Sunday, 12 April 2020

Brexit is still the real test of Boris.

Objectively the PM does have blood on his hands. I waited over a week, wondering why, when Italy's health system was at breaking point, the UK government sat on its hands, taking no action to draw down flights into the country or limit public exposure. Instead of acting early and going all out on contact tracing, understanding that this epidemic is comprised of a series of outbreaks, small in scale and manageable at a local level, we got pseudo-scientific guff about a "delay phase" and unsound theorising about herd immunity without a vaccine. Having allowed the virus to gain a foothold there was nothing they then could do other than a ruinous lockdown if only to buy time for expanding public health capacity.

Whether or not other countries have responded better or worse is not a debate we can usefully conclude given the patchy and incomplete data at our disposal. There are too many moving parts to make useful comparisons. All we can go on is what we know - ie that regardless of the type of virus, this particular virus does not re-write the fundamentals of outbreak control - which would have saved a great many lives.

What we've seen though, is that we are institutionally unprepared for such an outbreak, so the entirety of the blame cannot be directed at the PM and his advisers, and the very obvious character flaws of Johnson are really only incidental in that our politics has degraded so badly that none of the alternatives would have fared any better. I can't see Corbyn being any more decisive or competent nor any of Johnson's deputies. We've got the response we deserve by way of our own bovine voting habits.

As regards to Johnson, we actually needed a serious leader but sadly we're lumbered with a fat oaf because he "triggers the left". Another sign of western decadence where politics has become a schoolyard game with a touch of winner-takes-all third world tribalism. It's one indulgence too far and now we count the cost.

That same tribalism has brought about a sinister leadership cult where we are now headed to a place where criticism of the government is touted by Tory press as some kind of moral failing. No doubt the execrable performance of our drive-by media exacerbates this in that their probling is often irrelevant, inane and valueless to the point where sympathies gravitate to the government.

But in this, there is no real difference between the "Ooooh Jeremy Corbyn" brigade and the Boris fanboys. They are one and the same. They will go to extraordinary lengths to excuse a man whose record of degeneracy, corruption and dishonour speaks for him. It is a fundamental weakness of the British that we are so easily swayed by larger than life characters, perhaps because of the Churchill mythos. But Johnson is no Churchill. Churchill was a hands-on leader who wanted the details. Johnson is quite the opposite. A man who likes to dress up in the garb of various trades to present a Churchillian "man for the people" image but in fact has no interest in details and, in fact, a dangerous aversion to them.

That the traditional Tory press is uncritically complicit in promoting this image is, perhaps, a repeat of history. It’s like Jimmy Saville. Year after year the notion that he was funny and likeably eccentric was rammed down our throats despite obviously being a dodgy creep  while many in the media knew exactly what he was up to in full view of everyone. Borismania is overwhelmingly a media creation - for which nobody in the media will take responsibility.

The ultimate test of the man, though, is still Brexit. Over and above the Coronavirus ground war (the relative minutia of PPE distribution and the lockdown) is the geo strategic maneuvering. Following Japan's lead, France and Germany are now moving to re-shore production of PPE and medicines from China. Supply chain security and biosecurity have now become the overriding geopolitical concern where we can no longer afford the luxury of indifference.

Whether we realise it or not, China has been at war with the West for a long time. It's time to wake up to the threat and kick China out of our economy. We must cold-shoulder any of our so-called "valued close allies" who opportunistically take advantage of the void we leave by retaining or enhancing relations with China. It's time to kick China out of the WTO and start treating it as the rogue state it is. The west's greatest mistake of all time was treating it like a market economy on the assumption it would liberalise. It has abused that trust and exploited our weakness.

As regards to trade, it's never been more important to safeguard our strategic interests from pharmaceuticals manufacturing to agriculture. That's why Tory "fwee twade" fetishists (Baker/Mogg/Redwood et al) are a threat to national security. You'll never sell me on the idea of the EU but now is the time for maximum economic, social and military cooperation with our NATO allies. We need a close trade relationship with the EU because China is the enemy we need to unite against.

As one tweeter rightly puts it, "Every western leader, with his/her eye on re-election and short-term economic prosperity, has ignored the strategic geopolitical advantage being handed over to a state that had waited over 100 years for revenge. Every investment into China required 'technology transfer', i.e. handing over IP, which was then built upon, often in contravention of international laws. While this served short-term profit motives of greedy wester corporates, it was gradually eroding the west's edge". Even now China is robbing us, selling us faulty PPE to stolen Western standards.

The free traders on both sides of the Atlantic will warn against post-Corona protectionism of any kind. For them the only concern is the price of a tin of beans or a car. Values don't come into it for these soulless ghouls. This is the one thing Euro-wonks and Tory free traders have in common. Politics is secondary to making a quick buck regardless of the geostrategic implications.

For the moment the USA is an unreliable ally. The guff we are expected to swallow as regards to a "special relationship" exists only in the minds of Toryboys. America always has an America first policy regardless of its commander in chief and will treat the UK as just another foreign country when the chips are down. Its ambitions in any future UK-US FTA are entirely predatory. Being that the case we must not slam the door shut on the only open invite we have for a deep and comprehensive trade relationship with our likeminded neighbours.

The Tories have a track record of cosying up to China. Cameron allowed himself to be photographed in an English pub downing a pint with Xi Jinping. The Tories rolled out the red carpet for dodgy Chinese tech firms to build our 5G network, having already invited them into our nuclear industry. The line must be drawn here. China is nobody's friend. Though our relations with the EU are fractious and quarrelsome, the EU is at the very least not malevolent in intent.

Over the last two decades our laissez faire approach to trade, decoupling trade from politics, has created multiple strategic liabilities, parly out of naivety and partly out of political expediency. Now is the time to correct that historic mistake but we cannot do this alone and we cannot do it by slamming the door shut on our most important relationships. Thus, if Johnson continues to treat the Brexit process as a schoolboy lark, failing to properly engaging and recklessly gambling our livelihoods, making us easy prey for Chinese predators, then he becomes the enemy within. We can survive Coronavirus, but Tory negligence may just be the final nail in our coffin. 

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