It’s tempting to wonder how much of current British (or English) politics can be explained by the aftermath of the last war. With the 75th anniversary of VE day not long ago and with Brexit still hanging in the air like mustard gas, it seems to explain a lot, including why people might have held their noses and voted for Johnson. In fact as this Guardian article suggests they may have voted for him because of his faults rather than in spite of them. It was clear Johnson was a narcissist. He thinks of himself as Winston Churchill whereas the Churchill dog is nearer the mark. Cummings proposes; Johnson says ‘Awww yesss!’
Cummings, if reports are to be believed, is particularly good at three-word slogans. Take Back Control, Get Brexit Done – these were clear vote-winners. Stay at Home was even better as it had the virtue, unlike the others, of actually making sense. But there is a growing feeling that his slogans no longer make sense. Do Your Duty is particularly hollow coming from a man who thinks the rules don’t apply to him; and for those who fought in the war or did other duties as well as those unable to be with loved ones as they died, it is particularly insulting; and for these reasons I don’t think it’s going to go away.
But still, there are worse people in the world and one of them was Jeffrey Epstein. We’ve been watching a documentary series about him on Netflix and he’s emerging as a man who would stop at nothing in his need to control others, be they politicians or police officers or women or other financiers. Johnson is a narcissist, sure, but he wants to be liked; to be seen as a jolly showman, a master of ceremonies who shows up to bask in glory and use words like ‘fantastic’ and ‘world-beating.’ Surely by now it must be dawning on his supporters just how hollow these words are?
But with or without Johnson I think the illusion largely remains in this country that we can ‘go it alone’, both economically and in every way. The tragedy of global capitalism is that we have global trade but parochial attitudes, whereas it ought to be the other way round: ‘think globally, act locally’, not ‘buy globally, think parochially.’