Monday 25 April 2022

Certainty and stability


In an attempt to stave off attempts by some Tory MPs to dislodge Boris Johnson from Downing Street, the Tory Party Chair, Oliver Dowden, said yesterday that changing the PM would lead to "instability and uncertainty". In principle, he has a point: change can indeed lead to instability and uncertainty. However, in practice, his statement requires us to believe the converse: i.e. that keeping Johnson in place is providing ‘stability and certainty’. That’s a big ask. Just last week, the Guardian catalogued 30 times when Johnson has performed a U-turn, sometimes with dazzling speed. Also last week, the Education Minister was sent out to tour the studios in the morning explaining why it was absolutely right to vote down Labour’s proposal for an enquiry into whether the PM had misled parliament, only to discover as soon as he got back to the office that what he should have been saying was that it was absolutely right to support Labour’s proposal. It’s his own fault, mind: plenty of other ministers have found out that the line which they’ve vociferously been explaining in the media has changed before they even get back to their desks, and they never seem to learn. It’s an example of Johnsonian certainty in action.

In fairness, it is true that uncertainty can lead to instability, and not everything about the current PM is uncertain. There are some certainties:

·        Whatever he says today, he’ll say something different tomorrow

·        Whether something is true or not is not a consideration to him

·        He betrays everyone eventually.

Things may look different to ministers appointed by Johnson, of course, especially those who have been most loyal and most willing to allow themselves to be swept along by the tide of lies, illegality and corruption. Under a different leader (assuming that the Tories can find one untainted by Johnson), their future does indeed look very unstable and uncertain. It’s easy to see why Dowden would be feeling more than a little uncertain about his own future when it comes to replacing the PM. For the rest of us, the bigger worry is that there really isn’t anyone in the current Tory Party who’d be much better. The possibility that there isn’t looks more certain than not.

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