2007 - 2022

Boris Johnson in Downing Street for five years: what could possibly go wrong?

Boris Johnson is going to deliver Brexit by 31st January, 2020. On 1st February he will announce, without any sense of irony, that he will solemnly deliver Brexit by 31st December, 2020: deal or no deal. So Britain is still in the EU in January, and we still do not know whether we have a deal. In the immortal words of Theresa May, ‘nothing has changed’. Except that Boris Johnson, with a majority of 80 in the House of Commons, can now do whatever he likes, or at least whatever Dominic Cummings (the Prince of Darkness) instructs.
The Conservative Party is delighted with its best election result since 1987; except of course in Scotland, where the Party, overwhelmed with passive indifference when it lost its leader Ruth Davidson (for reasons nobody cared much about, even among Scottish Conservatives – only the Scottish media mourned). The Scottish Conservatives went on to lose over half its seats in the General Election; a setback so damaging that nobody in the Conservative Government appeared to notice, nor express much concern. It did not stop the Conservative celebration of victory; especially among Scottish Conservatives, who diligently represent a gerontocracy which is almost certainly going to be much happier with Boris Johnson than they ever were with Ruth Davidson. 
The electorate has voted for a Conservative Party that, a little disconcertingly for some, no longer exists. In 2019, as the last old ‘one nation’ Tories like Ken Clarke, Dominic Grieve or Rory Stewart were forced out by Boris Johnson, a new Conservative-Brexit Party was born. This is a party that is the improbable brainchild of Nigel Farage more than of Boris Johnson, and a Party that will owe its new purpose most of all to Dominic Cummings. If, like all political parties it supposes itself a broad church, or at least wishes to be seen as a broad church, bringing together different views; nobody yet knows what these views are, or what will hold this new, distinct Conservative-Brexit Party together: if only Brexit, what comes after? Who knows.
Boris Johnson has a big majority and now, improbably, represents a large swathe of traditional Labour voters, their votes only temporarily ‘on loan’; they will see; they will sit at home, arms folded, waiting to measure the nature of the pay-back. ‘Get Brexit done’ will, in the event and on its own, butter no parsnips in Blythe Valley. If there is ‘No Deal’, there will probably be no parsnips to butter. Johnson, however is going Spend Big in the North. He says. He has already announced that Austerity is over. Remember Austerity? Once-upon-a-time it was necessary. It was vital to Britain’s survival. It was set out in bald, stark terms. It was unavoidable. Worse, we were all-in-it-together (actually we weren’t, but let us not be churlish). Austerity was real. 
Why was Austerity necessary? Because the financial Deficit in 2010 was unsustainable. The National Debt had reached £1.0 Trillion. There was no responsible choice for Government, except Austerity: to reduce the Deficit; eliminate it over a number of years; turn the Deficit into a Surplus, and reduce the National Debt; this was the economic mantra of Conservatism, and of the Conservative-Brexit Party. This is what you discover at the core of the ideology. The Conservatives have remained in Government for ten years since 2010. Austerity has caused considerable pain and suffering, especially for the poor or disabled, who have paid the direct cost of Austerity in the deprivation of their resources and lives; they have paid the price, to deliver a Government Surplus. 
How well has Austerity worked? It hasn’t. Deficits have not been eliminated. There are no decisive Surpluses in prospect. The National Debt in 2019 is now over £1.8 Trillion (over 80% higher than the unsustainable level of 2010); in ten years the National Debt has increased at an almost unprecedented rate in peace time. Austerity has failed, by its own test, and failed spectacularly; and we have nothing to show for all the pain and suffering it has caused. Nothing.
The Conservative-Brexit Government solution to this little problem is to declare a victory over Austerity and start spending money: increasing the Deficit that they declared was unsustainable, and continue to increase the National Debt to ever higher levels; beyond £2.0 Trillion appears inevitable. There are only two consequences that follow from this: either the Conservatives were wrong to institute the regime of Austerity in 2010 following the Financial Crash, and it wasn’t necessary after all; they were disastrously wrong in both their policy and their economic ideology; or they were right then to implement Austerity, and they are wrong now because the Deficit and Debt are unsustainable, as they always said, and Boris Johnson is now going to implement a disastrous economic policy in consequence. They can’t both be right.
The General Election, 2019 has produced a large Conservative-Brexit Party majority. Somehow it is believed that this fixes everything. Political reputations never end in tears and recriminations; and never on the steps of 10, Downing Street. All the problems we may discuss are trifles. Already we are faced with a phalanx of precious opinion-formers, journalists and party-spinners who seem to believe that everything has now been politically fixed in Britain. The problems are all somewhere else, like Scotland; because of Indyref2, but in Scotland all the cards are held by Boris Johnson. All the cards are held by Johnson because he has the answer to all the problems facing Britain. Save, perhaps one: what could possibly go wrong for Boris Johnson and his Government?

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  1. Mark Bevis says:

    “Austerity has failed, by its own test, and failed spectacularly; and we have nothing to show for all the pain and suffering it has caused. Nothing.”
    Other than,

    By the standards of those that inflicted austerity, the policy was a roaring success. Now they have carte blanche to ramp up the death rate. The only thing that might get in the way of that will be the complexity of Brexiting – hopefully it will take up so much legislative time that Cummins won’t be able to extend his eugenics policy in the next five years.

  2. Ray says:

    The big difference for Scotland under Boris and Cummings is that they will not allow another indyref so can’t see how to get independence. I think if it tried to declare independence on its own, a sort of UDI, Boris would just hold on to the instruments of power. and if need be could send troops and arrest SNP leaders, just like in Catalonia. Unlike Ireland, Scotland has no recent tradition of armed resurrection so can’t see how to how to get out of it. How would it take control of Scottish army divisions without them being handed over by the English?

    1. Charles L. Gallagher says:

      Ray, the big question is would Scottish troops fire on their own people????

      1. Alex K says:

        Are the British Troops in Scotland actually Scottish or are they all English?

        1. Bill says:

          3 Rifles are in Dreghorn -they are certainly English

      2. john b dick says:

        They weren’t trusted to do that in 1919, at the battle of George Square, they were confined to barraks and English spersand cannon sent instead.

    2. Graham Ennis says:

      On the edge of a new year, Scotland is now on the edge of a precipice. It is not of its own making, but of the London government.
      Catalunya was nothing, compared to what will probably happen in Scotland. Much will take place, in 2020. I am going to imitate Scotland’s famous “Brahan Seer”, of mystic law. in today’s situation, its probably as accurate as anything else, for we will be going through turbulent times.
      Much of what I say will upset a lot of people. But not as much as they will be upset by the ruthless maniac now at the head of the London Government.
      He has, I think, with his necromancer Cummins, already formulated a plan to deal with the Scottish problem. He deludes himself as to the seriousness of what he is facing. Because if thing work out as I think they will, Scotland is going to pass through a passage of violence, disorder, confrontation, and suppression.
      Cummings, with his Australian background, has little or no understanding of the other UK nations, and has a colonial mindset about them. So does Johnson.
      They will have already gamed the coming situation, and made some plans. Ultimately, these plans will fail. But not quickly.

      What I strongly suspect, is that Johnson will announce, in the new year, that he will not, under any circumstances, allow another Referendum for Scotland. He will refuse a section 30 order. Sturgeon will try and advance a referendum anyway. She will probably be more level headed, legalistic, and formal, than she should be. A lot of time will be wasted, (months) in legal manoeuvres, lawsuits in the Scottish Courts, the Supreme Court in London, and appeals to the EU etc. Eventually, she will start organising a Referendum. It will be ill organised, and badly thought out, as the high level power holders in the SNP misjudge things, and will be nervous of directly challenging London. The grass roots of the Scottish people will get very annoyed at what is happening. They will self organise, from the ground up, as they did in the last referendum. The leadership of SNP will be divided. There is in the party, a cache of careerists, carpetbaggers, and opportunists, who are not there to advance Scottish Freedom, but themselves. A minority, but a dangerous minority. There is no manifest grass roots organisation/party such as Seinn-Fein to take on the task, and the grass roots nationalists are going to have to fill the gap.

      In the meantime, London will start a policy of “Boiling Frogs”, slowly cutting away the legislative and legal authority of the Scottish Government. Eventually, at a critical point, the monarch will be ordered to Perougue the Parliament, and dismiss the ministers. Think Catalunya. Some sort of Vote will try and go ahead, but at this point, things will become disorganised. The closest model is, again, Catalunya. There will be, in the middle of all this, a lot of “Black operations” by the uk security and intelligence agencies, and disinformation, etc. The Unionist parties in Scotland will be absolute Quislings. Ultimately, Johnson will realise he has another potential Ireland on his hands. He will probably make the same mistake the UK did on Ulster. At that point, some violence starts. How bad, and how big, is unknown. But probably, due to the Timidity of the actual Holyrood Government, they lose the control over the situation, and grass roots resistance to the London Government starts on a significant scale.

      After this, its shrouded in Scottish mists. It will either develop into an irish type war, or internal pressure in London will force the Government there back to restraint and the negotiating table. But all of this is seen through a political mist. it swirls, it drifts, and anything could happen. But these are going to be very turbulent times for Scotland. my own deep feelings are that due to an irresolute and disorganised SNP Government, lots of Quisling operations directed by london, and the Scottish oligarchs financing and controlling an organised unionist opposition, backed by the London government, it will all end in a stalemate, by the end of 2021. Scotland will be in a very dangerous situation and condition. At that point, I think, the real war starts, the SNP loses control of the situation, and things go the route of irih History. But ultimately, Scotland goes free.

      1. Josef Ó Luain says:

        Knowing the Scots, I, for one, will be extremely surprised if your projection of violent-resistance comes to pass. There’s more likelihood of Johnson taking a calculated gamble on a second lost independence referendum in order to “disappear” the demand well into the future. Besides everything else: the sight of Scottish Nationalist MPs sitting in Westminster does not convey a sense of great urgency on the part of the S.N.P. or of Scots generally, regarding Independence.

  3. Douglas Wilson says:

    People in my view ought to calm down about what happens if Johnson kyboshes a Section 30 order for indie ref II.
    The fact is that there is not a clear majority in favour of independence as things stand. We must be patient and continue to talk and listen and persuade.
    If there was a big number in favour of independence, then clearly Sturgeon could consider a whole number of options knowing that she had most Scots backing her. As it stands, she doesn’t.
    We’re talking about Scotland recovering her independence here. It’s only going to happen once, and the next time we have a referendum, we must go into it fully expecting a landslide victory.
    It may be useful to recall that the Devolution referendum of 1979 was lost – albeit on a technicality – while the result when it was repeated in 1997 was a landslide win for a Scottish Parliament.
    This is not the time for either rash actions, or heads going down. This is the time for cool heads and a long term view.
    We’re in a much better place than we were at the beginning of this decade which is coming to a close, are we not?
    There will be frustrations ahead, for sure. To which I say:
    “Patience, and shuffle the pack of cards” as Don Miguel de Cervantes used to say.
    Events will happen, circustances will change, openings will appear unexpectedly.
    The most important thing is to stay in the game…

    1. John S Warren says:

      As I read the comments here, I began to wonder what I had actually written; because most of the comments here seemed to have little or nothing to do with the article at all, or even acknowledge the argument. Curious.

      I have some difficulty understanding why so many people have obviously swalloed whole the proposition that Boris Johnson’s total grip on power is safe and secure for five years, by focusing solely on the political parochialism of an 80 seat majority in the House of Commons; when Boris Johnson is going to have to manoeuvre in a Big Bad Global world that sees Britain as weakened by Brexit. Meanwhile, Johnson’s policies are a confused and contradictory collection of sweeping and supeficial generalities, or the product of some impetuous blurted impulse; he has already made lots of political enemies both in the Conservative Party; and its natural allies (like the DUP – who never forget anything); to say nothing about his enemies. For example, read what his old boss at the Daily Telegraph thinks of him. Johnson’s new Conservative-Brexit political party (because it is not the Conservative Party David Cameron thought he inherited, but quite different), is a spatchcocked pop-up-party that tries to conflate Faragists and Hawkish Neo-Liberals with Northern Old Labour. Think about that for a second. We may still have No Deal with the EU, or a Bad Deal; the Deficit-Debt issue has still to be explained, and it is incontrovertible that a US trade deal will be very one-sided. What could possibly go wrong?

      1. Douglas Wilson says:

        I agree with you John and sorry to address other posters rather than your penetrating and insightful article, but given there was talk of military deployment no less, I felt obliged to chip in with some words calling for calm.

        It is my belief that Johnson and Cummings would actually be quite happy with No Deal. They know the economy is going to take a massive hit, Deal or No Deal, so why not just go the whole hog and then blame it all on the Europeans? That would explain the time limit (though it may just be a negotiating tactic) of one year.

        One thing for sure, they have a hidden agenda, and have no interest whatsoever in the best interests of the British people. They are ideologically driven zealots / opportunists who are out to privatize what is left of the Welfare State and, I suspect, and it can only be a suspicion at this stage, take an almighty run at the EU itself, which is to say, the Euro.

        I am very much pro-Remain but the fact remains that the EU is built on very shaky foundations. If one other Member State leaves, or there is another Euro crisis, then the whole thing could fall apart very quickly…it is an area with a monetary union with no fiscal union and a tepid, half-hearted political union, and of course, by its very nature, is always slow to act and often divided…. it has been particularly bereft of strong leadership these last few years.

        And there is so much money to be made by the City in weakening or even putting an end to the euro….

        1. John S Warren says:

          Forgive me, if I am now – unexpectedly – struggling to see in what way you agree with my argument. It seems to be your case that not only Scotland can do nothing to stand against the new-found power of Boris Johnson, but the whole EU is on the edge of collapse: “the EU is built on very shaky foundations.”. Britain alone stands as an unchallengeable power, because of an election. Boris Johnson really was elected World King.

          Extraordinary. There must be something in the water. Remind me not to drink it.

          1. Douglas Wilsons says:

            I said I agree with you that the comments BTL don’t have much to do with your article, John.
            As for your article, well, yes, but I think we’re in a world in which spin and propaganda are far more important that policy and truth, right? The shit is going to hit the fan once we’re out the EU, but they’ll blame it on the Europeans, Cummings will be glad to arrange that.
            As for austerity, it was largely ideologically driven as I understand it.

          2. Douglas Wilson says:

            PS: Do me the favour of not twisting my words please and enough of your supercilious
            and frosty tone. It is commonly acknowledged by people like Varoufakis that the euro is badly designed, and the Right in Europe is on the march.

        2. John S Warren says:

          “the whole thing [the EU] could fall apart very quickly…it is an area with a monetary union with no fiscal union and a tepid, half-hearted political union …. …. And there is so much money to be made by the City in weakening or even putting an end to the euro….”

          These are all your words, and they paint a fairly black picture that frankly over-emphasises Britain’s supposed independent, enormous financial power (although Britain has a far smaller economy than the EU); while its diplomatic soft power is seriously threatened by leaving the EU: even the Daily Telegraph is aware of this (see today’s article on France-US defence discussions). The sharks are already circling. My expression was a fair interpretation of the picture you painted, and I leave it for readers to judge.

          Actually, my final words were intended as dry humour. It is unfortunate when all sense of it is lost, even it was not the wittiest. As for my “tone”, I think it belongs to me, last time I looked; and I shall discharge it as I see fit.

        3. John S Warren says:

          Oh, and the last time I looked the right was on the march here. To say nothing of the US. I see no special significance in marking out the EU, save only that the EU has particularly sensitive and difficult land borders. Which is one of the reasons we badly need the EU to thrive, whatever its shortcomings.

          Donald Tusk wisely explained why the EU is so important: it is “principally a Peace Project”. It always was, from the germ of the idea in the ruins of post-war Europe.

          1. Douglas Wilson says:

            John, what I am trying to say to you – if you got down off your high-horse you might have worked it out for yourself by now – is that Boris Johnson, the Bexit Far Right, along with the US Far Right, are going to try to do their damnedst to connect with the Far Right in countries like France and Italy and Germany and Spain and bring down the Euro. That is my prediction. And the EU is especially vulnerable because a currency union has taken place without a fiscal union and without a fully-fledged political union…

        4. John S Warren says:

          Well, here’s the thing, when it comes to working it out for myself: I wrote an article on 10th July, 2018 in Bella Caledonia titled ‘What is the Plan? The Plan is to have no Plan’. Towards the close I wrote the following, not precisely on the Brexit threat to the Euro itself, but I think you will see that the Euro threat is implicit, a given:

          “[Brexit] implies not just leaving the EU, but undermining it, for that is what inevitably follows: the seductive idea that there is an alternative now open for European states, to membership of the EU. Be in no doubt. Britain will encourage others to follow where Britain leads, directly or indirectly; officially or unofficially. Brexit implies, indeed desires a return to a divided Europe, but without stating the ‘end-game’ for all to see; in which Britain can return to a leading role in ‘Balance of Power ‘politics, playing one state’s interests off against another.” It ended very badly the last time that was the conventional wisdom.

          I have wrtten on this theme before. I think you may appreciate that while I do not possess the vanity to expect readers to know what I have written, or to care much, it is a little irritating (and not for the first time) when commenters tell me, not only what I think, but what I have not thought about: with the best will in the world, how could they know?

          1. Douglas Wilson says:

            So we agree on the substantive point that Brexit is part of a project to weaken and quite possibly end the EU…

            You are a remarkably irritable man if this exchange is anything to go by, indeed, you sound to my ears to be fastidious and even slightly cranky…

        5. Arboreal Agenda says:

          Playing Devils’ advocate, it could easily be argued that nationalism, as displayed by article after article and comment after comment on this site, is very largely ‘ideologically driven’ by ‘zealots and opportunists’ who also care more about independence than the ‘best interests of the [Scottish] people’. Johnson would argue that the autonomy Brexit allows is exactly what GB needs, a very similar argument to Scotland’s desired freedom from the British yoke. As largely an onlooker, the two really do not look that dissimilar. ‘Project Fear’ has now been adopted by the nationalist cause rather than used to condemn the opponents. The Brexit referendum was won partly because it used the borrowed project fear tag to attack the remainers and instead offered a positive (if fantastical) vision of the future. Project fear failed.

          I am in quite despair about Johnson getting such a majority but it doesn’t do anyone any good to say things like he has ‘no interest whatsoever in the best interests of the British people’ because it casts him like some evil pantomime villain when in reality he is a right wing Tory politician who thinks his vision is right for the country, but one which many of us disagree with: to counter it you need to know your enemy, not take things to absurd extremes that are as fantastical as the idea of a post-Brexit British idyl.

          1. Douglas Wilson says:

            Aboreal Agenda, Boris Johnson originally was going to back Remain, and then at the last minute changed his mind and opted to back leaving the EU, betraying his old bosom buddy David Cameron.

            He then proceeded to vote against Theresa May’s deals, setting himself up as the figurehead of a “real and proper Brexit”, swore he would never countenance a border down the Irish Sea and then went on to cut a new deal with the EU – by all accounts far worse than May’s deal – which did precisely that.

            Therefater, he ran on a ticket for the recent General Election “to get Brexit done”, something he had contributed far more than most to prevent from happening under Theresa May, whom he treated abominably in my opinion. That you would attribute anything other than charlantisim, opportunism and rampant narcassism to the racist liar we currently have as PM is a mystery to me.

            As for an independent Scotland, well, EU citizens in Scotland, including English citizens in Scotland, were given a vote on the 18th of September 2014, unlike the Brexit referendum which saw all UK citizens in Europe and EU citizens in the UK desefranchised by the craven and cowardly David Cameron.

            The same Scottish independence referendum campaign saw the SNP publish an exhaustively detailed White Paper on post indie Scotland, and the issue of EU membership was central to the YES campaign and in fact was used against the case of independence in cynical fashion by London, but also by cynical fools like Barroso then President of the European Commision and Mariano Rajoy, Spain’s corrupt ex “Presidente”.

            The Scottish independence movement is not plagued with rhetoric like “taking back control of borders” or focussed on immigration or anything like that. It is about ending a Union which is seriously hampering Scotland’s ability to grow as a country – for example, its stagnant democraphics for one.

            Also, and this is no small point, hate crimes soared during the Brexit referedum and an MP was shot dead. In Scotland during the referendum campaign, the most that happened was an egg was thrown at Jim Murphy…

            The case for the Union keeps getting weaker as the decades go by. The gell of the Union were things like the Trade Union movement and the Labour Party, anti-catholicism and National Service all of which have gone. The BBC is considered a joke up here. It’s a matter of time before Scotland is an independent country again in my opinion.

          2. Arboreal Agenda says:

            You may well be right Douglas but you have to admit nothing looks very certain right now.

            I support the will of the Scottish people wholeheartedly and if that means independence then that may well be best for England too in the longer term (possibly), but Scottish friends who either voted No or only reluctantly Yes in 2014, have made it pretty clear to me that ill feeling ran pretty high in Scotland at that time towards those who weren’t ‘with the programme’. There are posts here regularly that disparage the presence of too many English in Scotland – does that not count when it comes to immigration? Or casting England and the English is that terrible land full of right wing xenophobes and class traitors lead by charlatans or worse, evil manipulators, who they mostly voted for. This is an awful caricature, xenophobic in itself, and doesn’t paint that picture of an enlightened, progressive and all-inclusive society that we are lead to believe is so prevalent in Scotland, and will be even more so come independence. You talked about ‘taking back control of borders’ as negative rhetoric of Brexit (very true), but in fact the main issue re borders is with NI and this was waived away as trifling when it clearly is very serious indeed. I have heard almost exactly the same rhetoric when it comes to the Scotland / England border – that it can be ‘sorted’. How, and perhaps more importantly, to what end?

            I guess my main point is that I have noticed a doubling down on the negative rhetoric in the cause of self-determination in recent times and I’m not sure it will help very much. Will it persuade those that need persuading come indyref2? Will they be persuaded and suddenly enlightened by the notion that their very minds have been colonised by pernicious Unionism?

            I like this site mostly for the more positive posts on cultural things that I know little about and learning about Scottish artists and the like. I find the political comment, intelligent, incisive, sometimes enlightening and often entertaining, but it is a bit one-dimensional and narrow.

    2. John S Warren says:

      Mr Wilson,

      For some reason I did not receive your 7.58pm comment until today. As for me being “fastididious” and “cranky” I made a joke, albeit at your (and other commenters) expense (but everybody seems to be in awe of what Boris Johnson has the capacity to), and you took it too personally. I detest the nature of much, bitter, vindictive social media argument; it ruins real debate. But robust debate requires a little less sensitivity. My objection, you will see, is simply to people deciding that they know more about me than I do.

      Allow me to repeat this, we agree on some matters, but clearly not on all; because I believe Brexit will lead to greater efforts to undermine the EU, it does not follow that I think Boris Johnson’s Government is in a strong position on all fronts. It currently has a big majority in the House of Commons; but its problems have only just begun and its future is hostage to a fortune that is a great deal more precarious than people on this thread seem to think. Few political reputations improve with time, and Boris johnson starts with none.

  4. florian albert says:

    Austerity after 2008 was difficult to avoid because there was a big drop in GDP. There was also a large commitment made to prop up the banks. (I think that propping up the banks was a lesser evil than letting them collapse.) Failing to introduce some measure of austerity left open the very real possibility of being unable to raise necessary money on the capital markets as happened to Ireland, Greece and others. The crisis was initially and accurately called the credit crunch. There was an unwillingness to lend money which had disastrous repercussions and terrified governments.

    Whether the burden of austerity was shared out fairly is another matter. I would say that it wasn’t and that this was because – to put it crudely – everybody wanted others to pay. In such circumstances, the weakest suffer.

    The real problem for those governing the UK since 2008 – and for potential rulers – such as Nicola Sturgeon in an independent Scotland – is that they do not have a plausible economic strategy for growth. (This, of course, assumes that a growth strategy is what the country needs; an assumption that is fairly hard wired into politicians across the UK and far beyond.) Boris may well come a cropper but there is nobody else who inspires much confidence likely to replace him.

    1. John S Warren says:

      Unlike Ireland and Greece, Britain was operating its own currency. The circumstances are quite different. Thus there was almost £400Bn of Quantitative Easing. The problem was not Austerity, but how the funds that were raised were applied. In George Osborne’s Autumn Statement of 2012 he was forced to confess that the OBR now believed he would miss his target for debt to start falling as a proportion of GDP from 2015/16. The Deficit continues, the National Debt continues to rise. It was clear that Austerity didn’t work. But if you still believe in Austerity and the “Houshold Budget” thesis, then given the Deficit-Debt position, there are no grounds for stopping Austerity now, and to do so will end badly.

      1. florian albert says:

        Clearly, Britain had its own currency. This did not make it immune from the credit crunch. It had needed an IMF bailout in 1976 during a far less traumatic economic crisis. In the panic of 2010 and afterwards, austerity was seen as a way of convincing the capital markets of Britain’s economic stability. Commentators can ignore this as a factor. Governments can not. That helps explain why the Brown/Darling government fought the 2010 general election on an austerity manifesto and why the LibDems bought into Cameron’s strategy.

        I made no mention of the ‘Household Budget’ thesis but it is worth noting that it served Germany well in the decades after 1949.

        Again, SNP, Labour and the Tories all lack a convincing programme for Britain/Scotland’s future economic health.

        1. John S Warren says:

          Your arguments are something of a disparate, if not downright inchoate ‘pick-n-mix’. The Irish currency didn’t work, so lets use the IMF in 1976. Austerity is critical to the capital markets; but since QE doesn’t quite fit with this, just ignore it altogether. Austerity is critical – but the key tests don’t work, and the capital markets don’t notice; that’ll work. Household Budget thesis? Germany 1949; because the conditions of the British economy in the 21st century are so uncannily similar; and don’t mention the 1948 Marshall Plan ($12 Bn 1948 dollars) because it must be irrelevant to Germany in 1949. Frankly I can’t follow all this random walk ‘stuff’; this is just a hodge-podge of hyper-selective monetary economic anecdotalism, as far as I can tell.

          Happy New Year! To all!

          1. florian albert says:

            Contrary to what you write, my comments are coherent. I wrote about why British politicians, after the 2008 crisis, embraced austerity. I did not write about QE. Nor did I write about devaluation, monetary policies or any number of other things.

            You are correct that the Marshall Plan gave a boost to West Germany but it is worth noting that it ended in 1952 and that West Germany got $1,448 million out of the $12.7 billion spent. Britain got much more than double this. It does not invalidate the fact that (West) Germany prospered mightily from 1949 till 1999 pursuing a fiscal policy which looks very like the ‘Household Budget’ thesis.

            For the third time, denouncing austerity is vastly less important than charting a viable economic future for Scotland/Britain.

          2. John S Warren says:

            Exactly. You did not write about QE. That was my point. You ignore whatever doesn’t fit your crude thesis. Then you pick bad examples. You attempted to pass off Germany in 1949 (a bad example in any case) without mentioning the Marshall Plan at all, and still wish to treat it is as some trivial adjunct to the Household Budget thesis. My brief description of your methodology being a hodge podge collection of unconnected anecdotes fits only too well.

            Your peroration might lead a casual reader to believe that you were focused on a future growth plan, rather than the trivial reference to the waste of austerity. Here is your idea of a plan, in your own words: “Boris may well come a cropper but there is nobody else who inspires much confidence likely to replace him.”

            Confidence in the sterling, proven qualities of Boris Johnson and his well established reputation for having a sound plan, and sticking to it? That’ll work.

  5. gavin says:

    John, your analysis seems indisputable. Boris’s biggest enemy looks out from his shaving mirror every morning. He has failed in every post he has had, excepting Mayor of London, where he was little more than a figurehead. His Cabinet is full of City spivs and speculators, who think of money in different terms from the rest of us, and where insider-trading was part of the deal. Scandals are a-comin’! Tory policies might as well be cribbed from a Santa letter, and appear to depend on printing money on the same scale as the banking bail- out.
    Boris is reputed to be “clever” with his Latin quotes and effortless waffle, but there is little content, or joined up thinking at the end of the day—the real reason he could not afford being confronted with any informed journalist not employed by the Brexit press.
    Slogans, demonising the EU, dissing Sturgeon—all will be an impedement to future progress—but what else does he have. Though he is willing to subvert the media, courts, judiciary and democracy itself.

    I give Boris a couple of years. The longer he stays, the worse things will get.

  6. florian albert says:

    John S Warren

    You take umbrage because I comment about one thing, austerity, rather than what you would like me to comment on – QE.

    Your write a column. I comment on one aspect of it. So it goes.

    ‘Boris may well come a cropper’ is concise and accurate.

    I do not claim to have a plan. Is it a necessity to comment here ?

    Boris has already proved many of his critics – me included – wrong on two huge points; he got a deal with the EU and he won an election by winning support in areas

    which looked like no go areas for somebody of his background and character.

    One reason Thatcher achieved so much was that her opponents under-estimated her ability. Plus ca change.

    1. John S Warren says:

      Now it seems I have taken “umbrage” (‘suspicion of injury’), and here I was thinking I was responding to your comment, because I thought it was a poor argument, but that I was entitled to answer. You do know how it works? I write a column. You comment on one aspect of it. I comment on your argument. So it goes.

      “I do not claim to have a plan. Is it a necessity to comment here ?” A necessity? I write a column. You comment on one aspect of it. If I so choose, I comment on your argument, including the holes in it and the things you try to avoid. So it goes. You will get the hanag of it….

      “I do not claim to have a plan”. Clearly you do not; but actually you offered a plan – it was Boris Johnson. Iknow; it was as daft as that; a plan that isn’t a plan. That’ll work!

      And then you go and spoil it by claiming Johnson has a plan: “he got a deal with the EU”. Well, not really, I’m afraid. He is ‘sort of’ leaving the EU end January, but he doesn’t have a deal because we are still within EU rules until December 2020; and then we may, or may not have a deal, when – or if – we leave on that date: or not. We may still leave without a deal. Or something else may happen. Who knows. That is the plan. It is a terrible plan, but hey – he won an election (!). That doesn’t mean a lot of people may well come to regret what they voted for.

  7. Howard Scott says:

    “Boris Johnson has a big majority and now, improbably, represents a large swathe of traditional Labour voters, their votes only temporarily ‘on loan’; ”
    If you only look at the seat totals, you could have this impression. However, the Conservatives only gained 1.2% in the popular vote, while Labour lost 7.8%. That suggests to me that a lot of Labour voters stayed home, not that they voted Conservative (or they voted Liberal Democrat, which had a gain of 4.2%). The electoral system gave the Conservatives a big seat gain without a big increase in votes.

    1. John S Warren says:

      It seems to me that you may assume, or at least imply that the Labour voters did not know what they were doing, or what would be likely to happen when they did vote against Labour, or abstain. I doubt if Labour voters are so casually uninvolved. Some no doubt voted Conservative, many more did not but abstained or voted elsewhere and against Labour, with the likely consequence of defeat for Labour by the Conservatives. Any way you wish to ‘cut it’, tradional North of England Labour supporters lent their vote to the Conservatives. Lending implies that there is a pay back. That, essentially, is my point.

      The conventiona wisdom is that the Labour Party is a mess. It is. But the conventional wisdom hopes, wishes or wants attention to be taken away from the predicament that the Brexit, Johnson, ERG, Farage interest has done to the Conservative Party. The Conservative Party has improbably remained in power having lost the 2016 Referendum, failed to deliver Brexit, botched the 2017 election, destroyed the Conservative Party, and win an election with a charlatan as PM as head of a Party that quite probably does not actually exist as a unified, coherent political Party that (critically) is deeply rooted in the communities it represents. This is a living political catastrophe that is only waiting for the appropriate event to begin the chain reaction.

      1. John S Warren says:

        Predicaments don’t “do” anything! The errant sentence, I confess the product of haste, should read:

        “But the conventional wisdom hopes, wishes or wants attention to be taken away from the predicament into which the Brexit, Johnson, ERG, Farage interest has thrown the Conservative Party”.

        The whole comment was written over-hastily, but I trust the underlying argument is clear.

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