Monday, 16 May 2016

Hitler, Boris and the unflattering parallels

The meretricious mountebank is at it again.  In what looks suspiciously like another attempt to capture front pages without thought of tomorrow (pace the Crosby/Goldsmith unsuccessful smear on Sadiq Khan) the former Mayor of London, part-time MP and full-time posturing hypocrite Alexander (Boris) Johnson has played the same card that his rubber-necking cheerleaders condemned Ken Livingstone with savage glee for - introducing the Nazis into British political discourse.

There is a continuum of blatant lunacy that runs from Johnson through UKIP to Trump to David Icke, all of whom would be perfectly prepared to believe in the malevolence of giant green lizards or the veracity of "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" if they thought that it might deliver electoral advantage or notoriety.  This is the act of a desperado whose amorality and self-seeking sociopathy has been evident for at least thirty years, but also the act of someone whose sense of moral obligation would make bubonic plague seem like a socially-desirable outcome.

What has become clear in the last week is that any discussion or argument on the basis of evidence will be met with knee-jerk stupidity from the more volatile end of the Brexit market.  For everyone (left or right) with a rational argument, with which it is possible to disagree and even engage with, there will be a media-led conflation of petty demagoguery and misinformation.  The parallels with German history in the run-up to 1933 would be easy to draw, with Johnson's seemingly respectable, buffoonish veneer being the analogue to the suckering of the German conservatives into signing away civic rights.  The end-game of the destruction of large parts of Germany, Europe and the ushering in of the Cold War should be even more frightening.

Johnson is a dangerous charlatan.  As with Trump, he attempts to articulate an anti-politics posture while in reality being an autocrat and a menace to the wider community.  To be supported as the next Prime Minister by Nigel Farage is not exactly reassuring - but not something he has a problem with.  However, deprived of his platform in London, he is now coming across as the kind of nutter with whom respectable discourse is becoming impossible.  A cross, perhaps, between Hitler and Enoch Powell?

The problem for the Brexit camp is now that their campaign is defined by shrillness and a refusal to engage with the position of those who wish to remain that they will look increasingly hysterical.  They do not allow for a more radical reimagining of Europe, nor do they appear to be able to distinguish between lies, myth and the hinterlands of reality that intrude in the more sensible wing of their campaign.  To disagree with the evidence put forward is their right, but they would have a vestige of credibility if they were able to postulate an alternative perspective that had even a tenuous grip on reality.

In promising an unspecified better tomorrow, where the UK is purged of the "other" in the form of immigrants, and in blaming them for the woes bequeathed by misguided past policy, the Brexit campaign and Johnson in particular are playing a dangerous and desperate game.  Substitute any defined group for "immigrants" and the poisonous lunacy becomes clear.  The damage that they are doing to a civilised and humane society is immeasurable, for their own gain.  Standing up to this tendency is something that should unite those on both sides of the argument who aspire to be reasonable members of the human race.

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