Friday 1 July 2022

More of a Norse saga than a Greek tragedy


According to the old saying, ‘cometh the hour, cometh the man’, and Boris Johnson is a man who thinks that he has indeed come to save the world from itself, even if (according to some recent allegations) he may be interpreting at least one of the words in a way which is not quite what one might expect. In ancient Grecian theatre, when the first god fouls up as badly as Johnson has done, another would appear, in traditional deus ex machina fashion, to save us from the god who has deviated from the path set for him by fate. Sadly, on this occasion, instead of conjuring up the expected righting of all wrongs the gods have chosen to display their sense of humour, and have sent us ‘Keith’ Starmer. It’s more of a Norse saga than a Greek tragedy; more Loki than Zeus.

Loki has whispered in Keith’s ear that the Tories and the media will portray any discussions or agreements between his party and the SNP as a Faustian pact, which will so upset the English nationalist voters who are keeping the Tory Party in power that they will continue to vote Tory; whereas, if he can only convince them that he is as committed to English domination over the rest of the UK as the Tories are, then they will vote for him instead. Like all good tricks, the inherent truth of the first part diverts attention from the utter illogic of the second. That Loki – what is he like, eh? Being more than a little gullible, and easily misled, Keith has done as Loki suggested and announced that he will never talk to the SNP about any sort of governing arrangements, and will certainly never allow a new referendum to be held. He will, instead, attempt to struggle through as a minority government, turning his back on any arrangements which might make his job easier, with his consequent tribulations, upsets and defeats forming the main thread of the drama, while the followers of the fallen god attempt to recover their position.

We don’t yet know how the play will end. Tradition says that the hero should somehow win through and emerge triumphant, but it’s far from clear who Loki thinks the hero is. It might not be Keith at all. It’s much more likely that the trickster god has Keith’s downfall in mind, perhaps when he finds himself forced, as a result of all the decisions he’s taken previously, to explain how and why Scotland can never be given a second vote on independence even if all the country’s MPs are pro-Indy and even if every voter in Scotland supports them. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I wonder whether Loki – known for being a shape-shifter – might actually be in Scottish guise this week, and an independence supporter at that.

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