are we nearly there yet?
Yes, we are. With a week to go before the general election, the de-facto second Brexit referendum, we are indeed almost there. And this is the last post, literally and metaphorically. As such, it’s opportune to take a brief look back at the situation that brought us to where we are today.
Cast your mind back to the morning after the night before when Boris Johnson and Michael Gove emerged from their Brexit bunker, having just won an referendum they had not expected to. Just a week later the latter realised the error of his way and stood against the former he had supported and championed. Something he would do again in the most recent leadership contest earlier this year. Fast forward only 125 days and Gove now earnestly believes Johnson is the only one who can be trusted to deliver Brexit. And finally, he’s right about something. Third time lucky.
Forget about the lies concerning 50,000 nurses, forty hospitals, £350m on the side of a bus, 20,000 teachers, exaggerated and unachievable spending and taxation promises, of having a fully formed and costed plan for social care, a hard-border between the UK and Northern Ireland and no paperwork necessary for those Northern Irish firms exporting to the rest of the UK. Distance yourself from the impossibility of getting an oven-ready Brexit deal done over the course of the next eleven months, implementing a completely new immigration system and scheduling a policy of state aid for failing British industries. Ignore operation yellowhammer’s conclusions which state up to 85% of lorries leaving our shores may not be ready for European customs and traffic flows could halve for three months. Avoid the painful truth that Johnson has been sacked by both Prime Ministers and employers for lying. Misled the Queen? Pah! Delight in the fact that we have, however, learnt that Boris prefers fish & chips to a Sunday roast. It’d also be nice to know how many children he has and the role he plays in their lives but you can’t have everything you want.
Brexit has divided our country in a manner not seen since Oliver Cromwell butted heads with the monarchy. It has pitted friends, families, siblings, companies, teams, regions and countries against the other. It has scrambled the usual partisan loyalties with affluent voters supporting Labour’s nationalisation plans and factory workers dancing to Rees Mogg’s ERG tune. Yes, politicians have probably lied in every election but there’s never been the current casual disregard for the difference between truth and lies that exists today. This is truly shocking.
The two quotes that shall stay with me include one from Channel 4’s debate where Boris stated “I’ve never set out to mislead anyone”. It must just be a horrid coincidence that it keeps happening. The second is from his father, media celebrity, Stanley Johnson, and his reaction to being told of a viewer of Victoria Derbyshire’s TV programme who had the temerity to call his son, Pinocchio: “That requires a degree of literacy which I think the great British public doesn’t necessarily have. They couldn’t spell Pinocchio if they tried.” And there we have it. We will collectively be wise enough to vote-in his Eton/Oxford-educated son with, I reckon upwards of 340, perhaps 350 seats, but tricky spelling remains beyond us.
Fake news, un-truths, falsehoods, mis-sayings. Let’s call them what they are: Lies. Pure and simple. Maybe I’m having a bad day but I fear for all our futures and our nonchalant acceptance of such dishonest discourse reflects a worrying ambivalence and apathy towards the central tenet of democratic society.