Once again Teflon John(son) proves how essential his self is to this cosmic mess the Good Lord sees fit to test us with. For Boris, the particulars are really quite pedestrian – just another scandal, just another broken rule – which by all rights, well… if none of the other scandals did him in, a surprise birthday cake surely wouldn’t have carried enough climax for BoJo, especially given recent jurisprudence on surprise birthday celebrations at work.
I wanted to bring this up as an example of a tragic trend – the failed baptism of fire, whereby a candidate (or just a regular person) is successfully (character)-assassinated despite being well above both the circumstances and the critics assailing them. Boris Johnson, Legend of Bullingdon, Editor of the Spectator, Father of 6(0?), Wankerer of Ankara, Mayor of London, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Deliverer of Brexit, etc etc… Felled by birthday cake?
The chance to go over his record is too good to pass up. Not only does he stand as a shining example of “Stick-to-it-iveness” for lesser mortals in need of inspiration on matters relating to perseverance, he has brought back sound government to the UK, channeling that eye of Sauron that is public attention toward the great issues of his day – leveling up Britain’s shire-heartland, where the first and second industrial revolutions brought together science and commerce, banishing scarcity in any number of areas (clothing, and then many more).
His government has made great strides in Migration policy, signing a migration partnership agreement with Rwanda which correctly aligned the rules of the international system – Rwanda is indeed a safe third country, which has every right to accept migrants on behalf of another country, in exchange for whichever sum is agreeable to both parties. One wonders if the organized criminals known as human traffickers will make the logical next move, which would be to sell Rwandan deportation insurance and open an office in Kigali for them to appeal to.
Boris is also doing the heaviest lifting for the West on keeping New Delhi onside – where Washington insists on alienating Narendra Modi unnecessarily over who knows what excuse (the real reason is Pakistani capture of the Democratic party, but that’s a story for another day). Par for the course on the Democrats’ inversion of all goodness, Modi’s stunning electoral victories (his party holds upwards of 80% of seats in the Indian Parliament) are somehow not democratic… presumably because it only counts when the left carries the day.
London is running point on the Ukrainian war, as well. Nobody has done more for the war effort than Britain’s MOD and the British spooks, to say nothing of Boris himself visiting Zelensky in Kiev. Zelensky himself has very harsh words for fair-weather friends trying to get a photo op out of his passing popularity on the world stage. Boris is not one of them, and the Ukrainians are lucky someone in the Free World has the Jupiterian nous to rally the rest of the pantheon in a coherent direction.
The other claimant to Zeus’ thundery crown – recently re-elected Emmanuel Macron – could learn a lesson or two from the Tory persuasion to find the center of every position, rather than present himself as the center. As the Median Voter Theorem predicted, he did sail to victory for being closer to the center, but Marine Le Pen found a way to drag ever more of France’s electorate toward her position – shifting the Overton window her way. Therein lies the lesson for Boris Johnson: Where his party might want him to govern by Opinion Poll (the great mistake of his predecessor, David Cameron) it is in moments like this where he must carry the public in his direction by the force of being correct on the substance of the issues.
In the spirit of a recent decision in America (Florida in particular) about mandatory masking – decided against the government’s power to do such a thing – I propose legislation amnestying all pandemic offenses and striking/refunding fines for all offenders. The spectacle of British Bobbies arresting people for sitting on park benches should really have been enough of a hint: After all, Boris’ original instinct – natural herd immunity – is now a provably less costly means of arriving at a better result. Closing the schools (which neither Sweden nor Ron DeSantis’ Florida did) is without exception the greatest harm committed by governments against their populations present and future. Official recognition of such mistakes cannot but restore trust in lawful, common-sense government administration.
Which brings me back to the feeble attempts for taking down Boris, that essential figure of our time. Dominic Cummings, who succumbed to a pandemic-related scandal regarding the sort of rules Boris is now on the record as having broken, no doubt stews in resentment – altogether a waste of his considerable talents, which would presumably be available once again after this blanket pardon. Other highfalutin satraps of 10 Downing Street have also been felled for having been at or around wine, crowds or otherwise found in violation of whatever the law happened to be on that particular day.
The meaning of a recent Florida court decision – striking down the Federal mask mandate – is that wags telling us we were wrong/criminal were themselves in violation of the law. They’ve done nothing to alleviate the “degraded trust” in institutions which institutionalists never tire of complaining about – before going on to waste whatever credibility they have left on enforcing rules everyone already knows aren’t worth a dime.
The highlighting of rampant thievery during the pandemic, and its swift prosecution by the authorities (particularly in contracting abuses, which is where the political geese will be gandered) must be a central plank of this effort. If ever there was a chance for folks like Dominic Cummings and Steve Bannon to dismantle the administrative state, this is it.
Pandemic Profiteering kept the lockdown racket going for much, much longer than it needed to. Bankers trying to make their yearly quotas 6 months early by placing bonds – to pay for unnecessary PPE and lots of vaccines for people who had already recovered once or twice from a virus that wasn’t even going to kill them anyway – locked into place a government policy that made them money on the backs of the populations they were stealing liberties from. Aping the Chinese communist party doesn’t make for good policy? Who would have guessed?
Those of us who remain unvaccinated even when it was illegal have something to say about unlawful birthday cakes. Take your laws and shove them.
Felipe Cuello is Professor of Public Policy at the Pontifical university in Santo Domingo. He remains an operative of the Republican Party in the United States, where he served in both the Trump campaigns as well as the transition team of 2016/17 in a substantive foreign policy role. His past service includes the United Nations’ internal think tank, the International Maritime Organization, The European Union’s development-aid arm, and the office of a Brexiteer Member of the European Parliament previous to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. He is also the co-author and voice of the audiobook of Trump’s World: Geo Deus released in January 2020, back when discussing substance and principles were the order of the day.