Monday, 22 February 2016

The curse of Boris Johnson


The PM has wrong-footed me on two counts. Firstly I was expecting a later referendum and secondly I was strategising for a more compelling package of measures that couldn't possibly be negotiated in a short time. I was expecting a good deal more theatre.

I had assumed there would be something along the lines of associate membership on the table. That would have been extremely difficult to counter. He would have to be suicidal to come to the voters with anything less. Unless of course, the Leave campaign was in complete disarray and completely inept.

Were it another way, with Cameron walking away with nothing of substance and nothing binding, this should be a good deal easier to win. Instead though, rather than this being the contest of visions as predicted, it is now just a bog standard in/out referendum on the merits of the EU. 

This is made all the easier for Cameron as the media (and the Leave campaigns) have completely bought the Boris Johnson decoy. It has them all too preoccupied to notice that the PM has told the biggest political lie since the last referendum on the European issue.

It would not surprise me in the least if Cameron's strategists had told him to tell Boris to go for Brexit, knowing that our own morons would welcome him with open arms. If we're daft enough to let Nigel Lawson speak for us, then why not Boris? 

This is a phenomenon I call "dead chicken media". The government throws out a story in the same way a burglar might throw a dead chicken laced with sleeping tablets at the guard dogs. The pack of dobermans rip the decoy meat to pieces, meanwhile, as the dogs are sleeping, the thieves move in through the front gate in broad daylight and steal the family silver.

In this it really rather looks like the PM has seen us coming, knowing that collectively eurosceptics have the tactical acumen of dead cat. And as much as Johnson is a liability by way of being a prize shit, he has also written way too many europhile articles to convincingly call himself a eurosceptic. Twitter will take him apart. For whatever temporary Boris bounce we may see, that will evaporate in no time - but will last just long enough for the flop reforms to pass unnoticed. 

A deal as weak as the one on offer should, were our side competent, make this a walk in the park - but it rather looks like our lack of preparation and coordination will see us comprehensively, deservedly, thrashed. 

But again we see it is the media's ineptitude at the heart of this. Unable to engage in the issues they focus on what they know and understand, and we obligingly consume it. Culturally we are still entirely in thrall to our media. Until that dynamic changes, any government will be able to do as it pleases for as long as remains in office. Perhaps we're not actually ready for democracy? 

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