Not only are the Tories reassembling the team that brought us electoral malpractice on a previously unheard of scale during the 2016 EU referendum, their allies in our free and fearless press are joining the propaganda offensive with gusto. Today’s front pages are a mere taster of what is going to be served up in the coming weeks and months, as more than the kitchen sink is thrown at the effort to win a General Election.
As usual, it is the inmates of the Northcliffe House bunker who lead the way in combining setting the agenda and shameless grovelling, telling readers “Cabinet massacre sees 17 ministers out on new PM’s first day … Barnstorming Boris in £39bn EU No Deal ultimatum … Victory for for Mail as he vows to end dementia care scandal … ALL GUNS BLAZING”.
We must suspend disbelief: the idea that Johnson is going to sort the social care crisis is for the birds. He will bring no new initiatives to EU negotiations. The mass sacking of ministers, along with the loss of continuity for the Government departments affected, may give the impression of action, but will achieve nothing. Yet the press will not go there.
The Telegraph, meanwhile, continues the suspension of disbelief by taking Johnson on trust, which its editor and staff know not to be a wise move. “The people who bet against Britain are going to lose their shirts” it tells, while not telling that Johnson is an inveterate liar, and that it is those betting on falls in Sterling, and the markets, who will be the winners, just as they were in the immediate aftermath of the referendum result.
Faux impressions of Johnson as some kind of Action Man made flesh abound, from free sheet Metro’s “Brutal Johnson wield the axe on May’s cabinet in first hours as PM”, to the Murdoch Times’ “Johnson’s afternoon of cabinet carnage”, and the Express’ “New PM stamps his authority in historic clear-out of cabinet”. Zap! Pow! Real action!
There was also the obligatory distraction of supposed First Girlfriend Carrie Symonds, who it seems will accompany Johnson into Downing Street, despite knowing that he has allegedly already cheated on her at least once, and maybe twice. The Tory press doesn’t tell readers about that, but does let them know how much her dress cost.
Get used to it. This is going to be thrown at readers not just today, but every day: those, like the Guardian, correctly identifying Johnson’s cabinet sackings as an act of “revenge”, and the FT, also correctly identifying his “hardcore cabinet”, will be mostly ignored, unless they are deemed worthy of ridicule pour encourager les autres.
We have to love Boris Johnson. He wants to be loved. And we must love the agenda he loves: Brexit, Brexit and Brexit, but not necessarily in that order. We must all smile and feel optimistic, as this will make things better, although how much food it puts on the table is, like so much else, not told. This the press will remind us all day, every day.
The economy may tank, and supermarket shelves empty, but as in the style of Nineteen Eighty Four, our new Ministry of Truth will keep on pumping out the propaganda. After all, the new PM is one of their own. He must be not merely supported, but adored.
One day we will wonder how we all got conned. But by then, it will be too late.
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