Brexit punk!

The Guardian’s John Harris is a lefty, a Remainer, and a fine journalist. He saw Brexit coming, and, little though I agree with his political views, I think he sees a certain raw truth about our new Prime Minister in this piece:

“Boris Johnson is channelling a punk ethos to force through Brexit. It could work.”

Not a headline one sees every day. Mr Harris writes,

This is an increasingly familiar populist trick: encouraging a set of voters to relish taboo-busting as a kind of surrogate for a lost sense of economic agency and power. This version of taking back control is not to do with jobs, wages or houses, but the licence to say anything you want, whatever the consequences. Anyone who is offended is dismissed as a puritanical defender of joyless political correctness.

Punk spirit, cavalier style and wilful provocation will all inform the manner in which Johnson and his allies frame their greatest challenge of all: how on earth to deal with the very real crisis of Brexit and honour the Halloween deadline that the Tory party has so stupidly fetishised. And they look set to play a crucial role in gaining consent from those who have most to lose from crashing out of the EU. Faced with a set of impossible challenges, Johnson will present himself as the flamboyant, verbose, rule-breaking Englishman, positioned against the washed-out logicians of the EU machine, who were never going to help in the first place.

I heard they were going to get the bus out of mothballs, the bus, the £350-million-for-the-NHS battle bus that has caused such outrage, and drive it round the country all over again. Back in 2016, the only effect the suggestion that our departure from the EU would mean that we could pour yet more money into the black hole of “our NHS” had on me was to make me a fraction more likely to vote Remain. But upon hearing this news I still thought, yeaaaaaaaaaaaaah, please, dear Lord, let me be there when they take it through Cambridge city centre.

Oh God save history / God save your mad parade / Oh Lord God have mercy / All crimes are paid / Oh when there’s no future / How can there be sin / We’re the flowers / In the dustbin / We’re the poison / In your human machine

First time round, I wasn’t a fan. But it’s growing on me.

Updated: 30th July 2019 — 2:35 pm


  1. Julie near Chicago

    And since when is the Left NOT about “taboo-busting,” even if they do proceed to install their own set of taboos in opposition to the ones they’ve busted?

    And what oh what behaviour could possibly be more adolescent.

    And Taboo-busting was the main business of the beatniks and their heirs the hippies and the flower children, and boy did the New Left make hay while the flak from consequently-busted civility rained down upon us.

    Meanwhile, the Sex Pistols’ performance is not available in my country. At least not at that address. Still, I shall strive to survive. ;>)

    Over here we on the right are all excited about Mr. Johnson’s accession. We are positive it ensures “Brexit.” I sure hope we are right.

  2. Julie, you write, “And Taboo-busting was the main business of the beatniks and their heirs the hippies and the flower children, and boy did the New Left make hay while the flak from consequently-busted civility rained down upon us.”

    Indeed. During my university days in the early 1980s, I remember being terribly shocked to read that some young members of the Federation of Conservative Students had been seen wearing badges and T-shirts bearing the legend “Hang Nelson Mandela”. I didn’t and still don’t approve of that slogan, but I also remember a friend pointing out that for thirty years – he meant going back to the 1950s – the Left had been having all the fun of shocking people and it should be no surprise that the Right were now getting in on the act. I think in subsequent conversation we talked about how the desire to épater la bourgeoisie got started with French radicals of the nineteenth century.

    Well, another few decades have gone by and only now are we reaching a point where most of the bourgeoisie-shocking gets done by the right.

    I’m sorry the Sex Pistols video doesn’t work. To be honest, you haven’t missed much. But if, as the article claims, Johnny Rotten is now a Brexiteer it is nice to see that he is keeping the spirit of rebellion against the Establishment alive.

  3. The left is the establishment now. They create the taboos. Paul Joseph Watson (hit and miss to say the least, occasionally very entertaining, though) thinks “conservatives” are the new cool anti-establishment. Perhaps it’s something else: the nature of the Great Realignment is not yet set.

    People have been tired of political correctness for decades. Its shark-jumping is increasingly more apparent. Politicians have cotttoned on.

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