Boris Johnson’s Savile slur against Sir Keir Starmer triggered irreversible damage – Annie Brown

Whether Boris Johnson apologises over the Savile slur against Sir Keir Starmer is largely immaterial now the damage is done.

With malicious intent Johnson falsely tainted Starmer’s name by association with one of the most notorious and prolific paedophiles of our time.

Politicians from all sides can condemn Johnson’s actions but regardless, this slur will shape-shift into guises of false facts as it spreads across the fallacious landscape of social media.

It was the conspiracy theorists who were wacko enough to form the mob which surrounded Starmer but it is the very ordinary and disaffected who will share and absorb this lie as incontrovertible truth.

There are two obsessions that are historically guaranteed to raise the temperature of right-wing populists to boiling point – immigrants and paedophiles.

The Covid vaccine is a latecomer third.

The evil of Savile was real but the allegation Starmer was guilty in his not being prosecuted is not.

It is a false comparison for Johnson to use this as an example of how high the buck stops.

The decision not to prosecute was local and didn’t reach Starmer’s desk but Partygate was literally in the PM’s back garden and he was there.

In the US it was fantastical claims of Hillary Clinton drinking babies’ blood and the supposed existence of an elitist occultist paedophile ring which created the frenzy that led to the storming of the Capitol.

Some of the rioters were crazy horse QAnon believers but there were many ordinary working men and women, teachers, lawyers among them.

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Conspiracy and fake news has flourished during Covid and now all of us come into contact with eleven seemingly “rational” friends and acquaintances who to some degree buy into this nonsense.

Groundless moral panic and conspiracy is not fringe any more.

Johnson is the master of manipulating his base, a propagandist puppet master who pulls a little race-baiting string here, child molesters string there.

When it comes to having the electorate to dance to his tune, Johnson is quite the choreographer.

Voila. Not only Partygate but fuel and food poverty is obscured in the kicked-up dust of chaos and outrage.

Johnson doesn’t give a damn what his fellow parliamentarians think, he cares about the people on the ground who are now buying into Starmer being a bit “dodgy”.

His base and beyond don’t listen to the “fake media” commentators intellectualising on the telly, they squeeze in YouTube and a conspiratorial Joe Rogan podcast as respite from drowning.

This is a fertile political landscape for Johnson, for whom lies have as natural rhythm as breathing whether it be in his journalism, his politics or his marriages.

His behavior has been condemned as Trumpian, which wrongly implies we should expect better of him.

Neither Trump nor Johnson were the pioneers of using propaganda to incite, scapegoat and enrage right-wing bigotry – that was Hitler.

Johnson is the Brexiteer who endorsed the claim on the Vote Leave campaign bus that “we send the European Union £350million a week” and the money could be used to “fund our NHS instead”.

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This falsehood, one among many, has categorically been proven to be untrue, yet still it ferments among a base for whom forensic thought has become perversely counterintuitive.

It matters not to Johnson that it was a lie, only that it brought Brexit and for him, the means, however mendacious, will always justify the end.

It would be the decent thing for him to apologize to Starmer and some dignity would be restored to the position of Prime Minister but regardless, the genie is out of the bottle and Johnson is still PM.

We all have to admit, skilfully played Boris.

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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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