THE SATURDAY ESSAY: Come Hunt, Johnson or Corbyn, real reform is not on the agenda

win_20190127_120036 You might imagine that I’d be feeling rather smug this morning, in that this site long ago  predicted the two final Tory leadership runners would be Johnson and Hunt. In 2011, I also identified Boris as one of two politicians representing the biggest threat to UK liberal democracy, and in 2013 tipped Jezzer *unt as a future Conservative leader. Oh What a clever boyee wuzz I.


That said, the last thing I feel at this moment is smug: I would far rather have been wrong. What’s more, there are other things beyond these two irredeemable scoundrels to give us all cause for concern.

In the last 48 hours, I’ve heard disturbing rumours about the money behind Rory Stewart. Some of it, people are suggesting, came from spheres of interest far removed from the Tory Party. Equally, it seems unlikely that the spondoolicks donors behind Hunt are going to let Boris Johnson get any Brexit success as Prime Minister…indeed, they may well actively brief against him – and continue reporting direct to Brussels.

Further, at least three ERG MPs harbour fears that – by the time the winner is finally known on 22nd July – the Whitehall cabal around Theresa May will have placed enough mines in BoJo’s path to render him politically paraplegic.

Last but not least, with a Summer Parliamentary recess beginning three days later – and not ending until September 3rd – Prime Minister Johnson will have just 54 working days in which to secure a significantly better Brexit for the UK.

I hope he has a viable gameplan, because the forces dedicated to tripping him up will be legion.


We’ve been here many times before – “here” being Busted Britannia – but this weekend there are disturbing signs that the politico-constitutional turmoil is never going to be solved until many of the players whose inflexibility caused it are gone. Certainly, none of the current political dramas will do anything beyond exacerbating the problem.

Boris Johnson joined the other dice-throwers during the BBC crap game this week in saying there would be “no general election until the Brexit issue is solved”. If BoJo really wants Sovereign Brexit, this was a stupid pledge to make: the Brexit dilemma needs a general election in order to solve it. 

My problem remains that I suspect Johnson’s ambitions for Brexit are more limited than he’s letting on. Both major Parties are still hopelessly confused (and confusing) about what Brexit (if any) they want, and about who should revoke what – and when (or if) the electorate should get involved in a second referendum or a final vote. Johnson’s election won’t change any of that.

British public life is degenerating into a hall-of-mirrors reflection of societal culture as a whole. There is no unity behind a country…..only a babble of narcissistic voices behind a rabble of divisive causes, issues, outlooks, religions, projects and other dubious bids for hegemony.

A culturo-media crisis is tearing Great Britain apart. And it has spread to the Royal Family.


While morons like Jess Phillips and Emily Thornberry dismiss the Windsors as a complete irrelevance, the truth is they are still an integral part of the jungle of usage and precedent that is our unwritten constitutional jumble sale. The three key males among the royals are Charles and his two sons. Those sons have now chosen their partners and started families. I felt from the start that Kate Middleton’s family was hazy on the how-to-behave dimension, and the Duchess herself has a steely interior within her conformist outer layer. Over the last year, however, it has become increasingly clear in royal circles that the celeb formerly known as Meghan Markle is a whole different challenge.

The latest Duchess to join the merry wives of Windsor is (you may have noticed) even beginning to look like Mrs Simpson.

meghan1 She appears to have the same degree of influence on her husband as the late Mrs S enjoyed over Harry’s great-great uncle. Meghan’s arrival among royal staff resulted in instantly ruffled feathers, then shouting matches, rapid resignations and Harry observing loudly that “what Meghan wants, Meghan gets”.

But the real problem with the Duchess is that she sees herself as a celebrity… and thus automatically awards herself the right to declare her views on wimmin, colour and edgy rather than naice charity work.

Harry and Meghan, it seems, are to split off from joint charity work with Wills and Kate. I truly do not see why this is necessary – unless of course one factors in the identity politics of those with everything to prove….and nothing in the way of proof, as such.

The word in the royal milieu is that Kate and Meghan do not get on, and that this is creating distance between the sons of Diana. Ironic in many ways: but a divided monarchy is the last thing the Brits need – given the Windsors are supposedly there to unite us.


I have a growing sense that – sooner rather than later – the British bureaucratic class may look to the Royal Family as a means of appealing to those who want a unified final outcome….with not too much regard for either the practicality or fairness of any such decision. But whether Whitehall does or doesn’t do that, if one looks across the UK tapestry of anarchic dysfunction in 2019, it is pretty obvious that Great Britain faces a future darkened by the politics of confrontational ideology and shady money.

As one would expect, now that the Establishment’s favoured candidate Jeremy “Warwick” Hunt is through to the final, its allies in the media have wasted no time in beginning the demolition of BoJo. Boris is, of course, a house riddled with dry rot, which does make self-destruction all the more likely anyway. But the usual suspects are involved.

Yesterday, bitter, twisted and failed Chancellor George Osborne used his opinion column at the Evening Standard to cast grave doubt (and as many brown solids as he could find) upon the character of Johnson….adding (as I do) that the rumours of his determination to renegotiate the WA deal have been greatly exaggerated.

Then last night, the police were called to an altercation (involving raised voices) between Johnson and his girlfriend at the latter’s flat. The incident occurred just after midnight (for a Friday night in London, that’s not late) but somebody phoned the Met and guess what, the Boys in Blue were there within minutes. Just fancy that. By this morning, the ‘catastrophe’ spin was rotating at full speed in The Times:

‘Boris Johnson will appear before thousands of Tory party members today facing questions over why police were called to the home he shares with his partner amid claims of a domestic incident. Officers attended the south London flat of Carrie Symonds, 31, following reports of an argument shortly after midnight yesterday. Neighbours said there had been banging…’

Indeed. We might well ask why the police were called following what sounds for all the world like a drunken tiff involving some spilt wine. But then….the Met, the Home Office, MI6, Theresa May’s career circle and Establishment media: it’s not so much predictable as inevitable. Add the long-time fixer role that Hunt has enjoyed with Newscorp, and you have the full set.


Once unaccountable power, image management and obscene amounts of money begin the process of dismantling the Rule of Law, turning civil police into State police, undermining democratic decisions and handing the big decisions to process-driven technocrats, there’s no telling where it will end. But the direction in which it will travel is never in doubt.

Add to that the celebration of vicarious fame and a media set batting for the other side, and you get a liberal democratic State in which the ambitions of a few tiny élites take precedence…rapidly turning it into a playground for zealots rather than a level playing field for the citizens. The ists take over – socialists, Islamists, feminists, racists, globalists and opportunists – and division takes over from cohesion.

There is an old saying that goes, “It doesn’t matter who you vote for, the Government always gets back in”. The likes of Alastair Campbell drivel on about a People’s Vote, but then he is an incorrigible hypocrite. We had a referendum, and it didn’t get the victors anywhere. Without the rule of law giving power to the voters, there is no such thing as a People’s Vote: it’s just Stalinist window-dressing.

Endless bickering power struggles will never bring cultural reform….and cultural reform is what Britain so badly needs. The window available to that reform is steadily closing, and we are all to blame.