Bigotry, Austerity and Charlatanism: Who Is Boris Johnson?

As of the 23rd July 2019, Boris Johnson is the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, following Theresa May’s resignation earlier this year. The news emerged during a Summer heatwave, prompting the public to highlight the pathetic fallacy of our current situation: the gates of hell have been opened, and the world is officially coming to its end. Johnson’s appointment has been followed by a wave of controversy and protest, specifically surrounding the undemocratic processes that found Johnson leading the country, as well as the similarities that Brits have been noticing between himself and America’s president, Donald Trump. During this confusing and ultimately rather traumatic time, I have been conducting some research to deduce my own conclusions on Johnson, learn more about how he rose to power, and discover how people have responded to his promise of a “golden age” for the United Kingdom.    

Whilst following the Hunt Vs. Johnson race to number ten, I was utterly appalled by how incompetent Boris Johnson is at public speaking: he shouts, there is no structure, form, or coherent narrative to his dialogue. His speeches are riddled with inaccuracies and derogatory language, and don’t even get me started on the pace at which he speaks. I have been sitting there, genuinely shocked to my core, wondering how someone of this calibre has managed to fumble up to the very top of our political system. Unfortunately,  I cannot help but conclude that if someone else (who spoke with a working class, northern accent, and who came from a less-privileged background) was spurting the same nonsense, in the same tone, the British media would have labelled them as an incoherent bigot long, long ago. The British class system, ladies and gentlemen! 

In my opinion, Johnson’s unexpected genius has always lived in his ability to invent a complex illusion of himself. To himself, he is a fictional character, a Tory figure-head. In fact, this year I read ‘Just Boris’ by Sonia Purnell, which detailed how Johnson disarranges his hair moments before he appears on television. Purnell states that “his famous dishevelled look is actually, however, the product of a brisk, artful rearrangement with his fingers (just before the cameras roll) rather than any naturally occurring disorder.” In the same way, Johnson’s rise to 10 Downing Street was not bred from a naturally occurring disorder”. Instead it was a product of three decades of a personal re-imagination of the standards of truthfulness and competence. Indeed, he seems to believe that he is free from the standards of decency, transparency and truthfulness, that is supposed to bind members of the political class. Perhaps his public career in journalism, show-business, and then politics, has been all about subconciously conditioning us towards accepting this notion as correct. And apparently, some people have actually fallen for it.  

The Labour Party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has seemingly not fallen for Johnson’s political performance, and has claimed that he, and the British people, “do not trust this prime minister to make the right decisions.” He also quoted President Trump’s comments that Johnson was “Britain’s Trump”. I found this comparison very interesting, so I proceeded to research just exactly how similar Trump and Johnson are. When you realise that both are products of extreme privilege, and yet try to portray themselves as “men of the people”, and that they both use a smokescreen of ‘amusing’ incompetence to disguise their right-wing agenda, you start to realise just how in-danger we all are. It doesn’t stop there: no public scandal seems to sink either of them, and both have been accused of racism multiple times. If this is the kind of person is the ‘answer’ to Great Britain’s problems, what on earth is the question?!  

Moving on to the makeup of Boris Johnson’s cabinet... A gargantuan 64% have been privately educated, compared to a measly 7% of the general population. That’s over double the proportion of Theresa May’s first cabinet in 2016, and 14% more than David Cameron’s in 2015. Yes, you read that correctly. Boris Johnson, a proud charlatan, has appointed the most hard-right government in modern politics, all of whom are threatening our hard-won rights and freedoms. Do not underestimate this menace: Gavin Williamson, our new Education Secretary, has actively opposed LGBTQ+ rights time and time again, Jacob Rees Mogg, who opposes abortion in cases of rape, and who also opposes LGBTQ+ rights, is now one of the most powerful politicians in Britain. I could list the members of Johnson’s circus parade, whilst explaining why they are worrying politicians for twenty-first century Britain for days on end, but instead I will leave you with this… Boris Johnson is very keen on being compared to Winston Churchill, forgetting that Churchill lost to Labour in a landslide defeat during a general election whilst he was Tory leader. In 1997, Johnson wrote that “Politics is a constant repetition, in cycles of varying length, of one of the oldest myths in human culture, of how we make kings for our societies, and how after a while we kill them to achieve a kind of rebirth.”  

Like those who protested against Johnson in London this week, let’s start working on proving him right by demanding a general election. 

Words by Morgan Hartley

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