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Elites June 3, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

In a way it’s refreshing to have the Cummings affair to divert from the pandemic. Albeit that it is itself caught up in the pandemic. But it does speak, as Andrew Rawnsley (no red revolutionary himself) notes in the Observer, of a remarkably clear and effective lesson in the realities of those who attempt to position themselves as speaking for the people and against elites.

One of the reveals of this affair – actually, more of a confirmation than a reveal – is that the people running Number 10 do take their fellow Britons to be fools. Mr Johnson and Mr Cummings secured their seats of power by manufacturing a “people versus the elite” narrative with themselves self-cast as the tribunes of the plebs. This was always counterfeit. Mr Johnson is a Latin-quoting Old Etonian. Mr Cummings’s father-in-law lives in a castle. The chasm between what they claim to be and what they truly are has now been definitively exposed.

We can say, and it is true, that all this is obvious. That Johnson and Cummings were always unlikely figures to lead populist anti-elitism. But sometimes knowing and appreciating are two quite distinct states. One can know that they are from privilege without quite grasping how deeply rooted in privilege they actually are. There was a very good point on an IT podcast on this last week when London Editor Denis Staunton made a very salient point. His line was that often those from privilege have a belief that all they have to do is speak unfiltered to the broader population they will convince the latter of the correctness of their situation. But, as he noted, all too often this belief if delusional and he pointed to Prince Andrews abysmal interview about Epstein where he uttered the following immortal lines:

EM: He was your guest as well, in 2000 Epstein was a guest at Windsor Castle and at Sandringham, he was brought right into the heart of the Royal Family at your invitation.
PA: But certainly at my invitation, not at the Royal Family’s invitation but remember that it was his girlfriend that was the key element in this. He was the, as it were, plus one, to some extent in that aspect.
EM: Am I right in thinking you threw a birthday party for Epstein’s girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell at Sandringham?
PA: No, it was a shooting weekend.
EM: A shooting weekend.
PA: Just a straightforward, a straightforward shooting weekend.
EM: But during these times that he was a guest at Windsor Castle, at Sandringham, the shooting weekend…
PA: Yeah, yeah.

Oh, that sort of a weekend.

As Staunton noted, the blithe ignorance of how that would resonate more widely, is typical of the dynamic which includes Cummings too. Perhaps Andrew doesn’t position himself as quite the man of the people that Cummings does, but both come from privilege.

Still, no wonder Tories in the north of England where seats were won in historic numbers from the Labour Party are getting antsy. It is indeed four and a half years until the next election, but perhaps some basic realities of the situation have been made clear this last six months. And Staunton likened this to Black Wednesday in 1992, when the then Tory government had to detach sterling from the ERM. That too was in the aftermath of a recent General Election at which the Tories had (and I’ll bet many of us remember that night all too well) come back to power albeit with a much reduced majority. As Staunton noted Black Wednesday saw an irreparable breach in public confidence with that government paving the way for a Labour victory four and a half years later. One suspects that the sheer ineptitude of the Tory approach to the pandemic has seen likewise. Granted the Tory majority is many many times greater and the task facing the BLP much much greater too.


1. Alibaba - June 3, 2020

What’s abundantly clear, as it has been from the outset, is that Johnson and Cummings both consider themselves to be demi-gods as those from great privilege tend to do. Their trick is to pose Johnson linguistically as one who speaks to “you the people” and about “the British people” and frame this as ‘people versus the elite’. The Cummings Covid controversy revealed that pulling rabbits out of the hat isn’t playing very well with the public who are no fools to boot. I wonder if we are awaiting more revelations perhaps.

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