1 May 2008

Boris Will Win

This is a ballpark prediction. I hope, deeply, that I'm wrong. We'll find out soon enough.

Why've I thrown this prediction out there in this way?

Because the outcome of Mayoral elections will tell us a great deal about the political direction of this country.

I predict that Boris will win on the basis of a number of observations. Boris represents the legitimisation of the politics of the Far Right in the mainstream political party system. His position is quite clear, and is becoming increasingly accepted as fact by mainstream political parties across the spectrum: immigration, asylum is now a serious problem that is undercutting British jobs and damaging the economy; Islam as a faith and Muslims as a community inherently tend to incite violence and terrorism; alienation and segregation of ethnic minorities from wider society is a symptom of an outmoded ideology of multiculturalism, which is weakening social cohesion and undermining national security.

These ideas are no longer simply the province of the BNP. The wholesale problematisation of the "Other" in Britain has now become a mantra voiced with varying conviction and persuasiveness by all the mainstream political parties, each offering their own differing levels of criticism and corresponding policy solutions.

Boris will win because the City (i.e. the UK's financial community) is backing him. In turn and in tandem with them, Boris is being backed by the corporate media. Headlines in the dailies, including front-page ones, for the past months have frequently focused on Red Ken's flaws: stories about extremists and terrorists amongst his campaigners and advisers; financial scandals at the heart of his administration.

Boris, whose racist, Islamophobic, and xenophobic track record, as well his utter political illiteracy and buffoonery, has received marginal coverage in comparison. Never once on the front-page, perhaps a few back stories, more likely, the odd pieces in the 'comment' sections of perhaps the Guardian and a few other more liberal outlets. Why is Boris being coddled, while Ken kicked, by the corporate media?

Because the political climate has shifted. Boris, with all his hateful, xenophobic baggage, has solicited the backing of powerful special interests who, having a very strong financial base, are prime political donors. The politics of the Far Right now finds pseudo-academic and mainstream support from the House of Commons, and even from recent investigative television documentaries. New Labour, furthermore, is in its death throes, having lost credibility not only with the powerful corporate lobbies which dominate our politico-economic landscape, but also with the wider public, repeatedly submerged in scandal after scandal. It is time for regime-rotation.

In will swing the Tories, though with nothing particularly new. Blair, admirable only for his ability to lie flagrantly while maintaining his trademark fixated cheshire grin, followed by the notoriously unelected and agonisingly uncharismatic Brown, have already together succeeded in pushing New Labour's domestic and foreign policy programmes further to the Right than Thatcher could have imagined in her wildest, wettest dreams. The Tories are now rightfully reclaiming the still-born heritage they had hatched more than 20 years ago, albeit renewed and revitalised in all its bloody, radicalised glory. A sign of how bad things are is the BNP's (qualified) endorsement of Boris as Mayoral candidate -- the first time that the fascists have actually come out in the open and found a mainstream political party candidate acceptable.

Why this sea-change in the political wind? It's a common thing, actually, historically. In times of social crisis and anxiety, the politics of 'Otherization' frequently becomes a strategy of political consolidation, and emotional consolation. It's always easy to find Others to blame. They steal our jobs, our bread, our women. Kill us and attack us all the time. They're so different from us. They hate us. Don't want to know us, or be like us. Can't speak our language. Want to change us. Control us. Enslave us. When the economy is teetering on the edge of the abyss (yes, it is an abyss), the climate is spiralling out of control (far faster than the IPCC would have us believe), peak oil well passed (the age of energy scarcity is here), food prices rocketing (yes, food production peaked about a decade ago and now we're feeling it [well imagine how they feel in the South?]), when systemic crises are converging but those who benefit from the system aren't willing to change it, then the avalanche of anxiety thus generated needs an outlet, a deflection point: the Other.

In other words, if Boris wins, it is an omen of things to come. It would mean that the problematisation of the 'Other' has become entrenched in popular consciousness in the heart of London, often viewed as one of the world's richest multicultural societies. It would mean that ethnic minority and Muslim voting blocs, despite having turned out in force, had been rendered obsolete. It would vindicate the extraordinary power of the military-corporate complex and its UK extension in the form of the City, to influence popular thinking through its structural influence over the mass media -- which is why Boris has been ahead in the polls this week.

Not only will Boris win, comfortably, his unlikely comrades in the BNP will come out with far more votes than hitherto expected. This will be treated as a surprise by mainstream media, if even acknowledged.

I hope that I'm wrong. But if Boris loses, he will lose by a margin. That he's gotten this far already, half-backed by the BNP, is a bad enough indication of the political climate in this country.

Maybe, by a long shot, he'll lose badly. Maybe I'm so wrong, it's almost hilarious. I really hope so. If this is the case, it means that my pessimism is unjustified, that the politics of the Far Right hasn't quite become as entrenched as I'd thought, that corporate and other special interests have been less successful than I'd anticipated in influencing public opinion in the favour of their favoured candidate.

This would be a good sign, a sign that people are still thinking, and not so easily susceptible to the fear-mongers.

But I still think I'm right.

Well, we'll find out soon enough...


  1. Nice post.

    To think Boris the Bofoon could actually win? ::Shiver::

  2. As-Salaamu 'alaikum,

    If Boris Johnson wins it will not only be a reflection of acceptance of his racist attitudes (have a look at Zoe Williams's article in yesterday's Guardian; her take on it is that he is not so much a racist as a snob, who despises everyone outside his Old Etonian milieu); people are just dissatisfied with Livingstone and his policies. He has been in power for eight years and many feel that his policies have just gone too far, particularly with his road toll schemes and his enthusiasm for 20mph zones which are a major inconvenience to professional drivers when they are imposed on main roads, as they often are. Then again, the improvements in public transport and general thickening of bus services, in particular, will make a difference in Ken Livingstone's favour.

    However, people overestimate the influence of talk radio and papers like the Standard. Don't forget that its enmity to Livingstone when he was first in office did not stop people voting for him, even when he stood against three party candidates including one from Labour, in 2000. Don't forget that many people can't stand talk radio and its jabbering bully-boy hosts (and "twittering Nessie" in London) and that many of its listeners are professional drivers and people who are out of jobs, for obvious reasons. Also don't forget that many of those who commute into London for office jobs and buy the standard en route are well-educated people and won't necessarily buy into everything it says, particularly when it's screamed day after day in an obvious propaganda campaign.

  3. "Boris, whose racist, Islamophobic, and xenophobic track record" - could you offer some evidence for this? (I'm not saying you're wrong, but this is news to me). "[H]is utter political illiteracy and buffoonery" is pretty clear.

    Currently Labour "represents the legitimisation of the politics of the Far Right" - I think the evidence is pretty clear here.


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