The Most Unpopular Government in UK Political History

The disillusionment will be on the same scale as Boris Johnson’s bombastic promises, writes Craig Murray.

By Craig Murray

I have no doubt that the Johnson government will very quickly become the most unpopular in U.K. political history. The ultra-hard Brexit he is pushing will not be the panacea which the deluded anticipate. It will have a negative economic impact felt most keenly in the remaining industry of the Midlands and North East of England. Deregulation will worsen conditions for those fortunate enough to have employment, as will further benefits squeezes. Immigration will not in practice reduce; what will reduce are the rights and conditions for the immigrants.

Decaying, left-behind towns will molder further. The fishing industry will very quickly be sold down the river in trade negotiations with the EU – access to fishing (and most of the U.K. fishing grounds are Scottish) is one of the few decent offers Boris has to make to the EU in seeking market access. His Brexit deal will take years and be overwhelmingly fashioned to benefit the City of London.

Boris Johnson delivering victory speech, Dec. 13, 2019. (YouTube screenshot)

There is zero chance the Conservatives will employ a sizeable number of extra nurses: they just will not be prepared to put in the money. They will employ more policemen. In a couple of years’ time they will need them for widespread riots. They will not build any significant portion of the hospitals or other infrastructure they promised. They most certainly will do nothing effective about climate change. These were simply dishonest promises. The  National Health Servicewill continue to crumble with more and more of its service provision contracted out, and more and more of its money going into private shareholders’ pockets (including many Tory MPs).

Anti-Tory Reaction 

The disillusionment will be on the same scale as Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s bombastic promises. The Establishment are not stupid and realize there will be an anti-Tory reaction. Their major effort will therefore be to change Labour back into a party supporting neoliberal economic policy and neoconservative foreign (or rather war) policy. They will want to be quite certain that, having seen off the Labour Party’s popular European style social democratic program with Brexit anti-immigrant fervor, the electorate have no effective non-right wing choice at the next election, just like in the Tony Blair years.

To that end, every Blairite horror has been resurrected already by the BBC to tell us that the Labour Party must now move right – McNicol, McTernan, Campbell, Hazarayika and many more, not to mention the platforms given to Caroline Flint, Ruth Smeeth and John Mann. The most important immediate fight for radicals in England is to maintain Labour as a mainstream European social democratic party and resist its reversion to a Clinton-style right-wing ultra-capitalist party. Whether that is possible depends how many of the Momentum generation lose heart and quit.

Scottish independence rally 2018. (Azerifactory, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Irish Reunification on the Agenda

Northern Ireland is perhaps the most important story of this election, with a seismic shift in a net gain of two seats in Belfast from the Unionists, plus the replacement of a unionist independent by the Alliance Party. Irish reunification is now very much on the agenda. The largesse to the Democratic Unionist Party(DUP) will be cut off now Boris does not need them.

For me personally, Scotland is the most important development of all. A stunning result for the Scottish National Party. The SNP result gave them a bigger voter share in Scotland than the Tories got in the U.K. So if Johnson got a “stonking mandate for Brexit,” as he just claimed in his private school idiom, the SNP got a “stonking mandate” for independence.

I hope the SNP learnt the lesson that by being much more upfront about independence than in the disastrous “don’t mention Independence” election of 2017, the SNP got spectacularly better results.

I refrained from criticizing the SNP leadership during the campaign, even to the extent of not supporting my friend Stu Campbell when he was criticized for doing so (and I did advise him to wait until after election day). But I can say now that the election events, which are perfect for promoting independence, are not necessarily welcome to the gradualists in the SNP. A “stonking mandate” for independence and a brutal Johnson government treating Scotland with total disrespect leaves no room for hedge or haver. The SNP needs to strike now, within weeks not months, to organize a new independence referendum with or without Westminster agreement.

If we truly believe Westminster has no right to block Scottish democracy, we need urgently to act to that effect and not just pretend to believe it. Now the election is over, I will state my genuine belief there is a political class in the SNP, including a minority but significant portion of elected politicians, office holders and staff, who are very happy with their fat living from the devolution settlement and who view any striking out for independence as a potential threat to their personal income.

You will hear from these people we should wait for EU trade negotiations, for a decision on a section 30, for lengthy and complicated court cases, or any other excuse to maintain the status quo, rather than move their well=paid arses for Independence. But the emergency of the empowered Johnson government, and the new mandate from the Scottish electorate, require immediate and resolute action. We need to organise an Independence referendum with or without Westminster permission, and if successful go straight for a universal declaration of independence (UDI). If the referendum is blocked, straight UDI it is, based on the four successive election victory mandates.

With this large Tory majority, there is nothing the SNP MPs can in practice achieve against Westminster. We should now withdraw our MPs from the Westminster Parliament and take all actions to paralyse the union. This is how the Irish achieved Independence. We will never get independence by asking Boris Johnson nicely. Anyone who claims to believe otherwise is a fool or a charlatan.

Craig Murray is an author, broadcaster and human rights activist. He was British ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004 and rector of the University of Dundee from 2007 to 2010.

This article is from

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

 Please Make Your End-of-Year  Donation Today.

Before commenting please read Robert Parry’s Comment Policy. Allegations unsupported by facts, gross or misleading factual errors and ad hominem attacks, and abusive or rude language toward other commenters or our writers will not be published.  If your comment does not immediately appear, please be patient as it is manually reviewed. For security reasons, please refrain from inserting links in your comments, which should not be longer than 300 words.


21 comments for “The Most Unpopular Government in UK Political History

  1. SRH
    December 17, 2019 at 04:17

    “They will employ more policemen”, as would have any Labour government. My former Labour MP, Jenny Chapman, campaigned on a platform which, as in the past for her, included more police on the streets. The winning Tory candidate will no doubt work to make that happen. Labour is a notoriously pro-police, pro-criminal justice system party. Is there one that isn’t? Someone tell me, please.

  2. Pete Kirby
    December 16, 2019 at 21:09

    @John Chuckman
    Excellent points, John. …and I worry for our own country, Canada, too. Democracy just doesn’t work any more! With our recent tilt to US foreign policy: regime change in Venezuela and Bolivia (for natural resources); support for fascist Ukraine; troops for NATO in the Baltics…and a recent decision to increase our military budget (hopefully not the feckless F-35)…I’m afraid we’ve been bought!!….(A country that used to sport the Blue Helmets, was one of the principal authors of the UN Declaration of Human Rights – and had a Prime Minister who earned and was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize….all sold for a pittance!)

    • Tim
      December 18, 2019 at 13:27

      Mr. Kirby:

      > support for fascist Ukraine;

      Too true! My father, who fought in the Canadian army in World War II, would turn in his grave at the sight of publicity photos showing smiling Canadian staff officers side-by-side with overt neo-Nazis whose militia units have been adopted into the Ukrainian army.

  3. Seamus Padraig
    December 15, 2019 at 13:15

    The most important immediate fight for radicals in England is to maintain Labour as a mainstream European social democratic party and resist its reversion to a Clinton-style right-wing ultra-capitalist party.

    Labour hasn’t been a “mainstream European social democratic party” since the 1980s, and the Blairites are now so entrenched that not even Jeremy Corbyn could get rid of them. And didn’t you notice that the Blairites were the absolute most pro-Remain group in Labour? Why is that, Craig? Could it perhaps be the case that the EU not quite the bastion of social democracy you seem to think it is? Have you noticed that what happened to Labour has also happened to the SPD in Germany and the Parti Socialiste in France? And let’s not even talk about Greece, Spain or Ireland!

    I happen to like and respect Craig Murray a great deal–he’s been top-notch when defending Julian Assange, for example. But on the EU, I’m afraid, he’s just missed the boat completely. If anyone here wants to know what really happened to Labour on Thursday, try this: www(dot)

  4. Maricata
    December 15, 2019 at 12:59

    “The most important immediate fight for radicals in England is to maintain Labour as a mainstream European social democratic party and resist its reversion to a Clinton-style right-wing ultra-capitalist party. Whether that is possible depends how many of the Momentum generation lose heart and quit.”

    No, it one doesn’t get to quit being a victim of capitalism. They either realize their own oppression and those of others and organize to fight it, or perish under it.

    As to maintaining Labor as a social democratic party?

    Social democracy is dead, FDR is far in the past and the ruthless economics of capitalism are clearly at play.

    Britain doesn’t have much more to privatize, other than NHS, does it?

    Keep in mind that those over fifty voted unanimously for the Tories. However those under 50 voted overwhelmingly for the manifesto labour put forth.

    So, the old actually went and voted for their own self demise, as NHS is privatized, while the young will soon feel the increased pressure of precarious work, debt and nowheresville.

    and they will organize and they will rebel. The future by demographics puts the labor manifesto front and center in the future.

  5. Richard Morgan
    December 15, 2019 at 12:27

    McConnell has just committed treason while laughing all the way as he described his criminal acts against the nation on Fox News. He and all Republicans refusing to do their sworn duty need to be arrested and prosecuted. Which citizen will make a citizen’s arrest of any and all of them off the streets of D.C.?

  6. December 15, 2019 at 09:54

    Hmmm, funny how we had Reagan and Thatcher in the 80’s – Together, Baroness Thatcher and Ronald Reagan championed fewer government entitlements, less regulation, a more robust free market economy, British and American exceptionalism, and a foreign policy that had, as its unofficial motto, “might is right”.

    Today we have Trump and Johnson – This pair have been largely responsible for re-normalizing divisive and hate-filled rhetoric in their respective countries, stoking fear and prejudice against the ‘other’ to appeal to frustrated voters looking for someone to blame for their discontent. Not to mention their rejection of fact-based, scientific research in favor of conspiracy and outright lies.

    • michael
      December 16, 2019 at 07:12

      There has really been no difference in American Presidents of either Party since Reagan; I do not know British politics that well, but their electorate is screwed either way just as we are. Obama’s $29 Trillion bailout of Wall Street was the clear bottom; but arguably if America has that much money for the bankers, the question “how do we pay for that?” is no longer relevant. Obama saw himself as another Reagan.
      Workers worldwide have seen their wages drop over the 40 years of Neoliberalism, propped up by bloodthirsty NeoCons whose think tanks make Western foreign policies (for Israel, Saudi Arabia, Latin America and former Soviet States). The wages have dropped because of exploited wage-earners in offshored jobs, automation and exploited immigrants, the group which receives the most vitriol. Workers have a choice of Neoliberalism, which has worked so well for the do-nothing Rich who make more in interest and in the government-propped up bubble of “investments” in the stock market (with the tacit understanding that they will be bailed out, again, if they should–gasp!– actually lose their money) than the workers for a lifetime of productivity (which over doubled while their wages stagnated during the Age of Neoliberalism). Or they can choose Nationalism and somehow cut off the global earnings of the Rich, who refuse to share their wealth regardless of their profits. The bottom would prefer they all suffer together, rather than the Rich steal the value of their labor.
      Congress has never shown interest in “fact-based, scientific research” but rather always favored “conspiracy and outright lies.” The Democrats have wasted three years that could have been spent on real issues, including climate change, to chase the CIA conspiracy of Russiagate and Ukrainegate (where FACTS show Democrats are as complicit and corrupt as Trump and the Republicans, maybe more); partisan investigations are NOT REAL, but like Trump’s rallies, just a huge, wasteful, distracting sop to the Democrats’ base. Neither party has any interest in attacking and solving real issues, if it involves coming up with solutions which their Rich donors don’t want. Our media (excepting a handful of alt sites) has lost all credibility (Greenwald has covered well) and is only a rubber stamping, narrative disseminating organ of the CIA (now legal propaganda, since the ‘modernization’ of Smith Mundt under Obama.)

  7. December 15, 2019 at 09:16

    This is a good summary of forces set in motion by Britain’s election of Boris Johnson, a summary coming from Craig Murray, a writer worth reading.

    It seems almost beyond understanding that a man like Boris Johnson, caught various times recently lying and misrepresenting things – a man even with an instance of a police call concerning domestic violence at his girlfriend’s flat not long before the election – and a man with a long record of schoolboy crassness and name-calling, should be given a mandate.

    But you have only to look at the United States to see a comparable example in Donald Trump, a man who should actually embarrass America with his bellowing crassness.

    Our Western “democracies” are so feeble.

    With 43.6 % of the people’s votes, Johnson is aid to have a” landslide” victory. Donald Trump actually received a minority of 46.4 % of the people’s votes.

    Such are the outcomes of our custom-tailored democratic institutions.

    In Johnson’s case, I believe two major circumstances worked for his “landslide.”

    First, Britain was bone-achingly tired of more than three years of previous government leaders’ words and schemes over BREXIT. For all that time, you could not look at a newspaper without seeing articles and reports on the subject.

    It was an extremely complex, technical subject demanding more time and effort to grasp than most people could possibly give, the very reason the earlier Conservative leader, David Cameron, should never have held such a referendum.

    Tiresome to say the least. Johnson simply threatened to be done with it all, one way or another.

    Second, over much the same period – although four years instead of three – Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party has been under almost constant assault by special interests.

    Also a very long, wearying effort. Corbyn, essentially a decent man of traditional liberal and progressive values, was called names and challenged regularly by outlandish accusations. We saw even the direct interference in British politics of several political leaders from another state, Israel.

    Corbyn’s sense fairness and balance were not wanted in that part of the world. Intensely so.

    He survived the assault but was weakened, and many would say he failed to stand up to accusers as forcefully as he should have. Even supporters do tire of that kind of response.

    Both men have set their efforts for major, society-changing efforts, destructive efforts in the view of many observers, yet they do so without even that fundamental democratic concept of clean and fair support from a majority.

    Donald Trump literally threatens the stability of the much of the world’s trade and economy with tariffs and a massive sanction regime and telling both friend and opponents how they should be conducting their affairs. And that is all apart from his many military threats and open support for coups and the theft of other countries’ resources.

    Boris Johnson displays many similar views and attitudes. He is Donald Trump with an Eton accent and a boyish smile instead of a grimly-set jaw. The traditional “special relationship” between Britain and the United States is about to be given a whole new meaning.

    • michael
      December 16, 2019 at 07:26

      ” With 43.6 % of the people’s votes, Johnson is said to have a” landslide” victory.” To attack the Tory landslide is disingenuous. “The Conservatives collected 43.6 percent of the popular vote, to 32.2 percent for Labour”, the worst showing for Labour in 84 years., with many industrial and mining areas actually voting for the traditionally despised Conservatives.
      Corbyn won 62% of the Labour Party Leadership vote in 2016, but was almost only supported by majorities of students, academics and London in this Election. While Corbyn could mount a #resistance movement like Hillary did, refusing to accept the Election, the media and Intelligence Agencies are arrayed against him much more like the situation with Trump.

    • Robert
      December 16, 2019 at 13:07

      @John Chuckman

      Correct. Trump has been described by professionals as either a narcissist, a malignant narcissist, a narcissistic psychopath or a psychopath.

      Johnson displays many of the characteristics of a narcissist – lying, manipulative, charming, grandiose (£250,000 salary ‘chicken-feed’) and mask-wearing (an ex-girlfriend said he disliked parties, was remote and had few friends).

      So a malignant narcissist supports a narcissist.

  8. John Pretty
    December 15, 2019 at 07:54

    Whenever I read Craig Murray these days I quickly remind myself that probably his sole agenda is the foundation of a Scottish republic and most all of his energies are directed towards that aim.

    And that’s fine. Like Murray I was born in England and have one Scottish parent and one English parent. If I now lived in Scotland as Murray does I might well too vote for independence (though not necessarily for a Scottish republic). But I cannot help now but view his writing as slanted to reflect his political ambition.

    The writing on his blog is often peppered with a visceral hatred of the United Kingdom and the monarchy. Murray’s open contempt for the United Kingdom has in fact reduced my enthusiasm for Scottish independence, but not removed it altogether.

    I spoke to my (Scottish) mother on Thursday. I don’t know her personal views on independence for Scotland, but she reminded me that support for independence has generally stood at only around 45% (I think Murray would dispute this figure, but it cannot be too far wide of the mark in my opinion) and that the Scottish people benefit from free higher education and provision of healthcare for the elderly. Privileges that the average Englishman can only dream of. In speaking to relatives in Scotland I find mixed views on the issue. Some are for independence and some against. It’s not as cut and dried as Murray would like it to be.

    I don’t care for Johnson and I voted remain. However, in taking part in the vote I now believe that I legitimised the result. And those wishing to leave the European Union won the vote. As George Galloway – correctly in my view – pointed out some time ago, Corbyn made a fatal error for Labour in failing to guarantee Brexit.

    And as Scotland is (whether Murray likes it or not) still currently a part of the United Kingdom it will have to leave along with the rest of the country when the time comes. Despite voting to remain I do not share the fatalism of many remain voters. There is much wrong with the European Union. A friend who works as a translator in the European Parliament has confirmed this view.

    I don’t care for Johnson, and I would not vote Conservative, but I think it is far too early to say whether or not his administration will prove a successful one in the eyes of the electorate.

    Sadly, this Conservative victory is not good news for Julian Assange who may have fared better with Corbyn as PM. Corbyn had expressed some support for Assange and may have freed him. It is the Conservative British government that is holding Julian on behalf of the Americans and not the state and in my opinion it is to them that supporters of Julian must direct their energies.

  9. Eugenie Basile
    December 15, 2019 at 05:10

    Why do I get the impression that this article is more of an emotional rant predicting gloom and doom than a well formulated argumentation about why the promises made cannot be fulfilled ?
    For example I am not at all convinced Scotland will automatically be accepted as a new EU member state … It doesn’t fulfill the financial criteria and has only its fishing waters to offer. The UK as the second largest net contributor to EU budget ( 10 Bln € ) is leaving and will be replaced by a new net receiving member. No way …
    Another referendum in Scotland will bring only divisiveness and uncertainty, just like the Brexit referendum has done.

  10. Donald Duck
    December 15, 2019 at 04:04

    Yeah, like the EU is some sort of social-democratic paradise. Tell that to the Greeks, the Irish, the Latvians, the Poles the Hungarians, the Italians. The EU is a neo-liberal juggernaut run by non-elected cliques who were never voted into power. The EU is also the civilian wing of NATO. Countries like Switzerland and Iceland had the good sense to stay clear of the EU’s suffocating embrace. That is why Labour lost.

  11. T.S.
    December 15, 2019 at 04:02

    The best chance for independance will be declaring it befor a deal between UK and the EU is signed. If Scotland declares its independance from the UK and at the same time files for EU membership, the EU cannot sign any deal with Boris unless he accepts Scotish independance. Otherwise there will be no deal and the UK will have to leave under WTO conditions, until they accept Scotish independance. The main driver in Brussels is to protect the ingegrity of the union. Not supporting a pro EU seggregation would be dangerous to the EU and show a weakness that cannot be alowed.
    Once the UK leaves the union it cannot veto against Scotland becoming a member again.
    It is up to the Scotish to decide wether they want to be free folk or bend their knee to the south.
    The only thing that stands between independance is wether they dare or not.

  12. Daniel Fry
    December 14, 2019 at 18:42

    Congrats Brexiteers!! You seemingly swallowed a known buffoon liar’s *single election promise*.
    In return you traded away your NHS, social security (or what is left of both) public infrastructure, embraced more austerity, authoritarianism via the police surveillance state, cheered for more tax cuts for the uber rich, support the ongoing genocide in yemen and palestine and leave an innocent journalist rotting away in solitary confinement at belmarsh prison. That is only for a start.
    I will laugh so much if you’ve been duped, and are still waiting for your soft or hard brexit in 4 years time given how ‘election promises go’ because that is what you deserve.
    That said, Corbyn was never going to be allowed to be a PM by your *ruling owners* anyhow, so blaming just the voters alone would be seriously unjust.

    • December 15, 2019 at 01:02

      Like Trump the labor party got what it deserves for ignoring the suffering of the working class.

      Trump was a big stiff middle finger to the whole system as was the U.K. vote.

    • Eugenie Basile
      December 15, 2019 at 04:50

      Your reaction reminds me of the DNC in 2016. You poor people ( deplorable ) will now suffer because you voted for the bad guy. Verdict : guilty until proven innocent !

    • michael
      December 16, 2019 at 07:43

      As with Trump, the Establishment and their politicians have refused to allow policies and BREXIT to happen 3 1/2 years after the Voting. There is too much RICH people’s money at stake! The Establishment is basically saying “We don’t like the Results and Refuse to recognize them!” The majority of people in both countries are desperate for change. Maybe they’ll follow the lead of the French who are attacking the neoliberal Macron by shutting down industry and hurting profits? Hitting the pocketbooks is the only way to get the Neoliberal Establishment’s attention.

  13. Dennis
    December 14, 2019 at 16:28

    Sour grapes

    • DGC
      December 14, 2019 at 16:58

      Compared to a lack of foresight.

Comments are closed.