Boris Johnson’s Election Victory: A Truly Depressing Day for Britain, But Now He ‘Owns’ the Toxic Brexit Nightmare

14.12.19

Boris Johnson in a bike helmet during his eight useless years as London’s Mayor. Now, absurdly, promoted to Prime Minister of the UK, he is intent on turning the British economy into a car crash via his enthusiasm for a no deal Brexit.

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The only positive message that can be taken from the otherwise almost insanely depressing outcome of Thursday’s General Election — in which the Tories, under Boris Johnson, a lying and thoroughly untrustworthy philandering narcissist, secured an outright majority — is that Johnson now ‘owns’ Brexit, the toxic destroyer of the UK, and both he — and the fawning mainstream media that was so shockingly biased in his favour throughout the election campaign — will be unable to blame Britain’s slow, agonising and inevitable collapse on anyone other than themselves.

Elsewhere, there is no other good news to report about this election. The Tories won largely because traditional Labour strongholds in the north of England and in Wales swung their way, often for the first time in their history (although the results didn’t come out of nowhere). An additional factor that should be noted is the number of EU-supporting Tory voters who stayed faithful to the party brand, even though, under Johnson, the party has become unrecognisable, and is clearly fixated with inflicting a hugely damaging no deal Brexit on the country.  

And those swings occurred fundamentally not because of how credible or not Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party’s policies were, but because Johnson took one simple stupid message — ‘Get Brexit Done’ — and hammered it home relentlessly and successfully. While I and others groaned at its constant repetition, it did exactly what it was intended to do: to confirm to those who voted Leave in the EU referendum that all the faffing about was over, and that a strong leader would now deliver what they voted for. Further analysis will also show, I’m sure, that many who voted ‘Remain’ in 2016, also voted for Johnson and his sledgehammer message, because they too thought that it was long overdue that the “will of the people” needed to be respected.

To that extent, Johnson’s bludgeoning message was uncannily similar to the effect of Donald Trump’s simple and stupid ‘Make America Great Again’ message in 2016, and, of course, the similarities between Trump and Johnson, and their campaigning, are genuinely quite chilling, not least in their far-right leanings, and through the shared involvement of organisations engaged in massive voter manipulation online. 

But the bottom line of Johnson’s success is that he now has to deliver on his promise to ‘Get Brexit Done’, and that, of course, is a toxic time bomb. We know his intent — to flog us off to the US, making us a vassal state, with other cuts from the carcass of the UK distributed to China and the Gulf, and with Britain’s role as a global tax haven reinforced — a place where every super-rich scumbag from anywhere around the world is welcome to come and park their ill-gotten gains. 

Most of the above is, to be honest, business as usual for this shamefully corrupted nation of ours, but delivering Brexit is fraught with two particular problems for Johnson and Cummings and whoever else is on board with the Brexit project in his cabinet and his government of the deranged, the deluded, the obsequious and the cowardly: getting Brexit ‘done’ will take years, or, more probably, decades, and it will take some serious conjuring on the part of Johnson’s black propagandists to spin that one successfully. 

More significantly, however, the more we ‘leave’ the EU, the more fundamentally damaged our economy will become. There is, literally, no scenario in which the UK economy will perform better as we deliberately and pointlessly extricate ourselves from our intimate involvement with the largest trading bloc and most privileged club in the whole of world history, and it is impossible to imagine that Johnson’s Tory government will be able to paper over the effects of our certain economic collapse throughout the many years of certain decline to come — even given the traditional deference and newly-found stupidity of my fellow citizens who have been conditioned by almost the whole of the mainstream media and the British establishment to obey their masters’ dismal messaging in a largely unquestioning manner.

Johnson has more woes to come, of course — a war with Scotland, where he is instinctively more hated than any other English leader since Margaret Thatcher, and where his refusal to grant a second referendum is unlikely to proceed unchallenged, and the loss of Northern Ireland, which may well reunite with Ireland, fulfilling, via the insanity of Brexit, what the IRA were never able to achieve. 

And what of England? As I see it, unfortunately, England in particular is as deeply caught up in a civil war as it has been since that deluded referendum three and half years ago. This hasn’t, to date, led to inter-English fighting n the streets, but if Johnson’s delusional and insanely destructive Brexit is forced through, it would, I think, be foolish not to expect civil unrest to follow.

In conclusion, let’s also remember that what the lazy, complicit media are calling a “landslide victory” isn’t really any such thing. Johnson’s Tories gained 48 more seats than Theresa May secured in 2017, despite barely getting more votes than May did, and, although Johnson’s Tories have 365 seats, and all the other parties have only 285, they did this not by securing over 50% of the vote, but through just 43.6% of those who voted — and when non-voters are factored in, Johnson and his Tories have the support of just 29.3% of the total registered electorate. Most damningly of all, the participatory aspect of our so-called democratic system is so damaged that more people (32.7% of the total registered electorate) didn’t vote all all than voted for the Tories. 

Our political powerlessness in the face of complete indifference from the Tories will prevent it, but what we really need is proportional representation, so that fraudulent majorities, via our horribly biased first past the post ‘winner takes it all’ system, are no longer the political reality in the UK, and where no overall majorities for any party will mean that parties will have to learn to cooperate rather than endlessly being stupidly adversarial. As the Electoral Reform Society has been pointing out, it took just 38,300 votes for a Conservative MP to get elected on Thursday, while the Green Party, with 864,743 votes, secured just one MP as usual, the wonderful Caroline Lucas. How is that supposed to be fair?

* * * * *

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose music is available via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and see the latest photo campaign here) and the successful We Stand With Shaker campaign of 2014-15, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (click on the following for Amazon in the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here, or here for the US, or you can watch it online here, via the production company Spectacle, for £2.55), and for his photo project ‘The State of London’ he publishes a photo a day from seven years of bike rides around the 120 postcodes of the capital.

In 2017, Andy became very involved in housing issues. He is the narrator of a new documentary film, ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’, about the destruction of council estates, and the inspiring resistance of residents, he wrote a song ‘Grenfell’, in the aftermath of the entirely preventable fire in June 2017 that killed over 70 people, and he also set up ‘No Social Cleansing in Lewisham’ as a focal point for resistance to estate destruction and the loss of community space in his home borough in south east London. For two months, from August to October 2018, he was part of the occupation of the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden in Deptford, to prevent its destruction — and that of 16 structurally sound council flats next door — by Lewisham Council and Peabody. Although the garden was violently evicted by bailiffs on October 29, 2018, and the trees were cut down on February 27, 2019, the resistance continues.

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17 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, a post-mortem on Thursday’s thoroughly depressing General Election, which delivered a majority for the Tories under Boris Johnson, largely because of Johnson’s simplistic hammering home of a false promise to ‘Get Brexit Done’ at every opportunity. This was the ‘Get Brexit Done’ election, however much pundits want to blame Jeremy Corbyn for Johnson’s victory.

    The truth is that the working class strongholds that swung to the Tories did so primarily because of voters’ continuing and seemingly insatiable enthusiasm for their own destruction through the UK’s suicidal departure from the EU, and after three and half years of what they see as endless faffing about, they were ripe for Johnson’s simplistic bluster.

    The only glimmer of hope in any of this, however, is that the slow and agonising reality of getting Brexit ‘done’ will – if there is any justice – eventually derail Johnson’s shallow and deeply mendacious premiership. Leaving the EU will take years, if not decades, and in the meantime the UK economy will continue to become more and more sick and consumptive, with plunging living standards for all but our ever-rich overlords, who are immune to our suffering, but who will be unable to defend themselves if the people of England ever wake up from their slumber.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Katrina Parsey wrote:

    Excellent

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Katrina.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Damien Morrison wrote:

    Fasten your seat belts blanche it’s gonna get very rough … This country is viewed as the leper of Europe … I just can’t understand it … It’s so pitiful I mean what a spectacularly devious hand played by Johnson … it’s like that fool in the foodbank two small kids in tow … Duuuhhh I’m gonna vote Boris cause we gotta get brevet done … Duuuhhh … Your at a food bank … You haven’t even got food … FFS … And your voting for more, more shit … What the f*ck is wrong with these people they are so dense what they think suddenly after we’ve left magically their lives will change that there will be jobs money … You f*ckers are gonna starve … You dumb f*cks … You couldn’t make this up the level of national stupidity … And the rest of Europe is laughing at us

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    It’s very sad, Damien. Did you see that Johnson was up in the north east today schmoozing his new-found voters? What a disgrace. They voted for a clown who then flew up to feed them this kind of crap: “Our country has now embarked on a wonderful adventure. We are going to recover our national self-confidence, our mojo, our self-belief.”

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Damien Morrison wrote:

    He will abandon them he’s not interested in them their peasants he got their vote he doesn’t give a flying f*ck about them … Well their gonna starve … Too bad you get what you vote for I know I sound mean but Jeremy would have cared they voted for a monster and a monstrous party who will drag us all down

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Ghias Aljundi wrote:

    Brainwashed, Andy

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, very sad, Ghias, to see working class people whose jobs were destroyed by the Tories ending up voting for them 30 years later. It should have been impossible.

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Natalya Wolf wrote:

    I saw that … truly WTF?

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, Natalya, WTF indeed. They’ve copied the Trump playbook and it’s working just as well, unfortunately. And both Trump and Johnson – and, previously, the Vote Leave campaign – have all been very good at using social media to target audiences, and all via connected companies (Cambridge Analytica etc.), but unfortunately too few people fundamentally scare. I do genuinely fear that we’re sleepwalking into some new form of fascism.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Ghias Aljundi wrote:

    The Greens and LibDems played shit roles. Also depressing Corbyn would not have a remain alliance. Very depressing outcome. This country is not the same anymore.

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Particularly irritating right now, Ghias, is the realisation that, if the opposition parties had strategically cooperated with each other in 41 seats, the Tories wouldn’t have won. A few prominent examples are Stroud, where the Greens split the anti-Tory vote, allowing the Tories to retake it from Labour, and Kensington, where Sam Gyimah, the Tory who defected to the Lib Dems, also split the anti-Tory vote, allowing the Tories to retake if from Labour.
    More here: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/election-result-conservative-kensington-tactical-voting-grenfell-a9245016.html

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    Heather Gilmore wrote:

    Jade Bentil on Twitter: https://twitter.com/divanificent/status/1204847606880522242

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    That’s a good thread, Heather: “So many people are in denial about just how far-right Britain is. People are not outraged about Boris’s long-documented anti-blackness, Islamophobia, homophobia and sexism because these are the politics that UNIFY his cause across the spectrum of British society.”
    This is a civil war. Boris Johnson and the racist isolationists on one side, and the rest of us on the other. We outnumber them, but they have most of the mechanisms of power.
    But do they really think we’ll accept our total subjugation quietly?!?

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Anita Tuesday wrote:

    I saw his new found support from the working classes described as a ‘conquest’. Using that particular word for it is quite interesting.

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    The Tory elite must be so thrilled, Anita. They’ve been waiting for this ever since the Labour Party was first formed.

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    This may also be of interest. It’s a Facebook post of mine featuring an analysis of voters by age. I wrote, “To put it bluntly, it seems that, the more older people a society has, the more right-wing and reactionary it becomes. Here, by age group, is why Boris Johnson is now free to see how much he, via Dominic Cummings, can become a tech-savvy modern version of that chilling old bogeyman, the dictator, while pretending that he’s just fulfilling his promise to ‘Get Brexit Done.'”
    See: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10158049628548804&set=a.10150687732288804&type=3&theater

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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