Thursday, 2 June 2022

Of dogs and mice


Imagine, for a moment, working in an environment where the boss is a vicious and vindictive bully, always placing his own needs above those of all others. Imagine an anonymous complaints system under which the boss positions spies outside the complaints office to record the names of anyone entering, and where you can’t trust the complaints manager not to reveal your name to the boss. Imagine being unsure whether you can even trust one of your less timid colleagues to deliver the complaint on your behalf. Imagine being too frightened to talk to your colleagues in the corridor or by the water dispenser for fear that one of them will report every word you say to the boss. Imagine the boss’s spies looking into every aspect of your everyday life, noting down anything incriminating for use against you at a later date.

This may sound a bit like living in the Soviet Union under Stalin, or the way the Stasi used to operate in East Germany, but it is actually the daily life experience of the mice who cower in terror on the Tory backbenches in Westminster. Paid in excess of £80,000 a year to use what passes for their knowledge, experience and ability to represent the people who elected them, it turns out that many of them are too terrified of the boss (or the Big Dog as he apparently prefers to be known) to speak out of turn or express an independent opinion which might in any way reflect badly on the Big Dog. The hound’s spies are everywhere. Emails may be intercepted and passed on and, in an echo of his own favourite era, even the walls are assumed to be in possession of ears.

Tory MPs are proud to refer to themselves as the world’s most sophisticated electorate, but it’s just another of their ‘world-beating’ fictions. No matter how hard I look, neither my thesaurus nor any other sources to which I’ve referred draw any synonymity between ‘sophisticated’ on the one hand and ‘duplicitous’, ‘devious’, and ‘dishonest’ on the other. But when ‘sophisticated’ is used as a euphemism for all of those, it’s surprising that they want to take so much pride in it. One of the few certainties in life is that if Johnson is brought down, the number of Tory MPs claiming to have voted for that outcome will be significantly higher than the number of votes of no confidence recorded by the returning officer, and if he wins the vote, the number admitting to having voted against him will be a lot lower than the number of votes recorded. As the old saying goes, success has many fathers, but failure is a bastard.

It ought to surprise us that they are such a timid bunch; it ought to surprise us even more that the electorate can be so easily persuaded to vote for mice. We take far too much about our political system for granted. That merely empowers the big dogs of this world – and breeds more mice.

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