Who can forget how Stephen Harper, aided and abetted by a dim and spineless Governor General, pulled his fat out of the fire by proroguing Parliament as the 2007/2008 Great Recession rolled over the world. Canada was beset by another hapless Liberal leader those days, one Michael Ignatieff, who decided he had nothing better to do over the weeks of that suspension and the ensuing Christmas holiday than to finish off a book about his maternal line, the Grants. You read it? Didn't think so.
Across the pond the Brits have a similar constitutional thug, Boris Johnson. What's his excuse, his crisis? Brexit and a halloween deadline. Harper didn't want Parliament getting up to no good while he wrestled with an economic disaster he somehow didn't see coming. Johnson likewise has Westminster under house arrest while he tries to browbeat the European Union into submission.
The Euros do not seem to be impressed.
The European parliament’s coordinator on Brexit, Guy Verhofstadt, said the move was unlikely to deliver a stable future relationship. “‘Taking back control’ has never looked so sinister,” he wrote. “As a fellow parliamentarian, my solidarity with those fighting for their voices to be heard. Suppressing debate on profound choices is unlikely to help deliver a stable future EU-UK relationship.”Unlike that Liberal leader's farcical performance there are signs that Johnson's opposition MPs, including a few Tories, won't waste the next five weeks but may return prepared to put the Conservative government down.
So what is Johnson's game? The director of the Institute for Public Policy Research, Tom Kibasi, writes that Boris is getting prepared to call out Britain's own deplorables:
This is a government that intends to realign Britain to the US and is set to govern just like US Republicans – cut taxes first, then maintain spending to blow up the deficit before using that to justify far deeper spending cuts.
So why would the public believe what Johnson says? The real secret of populists, from Donald Trump to Matteo Salvini to Johnson, is the conflation of transgression with truthfulness. The willingness to engage in bigotry and violate hard-won social norms against racist, homophobic or misogynistic language convinces people that these politicians “speak their mind” and “say what they think”. Paradoxically, their lack of virtue confirms their veracity.
Their bigotry is the result of calculation rather than miscalculation – and the predictable howls of outrage from critics only serves to amplify the message. The upcoming election will turn on whether Johnson is found out for what he is: Trump with a thesaurus, whose real agenda of a Brexit for the elite is disguised behind the thin veneer of a few spending announcements that come after a desperate decade of the degradation of Britain at home and abroad.Thug Life