The Tory Election “Campaign” to Date

Photograph Source: Annie Mole – CC BY 2.0

The Tory election “campaign” has been precisely that– a non-campaign in which BoJo Johnson has declined to debate with his opponents or be interviewed on TV by a figure (Andrew Neil) noted for asking difficult questions and persisting with them.

BoJo’s public appearances are now confined to staged photo ops in which the man who has never done a real day’s work in his life dons a hard hat, protective goggles, and high-visibility jacket, and poses with sheep and bulls on visits to agricultural shows and farms– from past form we know he’d much rather be at some posh London night club where Barbie Doll floozies will be available for his uxorious delectation.

After a few disastrous “walks-about” in which BoJo was stiff-armed verbally by members of the public, genteel old ladies included, these too have been abandoned.

The posh fellow touted in the rightwing trash-rags for his (supposed) ability to charm your ordinary John and Jane Bull turned out to be a dud when it came to “relatability”.

I had expected to discuss the Tory election manifesto at some point.

All such manifestos are aspirational by their very nature, some more credible than others, and yet others hopelessly incredible.

Labour’s manifesto veers towards the former, while the latter is definitely where the Tories have placed themselves.

The Tories promise to end austerity, but pledge a pittance towards this end, and of course there are the de rigueur neoliberal tax cuts for the rich.

To sum up the Tory manifesto: we’ll pretend that austerity will end (although it won’t), and the rich will of course continue to get their free lunch.

Like their Republican counterparts in the US, the Tories can no longer be called the party of business and industry.

Today’s Tory party is the party of hedge funds, financiers, property speculators, asset strippers, “dark money” of all sorts, and Russian oligarchs.

By tying itself to a donor base that has detached itself from the productive economy, the Tory party has untied itself from any real need to concern itself with that economy— the financial and property-market sectors, with a little bit of tourism added on, will see Ukania through, thank you very much!

Except of course they won’t.

The UK is teetering on the edge of recession, and Brexit will certainly tip it into a downturn.

As I write there are 10 days to go to the election. Labour is closing the gap in the opinion polls in the face of the Tory non-campaign.

BoJo’s henchman and fellow Etonian, Jacob Rees-Mogg (“the Hon Member for the 18th Century”) has vanished from the face of the earth, and seems to be under a house arrest imposed by Tory HQ.

Moggy turned out to be a horror show at the start of the election campaign, simply by saying the things his colleagues believe but dare not utter in public.

At the same time, BoJo never seems able to give an answer when asked by an interviewer about the number of children he has, so he is now under a semi-house-arrest, and this question is of course at the top of nearly every interviewer’s list.

BoJo also skipped the Channel 4 debate for party leaders on climate change, and sent his dad and his colleague Michael Gove in his place. Channel 4 refused to have them at the podium, saying, quite rightly, that Daddy Johnson and the Govester were not party leaders.

Melting ice sculptures of planet Earth were placed where BoJo and the leader of the Brexit party, Nigel Farage (who also declined to attend), would have stood.

BoJo threw a fit, and threatened to review Channel 4’s broadcasting license after the election— a clear abuse of power.

Daddy Johnson was also asked in an interview to comment on a caller who gave his son the nickname “Pinocchio Johnson” for his inveterate lying, to which Johnson pere gave the lofty response that this was of no consequence because most Brits were plebs who could not spell “Pinocchio”.

At this rate there will soon be a Tory HQ-mandated house arrest for Johnson pere as well.

The media have been doing a trawl through some of BoJo’s output when he masqueraded as a journalist, and, not unexpectedly, uncovered some real gems.

On the children of single mothers: “’ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and Illegitimate”. As commentators pointed out, this is deeply ironical coming from someone who has added to the total of single mothers.

On the working class: “likely to be drunk, criminal, aimless, feckless and hopeless, and perhaps claiming to suffer from low self-esteem brought on by unemployment”. Again, as commentators pointed out, this is deeply ironical coming from a member of the posh Bullingdon social club when he was at Oxford, whose raison d’etre was/is getting drunk and drugged-out, trashing restaurants, and burning high-denomination banknotes with a cigarette lighter in front of street-sleepers.

On the poorest 20% of society: “the group that supplies us with the chavs, the losers, the burglars, the drug addicts and the 70,000 people who are lost in our prisons and learning nothing except how to become more effective criminals”.

All BoJo could do when asked about these comments was to whine that they were being taken “out of context”.

As more such pearls are discovered by inquisitive journalists, BoJo may even join his pal Moggy and Daddy Johnson in a cave somewhere in southern England designated by Tory HQ.

The news regarding the NHS continues to be grim.

34 routine diagnostic tests and treatments will be rationed– so that patients will only be able to get them in exceptional circumstances– as part of an effort to save money.

It was disclosed that patients have been delayed inside ambulances for at least 30 minutes almost 1.5 million times over the past 3 years as they waited for hospital handovers.

The creeping privatization of the NHS continues. Private firms have been handed almost £15bn in NHS contracts over the past 5 years. The value of contracts given to non-NHS entities has soared by 89% since 2015.

The one-trick Tory campaign pivots on Brexit and Brexit only, and its politicians have clearly been instructed to take every opportunity to bring all questions in interviews and debates round to this issue.

For example, a simple question: what will the Conservative party do about the worsening teacher shortage that has occurred under its watch?

Robotic Tory answer: Let me tell you that when Brexit happens… (greeted by a mixture of groans and guffaws from the audience).

By contrast, Labour’s election prospectus involves the most significant reconstruction of Britain’s economy and society since the immediate postwar years, when the then Labour government created the welfare state.

The narrowing gap in the opinion polls could portend a minority government formed by either the Conservatives or Labour, or, dare one say it, a Labour government with a majority.

Kenneth Surin teaches at Duke University, North Carolina.  He lives in Blacksburg, Virginia.