Analysis

Election must not be fought on Johnson’s terms – ‘straight from the Trump/Bannon playbook’

Falling for Johnson’s calculated provocations plays straight into his hands – but many are doing just that

Boris Johnson’s use of inflammatory language this week has been a deliberately calculated ploy to play to his base and distract from his weakness – both his and his chief adviser’s weak characters and their political weakness. In spite of his studied buffoonery, Johnson is smart enough to know exactly what he’s doing – and his handler Dominic Cummings is working to a game-plan alread tried and tested in the US.

But most of the Establishment – and many on the left – are responded exactly as scripted.

Johnson’s repeated use of ‘Surrender Act’ – which only increased after he was challenged in the Commons about it – and his ‘humbug’ response to a tearful complaint by a friend of the murdered Jo Cox are unquestionably the actions of a despicable human being.

But they are also calculated to rouse hatred and make him appear outnumbered by his opponents – and each outraged response simply widens and hardens the divide and amplifies his false claim to underdog status fighting for the democratic empowerment of the ‘common man’.

Some see exactly what he’s doing. Labour Party chair Ian Lavery summarised it perfectly:

How to fight this disgraceful strategy is not rocket science. Johnson is resorting to these tactics because he and his organ grinder can’t change the fundamental bankruptcy of their position – so they need to hide it or distract from it. And they especially hope the left will focus on attacking Johnson’s behaviour and not on Labour’s outstanding and revolutionary package of two hundred policies to transform our nation and bring hope.

“When they go low, we go somewhere else: drag him onto class politics, 99% vs 1%”

Economist James Meadway nailed it;

When Johnson performs his tricks, the right response is ignore him – or quickly divert onto:

  • Labour’s policies
  • Johnson’s privilege and his support for so-called elites against the interests of the many
  • his history of unremitting support for the Tory policies that have blighted the lives of millions in this country

There is no shortage of material.

Labour’s groundbreaking policies are summarised in this graphic:

Johnson is trying to pose as the anti-Establishment politician, but these policies are the real insurgency.

Johnson can ape humanity, pretend populism, spout unfounded optimism and mimic warmth – but because he represents the worst possible continuation of the plague that the right has been to the UK, he cannot offer the one thing that most people are most hungry for now.

Hope – hope of real change for the better,

If the left fights on its own terms, Johnson and Cummings cannot compete. If it fights on theirs, we lose – and the whole country loses.

The stakes are high. Fight smart or lose.

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56 comments

    1. I think the Manchester protests are a bad idea as they have the potential to descend into violence possibly deliberately provoked by the kind of behaviour displayed by Johnson and other Tories in the House of Commons. Already we have had calls for riots on the streets ( not specifically Manchester ) on BBC from some alleged Journalist and the MSM is now in overdrive blaming Jeremy Corbyn for Johnson’s disgraceful comments about the late Jo Cox.
      It doesn’t help either that Jess Phillips who is a total embarrassment anyway calls out violent language.She as was pointed out by one of the Tories used it herself – her statement that she would stab Jeremy Corbyn in the front not the back This completely undermined her position let us down and showed her to be a hypocrite.
      As an election draws nearer the attacks on us in the MSM will grow . We have to be careful and not play into their hands.

      1. I don’t like her any more than you do but “stabbing in the back/front” is clearly understood by all in politics to be a metaphor.
        It’s a stretch to suggest use of the expression foments actual knife attacks I think.

        Calling remainers “traitors” etc. is a different kettle of fish, intended as it is to inflame the far right retards who need no more than that slight encouragement to commit the acts of violence that excite their juvenile hormonal drives.
        For a time as a juvenile I was part of a group in which violence would erupt in an instant out of nothing more than boredom, even without alcohol, so I’m very familiar.
        I expect many of us are.

      2. Smartboy

        The arsehole calling for rioting was none other than Brendan O’Neill, editor of Spiked! online and hero to the corrosive Koch-head trolls (and their apologists) infesting these threads. He said he was enjoying the current political climate with all the smug detachment of someone wealthy enough to not have to worry about how all this will pan out.

        A bit like Boris, Jacob and their pound-shorting friends, in fact! It’s all just a game to them, as we (most of us) know.

        The wanker even quoted Trotsky! Some shit about “Man should be mastering nature rather than man”. A fatuous thing to quote, if it was Trotsky at all, coming from an age before climate change was a thing.

        He was not, of course, taken to task by the presenter, but rather admired, being the representative of US corporate interests on the panel.

      3. I disagree with you entirely David McNiven. Jess Phillips was talking about terms such as “surrender” and “traitor” being unacceptable but whether political speak or not talking about stabbing Jeremy Corbyn in the front is equally if not more unacceptable.
        Jess also, if you remember ,boasted long and loud about telling Diane Abbott, the most abused person in parliament ,to “F**k Off” and when asked how Diane responded she replied with hilarity “She f**ked off”. She has never apologised to either Jeremy or Diane for her violent and uncouth language
        She is in no position therefore to criticise anybody else for the use of inappropriate language and well deserves to be called out as a hypocrite.

      4. I’m afraid, smartboy, in this instance you’re not being your smart self. David’s assessment is a measured one.

        I don’t much like the Big Mouth much either – but she isn’t in the same league as the Johnscum crowd.

        I don’t think these exaggerations about internal opponents is clever.

      5. Reply to Timfrom
        Yes the whole thing was absolutely disgusting . Can you imagine any other state broadcaster allowing a call to go out for rioting . The BBC is well past its sell by date and once in government we need to address the whole issue of licence fees , charter etc

      6. Reply to RH
        I think I am perfectly entitled to object to someone with Jess Phillips,s track record embarrassing herself and us by criticising others for what she has done herself and having this hypocrisy pointed out by 2 Tory MPs and recorded in Hansard.
        I have not exaggerated what she said – it is a matter of record – and note that like Johnson she was not big enough to apologise for her clearly inappropriate use of words. Of course as it was Jeremy Corbyn she was referring to maybe that makes it Ok in her eyes.

      7. Smartboy, it’s her opposition to Corbyn that undermines her position, not her use of a commonplace phrase.
        Claiming that phrase incites violence undermines your otherwise perfectly reasonable criticism of her.
        People attempting to mitigate their violent acts in court will use whatever is contemporary – violent cartoons, video games & movies have been exploited and raised hysterical calls for bans from the gullible.
        “Stabbed in the back” falls far short of any reasonable test.

      8. Reply to David McNiven
        I did not say that words incite violence – Jess Phillips did .
        Jess did not use the words “stabbed in the back”. She said she would not stab Jeremy Corbyn in the back ,she would “stab him in the front” I have never before or since heard the expression ” front stabbing ” which you in an early post indicate is commonplace. In my opinion Jess Phillips invented this expression to verbalise her feelings about Jeremy Corbyn.
        The point I am making is that if a person uses expressions like this to express her dislike ( to put it no stronger) of an individual it is hypocritical for them to criticise others for similar inappropriate language. Jess has done this and was rightly called out for it in parliament.

    2. No Steve but theres nothing in the above regarding the waspi womons pension scam by the torya?Expect a good turn out from some very angry woman being ignored in that 200manifesto pledge

    3. They will be steve when the very angry waspi woman turn out with nothing about their plight mentioned in the above pledge manifesto?The woman being ignored by the Labour party and the government….What a shambles?

      1. If you check out the WASPI Twitter feed it seems to indicate that there was quite a lot of activity at this years conference around this issue.

      2. Thanks steve for the info,unfortunately I am not on the Twitter Facebook network We still need to support these women legaly robbed by the condem government.OF course maybe the Labour party are planning to lower the pension age but I doubt it.This is a striking bit of injustice and they are still being ignored even by the Labour party….Agism

  1. “Johnson is resorting to these tactics because he and his organ grinder can’t change the fundamental bankruptcy of their position”

    The fundamentl bankruptcy of their position is in playing up to the fanaticism of the far right Leavers. We and yes you a Ian Lavery, should be showing constituents the fallacy of any form of Brexit and counteracting the lies of Farage and his henchmen. Never mind the refrain “I’m following Benn, Galloway and Skinner,” yes, all good socialists in their own right, but people should think for themselves before they go down this disastrous Brexit path.

    1. I support leaving the EU not because Benn and Skinner supported it but because it is necessary for many of the things which make a Left-wing Labour government worth having – such as utilities nationalisations which are the first step towards a much more substantial increase in public ownership into our economy. EU free movement rights mean open markets which means nationalisation of whole sectors is unlawful. Likewise we need to stop the unlimited labour supply which reduces wages among the more poorly paid of our economy. To crown it all several new policies decided at this conference are forbidden or obstructed by the EU or ECHR such as comprehensive NHS insourcing or private school abolition.

      It is for the policy reason that I am anti-EU, not for reasons of hero worship, a practice I find rather unsocialist anyway.

      1. You have re-iterated this. OK. But the point is that withdrawal from the EU *does not* solve the problems of global neoliberalism. To think so is utterly naive.

        If it was so beedin’ obvious, the ERG and Hedge Fund friends wouldn’t be so keen on pursuing Brexit and becoming more subject to the US hegemony as a client state.

    2. ” the fundamental bankruptcy of their position”

      That’s the problem – which goes back to a much earlier failure of parliament in falling over each other to try to curry favour with apublic that was entirely misled by the flatulence of the right.

      The constitutiona; muddle goes back to that initial departure from honest governance – the pretence that a back-of-the-fag-packet referendum had anything other than (at best) the standing of an opinion poll.

      There is *no* constitutional provision for referendums – so they can be only advisory, by definition. Ptromisng to ‘honour’ the fag packet without proper consideration was a dereliction of duty by all concerned, appointed to a soveriegn parliament.

      The further cowardly dereliction of duty was to pretend that, even after such a massive faux pas, that there was any decisive will for Brexit. Only the deceitful or the dim would pretend such.

      … and this is what this trail of self-serving snake oil has inevitably come to – a constitutional mess where the intellectually and morally suspect have been granted much more sway than they deserve.

      1. It shouldn’t be forgotten that if the 2016 referendum had been anything other than advisory it would have been voided by the Supreme Court in Dec 2016. There was over 200 petitions to have the result set aside by the High Court because of infractions of electoral laws.

        Unfortunately the Justices concluded that they couldn’t rule on it because the result of the referendum had no standing in law and any decision to implement it was purely a political one rather than a matter of law.

      2. Good point, Steve.

        The current situation is the inevitable outcome of a trail of misconception and deception based on a sequence of fictions perpetuated by a dominance of political time-servers in the HoC.

      3. “Good point, Steve.” Not good, excellent.

        The history books should call this conflict “The Breach of Promise War.”

        Scorned Brexiteer: “I’d never have ̶l̶e̶t̶ ̶h̶i̶m̶ ̶f̶u̶c̶k̶ ̶m̶e̶ voted if he hadn’t promised to marry me.”

  2. Yes. It is natural for the Blairites to behave like liberals. And they will, just as the Tories want them to. Labour has to stick to the real issues-the plundering of the public, the shocking increase in homelessness, the decline in life expectancy, the disintegration, under deliberate attacks on it,of the NHS, the return of privilege in education,. Leave the snowflakes to criticise Johnson’s ‘bad manners’ and ‘vulgarity’ to each other-these are the least of the things wrong with him.

    1. Astonishing, how easily, Labour has walked into the trap & a Tory bust up. Sad how the “virtuous” have failed to kearn anything from the Hillary vs Trump election. Especially that all the attacks on Johnson over matters remote from priorities of our heartlands: tangible immediate concerns eg Universal Credit, Job losses, In work poverty, Homelessness etc etc ALL while we have been in the EU, will NOT convince the heartlands that Labour really cares for them.

  3. He’s trying to force a GE by showing he’s not fit to hold the office Ree’s Mogg said the opposition are welcome to ask for GE – if the opposition bring a no confidence motion and it passes he’ll get his general election and he’ll still be able to push through Brexit – He thinks JC and we are stupid it’s a calculated ploy to get his own way and force Brexit

    1. I am not convinced that Johnson can win a General election and I worry that we will lose the momentum and the press and AS will start again.The Torys will regroup..They have billions to spend and are the most ruthless and effective election machine that we have ever had in Britain’.We should not let the chance for a socialist Labour government slip away by dithering.!

  4. Exactly Right, Skwawkbox. Well said Steve.

    Where’s the list of 200 policies to be found? If it’s not one of your blog pages, you might consider issuing it on one. Every Labour activist can use it as a cheat sheet.

  5. It’s becoming clear that the election will be of enormous significance for the country. 5 years of the most right wing government we’ve ever known (say post 1832) looks likely to win. The ‘No Surender’ line is very popular. To stop it the anti Johnson’s – all of them please LibDems) – need to unite on this one issue for the only party and leader with a chance of winning, Labour and Corbyn. Ms Swinson will only split the vote and ensure Johnson wins. “Well we don’t like Corbyn very much” is going to sound a bit weak when we’re governed by a bunch of crooks. For YEARS!

    1. I very much doubt that the LibDems will be forgiven a second time if Swinson’s silly games result in a no deal Brexit and/or an extreme RW Tory government.

  6. Astonishing, how easily, Labour has walked into the trap & a Tory bust up. Sad how the “virtuous” have failed to kearn anything from the Hillary vs Trump election. Especially that all the attacks on Johnson over matters remote from priorities of our heartlands: tangible immediate concerns eg Universal Credit, Job losses, In work poverty, Homelessness etc etc ALL while we have been in the EU, will NOT convince the heartlands that Labour really cares for them.🔴

  7. A bit of statement of the bleedin’ obvious. Anyone with something between their political ears knows precisely what Mr Toad is about.

    And just ranting – either about him or various Labour characters who aren’t much liked isn’t going to change anything.

    One thing is for sure – simply keep to the strategy of not reacting to calls for a quick election – if it was a good idea, Johnson wouldn’t be for it.

    The other is to focus clearly and unambiguously on the rationale for another clarifying referendum as the only way out of this shit-heap. The perpetuation of utter crap about ‘respecting’ what has become the dominant fiction about the last fiasco needs to be countered for what it is – a Borisism of no substance.

    Time for the adults to speak up instead of pandering to the kiddies.

  8. We never have a problem with our public services until the cheap and nasty Tory party gets into power and runs them into the ground,
    Why do you have a visceral hatred of all public services in general and the NHS in particular
    Would be the debate in parliament
    The short version for public is
    Vote Boris, vote No Deal, vote to sell NHS to American Health Companies

  9. 20,000 police officers taken off the streets under Tory/LibDems Austerity
    Under Boris police numbers will be reduced again

  10. Enough copies of “THE 200” for every household and enough members to deliver them and the MSM bias might be sidestepped.
    PLEASE RETWEET THE SKWAWKBOX
    (all 13 of you😎)

    Did my best Skwawkbox but – surprisingly – sarcastic old men don’t attract enough of a following to make a difference.

    1. David. There’s nothing about the Waspi women ,so I am not allowed
      Leaving out the waspis in the manifesto for such vocal opponents of the Tory…lib dem government is poorly researched

  11. Bang on Skwawky and see how the Right reel them in.
    People voted Leave for democratic control TO TAKE POWER BACK FROM THE EC and NOT to give it and our public services and NHS to Trump and his unelected American oligarchs and American private companies!
    Whilst the bourgeois politicians embarrassingly rant, left wing democratic socialists should be calm and rational to skewer Elite Establishment Boris Alexander de Feffel Johnson and Right Wing Neo-Liberals.
    And Labour has 200 policy gems.
    WITH JC, TIME TO TAKE BACK DEMOCRATIC CONTROL FROM TORY NEO-LIBERALISM!

  12. Under boris dementia tax you will lose your home to pay for Social Care
    Under boris you will be forced to work until your 75
    Vote boris, close your schools, sack your teachers, pay for this Eton Mess
    Vote boris to reduce Armed Forces, sack a soldier
    Which party handed out redundancy notices to our Armed Forces in Afghanistan
    Vote boris to keep, tin pot generals, sabre rattlers and war mongers miles behind the front line
    Vote boris and smash up a restaurent
    Vote boris bullingdon bully boys need you

  13. Just a personal veiw but like the propoganda against Labour,this talk about inciting violence and bricks thrown through windows,all allegations by the usual suspects is getting overhyped and will go nowhere with the public.Seeing politicians with a bit of passion might actually help their cause.I am in contact and admire Buddhism but I joined the Labour party not a religion.Karma has its attractions but for many the years of Tory poverty and oppression need to be met head on with passion and justifiable anger.Demos in Manchester like the poll tax riots are all that the establishment worry about.and fear.

    1. Ben Hillary did a lot more than that,She rigged the Supervote system of the undemocratic party Whilst uncle Bill Clinton robbed the people of Haiti a third world country and continued the plunder of the Whitewater Scam….learnt by the clinton clan in there early years. The Clintons and the Blairs are virtually blood brothers in every sense

  14. Honestly we only need to delay brexit past the 31st once the scumbags lose a load of money on there attempts to short the country his support will start to dry up.

    Also given cummings and Boris’s links to strange Russians I would be bricking it too if I failed to screw the country as instructed.
    I wonder if cummings has a preference polonium or novachek. Boris is likely to be found dead in some blondes apartment with a giant dildo stuffed up his arse and a plastic bag over his head, how sad Eton has such an effect
    😉

  15. Also given cummings and Boris’s links to strange Russians I would be bricking it too if I failed to screw the country as instructed.

    Perfectly put! 😄

  16. So what would really infuriate Boris? Here is a much smarter tactic: a resounding chorus of “Oh Jeremy Corbyn” every time he appears anywhere in public or on the street. Make him live in fear of that tune wafting past the press and BBC cameras to assault his ears to cause him huge public humiliation and embarrassment. Without a single threat of harm towards Boris, he will be forced to stop begging for selfies and start seriously vetting the crowds. When he crawls back under his rock, let’s see how the media will manage to spin it!

    If he visits your place of work, find a safe spot where you can hide that distinctive tape recorded tune to play during his set PR piece. When he blathers on about replacing our beleaguered police force after years of Tory cuts, crank it up to full volume during one of his pathetic appeals for applause. It is not worth getting fired over this, but with a good bluetooth signal there should be no risk of revealing the culprit who plants a tape recording.

    No need to run a constant defensive response to his vile language as, I agree, that only amplifies his rogue status as the poor persecuted underdog. No need to memorize hundreds of policies and get quizzed on the details of them by skeptical right wing interviewers. The press cannot trick you with three simple words; your sentiments are obvious. This is how to combat hostile media trying to reinvent the reality of Labour support.

    Once this harmless fun tactic has been filmed a few times it will really catch on with a large segment of the disgruntled public. It will appeal to the British sense of humour and everyone will be laughing at him instead of sheepishly accepting a handshake. All those who wants real change and an end to austerity can learn this three word, “Oh Jeremy Corbyn,” song; it is your most powerful weapon against a dangerous craven narcissist PM.

    I am not very tech savvy, so I do not twitter or tweet, but I just created a protest sign that shows Boris scratching his head with a few well chosen words of ridicule. Boris scratches his head all the time like a nervous twitch; my sign makes it a point of severe embarrassment. The wording goes: “GET RID OF” (Picture of Boris scratching his head) then, below the picture, just the word “NITS!”

    Calling someone a “Nit” is somewhat out of vogue now, but it really speaks to his devoted older generation of followers. Although “Nit” is a very mild, non-aggressive, if rather apt insult, Boris will inadvertently be constantly reinforcing the image of himself as a stupid, incompetent, idiot. Every time he goes to tousle his unkempt blond mop, instead of playing to the crowd with an innocent endearing gesture he will be sending a negative subliminal message to his core support group.

    This was a really easy sign to put together as there was no shortage of pictures showing Boris scratching his head. Someone more Social Media savvy than I am could make this go viral.

    1. Kim Sanders-Fisher, it might work as you hope – or it might be that a recorded “Oh Jeremy Corbyn” broadcast at what the media would call “an inappropriate time” could have the opposite effect.
      It could be touted by the media as one person trying to prevent the UK’s elected PM being heard, rather than a funny reminder of thousands of young voters spontaneously singing Jeremy’s praises.
      The device would quickly be shut off – if that only took a few minutes BloJob’s speech could be re-started and we’d only hear about “Labour’s foiled dirty tricks.”

      As socialists we’re severely hampered by respect for truth and the people – unlike the Tories and Blairites who laugh at honesty and tell whatever lie gets them what they want.

      Frustrating, isn’t it? 🙂

      1. Sadly, you might be right about the recorded song, but it does not negate the potential impact of spontaneous outbursts when Boris is surrounded by a small cluster of supporters to the disdain of a much larger group a few metres away who will be consciously avoided by the right wing press.  This might provide a modicum of much needed balance to the overall picture.  

        A chorus of “Oh Jeremy Corbyn” is guaranteed to rattle the chronically insecure Boris to the point where he will be forced to carefully stage manage his fake “man of the people” con trick.  We all saw how well that worked for Theresa May.  The consummate narcissist currently squatting at number 10 only thrives in situations of constant adulation; he abandoned a podium rather than have a small group of protesters detract from his worthless showmanship in Luxembourg.  

        In the upcoming election, noting that a similar tactic worked so well for Trump in the States, Boris will be heavily reliant on his “People verses Parliament” messaging. This strategy will be exposed as fake news if Boris is forced to restrict access to just a trusted few, while at the same time it becomes impossible to deny the reality of large crowds of loyal supporters surrounding Corbyn everywhere he goes. Just as it did last time around once the equal time rules kicked in, this positive news will become very obvious during the official campaigning period.

        We all know that the Tories have nothing to offer but more of the same misery if they do succeed in gaining a majority.  We must be ready to counteract that populist Boris bluster and jovial buffoonery with efforts that capitalize on his insecurity and his incredibly fragile ego.  In presentations where Boris does not feel loved and supported he looses self-confidence, starts babbling and makes a complete idiot of himself with nonsensical statements and lame jokes.  Even his devotees will start to doubt that this hapless fool should be entrusted to see us through a time of severe crisis and, through his gross ineptitude, be allowed to continue making the UK a global laughing stock. 

  17. VONC is a non starter for simple reason cheap and nasty Tory party will never bring down their own,
    Time to call Cummings glove puppet bluff and support vote for GE,
    If its beyond 31st October and he does not ask for an extension, you have a month to do something about it

  18. Johnson would lose an election now if his bluff is called.To many moderates know the gravy train is over if Labour win. The socialist Labour party will miss the chance of a liftime by dithering and The Perfect storm brewing will pass…Warning Brexit is a single issue that Will drag us down and out and we would have missed the boat.!

    1. Joseph OKEEFE 28/09/2019 at 2:04 am

      Unfortunately Brexit is an issue that impacts every policy area.

      1. – and it won’t simply go away.

        Biding time isn’t ‘dithering’ – especially as the wind is currently behind the Tories – have no illusions.

      2. I know the issue Steve H and the lost chance of an elected Labour government is.not one issue I and many others wish to be sacrificed to the Brexit ‘ argument.. We have one chance and I see that being thrown away ..I listen to reasoned argument and respect most of it.But my conclusion is we are fiddling while Rome burns. Get these fascist regime thugs out or we risk the loss of government and Jeremy Corbyn as leader of Labour Democratic socialist Labour party.Next year we might be social democrats under the 😃smiley face of Watson and Benn..and thats not for me or the majority of the membership who are socialist.!

  19. It is interesting to read what the Germans think of BJ and the current Brexit situation. Please click on the link and read the full article.

    The Inverse Correlation of Power and Civility in Britain
    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is abandoning all inhibitions in the battle for Brexit. His hostile and antagonistic rhetoric dismays civil Britons, but provides catnip for those eager to leave the EU. Many fear he has opened a Pandora’s box.
    What does the prime minister of one of the world’s leading democracies do if he’s found guilty by the Supreme Court of breaking the law and depriving parliament of its rights?

    Does he give in? Does he resign? Does he, at the very least, apologize?

    Not if his name is Boris Johnson.”

    https://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/he-the-people-the-inverse-correlation-of-power-and-civility-in-britain-a-1289009.html#ref=nl-international

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