The Fall of the House of Johnson

Silvanus

Elite Member
Legacy
Jan 15, 2013
8,406
3,893
118
Country
United Kingdom
He *might* know what Ukraine is. Might.
Johnson did give pretty steadfast commitments of support to Ukraine, even if he didn't know the specifics. His government was quicker to act than (for instance) Germany's.

...but we have to judge this in context. Strong support for Ukraine has cross-party support, so he's not acting as a particular driving force personally. And he (along with his predecessors) allowed the Tory party and British media to become awash in Russian oligarchs' cash.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Majestic_Manatee

Agema

You have no authority here, Jackie Weaver
Legacy
Mar 3, 2009
8,598
5,955
118
My quick briefing on the candidates for new PM of the UK (in no particular order).

Before I start, it's worth knowing some wider context. Firstly, the Tories are awful. Truly, staggeringly awful. For the last ~20-30 years, it's like they've been on a non-stop campaign to disprove me every time I think "Surely they can't get worse than this?". Johnson, I would like to think, was the nadir. He purged most of the reasonable and often competent people in the party a few years ago for not being sufficiently loyal to him and Brexit, then - like the insecure narcissist he is - surrounded himself with a cabinet appointed on the basis loyalty (to him), ideological fervour, and low competence. After all, weak leaders often like to make sure that everyone around them is worse so they look better and their job is more secure. Quite a few current British cabinet ministers are therefore clearly very mediocre. And that was even before a load of them resigned recently to be replaced by even lesser talents.

The Tory MPs select two candidates through a series of rounds, and these are then voted on by the party membership. However, the Tory Party members are both very few in number (their membership is about the same as the Liberal Democrats, despite the party polling about 5 times higher), and the members are also a right bunch of cranks highly disconnected from the lives of most Britons: tending heavily to be old, rich, and very right wing. Over time, this has also driven the parliamentary party to be more extreme, and to rely very heavily on huge donations from the very rich making them even more slaves to the elites. The Johnson years have been even worse, because they have essentially institutionalised rampant dishonesty and culture war waffle as a modus operandi, and a slavish obedience to the worst instincts of the right wing media. None - or probably none - of these fuckers have any real idea what it's like out there in the real country, nor care. But they do know as long as they bang the same old nationalist drums, they can keep captaining the sinking ship that is the United Kingdom, perhaps even when half the passengers are drowning.

Thatcher, still, is the ideological figurehead, except that these twats are stuck in the 1980s (to be fair, the party faithful are mostly 60+s who made their money then). 2022 problems need 2022 solutions, but all they're going to vocalise are 1982 solutions. I suspect a few (like Sunak and Tugendhat) are willing to put their heads above the parapet and try to explain this, but most are just going to scream about cutting taxes and regulations to magically drive economic growth, and trying to rage about Europe and lefty academics / artists / etc.


1) Rishi Sunak

Ex-Chancellor and billionaire quasi-aristocrat whose Indian-born wife wasn't paying tax because of some non-dom fiddle. Once seen as hot property, now significantly tarnished for not being sufficiently faithful to Brexit and promising to madly cut taxes ASAP. This of course actually makes Sunak appear to be the voice of reason in this cavalcade of horrors, and at least he's run a properly major government post not completely incompetently. Talks a lot about forging a new economic future, which is kind of a worry for a man who was already running the economy for the last couple of years. Will almost certainly be one of the last two, particularly from the not-so-right of the MPs. Might not be selected, especially as not popular with party members.

2) Tom Tugendhat

Who?

Mostly a backbencher, and also remarkable for being probably the most recognisably human in this stream of ordure that is the Tory leadership campaign. He appears to show genuine concern for people who are not rich, or even just genuine concern for anyone except himself at all, and some element of responsibility. He is still of course quite right wing. He does not stand a chance for a range of reasons, such as being not rabidly right wing enough, not having held a major office of state. Maybe, just maybe, the least worst candidate.

3) Elizabeth Truss

Dead-eyed lizard woman, currently Foreign Secretary. Incredibly obviously filled with dreams of personal ambition and very little else, no great record of competence or being able to relate to other human beings with anything approaching warmth, apparently makes very extravagant use of government expenses (waste, you see, is other people's problem). Co-author of a tract many years ago complaining that the problem with Britain was that we couldn't shove proles into sweatshops enough. Incredibly aggressively wants to cut tax, irrespective of whether the country can keep on running if taxes are cut. Ultra-Brexiter. Good chance of making the final two, although disappointing early show, currently in a somewhat distant third.

4) Kemi Badenoch

Who?

I think her only selling point is being black, female, and a Tory, which allows Tories to pretend they aren't so racist and sexist. Notable mostly for being extremely culture war-ish, which I am tempted to assume is her overreaction to insecurity that she's only got this far as the Tories' token black woman, just like a ragingly homophobic in-the-closet televangelist. However, attacking the liberal left plays extraordinarily well with the Daily Mail types, even if she barely has an actual policy position worth the name. She has no chance.

5) Penny Mordaunt

Surprisingly successful candidate, currently in second place behind Sunak. Definitely on the hard right of the party. Has held some positions of responsibility, but no major ones. Slightly vague on known policy positions. Possibly going to pip Truss for the Tory right's pick for several reasons: firstly, she can appear like a real human being with emotions and all that stuff. Secondly, she's probably relatively weak within the party, which will give MPs the idea they might be able to control her rather than vice versa. Thirdly, she's pleasingly vague on all sorts of important matters, which means people can imagine their own positions in her.

* * *

Already removed:

6) Suella Braverman: Devastatingly incompetent and dishonest yes-woman who Boris Johnson made attorney general in order to claim that all Boris Johnson's illegal acts as legal. It is a sign of her sheer Dunning-Kruger incompetence that she even stood in the first place.

7) Nadim Zardhawi: Current Chancellor. Random face who probably would have never come close to power except for Boris firing almost everyone competent first. Suggested 20% cuts in every government department, clearly having not noticed that his own party did that 10 years ago and ended up making the departments dysfunctional. Although conspicuously secular, has Muslim background which might make him irredeemably toxic to the Conservative Party membership.

8) Jeremy Hunt: Arsehole of yesteryear, who - and representative of the Conservative Party's decline into greater insanity and incompetence - now looks like a very appealing choice. Undoubtedly a serious choice who could probably do the job, but also a one time Brexit refusenik, which dooms him in the current party. Exiled to the backbenches during the Johnson era both for lack of loyalty (to Johnson) and for probably knowing how to do the job of a minister properly. I would say of Hunt that he made a bit of a mess of the NHS, but at least he also admitted it and came up with a superficially responsible idea to do better, which means he might be able to learn stuff pragmatically rather than just holler ideologically.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Dalisclock

Gordon_4

The Big Engine
Legacy
Apr 3, 2020
4,306
3,477
118
Australia
My quick briefing on the candidates for new PM of the UK (in no particular order).

Before I start, it's worth knowing some wider context. Firstly, the Tories are awful. Truly, staggeringly awful. For the last ~20-30 years, it's like they've been on a non-stop campaign to disprove me every time I think "Surely they can't get worse than this?". Johnson, I would like to think, was the nadir. He purged most of the reasonable and often competent people in the party a few years ago for not being sufficiently loyal to him and Brexit, then - like the insecure narcissist he is - surrounded himself with a cabinet appointed on the basis loyalty (to him), ideological fervour, and low competence. After all, weak leaders often like to make sure that everyone around them is worse so they look better and their job is more secure. Quite a few current British cabinet ministers are therefore clearly very mediocre. And that was even before a load of them resigned recently to be replaced by even lesser talents.

The Tory MPs select two candidates through a series of rounds, and these are then voted on by the party membership. However, the Tory Party members are both very few in number (their membership is about the same as the Liberal Democrats, despite the party polling about 5 times higher), and the members are also a right bunch of cranks highly disconnected from the lives of most Britons: tending heavily to be old, rich, and very right wing. Over time, this has also driven the parliamentary party to be more extreme, and to rely very heavily on huge donations from the very rich making them even more slaves to the elites. The Johnson years have been even worse, because they have essentially institutionalised rampant dishonesty and culture war waffle as a modus operandi, and a slavish obedience to the worst instincts of the right wing media. None - or probably none - of these fuckers have any real idea what it's like out there in the real country, nor care. But they do know as long as they bang the same old nationalist drums, they can keep captaining the sinking ship that is the United Kingdom, perhaps even when half the passengers are drowning.

Thatcher, still, is the ideological figurehead, except that these twats are stuck in the 1980s (to be fair, the party faithful are mostly 60+s who made their money then). 2022 problems need 2022 solutions, but all they're going to vocalise are 1982 solutions. I suspect a few (like Sunak and Tugendhat) are willing to put their heads above the parapet and try to explain this, but most are just going to scream about cutting taxes and regulations to magically drive economic growth, and trying to rage about Europe and lefty academics / artists / etc.


1) Rishi Sunak

Ex-Chancellor and billionaire quasi-aristocrat whose Indian-born wife wasn't paying tax because of some non-dom fiddle. Once seen as hot property, now significantly tarnished for not being sufficiently faithful to Brexit and promising to madly cut taxes ASAP. This of course actually makes Sunak appear to be the voice of reason in this cavalcade of horrors, and at least he's run a properly major government post not completely incompetently. Talks a lot about forging a new economic future, which is kind of a worry for a man who was already running the economy for the last couple of years. Will almost certainly be one of the last two, particularly from the not-so-right of the MPs. Might not be selected, especially as not popular with party members.

2) Tom Tugendhat

Who?

Mostly a backbencher, and also remarkable for being probably the most recognisably human in this stream of ordure that is the Tory leadership campaign. He appears to show genuine concern for people who are not rich, or even just genuine concern for anyone except himself at all, and some element of responsibility. He is still of course quite right wing. He does not stand a chance for a range of reasons, such as being not rabidly right wing enough, not having held a major office of state. Maybe, just maybe, the least worst candidate.

3) Elizabeth Truss

Dead-eyed lizard woman, currently Foreign Secretary. Incredibly obviously filled with dreams of personal ambition and very little else, no great record of competence or being able to relate to other human beings with anything approaching warmth, apparently makes very extravagant use of government expenses (waste, you see, is other people's problem). Co-author of a tract many years ago complaining that the problem with Britain was that we couldn't shove proles into sweatshops enough. Incredibly aggressively wants to cut tax, irrespective of whether the country can keep on running if taxes are cut. Ultra-Brexiter. Good chance of making the final two, although disappointing early show, currently in a somewhat distant third.

4) Kemi Badenoch

Who?

I think her only selling point is being black, female, and a Tory, which allows Tories to pretend they aren't so racist and sexist. Notable mostly for being extremely culture war-ish, which I am tempted to assume is her overreaction to insecurity that she's only got this far as the Tories' token black woman, just like a ragingly homophobic in-the-closet televangelist. However, attacking the liberal left plays extraordinarily well with the Daily Mail types, even if she barely has an actual policy position worth the name. She has no chance.

5) Penny Mordaunt

Surprisingly successful candidate, currently in second place behind Sunak. Definitely on the hard right of the party. Has held some positions of responsibility, but no major ones. Slightly vague on known policy positions. Possibly going to pip Truss for the Tory right's pick for several reasons: firstly, she can appear like a real human being with emotions and all that stuff. Secondly, she's probably relatively weak within the party, which will give MPs the idea they might be able to control her rather than vice versa. Thirdly, she's pleasingly vague on all sorts of important matters, which means people can imagine their own positions in her.

* * *

Already removed:

6) Suella Braverman: Devastatingly incompetent and dishonest yes-woman who Boris Johnson made attorney general in order to claim that all Boris Johnson's illegal acts as legal. It is a sign of her sheer Dunning-Kruger incompetence that she even stood in the first place.

7) Nadim Zardhawi: Current Chancellor. Random face who probably would have never come close to power except for Boris firing almost everyone competent first. Suggested 20% cuts in every government department, clearly having not noticed that his own party did that 10 years ago and ended up making the departments dysfunctional. Although conspicuously secular, has Muslim background which might make him irredeemably toxic to the Conservative Party membership.

8) Jeremy Hunt: Arsehole of yesteryear, who - and representative of the Conservative Party's decline into greater insanity and incompetence - now looks like a very appealing choice. Undoubtedly a serious choice who could probably do the job, but also a one time Brexit refusenik, which dooms him in the current party. Exiled to the backbenches during the Johnson era both for lack of loyalty (to Johnson) and for probably knowing how to do the job of a minister properly. I would say of Hunt that he made a bit of a mess of the NHS, but at least he also admitted it and came up with a superficially responsible idea to do better, which means he might be able to learn stuff pragmatically rather than just holler ideologically.
Fuck me, the agony of choice is real.
 

Agema

You have no authority here, Jackie Weaver
Legacy
Mar 3, 2009
8,598
5,955
118
Fuck me, the agony of choice is real.
And not even most people's choice.

This is one of the worst things about party politics. Parties can get relatively easily hijacked by special interest groups and extremists, who join and decide candidates where most people less passionate (and more moderate and pragmatic) don't bother. The same greater lack of democratic interest from the public then leads them to fail to really comprehend just how iffy many candidates are and how loopy the party is becoming - that and to an extent they tend to roll with the ideological changes as these are fed to them by the extremists being elected and their faithful media.

To me, the Tories have no ideas and no vision, just a ghost of vapid Thatcherism and nostalgic nationalism to bang on about, squatting on the votes of over-60s. What frustrates me perhaps more is the way they dominate the British political scene with assumed credibility and competence. Where Labour is always expected to justify itself against a high bar, the Tories have to be proven not up to the task with an equally high bar.
 

Silvanus

Elite Member
Legacy
Jan 15, 2013
8,406
3,893
118
Country
United Kingdom
Last round of Tory MP voting for next Tory leader is today.

It's down to Sunak, Truss, and Mordaunt. One will go out today, then the remaining two go to a ballot of party members.

Sunak has led every ballot of MPs so far, so he's almost certain to be in the final 2. But in polling of Tory members, almost anyone beats Sunak, meaning that whoever goes into the final 2 with Sunak is likely to be the next leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister.

I'm hoping for Truss v. Sunak, because I think those 2 are the weakest candidates and will lose the Tories the next general election most heavily.
 

09philj

Elite Member
Legacy
Mar 31, 2015
1,995
718
118
Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss are going to be the choices put to the Conservative Party members.

If they have any sense they'll vote for Sunak because he's not completely insane like Truss is. However, not being completely insane may work against him, and not being white probably won't help either.
 

Agema

You have no authority here, Jackie Weaver
Legacy
Mar 3, 2009
8,598
5,955
118
Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss are going to be the choices put to the Conservative Party members.

If they have any sense they'll vote for Sunak because he's not completely insane like Truss is. However, not being completely insane may work against him, and not being white probably won't help either.
Sunak has caught up some ground with the membership, but is still (by latest poll) down on Truss 49-42. Truss is... fucking hell.

Dominic Cummings has described Truss as "the human hand grenade", because she blows up everything she touches, and that she's mad as a box of snakes. He claims that when anything would happen, she'd be straight on the blower to leak it to the right wing media. When Cummings tackled on this that she needed to concentrate on the real job, he says she gave this strange look, as if she thought telling the press was the real job she had. He also thinks Boris is backing Truss, because Boris thinks Truss will rapidly fuck things up, thereby allowing a new leadership election and Boris a way back in. Cummings is himself fairly unreliable. But at least he is an indefatigable and amusing demolisher of the Tories he once served.

Sunak is at least a serious politician. If nothing else, serious at making sure the British and international elites can continue to earn as much £££ as possible: and to be fair, that does require that the rest of the country is at least reasonable stable and orderly so he's unlikely to throw everyone else down the shitter. Truss I have no confidence in at all, except perhaps one area where I do potentially agree with Boris, that she's not up to the task.
 

Silvanus

Elite Member
Legacy
Jan 15, 2013
8,406
3,893
118
Country
United Kingdom
Sunak has caught up some ground with the membership, but is still (by latest poll) down on Truss 49-42. Truss is... fucking hell.

Dominic Cummings has described Truss as "the human hand grenade", because she blows up everything she touches, and that she's mad as a box of snakes. He claims that when anything would happen, she'd be straight on the blower to leak it to the right wing media. When Cummings tackled on this that she needed to concentrate on the real job, he says she gave this strange look, as if she thought telling the press was the real job she had. He also thinks Boris is backing Truss, because Boris thinks Truss will rapidly fuck things up, thereby allowing a new leadership election and Boris a way back in. Cummings is himself fairly unreliable. But at least he is an indefatigable and amusing demolisher of the Tories he once served.

Sunak is at least a serious politician. If nothing else, serious at making sure the British and international elites can continue to earn as much £££ as possible: and to be fair, that does require that the rest of the country is at least reasonable stable and orderly so he's unlikely to throw everyone else down the shitter. Truss I have no confidence in at all, except perhaps one area where I do potentially agree with Boris, that she's not up to the task.
It is for all of these reasons that I'm hoping for Truss. Before Johnson even resigned I was adamant that the only person who would tank the Tories' credibility even faster was Liz Truss.
 

Agema

You have no authority here, Jackie Weaver
Legacy
Mar 3, 2009
8,598
5,955
118
It is for all of these reasons that I'm hoping for Truss. Before Johnson even resigned I was adamant that the only person who would tank the Tories' credibility even faster was Liz Truss.
Sunak is boned. I notice that Ben Wallace (Defence Secretary) and Tom Tugendhat have backed Truss. This looks very much like people getting in with her early because they're confident she'll win. Honestly, I see very few reasons Tugendhat would back Truss, except a hope she might look favourably on giving him a cabinet job.

One can also tell because Sunak has already started compromising and jettisoning some of his policy positions in desperation. On one hand, he's got nothing to lose. On the other, it never looks good for a politician to suddenly change tack with crowd-pleasers, because everyone knows that deep down that the politician doesn't really believe in them, plus that they're effectively undermining the original message they were trying to get across as if they weren't that serious about them either.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Silvanus

Trunkage

Nascent Orca
Legacy
Jun 21, 2012
7,858
2,369
118
Brisbane
Gender
Cyborg
Sunak is boned. I notice that Ben Wallace (Defence Secretary) and Tom Tugendhat have backed Truss. This looks very much like people getting in with her early because they're confident she'll win. Honestly, I see very few reasons Tugendhat would back Truss, except a hope she might look favourably on giving him a cabinet job.

One can also tell because Sunak has already started compromising and jettisoning some of his policy positions in desperation. On one hand, he's got nothing to lose. On the other, it never looks good for a politician to suddenly change tack with crowd-pleasers, because everyone knows that deep down that the politician doesn't really believe in them, plus that they're effectively undermining the original message they were trying to get across as if they weren't that serious about them either.
I see that this has turned into appealing to the lower common denominator
 

Agema

You have no authority here, Jackie Weaver
Legacy
Mar 3, 2009
8,598
5,955
118
I see that this has turned into appealing to the lower common denominator
In the old days (to the 90s?) the Tory MPs used to select their leader. They passed it to the party membership in some reforms. At least one Tory MP has said the MPs need to take it back off the membership, because the membership are dubiously competent to select a PM.

I'm not a big fan of many party memberships at the best of times (and I say this as a member of a political party). Where memberships are moderate, representative and responsible, especially if a mass movement, it's not so bad. But where not... The Tories have around 160,000-180,000 members (estimated), with an average age of nearly 60, highly affluent, around 80% male, exceptionally white, and vastly overrepresented in SE England. They deeply socially conservative and drunk on absurd and useless dogma like Thatcherism and Brexit beyond competent thought. That is the lowest common denominator being aimed for, and it makes them almost constitutionally incapable of understanding the real country and what it needs.
 

Baffle

Elite Member
Oct 22, 2016
2,298
1,328
118
Christ we're going to get Truss. At least it means they'll be out in a few years, assuming we haven't declared war on NATO or some such nonsense.
 

09philj

Elite Member
Legacy
Mar 31, 2015
1,995
718
118
Christ we're going to get Truss. At least it means they'll be out in a few years, assuming we haven't declared war on NATO or some such nonsense.
"Council estate carpet bombed in Lambeth/Levant mixup"
 

Agema

You have no authority here, Jackie Weaver
Legacy
Mar 3, 2009
8,598
5,955
118
Christ we're going to get Truss. At least it means they'll be out in a few years, assuming we haven't declared war on NATO or some such nonsense.
I think maybe I slightly misjudged Truss, in that I thought she actually believed in things. I coming round to the idea that the only things she believes in are what allows herself to claw her way up another rung of the ladder. In a sense, this might make her continuity Johnson: policies announced, and six hours later retracted and denied as if they never existed.

To an extent, I'm not sure the Tories are much more than that now. A weird little clique of finance industry funded extremists and professional liars who, tragically, retain one core competence of selling xenophobia and fantasy sufficiently well to get over 30% of the national vote.
 

Silvanus

Elite Member
Legacy
Jan 15, 2013
8,406
3,893
118
Country
United Kingdom
I think maybe I slightly misjudged Truss, in that I thought she actually believed in things. I coming round to the idea that the only things she believes in are what allows herself to claw her way up another rung of the ladder. In a sense, this might make her continuity Johnson: policies announced, and six hours later retracted and denied as if they never existed.

To an extent, I'm not sure the Tories are much more than that now. A weird little clique of finance industry funded extremists and professional liars who, tragically, retain one core competence of selling xenophobia and fantasy sufficiently well to get over 30% of the national vote.
A friend of mine is fond of referring to the Conservatives as a PR company rather than a political party.

Truss is getting a head start on the U-turns, too, having announced a dramatic public sector pay cut and then already backtracked. U-turning before you even get the job is impressive groundwork.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Agema

Agema

You have no authority here, Jackie Weaver
Legacy
Mar 3, 2009
8,598
5,955
118
A friend of mine is fond of referring to the Conservatives as a PR company rather than a political party.
I think at some point the idea of the Tories as serious politicians to run the country died. But Labour has not been immune from that either, although the decay is not so advanced.

I suspect the rot has origins both public and parliamentary. From the public perspective that with the crushing defeat of the left and fall of the USSR, all that "End of History" stuff, the population became less political: the big issues were decided, the parties were similar and moderate, etc. From the politician's side, an obsession with media and image management ahead of governance, exemplified by Blair / Mandelson / Campbell.

Then, the Tories view themselves as the party of government, and Labour as the protest vote who are supposed to be in for one parliament when the Tories need a spot to step back and refresh. Thirteen years out of government was probably not just a shock, it was an outrage. Thus Cameron in to outdo Labour at media management, and as a PR manager in his pre-political life the apotheosis of image over governance.

It's worth noting that polls have suggested Labour has had more popular policies overall at every election from 2015 onwards. This also explain the Tories, perhaps, knowing that they can't win elections on the bread and butter issues of the public good. So what do they have left but grandiose, populist initiatives and plans which don't work or won't happen, but serve as convenient crowd-pleasers and distractions to fend off the day of reckoning? After all, they've got the increasingly deranged, right-wing press to sell them.
 

Baffle

Elite Member
Oct 22, 2016
2,298
1,328
118
Cool, we got the female moral void. No doubt we'll be invading a much smaller country's pork markets by the end of the week.