It is no secret that Rupert Murdoch is a great admirer of Combover Crybaby Donald Trump: promotion of his Presidency by the leading lights of Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) is beyond favourable. It is fawningly adulatory. And what Rupe likes about The Donald is that he appears strong, gets things done. The reality is almost the opposite, of course, but appearances count with the Murdoch mafiosi.
So it should come as no surprise that the Murdoch Times, which long ago ceased to be a paper of record, has been chosen by Rupe to float the idea of a strong leader here in the UK. The excuse has been provided by a Hansard Society poll which asked whether “Britain needs a strong ruler willing to break the rules”, to which only 23% disagreed, and a majority 54% approved. And that’s good enough for the Times.
“Brexit-weary Britons long for political strongman” declares the front page headline, going on to tell “In findings that suggest large parts of the country are ready to entertain radical political change, nearly three quarters of people felt that the British system of governing needed ‘quite a lot’ or ‘a great deal’ of improvement”. Then came the chilling part.
“More than four in ten thought that the country’s problems could be more easily solved if ministers ‘didn’t have to worry so much about votes in Parliament’”. Yeah, that pesky democracy, eh? And the point here is what? “The findings come two days before Theresa May returns to Brussels to ask the EU for another Brexit extension”.
The juxtaposition of some mythical desire for a political strongman with the Brexit debate is not an accident. The only surprise is that the orders have not yet reached the Super Soaraway Currant Bun to put the same story in more crude and basic terms. Over at the Guardian, though, the story is not front page news. And the angle is different.
They quote Rosie Carter of Hope Not Hate, who warned “We are facing a crisis of political mistrust. And when people do not trust traditional political systems, they look elsewhere. That’s when support for political extremes grows”. Moreover, political strongman sound useful - until their record is put to the test. It doesn’t look so good then.
Quite apart from 1920s Italy and 1930s Germany, strongmen have not brought good outcomes. The Greek Colonels left the scene after needlessly attempting to impose Énosis on Cyprus, resulting in the partition that endures to this day. António de Oliveira Salazar balanced the books, but left most of his country poor and illiterate.
Francisco Franco’s brutal legacy scarred Spain for decades after his death. There was economic growth, but like Portugal in the 1960s, it was highly selective and from a very low base. Augusto Pinochet brutalised Chile and brought little more than death and division. Vladimir Putin is a political strongman, but for those not favoured by his gangster régime, life has not improved. Russia’s economy has only recently returned to growth.
And in Germany, voters are not only used to coalition Government that takes months to come together, they accept it willingly. Because they know what happened the last time the country was in thrall to a strongman. And they aren’t going there again.
Once again, Rupert Murdoch seeks to debase politics for his own ends. Don’t go there.
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