They all remain glued to their seats. Lord Frost, the token Tory among them, would have got up on his feet, but he has resigned in disgust.
This emotion is universally shared by all those who thought, or in my case hoped, that they had elected a Tory government. That means Conservative, if only with a capital initial (the lower case has gone the way of all flesh).
Now that Johnson’s cabinet is succeeding in out-Labouring Labour, such voters feel betrayed, or in my case vindicated. I knew the original hope was forlorn, but something in me demands clinging on to lost causes.
Lord Frost, the Brexit minister, resigned because he didn’t wish to serve in a socialist government. True enough, if you compile a list of policies indigenous to socialism, you’ll find Johnson’s government ticking every box.
Runaway taxation? Tick. Promiscuous welfare spending? Tick. Increasing regulations? Tick. Destructive social policies? Tick. Commitment to uncosted projects, such as net zero carbon emissions, that are likely to beggar the country? Tick. Bossiness? Tick. Burgeoning statism? Tick. A vacillating domestic and foreign policy? Tick. A general aura of irresponsibility? Tick. Making populist noises while looking down on the population? Tick.
Compiling a similar list of Tory traits will yield a different result. Every box will remain blank, with your pen staying suspended in the air, while your other hand reaches for a bottle of Scotch.
Now, every ticked box above deserves its own comments, and duly gets them from all and sundry, including, occasionally, me. And that’s before all and sundry, including, occasionally, me, have even touched on the subject of the government’s response to Covid.
For libertarians, it’s draconian. For autocrats, it’s lackadaisical. But for everyone it’s indecisive and inconsistent, with HMG swinging wildly from one end to the other like that naughty girl in the Fragonard painting. Thus both the libertarians and the autocrats are sometimes right and sometimes wrong.
Life is like that: journalists and bloggers tend to be excited by tactical specifics rather than strategic generalities. British people in particular are bored with far-reaching philosophical ratiocination tinged with doomsday prophesying.
Germany is a perfect breeding ground for thinkers so inclined, chaps like Nietzsche with his Also Sprach Zarathustra or Spengler with his Der Untergang des Abendlandes. So it’s at the risk of sounding un- or perhaps even anti-British that I’d suggest that all those socialist characteristics of Johnson’s government are small beer. Compared, that is, to the heady brew of final civilisational surrender.
Boris Johnson, co-star of the new Carrie On film, has betrayed not only Tory voters in general but also, especially, real conservatives – which is to say the guardians of our civilisation – fighting desperate rear-guard action against the barbarian onslaught.
That battle has been fought on many political and economic fronts, and for every skirmish conservatives have won there have been ten they’ve lost. Yet the embers of our civilisation can still continue to smoulder, just, after such defeats.
What douses them with a downpour of cold water is a defeat in cultural battles, those fought in school classrooms, university halls, newspapers and other media – and even casual conversations among friends.
In any pitched clash, the side that chooses the battlefield affording it a dominant high ground has a winning advantage. Exiting the military metaphor, the side that manages to impose its own terms of debate will win the rhetorical, and therefore cultural, contest every time.
And the Johnson government not only accepts the terms of debate set by those seeking to undermine Western civilisation, but it goes them one better in making those terms grander and more irreversible.
Every core premise of the Left goes unchallenged, and we can argue pointlessly about details till we are blue, or rather red, in the face. If subversive principles are allowed to reign supreme, capitulation has been signed. This can be illustrated by any number of random examples from any walk of life.
One of Lord Frost’s stated objections to government policies had to do with Johnson’s Carrie-inspired commitment to net zero carbon emissions. That goal is to be achieved by 2050, while all internal combustion cars are to be driven into a dump by 2030, and all gas heaters replaced with something or other.
Lord Frost correctly points out that no one has a clue how much this project will cost, with most estimates pointing at ruinous consequences. That’s a legitimate complaint, as far as it goes.
But what if the cost of this programme were to be accurately calculated, and it could be shown that the British economy will still be able to limp on having absorbed it? Would that take care of his objections?
It certainly wouldn’t take care of mine. For the whole climate swindle is but a prong in the aforementioned onslaught. Its target isn’t a diesel car or a gas heater, nor every molecule of atmospheric carbon, but the very essence of Western economies, something we call capitalism courtesy of its proto-hater, Marx.
Economic dynamism is as organic to Western societies as self-contemplative stupor is to Buddhist monks. Hence anyone who detests the West would seek to put brakes on that essential tendency, and climate mongers know that in their viscera, just as all leftists always have done.
Anyone who cedes to them the point that a problem exists has already betrayed the West – regardless of how many concessions he could wrench from the other side.
I don’t know why I singled out that particular illustration. Any other would have done as well, some with even greater clarity.
One could talk about churches mandated shut during the Covid pandemic while they remained open even during the Black Death – this though medieval doctors had no means whatsoever of combatting the disease.
Or about the government doing nothing substantial about the outpouring of black bile on the entire history of the West, routinely portrayed as unremittingly criminal or, at best, regrettable.
Or about a sustained attack on another cornerstone of our civilisation, free expression. People who strain to detect a traumatic effect in every word that somehow deviates from the dictated norm don’t do so because they love potential victims. They ban free speech because they hate the West, and such freedom is its cornerstone.
Johnson’s government does nothing to put an end to this orgy of hatred. At times it makes a feeble attempt to mitigate its savagery at the margins, yet without ever questioning its validity at the core.
That’s what bothers the real conservatives among Tory voters. That’s why they feel betrayed and despondent. That’s why they are running scared.
And now by all means, let’s talk about cabinet members and their families having an unauthorised drink in the garden. You know, the subject that so preoccupies the media at the moment (see the photo above).