Tuesday, 2 August 2022

Who Will Rescue Britain?

When the renowned diplomat, Niccolo Machiavelli, wrote his "Letter to Lorenzo de' Medici" 500 years ago he considered Italy to be "divided...leaderless, lawless, beaten, plundered, broken and overrun, ruined in every way". Thanks to poor government amidst successive crises, Britain now ticks all these boxes. If any Prime Minister since Blair had even read Machiavelli's entreaty, then they can only have done so in order to break every rule in the book; and Johnson's successor is already bound to follow suit. Who will ride to the rescue - and when - is anybody's guess. Yet, like Italy 500 years ago, the time is right. If only the next leader will heed Machiavelli's advice...

The best illustration of how not to become 'World King' (as he infamously fancied himself) has been drawn by Boris Johnson. 

While a man of his education and alleged intellect should have read The Prince, it would not surprise me if it turned out - very ironically - that he claims he has but, in fact, has not. 

If Johnson has read The Prince, then perhaps he believes that, like so many others, those rules don't apply to him...

Machiavelli advocated that a good ruler should strive to appear wholly compassionate, loyal, humane, honest and religious, yet know how to occasionally act otherwise when required. He or she must adapt their chosen strategy or tactics to changes in fortune or 'luck'. A ruler must not seize or steal their subjects' property or women/men; or be seen as "changeable, superficial, effeminate, fearful or indecisive." The ruler's choice of ministers will immediately demonstrate to the country either "good sense or lack of it." Ministers should be intelligent people with permission to tell the ruler the truth, rather than flatterers. The ruler should build a reputation for 'meanness' rather than generosity:

"...if you're determined to have people think of you as generous, you'll have to be lavish in every possible way; naturally, a ruler who follows this policy will soon use up all the wealth to the point that, if wants to keep up his reputation, he'll have to impose special taxes and do everything a ruler can to raise cash. His people will start to hate him and no one will respect him now he has no money... his generosity will have damaged the majority and benefited only a few..."

Above all, "a ruler must avoid any behaviour that will lead to [their] being hated or held in contempt."

Did Johnson follow any of these principles?!

While he began his brief tenure as Prime Minister already flawed in ways that soon became glaringly apparent, Johnson's earlier political moves were at least promising. He rightly spotted that Ken Livingstone's woeful performance as Mayor of London presented a golden opportunity to quite as an MP and seek mayoral office of the nation's capital to garner popular support. He adapted his strategy to luck. Winning a second mayoral term was also key to emphasising that popularity; and breaking his promise not to run as an MP in the next available general election was something that Machiavelli also would have applauded, since he stipulated that there are times when keeping a promise is not important as breaking it in order to survive. 

Yet, we now know that Johnson is incapable of 'being good', let alone generally keeping his promises, or even affecting any of the qualities that Machiavelli advised. His three word slogans were all a cover for doing the opposite.

One need only consider his delay in managing Covid, serial philandering (even during his then wife's illness) and dishonesty over the likely effects of Brexit. 

His choice of advisers, ministers and unwillingness to sack them (too late, if at all) showed a complete lack of good sense. 

His dithering and repeated U-turns showed him to be changeable, superficial, effeminate, fearful and indecisive.

Even while Mayor of London, Johnson had literally been sowing the seeds of his eventual demise by becoming embroiled with Arcuri, allegedly helping himself (again?) to other people's women and money. And even if that were not in fact the case, Machiavelli would say it's the appearance that counts. 

Taking up with Carrie while married, trying to get her a public job, setting up a 'VIP lane' for Covid contracts, appointing cronies to the Lords and grasping at donors' money to refurbish his flat only cemented Johnson's snow-balling reputation for poor judgement and plundering his subjects' money.

Partying during lockdown in violation of his own rules while exhorting others to comply in the most dreadful circumstances was exactly the sort of behaviour that would lead to his being hated and held in contempt.

Indeed, ultimately, Johnson's lavish misuse of public money did in fact use up all the wealth to the point that he had to impose special taxes and do everything he could to raise cash. And his people did start to hate him and lose respect when he had no money, his generosity having damaged the majority and benefited only a few. 

In fact, Johnson's misconduct has amounted to such a gross violation of Machiavellian principles that one wonders if his rise to Prime Minister was not, ironically, the successful application of those very principles by some other head of state... 

But even Putin appears to have lost his touch.

Wednesday, 20 July 2022

The End Of 'CovidBrexidiot' Johnson

Well, finally Johnson has gone, albeit with veiled threats of a comeback ("for now" and "hasta la vista, baby," alluding to Terminator). He was easily the worst Prime Minister in British history, for perpetrating a seemingly endless array of havoc and unlawful conduct that came way too depressingly thick and fast for these pages. So let's hope there's no sequel. 

Yet Johnson's parting reference to the Terminator is quite apt. Like the unstoppable android, Johnson himself morphed from one 'side' to the other and is a character of pure fiction.

Well, almost.

The facts we know do not favour this man, and it is to be hoped that one day he atones for at least some of his misdeeds, as do his ministerial minions. One wonders why Britain bothers having the offence of Misconduct in Public Office if Johnson and his cabinet cronies aren't going to be prosecuted for it.

Maybe one day the full story of Johnson and his Tories' vice will come oozing out, like pus drained from an infected wound. But I won't be joining any hospital queue for that. The events of the past six years has taught us that the British state is both weak in constitution and morbidly corrupt, and there's no institutional longing for a cure.

Even now we're witnessing the unedifying display of the wealthy, old, Tory faithful tossing up between Richy 'the Dork' Sunak and a store mannequin for their new 'leader' as if it even matters whose snout goes into the public trough next, given the parlous state of the kingdom.

With any luck, the next incumbent will also succumb to revelations about their role in the rorts wrought by the Johnson regime, accelerating the next General Election...  

That's not to say that the state of the Disunited Kingdom would necessarily be improved if the so-called 'Opposition' were voted in. But there's at least a natural hygiene effect in changing the party in government at every election, like changing your underwear daily to get rid of any foul accumulations. 

It's probably inappropriate to switch this metaphor to the idea of a 'hung' Parliament, but it's worth doing so to ram home the lesson that nothing good seems to come of allowing either of the major parties to linger for a second term.

At any rate, let's hope for a quick end to Tory government No. 94...


Friday, 23 April 2021

Harness The Power of Dumb: Embrace Your Doom!

Fuck it. You labour night and day, learn your lessons, do your homework, get your tickets, play the game by the rules, then along comes a self-entitled prick like Boris-screw-anything-that-moves-Johnson to sweep it all away. How? By being Dumb. You failed to learn the Power of Dumb.

I'm not talking about the inability to speak, or write, or add up.

I'm talking about Wilful Stupidity. 

I'm talking about knowing the right path and deliberately choosing the wrong one and selling it as the right path.

On a massive scale.

Fraud on a small scale just gets you jail. Hell, the Post Office will even frame you for its own mistakes, and the executives who do that to you will walk away free.

Don't talk to me about Bernie Madoff. He made-off with his investors' money for decades, promising them highly improbable returns and leaving them nothing. Jail was his retirement plan.

Boriskovich 'CovidBrexidiot' Johnson has pulled off the biggest electoral fraud in British history and his victims made him Prime Minister. That's all he wanted. Job done. The endless grifting is just a bonus. A free-for-all for the Dumb Club.

You might console yourself with 'It Won't End Well' etc., but you're just telling yourself what you need to get through the day playing by the rules. Low-lifes like Johnson are off to the races and they don't care a damn.

So, ask yourself: what might people really, really, really want? Dream big. Dream Enormous. A bridge to Ireland over a vast munitions dump has already been taken, as has a new UK sat nav system that probably won't work.

Once you've decided on your goal, ask yourself two sets of questions - hell, you might even write two taking opposite sides:

What would be the Right Way To Get It? The Right Things To Do? The Right Path? The Smart Path?

What would be the Wrong Way To Get It? The Bad Things To Do? The Wrong Path? The Dumb Path?

Choose the Dumb Path.

Get Elected.

Harness the Power of Dumb.

Make everyone else regret it, not you!

Sure, they'll all be angry and some will be desperate for vengeance. 

But that only means you won, right?

Embrace your Doom!

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

A Strange Speech From The Governor

The Governor of the Bank of England has a key leadership role in the UK financial system, so it's important to understand his vision for Britain's new role in the wider world. Hence my interest in his strange speech on the "future of financial services".

In keeping with his political masters' devotion to nostalgic sense of entltlement he harks back to events just after the second world war and a commitment to an 'open world economy'. He points "with pride" to the fact that the Bank of England chairs two of the four main standard setting bodies of the international financial system – the Basel Committee for banks, IOSCO for markets, the IAIS for insurance, and the CPMI for payment and markets infrastructure. It is in this context that he launches a veiled attack on the EU for failing to grant equivalence to regulation in various UK financial sectors, despite the UK leaving the trade bloc. He suggests that Britain does not participate in forming global regulation to water it down, while his political masters intend exactly that. He points, ironically, to the City's "long history" of openness while failing to acknowledge that this was predicated on EU membership, and the protection that afforded London as a home for European financial markets, while only days later Amsterdam's share trading volumes exceeded London's. He whines about lack of equivalence findings from the EU, yet merely promises that "The UK’s financial markets and its financial system are therefore open for trade to all who will abide by our laws and act consistent with our public policy objectives." He then complains about the UK being a 'rule-taker'!

The very simple rejoinder to all this is that Britain is right to acknowledge that it must work with others to change the international rules before it can change its own. But it only has itself to blame for making that task harder by leaving the EU and losing influence over the shape of EU trade rules. 


Sunday, 14 February 2021

Britain's Gaslit Future: So Bright You Gotta Wear Shades

The gaslighting is now so strong in Britain that you can't watch a government press conference without sunglasses. The last six weeks in plague-ridden lockdown have been particularly surreal. There's a horrible grinding sound as if whoever's really driving Britain is struggling to find reverse, while the CovidBrexidiot at the wheel claims that trade in goods is flowing as smoothly as public funds into his Tory cronies' pockets. Buried within the government's sycophantic media are tell-tale signs that ministers and officials never understood the trade barriers that EU membership suspended between Britain and its closest neighbours, let alone their own new rules; and none has read the withdrawal agreement, EU-UK trade deal or the mystical 'Northern Ireland Protocol'. We were even treated to the Parliamentary pantomime of Brexidiot Villiers urging Brexidiot Gove to 'renegotiate' a new protocol to replace the existing one. Fresh from misselling the benefits of the Japan trade deal, Brexidiot Truss has notified Britain's Pacific neighbours of the intention to join their trade pact rather than the world's largest only 21 miles away. Meanwhile, the Right Honourable Wackjob Reclining-Smug has regaled Parliament with claims that local fish are "happy to be British" and his favourite breakfast is "nanny's home made marmalade on toast".

But none of this is really new. A strong sense of denial and unjustified entitlement has powered British politics for well over a century. While most major countries embraced their relative positions in the world, Britain's political cult leaders and their followers drank constantly from a deep well of nostalgia-laced Kool Aid. Scorning the fact that phyrric victories in successive global conflicts had left their country dependent on both American money and a steadily growing European marketplace, they branded this twin dependence as Britain's 'Special Relationship' with the US and begrudging leadership of a grateful post-war Europe. 

Never mind the fact that Britain begged to join the EEC over French objections, then tried to cement its place by transforming the trade bloc into a steadily expanding European Union. Ignore 'big bang' when American financial institutions were encouraged to make London their route for raising and deploying foreign capital. 

The British political establishment consoled itself over such bitter compromises with reality by welcoming the embezzled funds of sundry despots and dictators, transforming a string of colonial-era island dependencies into tax havens and London itself into the money laundering capital of the world. Mayfair grew to entertain both US hedge fund managers and Putin's diaspora, united in their need for disruption and the investment opportunities that brings...

There is no better symbol of this constant struggle with reality than the rise of the mendacious Boris Johnson. It may have taken Trump's flash-in-the-pan for British populism to find its voice among the Tories' rabid Eurosceptics, but it took Johnson's peculiarly fraudulent outlook to spot the opportunity to lead them into the centre of government with perhaps the greatest confidence trick in British history.

Whether it's possible for politicians to continue defying the reality of Britain's decline is unclear. Certainly there is little by way of Parliamentary opposition, as their leader seems incapable of unifying his own party let alone pointing out the fundamental flaws in his country's trade plans.

But that gaslighting will definitely need to go up a notch... 

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