Don Johnson

One of the patterns of contemporary politics is that whatever silliness happens in the US arrives on British shores a short time later. Identity politics was born in the corridors of liberal American academia from which it spread first to the political mainstream and then corporations, probably via the HR department. Now we have the likes of David Lammy ranting about white supremacists on a daily basis and British companies leaping on the Pride Month bandwagon and droning on about their trans employees.

The last few days have shown the British left have adopted something else American: mass hysteria as a method of political persuasion. Donald Trump had been a household name for 25 years when he ran for president, and as such there wasn’t much about him which remained unknown. But as soon as he declared himself a Republican the left branded him a hard-right rapist and when he got elected went into a collective meltdown that’s showing no signs of abating. It’s been almost 3 years and they still haven’t got over the fact Hillary lost and a good chunk of the country doesn’t mind Trump. The Democrats have assembled a collection of lunatics to run against him in 2020 on a platform of white people paying black people reparations for slavery, the idea that Trump is literally running concentration camps, and open borders. Good luck with that.

As befitting the pattern, the British left have now gone into hysteria over Boris Johnson who looks set to become the next prime minister. Johnson is very much a known quantity: he has been a public figure in politics for two decades and was mayor of London for two terms between 2008-16. But the left now want us to believe he’s some sort of dangerous, far-right extremist who goes around assaulting women. The latter claim – which they’ve clearly borrowed from their American counterparts’ campaigns against Trump and Brett Kavanaugh – is based on a couple of lefty neighbours of Boris’ girlfriend having skulked around on the landing outside her door, made a recording of a row they were having, and sent it to the police “fearing for her safety”. When the police turned up and said nothing was amiss, the couple sent the recording to The Guardian. And so overnight Boris Johnson becomes an abuser of women, helped along by the self-appointed spokespeople of the Metropolitan chattering classes such as The Secret Barrister:

It is quite clear that Cleverly is taking issue with the couple sending the recording to The Guardian, not reporting to the police what they might have thought was domestic violence. But a barrister’s job is to obfuscate on behalf of their client, which in this case is the mass of hand-wringing Metropolitan liberals for whom she works full time pro bono (less book sales). She is quick to point out that there is nothing illegal about recording your neighbours’ arguments and sending a copy to the police, but issues dark warnings about anyone harassing the couple who have inserted themselves into the middle of this national story of their own volition. Meanwhile, the left is now going after Boris’ girlfriend Carrie Symonds, who didn’t do anything to bring this situation about. The hard left are now camped outside her door, a tactic they’ve learned from Antifa who turned up at Tucker Carlson’s house and sent his wife into hiding. So what does The Secret Barrister have to say about this blatant targeting and harassment of an innocent individual? Nothing, of course. And what do Britain’s feminists have to say? Again, nothing: women are only deemed worthy of privacy, protection from threats, and respect if their politics align with Laurie Penny’s. Otherwise, they’re fair game for all manner of misogynistic abuse.

The harassment of Symonds takes place a few days after feminists and assorted lefties emerged from a 48-hour tantrum after Conservative MP Mark Field threw some annoying Greenpeace protester out of a place she didn’t belong. Politicians and the media squealed that it was assault and normalising violence against women, and feminists declared women deserve special treatment as they are different from men after all. Predictably, Theresa May capitulated and suspended the minister concerned instead of standing up for him, but in doing so may well have driven more party members to back Boris over anyone else. Now I don’t think Boris is a conservative, nor will he make a good prime minister. He’s proven to lack any consistent ideology, is prone to blundering, and it remains to be seen if he really is the man to take Britain out of the EU.

But there is something of the Trump in him, and he’s bringing that to his leadership campaign. He’s refused to take part in the silly TV debates Sky has put on, he’s refused to talk about what happened in his flat, and people are getting the impression he’s the only candidate who won’t simply fold like a cheap suit every time lefty launches another round of faux outrage. American conservatives elected Trump in large part because he wasn’t prepared to grovel and apologise to those who hate them, and instead stood up to them in a way which drove them insane. Now the British left have adopted American political tactics, it’s perhaps not surprising the right are willing to back whichever candidate stands up to them, his politics and character be damned. I suspect the squawking over Mark Field followed immediately by the cynical use of “domestic violence” and the staggering hypocrisy over Carrie Symonds will backfire badly, and Boris will sail into No. 10 with a Trump-like immunity hanging over him. Personally, I hope he keeps making remarks which send the left into an apoplectic rage, and then doubles down and refuses to apologise. So long as he keeps doing that he’ll have my support, and I suspect that of many others.


57 thoughts on “Don Johnson

  1. If by some Corbynesque series of events Rory Stewart had become Tory leader and thus PM, they’d be calling him the same names they are Boris today

    Okay, but Boris isn’t Conservative leader, so why do they draw a distinction between him and Rory Stewart? They clearly do distinguish between Conservative MPs, and hate some more than others.

    Any person who is given any praise by the Left is by definition useful to them, and anyone who is attacked is a danger to them

    Right, and you can see why — for example — that leads to a hatred of Jacob Rees-Mogg, who would if he became PM certainly put a brake on attempts to reform society even if he didn’t think he could actually roll back things like same-sex marriage.

    Whereas Boris is, for the most part, on the left’s side. He was vocally in favour of same-sex marriage before Cameron (okay, Cameron was probably just as much in favour in private, but being the leader he had to worry about what the associations thought more than Boris — but my point is they are cut from the exact same cloth, as far as instinctive reactions to issues are concerned). He would give the left most of what they want, on social issues, at least.

    Boris isn’t a danger to them. They should see getting Boris in charge of the Conservative party as a victory: it means they’ve dragged it away from the right wing.

    So why do they hate him, given he is pretty much on their side?

  2. S,

    “Now I loathe Boris, always have, but I can’t work out why he stirs up such lisceral apoplexy on people on the left. The things I hate about him — his sexual immorality, his extreme social liberalism, his habit in office of spraying public money about like one of those water cannon he wasn’t allowed to use — are the sorts of things progressives usually admire.”

    You need to understand that the left really don’t actually care about most of that stuff. It’s just about votes. Labour have held segregated rallies in Muslim areas with men on one side of the room, women on the other. There are Labour MPs who support the law-breaking school in Birmingham. Labour (and the Lib Dems) voted for Clause 28 of the Local Government Act. Yeah, they like to beat the Tories over that, but it’s there in the records – they followed them through the lobbies.

    Why do you think the Labour MPs mostly support a leader who is a Jew-hating friend of illiberal scumbags who throw gays off buildings? The reason is that what the Labour MPs really want is massive government. And the surprise of the last election is how well Corbyn did. They think full-on communism is possible.

    Because that’s what these people want: to run more, bigger stuff. Have more money for their paymasters, the unions.

    The main reason they hate people like Farage and Boris is that they’ll not only shrink the state, but put a different sort of people in charge of what’s left. Start privatising services and union membership falls.

  3. “Okay, but Boris isn’t Conservative leader, so why do they draw a distinction between him and Rory Stewart? ”

    Because if they could choose the leader of the Tory party it would be RS. He’ll be more likely to move policy their way and less likely to move it away. But equally if they were facing RS in a GE they’d call him every name under the sun anyway, because at that point he stands between them and power.

    There is no consistency of logic from the Left, other than at any given point in time their behaviour will be determined by the following maxim ‘What course of action gives me the greatest chance of power, and if power is not a possibility from this situation what moves public discourse/policy most towards my point of view’.

  4. @Theo

    I still reckon the water cannon purchase was a poor decision without confirmation they would be licensed for use. It would have represented a significant shift in policing style so that was never guatanteed. Yes it was vulnerable to the whims of May at the Home Office, but that just added risk to the purchase. Agree this was not as culpable as the Garden Bridge though.


    Being a non-Tory Leaver, we may fear different worst cases. I do think No Deal could be managed well or managed badly, and if it is likely going to happen you need someone who will manage it well. Most of the immediate and visible consequences will largely be flim-flam – every sensible analysis of Brexit posits both harms and benefits, and the ones that really matter will largely be long-term and tricky to observe as they’ll be relative to an unseen counterfactual. But I’m sure news bulletins will still find stuff to fill themselves with, and if there’s any chaos plus an economic downturn – even one largely unrelated to Brexit that hits Europe and America too – then you can bet at least one opposition party will be running on a Rejoin platform at the next election. So that’s one risk to Brexit.

    But another risk is that it simply doesn’t happen at all. No deal may be the legal default but the UK could rescind Article 50, or the EU would be likely to extend the deadline further if a referendum on remain vs deal (likely on May’s terms) were scheduled. There are various ways this could happen – a government that isn’t paying attention gets hijacked by a parliament intent on taking control; the government falls due to Tory splits and a majority for a national unity government or a pro-remain/pro-second ref coalition can be found; the government either falls with no parliamentary alternative or deliberately rolls the dice on an election and gets voted out (if the Tories are divided and the Brexit party runs a serious vote-splitting campaign, they risk being routed whoever is at the helm); the next Tory leader sells out the Brexiteers and accepts what May knew but couldn’t bring herself to do – that the only way to get their plan through parliament is to attach a referendum. The final scenario may be more likely with Hunt, but Boris in pre-referendum days did claim that a Leave vote in a first Brexit ref would provide good leverage to renegotiate the terms of UK membership of the EU, and could then be followed by a remain vote to confirm the new arrangement. I don’t know whether Boris is amorphous and duplicitous enough to actually pull that off but if he does then it isn’t like we weren’t all warned.

  5. So why do they hate him, given he is pretty much on their side?

    I think it’s because Boris has some charisma and a reputation (deserved or not) for being unpredictable, therefore he might decide to double cross the establishment. Do stuff that the Tory base actually wants, like Brexit and controls on immigration. I mean, he probably won’t, but they’re terrified that he just might. No danger of that with a damp squib like Rory or T. May.

  6. A lot of long answers here, here’s a couple of short ones.

    The left hate Boris because he’s probably the only potential Tory leader who could win an election. So he must be attacked.

    Difference between Boris and Cameron? Cameron wanted you to like him. Boris, like Trump, doesn’t much care if you do or you don’t.

  7. JerryC

    “I think it’s because Boris has some charisma and a reputation (deserved or not) for being unpredictable, therefore he might decide to double cross the establishment. Do stuff that the Tory base actually wants, like Brexit and controls on immigration. I mean, he probably won’t, but they’re terrified that he just might.”

    I think this is spot on. They simply don’t trust him to betray the people who vote for him.

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