Boris Johnson, our new Prime Minister, is a man who shamelessly stood in front of a bus during the Brexit referendum campaign and told voters that leaving the European Union would return £350 million every week to essential public services like the NHS; all the while knowing this was untrue. Since moving into Number 10 he has repeated over and again that his government is engaged in ongoing negotiations with its European partners, when the European parliament and commission have unequivocally stated this is not the case.
This is not what should happen in a free and democratic society. Our leaders have power only because we consent to be governed. They press the flesh of police officers and soldiers at photo-ops, they do not use them as witting or unwitting props in a campaign of intimidation. Democratic leaders do not politicise the police and the army and otherwise make their members instruments in a partisan conflict in which it is likely some level of force will be used. This is an upsetting development and one we must now all watch closely.
Steve Bannon is a Nazi. Let’s not beat about the bush or be overly cautious about saying this; he is a Nazi. The moment we say this there will always be some quasi-intellectual objection to the use of this descriptor, invariably demanding that we do not use “Nazi” as a lazy catch-all term for people on the right with whom we disagree. The objection will also come with the insistence that Nazis must be accompanied by jack boots, repression, and death camps, and the criticism that its use disrespects the victims of the “real Nazis.” Let’s put that to bed right now.
In this broken democracy – which is no democracy at all – seats are won and power secured in a loop; the media manufactures fears and blames powerless, invariably foreign, scapegoats and the careerists bang the drum of security and ethno-nationalism. This is the state of politics in the United Kingdom today. It is much the same across Europe and even more so over the Atlantic in the United States. Democracy in any meaningful sense has died and we are right now in the rapid descent into the abyss of totalitarianism and fascism – both coming a-creeping like saviours.
Everyone is talking about “dark money.” The revelations that right-wing political parties and campaigns have been flooded with massive amounts of money originating in Russia have been topping the news cycle around the world. This hasn’t been off the front pages of The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Guardian since the story broke – weeks ago. Dark money has everything; spies, money, politics, sex tapes, laundering, compromised politicians, a Saudi prince, the works. Bestsellers and blockbusters will be produced on the back of this story.
Details of an unpublished report leaked to the press reveal that Theresa May’s government is at present modelling three Brexit scenarios; “mild, severe and Armageddon” – yes, you read that right, “Armageddon.” In the event of a no-deal exit from the European Union – now the most likely outcome of the Article 50 negotiations – the “mild” scenario is a non-starter. Without a trade deal or a contingency plan – which, as yet, does not exist – the UK will be faced with at least a few weeks in which half the basic food and medical demands of the country cannot be met.
Russia’s big bite has thus far been a dazzling success. In the Trump election we see that Putin has most likely purchased for himself the highest prize in international politics – the US president. US influence over the UK and the success of its cyber war in Britain and the effect of its dark money programme during the Brexit referendum has delivered for Russia a heavy blow to European unity, creating at least the possibility of an exploitable weakness. It is unimaginable Putin would not push the EU door if it failed to offer much resistance. Power – after all – abhors a vacuum.
When “the most powerful man in the world” is routinely snubbed, laughed at, and dismissed by leaders of small nations the likes of Scotland, there can be no argument the US’ soft power – the only power the US can really use when dealing with friends and allies – has taken a serious hit. If Donald were a mafia don this treatment is il bacio della morte – the kiss of death, the sign by which a member of the family has been marked for assassinio. For the purposes of international relations, the man Donald Trump sleeps with the fishes and everyone knows it.