Passing Bull 318 – Trump and Johnson

Gideon Rachman wrote a piece in the FT comparing Johnson with Trump.  I sent him the note below, to which he graciously responded.  I may add another difference.  It is very hard to foresee any circumstances in which Johnson might seek to exercise any control over the Conservative Party – or stand again for the top position.  In truth, it is impossible.

I understand the point that MPs may be slow to move against a bad leader until they feel that their seat is threatened, but the power of Trump over so called Republicans appears to have a different basis.  He threatens to get his minions to take seats off his opponents in his own party.  It is one thing to be voted out.  It is another to be kicked out by a thug.  I do not see that in England, and I would not expect to see the raw cowardice of Republicans if I did.

One reason is that the amorphous English establishment is much older and much more entrenched – by caste as well as class.  They have been at it for so much longer.  They invented this game.

Another reason is that the English system is not presidential – which Boris did not understand – and their party system, to which the leader is responsible, is so much stronger.  They invented that too.  On the morning after two big resignations, PMQ, and a speech by a resigning minister, the PM had to face something harder – a Committee of his own party.  Who showed no sympathy.  The first question was : ‘How’s your week been so far?’  The chances of that happening in the US with anyone – let alone Trump – would be one of the following – nil, nix, nought, and zero.  As would any Tory MP falling for the notion of a stolen election or glossing over an armed rebellion.

The monarchy is another difference.  It is fundamental that the queen can only act on the advice of her ministers.  But my understanding is that there are three grounds on which she could refuse an election sought by a PM.  All three were in play here.  And one thing a Tory PM could never be forgiven for is putting the Crown in hazard – especially this ageing lady.

So, the UK is worlds apart in dealing with this kind of spoiled brat.

As it happens I picked up Ranke’s History of England todayto read of Charles I.  One delight of that work is the judicious use of footnotes.  A pamphlet for the election of the Long Parliament said : ‘We elected such as were not known to us by any virtue, but only by crossness to superiors’.

What a gorgeous line!

Crossness to superiors – there ought to be more of it.

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