A UK government press officer, pictured earlier today
Guillaume Faye, the great nouvelle droitiste and founder of the French new political Right, came up with a phrase that should be tattooed on the arm of every modern politician;
One day we will wake up and all the magic will be gone.
Well, good morning. Wakey wakey, hands off snakey. That time is now.
Modern life, you see, is what the late Freddie Mercury once referred to as a kind of magic. Any one of us can achieve things unimaginable to the most powerful rulers of history. The Egyptian emperors could not even keep their drinking water cold. The Renaissance magi could not talk to other Renaissance magi half a world away, and even see their faces as they talked. Diseases that used to decimate continents are now made to disappear with the wave of a magic wand, or at least a syringe.
All looking rather stale now, no? Government – certainly in the UK – seems to have become a huge game of Simon Says with real police officers for those who put their hands on their head when Simon didn’t tell them. In the meantime, everyone else lives like Simon Stylites. What is the point of all your wonderful gadgets if you can’t go outside when you want to? There’s no point to magic if you get bored with it.
But another type of magic is under threat. The word is prestidigitation. The magician makes the coin disappear. Only she doesn’t, not really. One of her hands takes your attention (it’s called ‘misdirection’) while the other loses the coin. With a bad magician, you can see the glint of the coin as it is pocketed or dropped onto a soft surface so as to make no noise. The bad magician, in this case, is government.
Government is no longer statesmanship, we have known that for some time, at least those of us not bouncing between Netflix and garden centres have. Now those things are ring-fenced, some of us are starting to notice the coin. All the focus groups, SpAds, wonks and other paid liars in Westminster won’t stop a public who are not ‘woke’ but have woken up.
Boris Johnson is starting to make Theresa May, Cameron and the man everyone assumed was a cricket commentator, John Major, look good at their jobs. Goofy buffoonery, ruffled hair (he does ruffle it before press conferences, says our man in the know) and being able to recite the Iliad in the original Hellenic Greek does not make you a good Prime Minister. And if Dominic Cummings is Johnson’s idea of Harry Hopkins, Roosevelt’s Svengali, then both are very much mistaken.
So, then. One day you will wake up and all the magic will be gone.
And perhaps it might be time to hand it back to the people. They might actually do something useful with it. If not, there are darker arts, and people prepared to use them. Remember your history? Remember who comes a knockin’ when the ship of state is rudderless? It’s alright, Weimar, I’m only bleeding…
The greatest magic in the world is the ability of people, real people, not the pod-people who run governments across the West, the liars and wrigglers, the shits and shills, to bounce back from adversity. Free of the shackles of the crew ‘running’ the show at the moment, we may still see some real magic.