Political coups come in all shapes and form. I read the biography of Victor Jara, the Chilean folksinger murdered by the Pinochet regime. His widow narrated the growing tensions as the oligarchs ramped up opposition to Salvador Allende’s democratically elected government. Fear grew before finally it erupted, with military jets bombing the presidential palace and opponents rounded up and killed. It’s to Britain’s eternal shame that Thatcher consorted with the Fascist Chilean General.
Now I don’t for a minute believe that anything like that will ever occur here. But a soft political coup is under way, replicating what’s been happening across the Atlantic. In the USA, Trump used his personal wealth and connections, along with those of other super-rich oligarchs, to win the election and take control. Despite losing the popular vote by a considerable margin – winning because of the US electoral college system – he showed neither magnanimity nor made any attempt to broker consensus.
Instead it’s been open partisanship and outright nepotism. Military commanders removed, others patently unfit for office such as Brett Kavanaugh appointed to the Supreme Court and now Ivanka Trump elevated to a position of some latter-day Henry Kissinger, despite possessing neither the academic record nor intellect.
So it is with the UK and I fear that, with a Boris Johnson Prime Ministership, it’s only going to get worse. Oligarchs and the super-rich using their wealth and their media influence to lie and distort. A referendum won with dodgy money and by telling flagrant untruths, even if it was the stupidity of David Cameron that brought it into being. The people who propagated those untruths have been easing themselves into position whilst easing out those who don’t agree with them.
Talk of proroguing Parliament’s an abomination. Boris Johnson’s great hero Winston Churchill didn’t even consider that when the country’s back was to the wall and a Nazi invasion loomed. Instead, in the national interest, Churchill created a coalition government that not only saw the country through the war but established the welfare state.
But Britain’s new ruling class are entirely narcissistic and care only about power and their self-interest. The rights of others matter not one jot and the national interest an irrelevancy – understandable when you consider that they offshore much of their wealth and that, to them, loyalty to the UK is about ensuring privacy in London’s financial centre. Deep state indeed.
Stabbing Sir Kim Darroch in the back’s the clear embodiment of that. The potential and practical damage to the UK is incalculable. Hey ho, it has removed someone who isn’t at one with them or prepared to do their bidding, but so what? Joe Kennedy this is not. JFK’s father was the US Ambassador in London but had to be removed in 1940, not just for his opposition to the policies of Churchill in opposing Hitler, but even those of President Roosevelt in trying to sustain democracies.
Now, I’ve met Darroch when he was at UKREP, as UK representation in Brussels is termed. He’s no friend of mine or of Scottish independence. Long before Jeremy Hunt’s outrageous decision to rescind support for a First Minister in overseas travel, the FCO was already doing it surreptitiously. Dealing with devolution went from the patronising, through bemusement, to seeking to thwart. Less crass than what the Foreign Secretary proposes, but probably more effective.
But that was because Darroch’s a consummate professional and representing his nation’s interests. Likewise, full and frank reports from Washington are needed and what he said frankly only echoed what’s boradcast nightly on CNN or has already been exposed by White House whistleblowers.
The crime’s not what the UK’s most senior diplomat reported but its public release. Suggestion of it being the Russians is absurd. This can only have come from the highest level and either from a senior political figure or at their behest. As some have correctly surmised, the answer to the question of who stands to benefit is the Brexiteers, who seem prepared to burn the UK Ambassador – if not the entire UK house down.
The fallout has seen the outgoing Prime Minister caught in a firestorm unleashed by Trump. It’s not just the damage to UK-US relations but how it exposes the weakness of the UK to the rest of the world.
New Britannia’s diminishing power and stature are there for all to see. Run for naked self-interest, beholden to and dependent upon an American President who demeans the office and with the UK’s global standing sinking even faster than the respect and warmth that once existed for the country.
Too little and too late, the likes of Sir John Major and William Hague are speaking out. But as with Trump and the Republicans, the monster has been unleashed and the Grand Old Party has lost control.
Be afraid, because for these charlatans, our institutions and our interests are as dispensable as the UK Ambassador.