: he has the primary Tory vice of seeking to work round issues caused by left-wing mischief making and wrongheadedness rather than openly confronting and fighting them. Much of this will be due to entrenched public relations micromanagement inside Number Ten. Nevertheless, if Boris was the kind of freebooting maverick he is often sold as then he would have gone off-piste long ago. He hasn’t. The Conservative Party believes that it is easier and more electorally advantageous to ride the tiger of cultural Marxism rather than fight it, despite it being obvious that making war on PC is a vote-winner and, in the long game, the only way liberty, free trade and the rule of law – in short the centre right’s vision of society – will survive.
It must be recognised that revolution is being propagated in the West but Johnson is yet to show he is taking a different line to the Cameron/May governments. Cameron, a weapons-grade bullshitter, made speeches about social justice as did Theresa May, who in 2017 even instituted the pure socialism of a ‘race audit’ to tackle ‘burning injustices’. Johnson has been more practical with his talk of levelling up, but now Covid-19 has offered the Left the chance of perhaps its biggest power grab since 1945. It doesn’t want the crisis to end, at least not until it has seen society permanently changed, essentially a vast expansion of state power, state spending and interference in private life along with a new drive towards supranational relations to militate against the Brexit revolt. Worryingly, this is the agenda for the global elites. See what the World Economic Forum is doing with its ‘Great Reset’ initiative. Johnson fans often ask me how this can be achieved if there is no Labour government in Britain. Even asking the question reveals naivety: media campaigns, a left-leaning civil service, PR, forums, think-tanks, green papers and the like are the methods employed to chivvy ministers along, rather as a sheepdog herds its charges into an enclosure.
This all means that Johnson’s in-tray is massive and ominously fateful. This is not a time for standard soaking wet Tory tactics: fudging, ‘British compromise’ and managed decline. If this government gets the Covid fallout wrong the consequences will be far reaching.
What should Johnson do? Until it gets the sort of echt centre-left leader it craves, the media likes to present Britain as a pandemonium of dissent and protest. It is true that the revolutionary urge is growing, but race and environmental activists are comparatively small in number yet Johnson’s media handlers evidently live in fear of them or rather in fear of the media’s constant propaganda in their favour. Johnson should get all this in perspective and realise that the ‘silent majority’ does not want to live in the future the Left are dragging us all to. Therefore he is a lot safer than he thinks he is. In any case he is years from a general election so can afford to take gambles, be radical and forthright across the fields of education, law and order, sexual politics and international relations.
The lingering popularity of Margaret Thatcher, which was quite out of proportion to her actual achievements in office, was based on her straight talking and unqualified patriotism. Every prime minister since her time in office has more or less spoken with a forked tongue, aided and abetted by the media. Most reasonable intelligent ordinary people over the age of about 40 know the public have been lied to for years across a range of issues, the biggest one being immigration. Johnson must break the mould and set a precedent. Otherwise, and rather sooner than you think, this country will be truly ungovernable.
Rex Varro is a national newspaper journalist