Every one of the commitments made today by our new Prime Minister outside Number 10 cannot be delivered. At best, over the next few weeks and month, we will be fed a diet of platitudes, slogans, and outright lies. But, as the saying goes, Johnson is all fur coat and no knickers. In a previous essay I believe I hit the nail on the head when I described Johnson as the Anton Drexler of British politics. He is the placeholder leader who will make the monster to come more palatable.
Students of the far-right are well acquainted with this strategy of waiting. Since Oswald Mosley and his British Union of Fascists, all the essential ingredients of true ideological racism – white supremacism and fascism – have been patiently waiting in the undergrowth, moving through a series of permutations; the National Front, the BNP, UKIP, and the Brexit Party – to name a few. Farage is not like the more obvious racists. He’s not like Nick Griffin or Tommy Robinson.
There are plenty of open calls for violence against Muslims. “Punish a Muslim Day” was not a one-off, it was merely a call to action from the far-right that, thanks to the internet, came to more people’s attention. Theresa May and Boris Johnson know about these calls for pogroms and acts of violence. In fact, they are no longer threats. Muslims all over the United Kingdom are regular targets of violent attacks and routinely subjected to Islamophobic hate speech.
It comes as no surprise that as editor of The Spectator he published James Michie’s 2004 “satirical poem” describing Scotland as a “ghetto” inhabited by “tartan dwarves” – a “verminous race” – worthy of “extermination” for “polluting [England’s racially superior] stock.” Why should this shock Scottish people? We have been in a union with England for three centuries, we have been dominated by the products of this Anglo-Saxon master race, and as the pencil pushers and administrators of their empire we have long understood the nature of British imperialism.
So now let us ask: What will throwing a milkshake at Farage achieve? Well, Nigel Farage – the victim of the attack – is not the important element in this equation. It’s his constituency, those who are prepared to vote for him because they are sick fed up being ignored, laughed and sneered at, and humiliated. How might people in this bracket react to the man saying what they want to hear being humiliated in public, and humiliated with a Five Guys shake – not a cheaper McDonald’s or a Burger King shake, but a Five Guys shake?
The economic philosophy of the libertarians, as UKIP has long understood, does not win elections. Ordinary voters are not interested in economic arguments. They are even less impressed with men in suits who remind them too much of “the establishment.” Successful libertarian parties quickly adopt populist arguments; they single out scapegoats, they manufacture fake narratives, and they offer easy and deceitful answers to complex problems. This was precisely what UKIP and the Leave campaign did during the Brexit referendum campaign – and they won.
This deal will never pass through the Commons, meaning that the UK is – barring a miracle – headed for the hardest of all possible Brexits. Farage and Boris Johnson’s dreams have come true, and now the knives are out for the fall guy – Mrs May. Just now, as I write, the news is breaking that the Palace is in talks with the Cabinet Office. Reports from The Times are saying that the Conservative 1922 Committee has received its 48 letters, which means May’s tenure as PM and leader of the Tory party is about to be put to the vote.
Nicola Sturgeon promised the Scottish people she would revisit the question of another independence referendum when the details of a negotiated Brexit were better known, and while the clock is still running on the Article 50 talks the reset button on the final shape Brexit will take has just been pressed. We are now no closer to knowing the probable shape Brexit will take than we were at the end of June 2016. Yet, this isn’t quite bad news for Scotland – certainly not for the independence cause.