If you want to be a dictator the easiest way is to inherit power from someone else – but if you’re stuck in a democracy with long traditions, here’s how to do it:
- Attain power by democratic means. You’ve got no option but to go through the channels, then once you have power you can start to make the changes you need to keep you there.
- Once in power, quickly attain control of key state positions. Put your own appointments to control the military and the judiciary. Make sure more and more judges at local level owe their loyalty to you.
- Get control of the media. The importance of this cannot be overstated; you must have media channels that report your utterances without question. A free press and news media is disastrous to any would-be dictator.
- Get ordinary people on your side. The way to do this is by pretending to be on their side. This is crucial; without the votes of ordinary people you cannot hope to succeed in a democracy. Convince them that you are an anti-establishment figure and that you want them to prosper and you can basically do what you want.
- Be prepared to play the long game. You won’t be able to control everything in one term of office; it will take two at least, so when the first election comes up dial down the rhetoric, pretend to have learned some lessons and fake humility. If you can fake humility the sky’s the limit – they’ll love you forever. Then when you’ve won your second term you can set about consolidating your power so that you never again need to worry about those pesky elections. Then bingo! You can sit back, enjoy your golf and watch the dollars roll in.
This is what is now unrolling in the US and, to a lesser extent in the UK. But it’s coming unstuck for both Johnson and Trump because both have a fatal flaw. Trump was able to stick to points 1-4 but has neither the maturity nor the patience to play the long game; he has shot his bolt and is staking everything on an attempted coup which is bound to fail. The contrast between his childishness and Biden’s diligence, having won power after long struggle and personal tragedy, cannot be overstated. I don’t want to make Biden into some sort of saint but right now he is at least exhibiting the patience of one.
Over here it’s all unravelling for Johnson too. Once Trump had lost he immediately looked more vulnerable; it must have been agony for him not only to accept the loss but to wait for Biden’s call (‘when will Daddy phone? Does he love my other siblings better than me?’ – er, yes he does) and just look at his little face here when he finally gets to speak to him. Aw, bless.
Seriously though, it’s all Cumming – sorry, coming – unstuck for him now, and for the same reasons. I have absolutely no sympathy for the Tory party; they were warned loud and clear about what he was like and they still voted for him – and lo and behold, he delivered exactly what they were promised. He is a man with no core, a hollow man who seeks only his own advantage. Cummings is on his way out now – as I predicted, Barnard Castle will not be forgotten, and if Cummings is out, can Johnson be far behind?
The trouble is though that in theory we have four more years before another election here. But things are looking up, and I can’t wait to see Trump leave the White House kicking and screaming in January. Please let there be kicking and screaming…