A major advantage of First-Past-The-Post over any form of Proportional Representation is that it can deliver a strong, visionary, transformational government when one is needed. One was needed in 1979 to rescue us from the morass into which we had sunk. Another is sorely needed now.
We shall now finally leave the European Union. Brexit will be a moment and a process. The Withdrawal Agreement will now receive parliamentary approval (the moment), and then Boris Johnson can dedicate time to negotiating a new trade arrangement (the process) and to incrementally unravelling 40 years of ‘ever closer union’ to ever further separation (more process).
And then there’s health, and education, and homelessness, and poverty, and…
Is sophistry lying? Can politicians do politics without sophistry? Can politicians win votes without sophistry? Possibly, but they won’t get very far. Sometimes lying is necessary: the ‘righteous lie’ has a biblical basis (Js 2:25), but politicians aren’t so righteous with theirs. And certainly not Boris Johnson, for whom the Bishop of Leeds has a certain animus.
Character aside (if it may be), the election of Boris Johnson to No.10 is a seismic moment, and he will surprise. He may be profoundly flawed, but so are we all. What Boris Johnson does have is political vision and personal authority. He may sometimes seem to act without reason, but that is the nature of politics. Where he does not act is to impinge upon freedom: his encounter with authority generally makes it something meaningful for others because he is fundamentally liberal, and socially liberal by disposition. There is nothing ‘hard right’ or ‘extreme right’ about him: he is more concerned with the music and philosophy of politics than teleological dogma. He is a man who appreciates beauty, community and truth even if by his actions or words he seems to convey the contrary. Just because he is not immediately intelligible does not mean he is chaotic or amoral. He has a moral vision, and it is worth taking time to discern it.
St Paul wrote, ‘For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God’ (Rom 13:1). Boris Johnson had a privileged upbringing, and has now had greatness thrust upon him. The authority he exercises will be an aspect of the operation of God. He isn’t a man of faith, but his soul is at some remove inspired by a divine mover. He certainly has those around him who can nudge and fix his gaze on higher matters. Don’t judge him too harshly when he fails, because you will find that Boris Johnson is capable of inspiring love and breathing life into whatever is mundane, tedious and inert. He is a man of human society who cares far more than his forceful charm of influence admits. And now his task is to exercise the authority which will shape our structures of justice and government.
And to get Brexit done.
Thank Christ, indeed.