Our ‘valiant’ PM – fiddling on the international stage while letting the political fires burn here at home



As usual, let’s start with a quick look at the ‘printworthy’ news, the ones which are headlined in this morning’s MSM paper editions (link): in one form or another, they are all about that rail strike which starts tomorrow. We better prepare for misery, according to the papers, because that rail strike ‘may go on until autumn’, and teachers – what a surprise! – and NHS staff may join. That’s the same NHS which wailed last week that the rail strike may cost lives. A strike of their staff of course wouldn’t! 

I suggest that, unlike during other ‘seasons of discontent’, this time the country won’t be in shellshock and demand that Johnson ‘do something’ because we can’t cope with such disruptions. After all, we’ve got two years of experience in ‘surviving’ lockdowns. Anyway, it’s a long time until autumn. Our ‘betters’, the WFH crowd, will be on holidays, rail strike or airport mayhem notwithstanding so they won’t notice.

Speaking of holidays: I’ll mention just one piece of ‘foreign’ news: Macron’s party lost their majority in yesterday’s French elections (link). His party is squeezed on the left by the coalition set up by Mr Mélenchon and on the right by Madame Le Pen’s party which gained 89 seats – from 8. This result is important for us as well because it shows exemplarily that Macron’s ploy, of making himself look big on the international stage, not least by that visit to Kiev last Thursday with Mr Draghi (Italy), Mr Scholtz (Germany) and Mr Iohannis (Romania) in tow, was not a ‘vote booster’. 

Our current PM ought to heed this lesson but I’m afraid he won’t. Like many a politician facing an inescapable storm of bad home news he tries to show his indispensability by swanning around the ‘international’ stage. He doubled down on his ‘surprise visit to Kiev’ last Friday by penning a sickening piece for the Sunday Times, headlined “We will never be secure if we turn our backs on valiant Ukraine” (link, paywalled). The least said about that essay the better. One phrase in that item made me rub my eyes (my emphasis):

“Nearly four months after Putin invaded Ukraine and started the biggest war in Europe since 1945, the UK and our allies are united in our iron resolve never to countenance any of the above.” (link, paywalled)

‘Iron resolve’ is straight out of yon well-known German dictator’s phrase book. It’s beyond belief that, according to BJ, “we” must show ‘iron resolve’ against Putin while melting like butter in the sun in front of the real issues affecting our country, from rail and perhaps other strikes to inflation and energy shortages!

And then BJ tripled down, penning another piece last night, this time for the DT. The headline shows that either he or his advisers are utterly detached from reality: “The Commonwealth gives Britain a boost – The invisible threads which bind our family of nations are of immense practical value for trade” (paywalled link). That would be the ‘trade’ so severely disrupted by all those sanctions on Russia. That would be the Commonwealth which is happily disregarding said sanctions.

The reason for this piece is that BJ will go to the Commonwealth Summit in Rwanda this week – the week where the Tories face a drubbing in the by-elections on Thursday, the week where the country is going to come to a stop because of the rail strike starting tomorrow.  These are petitesses as far as Johnson is concerned. His minions, ahem: ministers can deal with those tiresome issues. 

In this piece Johnson warbles about the free trade agreements signed since Brexit. That begs the question why the Foreign Secretary, a certain Miz Truss, couldn’t represent the UK. After all, she negotiated many of those agreements before she moved to the FO. No – he needs this international stage for self-aggrandisement because the dirty political stuff like strikes and inflation is beneath him. 

I wonder if Mr J is aware of the Commonwealth shifting away from following the UK’s and USA’s ‘rules’ about sanctions, away from aligning themselves with the UK while shifting towards the new axis Russia-China. I wonder what he’ll offer the Commonwealth countries facing hunger and food shortages because of the sanctions. 

The war in the Ukraine is certain to be on the table, overtly or covertly, not least because “we”, in the form of the PM and in the form of yon British General, are alleged to be ‘willing’ to support Mr ‘e to our own last weapons item left in our storage:

“The new chief of the British army has braced troops for swift mobilisation to eastern Europe and said it is vital they and their allies are “capable of beating Russia in battle”. General Sir Patrick Sanders issued a “battle cry” to all ranks, as well as civil servants, in the form of a memo saying that the conflict in Ukraine reinforced the army’s core purpose of “being ready to fight and win wars on land”. Senior military figures said the intervention, last Thursday during his first week in the job, served as a reminder to the government to invest in land capability.” (link, paywalled

Neither he nor his supporters, from Mr Ellwod to the former Chief-of-Staff Lord Dannatt, mention with one word that this Army, the smallest since the Napoleonic wars, needs to invest in replacing all the arms systems we’ve sent to the Ukraine.

How this can be done while raw materials, energy shortages and supply chain disruptions are either already present or will become manifest in the next weeks and months: that’s a pedestrian question, to be solved by the likes of Sunak. It’s something we peasants will happily bear because inflation, more taxes and sinking living standards is what we’re told we want, to make us ‘feel safe’. 

Perhaps they’ll tell us next to follow the Ukrainian example, to be ‘valiant and heroic’ and prepare to fight Russian invaders with … shovels! That’s the latest wail from the Ukraine: “Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kuleba: The Armed Forces of Ukraine are ready to do with shovels in the absence of arms supplies” (link, machine translator needed). Perhaps BJ and his generals will demand we hand over our shovels to support the Ukraine? Nothing would surprise me, given the inanities of this government!

It is of course too much to expect of the PM and his advisers in No 10 or Whitehall to take notice of an excellent essay by Mr Bhadrakumar (link). Do read the whole thing! Mr Bhadrakumar is only a former Indian diplomat so what would he know … He points out that the ‘long war’ Johnson and others are ‘predicting’ could well work to Mr Putin’s advantage, observing:

“That’s where the actual inflection point lies today — whether the structural contradictions in the western economies have matured into disorder. Putin sees the West’s future as bleak, hit simultaneously by the blowback from its own imposition of sanctions, and the resultant spike in commodity prices, but lacking agility to deflect the blows due to institutional rigidities.” (link)

To that list I’d add the institutional cloud-cuckoo-land mentality, displayed by our government, from ‘ra-ra we stand against Putin to our last shovel’ to the green ideology pervading every single government department. 

So let’s enjoy the political spectacle on the programme for this coming week: a PM fiddling on the international stage while Rome, that’s our country, starts burning in earnest. It’ll be fun! Won’t it?

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