My UK correspondent Christine Battle has written persuasively about the ironies attending the dire straits in which that country’s Prime Minister finds himself. Yes, the conduct that has occurred in his house is reprehensible, and should have painful consequences for all concerned. Just what those consequences should be, however, remains a matter for contentious debate. In the first place, as Christine points out, the brouhaha has had the wholly desirable effect of restoring to Britons many of the liberties of which they had been deprived by the now-chastened clowns in no 10 Downing St. Replacing them with a set of unchastened clowns will not by any means guarantee better governance.
Of course, all the usual suspects – not just the opposition parties, but the irredentist Remainers who have not forgiven Boris for converting Theresa May’s ersatz Brexit into the real thing – want Boris gone. But it’s far from clear that there is a replacement available with anything like the electoral pull necessary to sustain the Conservative party’s incumbency, and who would not bring with them their own special brand of maladministration. Boris may be damaged goods, say his supporters, but he’s proved himself astonishingly battle-worthy in the past, and given the three years that lie before an election must be held, there’s plenty of scope for rabbits to be pulled out of hats.
The problem with the rabbit-out-of-hat stratagem is that he’s spent so much electoral capital visibly stuffing rabbits into his hat over the last two years. At every major policy juncture, the instincts which had informed his journalism, and by extension so many of his supporters’ view of him, seem to have deserted him. After an initial show of robust libertarian common sense when Covid arrived, he caved in to the ‘experts’, and became the very apotheosis of the nanny-state control-freak he had spent decades excoriating in print.
But Covid, as has been pointed out herein, has its own extinction built in, as the mildness of its latter manifestations becomes ineluctably evident even to the most incontinent of bed-wetters, and its sheer ubiquity makes even the iPhone-powered tyranny of the last two years logistically insupportable. Sooner, rather than later, all our demented leaders are going to have to ‘do a Denmark’, and give it away. The immense cost of their two—year experiment as latter-day Cnuts is sunk, so there’s little point in fighting for it.
Britons, then, should be more worried about Boris’ more far-reaching efforts to destroy their wealth and immiserate them. Chief among these is his embrace of green zealotry, which goes far beyond what might have been a forgivable tactical ruse to baffle and distract the idiots who believe mankind to be a blight on the face of Gaia. Here he joins our own gallimaufry of cretinous faux-conservative leaders. All seem to be captive to the counter-scientific faith, with its two-pronged tenets, firstly, that the carbon-based means by which mankind has supplied itself with energy since mid-20th century are harming the planet, and secondly, that a range of half-developed ‘renewables’ is capable of substituting for carbon-based technology in meeting our energy needs hereafter. Neither of these beliefs withstands the briefest of scientific scrutiny; a fact which Boris the journo was fonder than most of pointing out. But that was ‘Boris BC’. Which could mean ‘Before Covid’, he having survived a nasty dose of the virus, but which I suspect is really ‘Before Carrie’. Because all of the British Prime Minister’s new-found tendresses seem to tend in the direction indicated by the preoccupations of his latest squeeze, Carrie, nee Symonds, whose credentials speak to an impeccable metropolitan misanthropy. Fully-fledged climate-fretter, natch. But also friend and champion of the much misunderstood badger, daughter of the co-founder of The Independent, journal of the soft left, and continuing to serve as a ‘senior advisor’ to the achingly virtuous Oceana conservation charity.
We all – all of us Boris fans, that is – knew he was a dedicated serial monogamist – it’s been priced into the stock for years. But I think I speak for all of us when I say that ‘Carrie Antoinette’ has astonished us with an ability to subvert his politics that was never evident in her predecessors. In doing so, she has alienated him from that sizeable chunk of the electorate that lent him its vote on the strength of unique, charismatic qualities that gave him the appearance of transcending political orthodoxy, and of having, beneath the carefully-crafted veneer of blithering idiocy, the strength of character to face down the establishment, both in Whitehall and in Westminster and, indeed in Brussels, and impose a regime of common sense in place of their reign of fashionable idiocy. Had he resisted her, he might have counted on that electoral cohort to overlook Partygate, and spare him the crash that he seems to be heading for. But he got Carried away, and now that crash seems inevitable.
But what will follow him?