In the 2019 general election, the Conservative Party (intentionally or not) established itself as a single issue party; in all but name, they are now the Brexit Conservatives. Boris Johnson’s entire selling point in 2019 was to ‘Get Brexit Done’, and the issue dominated their manifesto, their media appearances, their PR stunts, throughout the campaign. Johnson knew he’d fare better in an election than a referrendum, so he perverted the general election mechanism to resolve his Brexit headache. It worked. He did it. He got a mandate from the people and a huge majority in parliament.
Other issues in the campaign (healthcare, crime, tax), seemed almost lost, as by-the-way side points, conveniently glossed over, or left unchallenged, in debates. He got away with it.
And so Boris Johnson set himself up as Captain Brexit, the head Brexiteer, the leader of Leavers. He made hismelf their idol, and henceforth Brexit fans of all parties and of none, pledged allegience to Johnson at the 2019 ballot box. Entities like UKIP and The Brexit Party, all but evapourated in his wake, and the result, an astonishing 80 seat Conservative majority and absolute power, with a hard Brexit seemingly inevitable. The lame duck opposition, swept aside, fence-sitters and all. Johnson’s Brexit promise had handed him the keys to the kingdom… And he duly set about trashing it.
One of the problems with any single issue election is that nobody looks properly at the other issues or even cares who they are electing, just that they agree what that person will do about one single issue. This goes for people’s view of the PM himself as well as any other MP’s.
When UK constituencies elected whoever they thought would Get Brexit Done, they didn’t truthfully care about their candidate’s voting record or their behaviours or views. I am sure that the Brexiter electorate would have voted for a rotten banana, if said fruit would’ve promised what Johnson promised.
The key, the what and the who
The key to 2019’s election result is that people were convinced to ignore the ‘Who’, and think only of the ‘What’.
As a random example here’s a glimpse at the voting record (reflection of who he is since getting elected), of Brexit supporting Conservative MP, Tom Hunt, in the south-east UK constituency of Ipswich. – source: theyvoteforyou.com
- Consistently voted against measures to prevent climate change.
- Consistently voted for a stricter asylum system.
- Consistently voted against measures to reduce tax avoidance.
- Voted to cap civil service redundancy payments.
- Voted against a more representative system for electing MP’s.
Locally Mr. Hunt is also known for loving fox hunting, hating environmental campaigners, and blaming racial minorities for local crime. And he was duly elected by a huge majority by Brexit-supporting Ipswich.
This, I should note, is a town whose workforce is heavily dependent on immigrant labour in sectors ranging from Healthcare to Retail. Following Hunt’s election (for the sake of Brexit), the townsfolk find themselves reliant upon a climate denying, anti-immigrant, nationalist, pro-hunting, anti-reform MP to represent their interests in Westminster. Their choice.
Vile anomolies abound.
It’s a chilling pattern that’s repeated up and down the country, in constituencies who, in the 2019 election, couldn’t care less about the consequences beyond Brexit. But now, in 2021 they find themselves represented by MP’s who ordinarily might not have been given the slightest chance. Brexit enabled them all. That’s single-issue elections for you; vile anomolies abound.
Still, I’m not complaining, not protesting; it was a free democratic choice. They chose this. They got what they wanted. They have their wish. Let nobody claim I protest the election result. I certainly don’t like it, but no, I don’t protest it.
When other issues comes up, they can't handle it.
But here is the real tragedy when a single issue party sits in government: When other issues come up, they are largely clueless, and chaos ensues.
Let us remember that Boris Johnson mutated The Conservative Party into the Brexit Conservative Party when he sacked every moderate or pro-Remain MP from the party. He simply eliminated, in true fascist style, anyone who disagreed with his nationalist views.
Back in the old days, Thatcher’s Conservative Party, for all their sins, at least believed in free trade with neighbouring countries and achieved EU membership. Worth mentioning also that the EU itself was a concept promoted and loved by Winston Churchill. (Not a comfortable fact for knuckle-draggers)
Popular nicknames for this new, 2020’s Coservative Party have included BluKip and The Brexervatives. Nobody will ever again associate the party with Europe, and nobody in the party will dare voice a pro-European view on anything, ever again. The mutation is complete. Tories are Brexit. Brexit is Tory.
The party are now trying to make everyone think Britain is Tory and to oppose them now is to oppose Britain.
The prize of Brexit is already proving to be a dud, and the PM knows it. It wasn’t worth it, and the dawn is coming. People are realising. It’s started with Fishermen, next will be Farmers, Hauliers, business owners of all kinds. I’ve not seen a single success story yet. How long will people accept the absence of success, before they label it failure?
How long will people accept the absence of success, before they label it failure?
Johnson’s only skill is publicity. He relishes the camera. He takes on a buffoon persona and plays it perfectly. He gleefully publicised and (falsely) sold the ideology of Brexit to get himself secured in power.
There is however a clear sign of his inability to actually govern, and that is his rapid retreat into imagery and cosmetics in time of crisis. When complex policy decisions (and leadership skills) are urgently needed, he instead lavishes himself with private jets, a situation room, a briefing room makeover, a redecorated flat and flags. Lots of flags.
We have the increased reliance upon symbolism (flags) rather than substance (policy). The shiny new £2.6m briefing room is further evidence of this desperation to divert.
But the point here is, the people chose MP’s to Get Brexit Done, and for no other reason. It was a single, standalone issue. Other stuff did not exist, nobody cared or thought about other stuff. So, in that single-issue election of 2019, did anyone stop to think about the wider implications?
Back to the example of Tom Hunt, elected by Ipswich in 2019 to replace a pro-Remain Labour MP.
Hunt’s time in 2021 seems to be largely taken up by appearances in photo shoots, claiming credit for community projects while dutifully acting out nationalist symbolism for his Prime Minister. He recently demanded it become compulsory for every school in the UK to fly the Union flag, and if any pupils (or indeed teachers) complain they should be “educated”. Yes, this is real. He really said that. Quite apart from the sheer arrogance of presuming to “educate” teachers about history, he exhibits the typical Brexiter hypocrisy: Take a look at these two tweets:
…And we can add to that, the new government policy which requires all UK government buildings to fly the Union flag from now on.
The flag fixation of Brexit Conservatives is funny, even hilarious at times. But after the laugh comes the chills. An obsession with national symbols brings loud echoes of very dark times in history, of regimes who insisted on national flags being draped everywhere during rallies and public appearances of all kinds. I won’t be at all surprised if the Union flag is abused in this way come the next election. I imagine a nightmare scene of Trump-style rallies, stadiums packed full of angry white faces, Union flags draped 50ft high behind an unhinged Boris Johnson claiming that if you love Britain you must vote Tory.
I think we can all see where Johnson got his inspiration. Flag worship was a long-time misdirection technique for his fallen idol, and others in that mold before him.
With Brexit being at its core a flawed nationalist project, and with failed policy outcomes littering Britain’s streets, it’s perhaps not surprising that the flag has been hijacked in this way, or that Conservative MP’s are crawling out of the woodwork to offer their flag-loving contributions. One of my favourites was this, from Norfolk’s Conservative MP James Wild:
Wild was ridiculed for his diversion to the fact the Union flag didn’t appear on the pages of a report whose content he was meant to be scrutinising.
Now don’t get me wrong. I like the Union flag. I love what it truly represents; a combined peaceful union of nations acting together as one. (Sound familiar?)
But come on. It’s a flag.
It’s pathetic, it’s desperate, and it won’t work.
Brexit, a standalone nationalist project, helmed by a desperately incompetent single-issue party, can’t forever cling to a familiar symbol of unity and hope that’ll be enough to convince people we’re all in it together, and it’s all going to be wonderful. It’s pathetic, it’s desperate, and it won’t work. Failure is failure, and no flag will be big enough to cover this up.
Just in case Mr. Wild is reading this, though, I’ll make the token effort, here you go: