Saturday 25 September 2021

Creating unnecessary crises


One of the little life lessons which most of us learn at some point is that words and actions have consequences. As a topical example, when a government whose first response to anything is to lie tells us that there is no fuel shortage, the most rational response – perhaps the only logical response – is to act as though there is, and the resulting fuel crisis is thus a direct consequence of the government’s serial dishonesty over a lengthy period. Similarly, a government which sets out to create a ‘hostile environment’ and make it difficult for people to come and live and work in the UK should not be in the least surprised if making a partial U-turn and offering some of those foreign workers temporary and conditional visas for just as long as it suits our needs turns out to be a less than attractive offer for many (although that does not, of course, mean that they won’t express surprise in due course).

The underlying problem is that Johnson has never quite learned that little life lesson, or, rather, that what his experience has taught him is that the negative effects of his words and actions only impact other people. Ignoring, or even deliberately trampling over, the needs of others has served his interests rather well on the whole; those who keep expecting that he will change are being premature, to say the least. The conclusion that we are, therefore, doomed to lurch from one crisis to another for the foreseeable future is a gloomy one – it will end only when a sufficient number of Tory MPs conclude that his actions are endangering their seats. His party is historically known for having a majority who are fanatically loyal to its leaders until they aren't, at which point change is rapid and ruthless.

But that brings us to the real conundrum: that so many of those suffering as a direct result of his actions don’t seem able to make the connection between their own behaviour and its consequences either, and continue to believe him, justify his actions, and (according to the polls) vote for him. To give the man his due, persuading so many of the populace to act against their own interests, even when the consequences of their actions are obvious, is quite an achievement. It’s not one to be proud of, but that scarcely matters to a man for whom embarrassment and shame are only for lesser beings.

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