There is just one word that can best describe the present condition of the Conservative party. Waco. Does it ring a bell? The scene of a stand off in the early nineties between the FBI and a mad religious cult, suffering mass hysteria and brain washing by a charismatic and psychopathic religious leader. They worshipped him. He could do no wrong. He shagged their daughters and took their wives. He pocketed their life savings, their freedom, their lives and if it was within their gift, they would have willingly given him their souls.They didn’t care. Because he gave their very existence meaning. A reason to be joyful. A sense of purpose with that warm fluffy feeling of belonging. And he offered them salvation. And they offered him the ultimate sacrifice, the true test of unconditional love and worship; mass suicide.
Needless, to say it all ended in tragedy. I remember the faces of the bewildered, ashen faced, men, women and children being led out swathed in blankets, their nostrils still stinging from cordite and deafened by stun grenades as they prepared to spend the rest of their lives in therapy.
Of course Johnson is not a psychopath, just a high end functioning sociopath. All the clues are there. A very high achiever who demands adulation. Who has no care for others. For whom money and lifestyle is an entitlement. A volcanic temper. A desire for revenge against anyone who has caused him offence. A sense of incomprehension that anyone could possibly doubt his motives, let alone have the bloody cheek to ask him about it.
The hustings, moderated by Iain Dale in Birmingham, were instructive. Nobody could accuse Dale of being biased. He may not have voted Conservative in a while and is a convert as opposed to a life long Brexiteer. But he has stood for election under the Tory flag and has that basic civilised tolerance, and decency which attracted me to the party many, many years ago. Yet Johnson treated him like a wine waiter who had just served him a corked bottle of Sanatogen. Sneering, patronising and whipping up the audience, a Tory audience for God’s sake, to boo him. ‘How dare this bloody man have the impertinence to ask me questions’, he could have spat. Dale was treated in the way he usually reserves for female broadcasters. He will never be forgiven.
This morning I was wondering how Johnson gets away with it. The lies, the laziness, the policy free platitudes. And I was trying to work out which character in literature he most resembled. At the moment I am going through my Terry Pratchett binge reading phase. In Going Postal there is a fascinating villain called Reacher Gilt. He is the ultimate conman and fraud. Yet he gets away with it by not pretending to be anything else. He dresses like a retired pirate, complete with an eye patch and a parrot called Alphonse perched on his shoulder. Pratchett sums him up skilfully, “when Reacher Gilt talks about freedom he means his, not anybody else’s”.
There is much of Pratchett’s writing which is Orwellian in its profundity. Here are some quotes from Going Postal which might just resonate with Johnsonian chords.
“Speak softly and employ a huge man with a crowbar”.
“What kind of man would put a known criminal in charge of a major branch of government. Apart from say, the average voter”.
“You know how to pray don’t you? Just put your hands together and hope”.
“The people who guard the rainbow don’t like those who stand in the way of the sun.”
And finally words attributed to the anti hero, a fraudster turned good, Moist Von Lipwig.
“Welcome to fear, said Moist to himself. It’s hope turned inside out. You know it couldn’t go wrong ........but it might.”
One of the many problems with Johnson is that I don’t think he suffers from self doubt or any sort of fear because he has an absolute belief in himself.
With his track record saying to Iain Dale yesterday that he always kept his promises would make even Reacher Gilt smile. I hope this all not going to turn into a Waco. But hope is just fear turned inside out