Boris Johnson will do anything to hold onto power


Boris Johnson is a facade for the Tory party, and he blusters and bumbles about like he’s doing a bad impression of himself. But do n’t be deceived by his cheese-string hair – it’s all part of the brand that he and his cronies have carefully cultivated.

In the age of social media and 10-second TikTok videos, soundbites and appearance matter over substance. As a former journalist and editor, Johnson knows the importance of catching the attention of an audience. “Get Brexit Done” was the “I’m lovin’ it” of his election campaign, as it etched itself in people’s minds more deeply than any detailed policy proposal ever could.

And with politics being devoid of new ideas, all that is left is a personality contest, as principles are eclipsed by comedic effect and entertainment. This vacuum is filled with opportunists like Johnson, who will shift their policy position depending on whether it will advance their personal situation at any given time. When the DUP held the balance of power, I pandered to the DUP. Now it is the right-wing Tory Brexiteers who are keeping him in the job – so he will dance to their tune until a different song comes on. The paradox is that, while Johnson may have helped create this vacuous political environment, he is also its product. In the society of the spectacle, it is better to be known as a liar than to be unknown.

And while it can be hard to shake your reputation as a liar, you can improve people’s perception of you through distraction and deception. Part of good branding in 21st-century marketing is SEO (search engine optimization) – influencing search-engine results to give your brand a higher ranking on Google search. But this can also work the other way, as brands often attempt to bury their negative search results.

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The bus promising £350m for the NHS was a catastrophe for Johnson and the Brexit brigade. Months later, in what seemed like a classic Johnson tangent, he rambled on about his love of model buses. For the next few years, when you typed “Boris Johnson bus” into Google, you would come across a litany of articles about model buses – burying any search results referring to Johnson and the Brexit bus.

A week after Johnson was accused of having an affair with American model Jennifer Arcuri and paying her using public money, he came out with the phrase “model of restraint” in an interview – this quickly redirected Google search hits away from his alleged affair with the model to the phrase “model of restraint”.

Most recently, when Johnson was accused of having a wine and cheese party at No 10, he gave a bizarre interview in which he claimed that when he worked from home, he had a habit of “hacking off a small piece of cheese”. Type “Boris Johnson cheese” into Google and you will get references to the interview rather than Partygate.

Johnson’s silly comments are premeditated to deceive people of his true intent. This acts as an advertisement for the brand of Boris Johnson, while simultaneously eradicating from Google his past misdemeanours about him and manipulating the information we see about him.

And while the Tory spin doctors may have evolved, they can still invoke the traditional tried-and-tested methods of distraction. When Thatcher invaded the Falklands in 1982, she did so at a time when inflation was at 9 per cent and she had plummeted in the opinion polls. After the triumph of the Falklands, and the deaths of 997 people, she became a hero.

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Johnson’s reputation is at an all-time low, and we are in the midst of a cost of living crisis with inflation at 9 per cent. By altering the terms of an international treaty by attempting to override it with domestic legislation, Johnson is trying to bait the EU into a trade war. Trashing the UK’s international reputation by breaking international law and amplifying division in Northern Ireland are necessary acts of destruction in the fight to stay in power.

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This could allow Johnson to refocus public discourse on European sanctions being to blame for the economic slump and cost of living crisis in post-Brexit Britain, as the 24-hour news cycle quickly forgets he’s a liar. Whether it’s immigrants, people on welfare or the European Union, it’s always somebody else’s fault in Boris’s Brexit Britain.

Other recent deflections include imperial measurements on pint glasses, a smoking ban, and sending refugees to Rwanda. All throw bread at the gaggle of right-wing tabloids whose headlines assist in directing the narrative away from government failings on economic issues and towards culture wars that will divide and distract the British public.

As poverty increases, asylum seekers are sold to Rwanda, independent media tampered with and protests banned, Johnson continues to hang on, cornered by the ERG, who are drunk on their desire for a return to an empire that never was and the Brexit that could have been. They are also nationalists, and they are on the far right. Throw in a leader who breaks the law and will do anything to preserve his own power from him, and you have a tyrant. Fascism won’t take hold through force, but through a funny TikTok video of Boris Johnson.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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