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  Opinion   Oped  29 Jun 2019  Boris Johnson is a hypocrite: Yes, even British irony rusts

Boris Johnson is a hypocrite: Yes, even British irony rusts

In his words: "I am just a professional writer, which means I don't do blogs and try and get money for whatever I write."
Published : Jun 29, 2019, 12:20 am IST
Updated : Jun 29, 2019, 12:20 am IST

The lack of self-consciousness is staggering — or perhaps typically British.

Boris Johnson (Photo: AP)
 Boris Johnson (Photo: AP)

“When I was out singing beneath the stars
A ray from Venus struck — or was its Mars?
It spread this longing through my blood and veins
— Without you how can I endure these hours?”

From The Quatrains of Hafiz Tr. By Bachchoo

British Brexiteers, this relay of lemmings heading for the cliff, these time-capsule fantasists dreaming of an imperial past, sheep following conniving shepherds who lead them to the abattoir — are all beguiled by the idea that they are the devotees of democracy.

 

Before the end of July, possibly much earlier, Britain will have a new Prime Minister voted into 10 Downing Street by 160, 000 members of the Tory Party. Britain has 67 million people. This 0.02424 per cent of the population will decide who will lead the nation. The lack of self-consciousness is staggering — or perhaps typically British.

Disregard the statistic. Consider the nature of this tiny enfranchised oligarchy. Gentle reader, allow me to tell you about the hypocrisy of the leading candidate and the nature and views of the constituency which will most probably elect him to power.

In the early part of the century, the Labour Party led by Tony Blair was Britain’s government. There was a tussle within the Labour Party and Tony Blair stepped down, giving way to his chancellor Gordon Brown, who became the Prime Minister unopposed from within the party but endorsed by it. At the time, Boris Johnson, the leading candidate to be crowned Prime Minister by the majority vote of this 0.02424 of the population wrote about Mr Brown’s succession to the prime ministership as a betrayal of democracy and worse.

 

Asked about his possible succession to the same post without a mandate from the British people, he dodges the question and denies a parallel between today’s situation and the one that gave Mr Brown access to Downing Street. Hypo-singing-critical or what?

And now to the electorate that will most probably crown Boris the winner in the contest of two.

The contender alongside him is Jeremy Hunt, the present foreign secretary and a previous health secretary who had a troubled time in that ministry, particularly his fight with junior doctors who brought the National Health Service into a potential crisis. His ministerial and political skills were seriously questioned by objective media commentators and at the same time by the public during his tenure.

 

This electorate — the selectorate of this utterly undemocratic process — is pointedly unfit for the job. Let me attempt a parallel. Suppose, for whatever reason, the choice of Prime Minister of India fell not to the general electorate and our universal franchise but to a few hundred thousand, or even a few million, representing 0.025 per cent of the Indian population who were all paid up members of some organisation like the Bajrang Dal.

Is this, gentle reader, an appropriate analogue?

Merey mehboob before you answer, consider the results of a poll taken by You-Gov, a responsible, unbiased and non-partisan organisation which conducts surveys of opinion. Polling a representative sample of the Tory membership who will vote in the next Prime minister, You-Gov found:

 

That 66 per cent of this Tory membership believes that “in parts of Britain” Sharia law obtains. They don’t mean that in some mosque of some area, some family dispute is settled by some imam or mullah using some Sharia precept. They mean that British law has, in some unspecified and unnamed parts of their country, been suspended and some ayatollic figures are dispensing medieval justice. These are the people who will vote in the next leader of the Mother of Parliaments.

More: Fifty per cent of this Tory membership believe that in parts of Britain or in select British cities there are “no-go areas” where non-Muslims cannot venture. These are not inmates of some institute of flat-earthery. They are ordinary members of the Tory Party who will elect the UK’s next Prime Minister next month.

 

Thirty nine per cent of these believe that Muslims hate Britain and its culture. Tory members, not a psychic or mind-reading masonry.

Forty per cent of this sample membership surveyed want to curtail or end Muslims coming into the country. It makes one wonder if these same people realise that the 27 countries of the European Union, from which they want to break, are predominantly Christian countries and the immigrants from the EU whom they are desperate to deny entry to are not likely to be Muslim. In fact if Brexit stops talented and untalented Europeans from coming to work in Britain, the country may have to increase its immigration from Pakistan and Bangladesh. British schools probably failed in their geographical instruction about which countries of the world are Islamic and which religion is prevalent in Europe. Too late now as these electors are almost uniformly over 50-years-old!

 

You-Gov, taking into account the fact that the present home minister Sajid Javid also put his name forward to be selected from Tory MPs for the post of Prime Minister, asked this sample of voters if they thought Britain could or should have a Muslim Prime Minister. 43 per cent said they would prefer not to have one. To be fair, eight per cent did say they would be proud to support the likes of Mr Javid. Big deal?

Gentle reader, you get the drift of my analogy.

The British, on the evidence of their literature, their sense of humour and other factors, are justifiably reputed to be the nation that has interwoven in its discourse a sense of irony. Where has it gone? Both contenders for this particular crown of thorns say they are acting in the interests of “democracy”. They want to liberate the United Kingdom from the clutches and diktat of the “unelected” bureaucrats of the European Union. The Union, last month, had an election of members to the EU Parliament. These same voters participated in that election and the Brexiteers crowed over the numbers the British members elected through this very European democratic process.

 

Yes, my friends, even British irony rusts.

Tags: boris johnson, brexit