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:
I’ve lost count of the number of domestic violence cases I’ve successfully prosecuted which only came to the police attention because of the actions of concerned neighbours. These people are literal life-savers. For MPs to discourage this for political point scoring is shameful. pic.twitter.com/SnZh9gvADu
— The Secret Barrister (@BarristerSecret) June 22, 2019
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.