In a frankly silly and ill-analysed piece in the Guardian this morning, Anthony Painter attempts to lump together every anti-establishment party and movement across the world as a 'populist' threat to social democracy. All are seeking, Painter says, to dominate the rights of minorities by imposing the democratic clout of populist majorities. The answer he says is for 'mainstream' parties to revitalise and respond.
Well, I suppose for a man unable to see the world except through centralist, Statist lenses this may make some sort of sense. Painter seems unable to conceive of a desire for less government, rather than for different government; he seems unable to understand a desire for democratic pluralism and diversity rather than a cloying homogenous centralist political diktat, and he seems unable to distinguish between true liberal democracy and rule by an oligarchical political class. Above all he seems unable to recognise a desire for individuals to have more say over the regulation of their own lives rather than less say. It's not 'populsim' but true liberalism that drives political dissent in the UK. And it's as prevalent on the left as on the right - and on the perpendicular axis that has 'authoritarian' and 'libertarian' as its poles it's precisely away from the 'authoritarian' end that things are moving.
The fact that the British people are rejecting authoritarian social democracy, with its forced equality of outcome, its manifest unfairness and its distortion of effort, merit and reward is not undemocratic in the least, nor is it 'populist'. It is Liberal, in a way that illiberal pieces such as Painter's can never fathom.
I've written before that Boris' sexual incontinence will rule him out from higher office, and if his appearance on the Marr show is indicative, it's certainly a painful nerve. A man unable to keep his marital trousers on is less likely to be faithful to manifesto promises, or to devote to affairs of State rather than the other kind the degree of assiduity the public expects. The days when an old goat such as Lloyd-George could get away with it due to a compliant press (Oh how the Common Purpose luvvies must hark back to those days) are long over - even post-Levenson.
After royally screwing up the task of running the UK Border Agency, mandarin Lin Homer's promotion to the top position in HMRC left the Home Affairs select committee 'astounded' that someone of such demonstrable incompetence should be so rewarded. Never mind. Like Moira Wallace she can always find a suitable sinecure amongst the groves of academe as reward for failure.