The day of reckoning for the populists

Quite a Friday afternoon

It started with Nadine Dorries resigning because she didn’t get a peerage, it continued with Boris Johnson resigning because he was facing a “kangaroo court” and it ended with Donald Trump facing 37 criminal charges and a picture of national secrets stored adjacent to a toilet.

High drama and high farce have seldom been so proximate as in this picture

State secrets stored in one of Donald Trumps toilets

Meanwhile I was listening to a discussion on Oedipus Rex and a king who is brought down through his lack of awareness and his desire to know. Quite the opposite of Trump, Dorries and Johnson who are people who know too much and desire us to know nothing.

It is only too easy to side with these three as can be seen by all three punching way above their weight in matters of Government.The case of Trump is particularly extraordinary, what was the purpose of having all this toilet reading? Did he really think that in these boxes was some secret to promote his case for a second term of Government or at least to bring down some of his opponents?

Does Boris Johnson think that resigning because he has a world of pain coming his way, is going to create a political martyr of him. Does he take the British public for the American, do we really hope that Johnson is the great tyrant who can stand up to the recidivism of centre left and centre right? Oedipus was revered by the Athenian populace for being a proper king, Johnson has little on his political CV but failure. He, like Trump is no tragic hero brought low, but a two-bit clown who will in future bluster from the sidelines.

Dorries did not want to bluster from the sidelines, she fancied the tea-room of the House of Lords to chat with our peers and invite her guests. She says she is too old for politics and then laments she is not going to be a member of this most august political club. If one member of the House of Lords tweets regret that they will not have her company, I will be surprised and furious.

Managing the message of your demise

The populists, the players to the gallery, the immoral minority who considered a soundbite an adequate alternative to a thought through policy, got a triple whammy yesterday.

Ironically, while the stuff in the boxes by the toilet may never have been read by Trump, it has been read and the American Department of Justice is urging the public to read the indictment rather than to listen to Trump’s bluster. As a political commentator told the FT

The DoJ has “done a very careful job” of making the indictment “available to the public right away before Trump is able to shape the narrative by spinning what’s happened”

Johnson at least to manage the message because he was given privileged information about the case against him before the public. He is now able to defame the political process before we get to hear what his accusers have against him.

He is so far from the tragic Oedipus, he is the man trying not to find out about himself, the man who puts ignorance first in the hope that his noise will drown out the truth.

Johnson like Trump , expects to be back, both trust in the immorality of their own charisma.

Nadine Dorries will not be back, she is playing the limited cards she has left in the deck, that she is not male, did not go to Oxford or Cambridge and  is the victim of a political system that denies her opportunity. She thinks this will go down well with half the nation that aren’t male  and 99% of it that didn’t go to Oxbridge. But the public will judge her by what they can remember of her, and very little of that has anything to do  with public service.

Getting on with it

The distraction of Trump and Johnson (and to a degree Dorries) will continue. They are all likely to feature in elections, Johnson is likely to see his former seat change hands, Trump will have to fight an election while fighting for his personal liberty, Dorries is so desperate to be noticed that we can now expect her to be on everything, saying anything (but to lesser effect).

We have drunk at the poisoned well of populism these past ten years and are now feeling the effects. We are keen for either Keir Starmer or Rishi Sunak to get on with it – very possibly the two in harness.

For me, the politics of the centre left and right are both capable of getting on with it. The politics of Johnson, Truss and Dorries and of the militant left can’t get things done. Trump couldn’t get things done either, which is why his brand of populism has failed his country.

Those boxes in the bathroom are a potent symbol , while the populists look for a scapegoat, populism goes down the toilet.

Daily Star – front page 10/06/23

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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