Political policies don't matter any more - it's all about personalities in the Battle over Brexit
PUBLISHED: 05:32 04 July 2019
One of the features we've seen in British politics over the last few years is the rise of the "character" politician - and boy, are we seeing the effect of that now!
Basically British politics are being dominated by three men (interesting that they're all men) who are running around trying to build personality cults around themselves in an attempt to get ultimate power in the land.
It feels as if party labels are becoming less important these days - the country is being divided into Johnsonists, Faragists, and Corbynistas.
It's Boris Johnson who is getting the lion's share of the publicity these days as the Conservative leadership contest rumbles on - but this really is becoming an unedifying spectacle.
Both he and Jeremy Hunt are going around the country promising just whatever they think the Conservatives in the particular town or region they are visiting want to hear - no matter that they would be totally unable to deliver it if elected to the top job.
Mr Johnson says we come out of the EU on October 31 "Do or Die," he'll guarantee it deal or no deal.
How? What if (and it's still highly possible) Parliament votes to take "no deal" off the table? Then legally we cannot leave the EU without a deal.
He says it's "a million to one" that we'll leave without a deal. But the EU has made it clear it isn't going to restart negotiations on the withdrawal deal - and many countries feel they've given away too much already.
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Earlier this week there would be "no hard border" between Northern Ireland and the republic after we leave the EU. How on earth can he say that? If we leave the EU without a deal there HAS to be a hard border in Ireland - otherwise goods and people will be able to flow without any checks (unless of course he plans to hand the remain-supporting Ulster over to the republic).
It seems as if his supporters in the Conservative Party will do and believe anything to get him in Number 10, including seeing Scotland and Northern Ireland leave the UK so long as we get Brexit.
Mr Johnson's personal life and character has also come under the spotlight after the late-night incident when police were called.
It's clear the police were satisfied there was nothing to investigate - but I would like to know that if the Prime Minister of Britain is woken up in the early hours of the morning by the duty security officer to tell him that a British tanker has been sunk in the Straits of Hormuz by an Iranian missile or a Russian regiment has marched into part of Estonia during a training exercise then he's going to react calmly without shouting and screaming loudly enough to wake the neighbours - or smashing crockery around the flat!
Despite all of these worries, however, it seems most Conservative members are desperate for him to win the leadership election - I even saw one Tweet from a prominent Tory saying how keen she was to send off her ballot paper so she didn't have to worry about any more revelations about him coming out. If that's not a personality cult talking, I don't know what is!
But it's not just Mr Johnson who is inspiring this devotion. We've seen the same in Labour among its new members who mindlessly chant "Whoa Jeremy Corbyn" at rallies even though their leader apparently cannot understand what anti-Semitism is - and seems to think British society in 2019 is just an extension of the Student politics he remembers from the late 1960s and early 1970s.
And Nigel Farage's fan club provoked outrage in Strasbourg by adopting the tactic of the Nazis in the 1920s to turn their back on the parliament. I'm sure they didn't meant this action to be a copy of events in the Reichstag in 1926 - but one of their number really should have done some research before they conducted themselves in a way that outraged a continent.
What is interesting, though, is that this rise in political personality cults isn't impressing everyone - and I suspect support for some parties is growing because they don't have "Marmite" leaders.
Recent opinion polls suggest voters are now split roughly 20% Conservative, 20% Labour, 20% Brexit Party, 20% LibDems, 10% Green and 10% everyone else (including nationalists in Scotland and Wales).
Of course things will change in an instant once a general election is actually called - but in this age when personalities are much more important than policies, it sheds an interesting light on the state of the nation.