It wants to see more flags and more statues – anything to fan the flames of the greatest cultural clashes of the day (Picture: REUTERS)
When a Government runs out of ideas, something has to fill the vacuum.
Ever since Boris Johnson achieved the seemingly sole objective that he set himself after the 2019 General Election – to ‘Get Brexit Done’ (not that it has made a positive impact on most people’s lives in that time, or that it’s even done yet with the Northern Ireland Protocol now up for renegotiation) – his Government has been floundering.
Perhaps they’ve excelled in levelling up, you say? The Levelling Up White Paper may have included a detailed section on the history of Renaissance Europe (with chunks copied from Wikipedia), but a coherent strategy to create greater equality across the regions, it was not.
How about economic competence? The one policy area in which the Tories consistently claim to excel. Well we now have sky-high inflation, a cost of living crisis crippling household budgets up and down the country, and mass civil service job cuts – or ‘efficiencies’, according to Jacob Rees-Mogg – indicating a chilling return to austerity.
Tough on crime? Another top Tory tagline. But this week it’s been revealed that people are now resorting to solving their own burglaries as police are taking longer to reach crime scenes, and charging fewer suspects. Rape charges are, shockingly, at their lowest level in a decade. So much for the party of law and order.
Which brings us neatly onto what we all know this Government has really been preoccupied with all this time – and from which it has continually sought to distract us. As the Sue Gray report outlined last week in black and white, 10 Downing Street has been mired in a law-breaking scandal of its own making.
For months, ministers, members of Cabinet – on every media round, in every Parliamentary questions – said we had to ‘wait for Sue Gray’. In the meantime – in what I assume was to stop journalists from doing any more digging – we saw pronouncements on the utterly unnecessary privatisation of Channel 4, outlandish claims linking Sir Keir Starmer to Jimmy Savile, and an outrageous decision to send thousands of asylum seekers to Rwanda.
And now that Sue Gray’s report is finally out, Boris Johnson would rather we look anywhere else. Just this week, we’ve seen two classics of the notorious ‘dead cat’ genre.
The Chancellor’s announcement of a windfall tax last week was the most blatant of the kind. It came the very day after Sue Gray’s report launched to move the news agenda on as swiftly as possible.
While I’m glad the Government has finally caved to public and political pressure on this policy, it proves itself to be utterly incapable of actually carrying a good idea through to fruition, after offering tax breaks worth as much as £5.7billion to oil and gas companies.
And over the weekend, an even more farcical dead cat emerged, with a consultation on the return of imperial measurements. Why now? It’s the question everyone, even including some Tory MPs, are asking.
One stated: ‘Not one constituent, ever, has asked for this’. As my Green Party colleague Baroness Jenny Jones said on Good Morning Britain earlier this week, it’s still perfectly legal to use imperial measurements as long as they’re alongside metric ones. So this is a non-announcement of a non-policy.
Johnson is no stranger to the distraction tactic.
It’s been widely suggested that any time his wrongdoing is exposed, days later he’ll state the same word associated with that wrongdoing, simply to create a new set of search engine results when people start googling his misdeeds.
Whether announcing that he makes model buses to distract from the mendacious Brexit bus claims; describing himself as a ‘model of restraint’ when his relationship with model Jennifer Arcuri emerged; or most recently, outlining how his working from home habit is ‘hacking off a small piece of cheese’, curiously at a time when his Government’s notorious wine and cheese parties are front and centre of the public consciousness.
But to suggest these are simply benign diversions from bigger events is letting the Government off the hook.
Every dead cat forms part of a coordinated strategy to push the Prime Minister’s agenda of woke wars, which is designed to stoke division and sow mistrust.
Boris Johnson’s Britain pits old against young, rich against poor, and divides us down lines according to race, religion, sexuality and gender identity – shunning the marginalised in every possible sense.
This Government has attacked refugees and asylum seekers with their Rwanda plan; blocked benefits from disabled people; clamped down on protestors; and – to top it off with the anti-democratic Elections Bill – made it even more difficult for young people and those on low incomes to vote them out of office.
It wants to see more flags and more statues – anything to fan the flames of the greatest cultural clashes of the day.
The ultimate distraction tactic? To turn the public’s ire away from itself, and towards its own people.
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