Johnson shows contempt for democratic norms and now voters have an opportunity to punish him for itby Jonathan Lis / December 11, 2019 / Leave a comment
What happens to someone who lives his life seemingly oblivious to his obligation to truth, decency or other people? What happens if, after each misdemeanour, he not only escapes censure but earns reward? Does he change his ways? Or do they become worse? This week we are about to find out.
The key to understanding Boris Johnson is that he appears never to have taken responsibility for anything he has said or done. This is anchored in his professional life but extends beyond that. His rackety personal relationships are well documented. He has not taken responsibility for any of the Conservatives’ policies over nine years of austerity, or indeed his own “do or die” failure to take us out of the EU on 31st October. He has even refused to take responsibility for his own words. When recently challenged on his many offensive opinion columns, in which he deployed racist and homophobic terms, he declared that they had been taken out of context and could be “made to seem offensive.” This, in reality, is the core of Johnson. It is not his fault for lying or being offensive, it is ours for being lied to and being offended. The problem is never him, but us.
The issue springs from two basic, interwoven cultures: the culture of entitlement and the culture of impunity. Because you can break any rule without consequence, there are no rules.
We see his venality. Johnson received £10,000 from JCB, owned by a prominent Brexit supporter and Tory donor, three days before he informally launched his six-month-long leadership campaign in front of a row of JCB diggers and repeatedly praised the company in his speech.
We see his cynicism. He has decried Labour anti-semitism despite his own use of racist language and failure to stand up to the open anti-semitism of his ally Viktor Orbán. He publicised the leaking of Jon Ashworth’s private conversations about Jeremy Corbyn even though they were secured dishonestly. Perhaps gravest of all, he seized upon the murder of two people at London Bridge to score political points in a way that traduced what the victims stood for. Dave Merritt this week pronounced the devastating indictment that after his son’s death Johnson had not seen a tragedy but an opportunity.
We see his evasion…