A Tory vote of self-preservation

It has now been announced that the Prime Law-breaker will have to face a confidence vote Sir Graham Brady, chair of the back bench 1922 committee made the announcement on Monday morning after reports in the Sunday Times that the threshold of 54 letters to the chair of the backbench 1922 Committee had already been exceeded. Although Johnson was informed on Sunday evening, the committee chair chose not to make the news public over the jubilee weekend. Which is a shame, after all did the British nationalists not keep on telling us that this jubilee weekend was all about bringing joy to the nation? Johnson’s humiliation is the only thing that would have put a smile on the faces of many of us.

The move to oust Johnson comes as Conservative MPs are growing increasingly nervous about the two by-elections due to be held later this month. An opinion poll at the weekend showed that the Conservatives set for a devastating defeat in Wakefield, one of the so-called “red wall” seats that the Tories took from Labour at the December 2019 General Election which were key to Johnson winning the largest Conservative majority since the Thatcher era. Despite him being hailed by the party as the all-conquering hero, his manifest character flaws have proven to be his undoing and he now faces being kicked out of the office of PM after occupying it for an even shorter period of time than Theresa May.

The fact that Johnson is in this position despite winning a huge majority just over two years ago is testament to his gross unsuitability for high office

Perhaps the moment when it became clear even to Johnson loyalists that public toleration of his carefully constructed tousled shtick had worn out was when he was booed by the crowd outside St Paul’s cathedral on Friday when he and his wife arrived for the religious highlight of the jubilee proceedings, the ritual sacrifice of Nicholas Witchell to Succup, the god of sycophancy. In a sign that Succup had not lost his malign power over the BBC despite the fact that Nicholas Witchell remains alive and well, David Dimbleby, who presented the event for the state broadcaster, and who went into long and tedious detail about every aspect of the service, quickly skipped over the loud boos which greeted the arrival of Johnson, even though this was for many of us the only remotely interesting thing that happened.

The union flag waving crowd gathered outside the cathedral was composed largely of the kind of people who have fully bought into the myths of British exceptionalism. They were likely to be disproportionately those who would have been happy to put their X next to a Conservative candidate’s name on the ballot paper. If Johnson is being booed by union flag waving monarchists who are sold enough on the notion of British nationalism to pitch up outside St Paul’s in hope of catching a brief glimpse of some minor royal, he is likely to be even less popular with the public at large. The only way that Johnson could have avoided being the least popular guest in attendance would have been if Prince Andrew had turned up with a teenage girl wearing a T-shirt saying Pizza Express Woking No Sweat. However the Prince had very conveniently tested positive for covid, and so was a no-show, possibly he’s more susceptible to it because he can’t sweat.

However some Conservative MPs who want to unseat Johnson are keen are concerned that there is no clear successor in sight and wanted to give challengers more time to organise their campaigns. Although 54 letters of no confidence were required to trigger a leadership contest, and that number has been exceeded, 180 MPs will have to vote against him in the no- confidence vote due to be held on Monday evening. Those opposed to Johnson are not at all certain that they have the necessary numbers. Today Johnson and his allies have embarked on a concerted campaign to save him. He is fully prepared to use every dirty trick at his disposal in order to stay in power.

If Johnson survives the vote, party rules dictate that he would be safe from further leadership challenges for another year. Johnson has already made it clear that he has no intention of resigning and would not step down even if the vote showed that he no longer had the support of a significant swathe of his MPs. In the Conservative leadership ballot of 1990, Margaret Thatcher won the first round of voting, securing the votes of 204 Tory MPs against the 152 who voted for her challenger Michael Heseltine, however despite originally vowing to fight on Thatcher was forced to acknowledge that she had lost the support of a large number of Conservative MPs and announced that she was withdrawing from the contest.

There is little prospect of Johnson doing the same. However I would be sad to see him leaving Downing Street like that. I’d like to see him being dragged out in handcuffs. Johnson will try to cling to power even if he wins by a single vote. Thatcher was a vile, evil and heartless woman, but she cared about the Conservative party. Johnson is a vile, evil and heartless man. He doesn’t care about the Conservative party, he only cares about himself, now the Tories who put him in power in full knowledge of his many character flaws are worried that those same character flaws might damage them and their careers, they were not too worried about what damage might be done to everyone else and to democracy in Britain when they thought that Johnson was a vote winner for them.

The most likely possibility is that Johnson survives today’s vote but is seriously damaged by it, however he will try and cling on and in the process ensure that for months to come the sole focus of the British government will be to ensure Johnson’s survival. In the meantime we can expect more hideous right wing British nationalist populist measures like the disgraceful Rwanda policy, designed to appeal to the Brexit supporting union flag wavers.

It’s important to remember that today’s vote is not about holding Johnson to account, it is about saving the Conservative party from the consequences of its deceit and mendacity and finding a new leader who can secure Conservative rule. It is not an example of British democracy in action, it is a symptom of the failure of British democracy. Even if Johnson is finally replaced, which is most likely to come after months of Conservative internal wrangling, whoever does eventually replace him will still be complicit in the the corruption, scandal and economic vandalism that defines Johnson’s government.

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