Tag: Boris Johnson

Boris, Racism, Imperialism, and “The Road to Mandalay”

Boris, Racism, Imperialism, and “The Road to Mandalay”

Prime Min­is­ters are always pop­u­lar tar­gets. Boris John­son, Britain’s new PM, wears the bulls­eye over there now. For every­thing from domes­tic squab­bling to “insen­si­tiv­i­ty” in recit­ing “The Road to Man­dalay” on a vis­it to Myan­mar (for­mer­ly known as Bur­ma). In the immor­tal words of Richard Nixon, let us say this about that.

* * * * * “I appoint­ed [Lord Roberts] Com­man­der-in-Chief in India when I was Sec­re­tary of State. That was the year I annexed Bur­ma. The place was in utter anar­chy. They were just butcher­ing one anoth­er. We had to step in, and very soon there was an ordered, civ­i­lized Gov­ern­ment under the vig­i­lant con­trol of the House of Com­mons.”…

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“The Respectable Tendency” and the New PM, 1940-2019

“The Respectable Tendency” and the New PM, 1940-2019

Anent the new PM

My friend Steve Hay­ward had the wit to para­phrase, in reac­tion to the arrival of Boris John­son at 10 Down­ing Street, some com­ments about anoth­er incom­ing PM, eighty years ago next May. “Cam­bridge Cute,” a friend remarked of Steve’s good piece.

Speak­ing of Cam­bridge Cuties, I imme­di­ate­ly thought of what Andrew Roberts described as “The Respectable Ten­den­cy,” the British estab­lish­ment, in his great book, Emi­nent Churchill­lians.  So I dug into a dozen books to find more of what they said back then. (Light­ly paraphrased.)

“Coup of the rabble…”

“Even whilst the new PM was still at Buck­ing­ham Palace kiss­ing hands, the junior pri­vate sec­re­tary and Chamberlain’s PPS, Lord Dun­glass [Alec Dou­glas-Home] had joined Rab But­ler and ‘Chips’ Chan­non at the For­eign Office.…

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Memo to Peggy Noonan and the WSJ: Churchill was NOT a drunk

Memo to Peggy Noonan and the WSJ: Churchill was NOT a drunk

On 15 June in the Wall Street Jour­nal opin­ion colum­nist Peg­gy Noo­nan wrote a per­cep­tive piece about the prospects and chal­lenges for Boris John­son as Britain’s new Prime Min­is­ter: “Eng­land Needs a Slap, and So Does Chi­na” (sor­ry, that link car­ries a paywall).

It was a good col­umn, say­ing essen­tial­ly what Britons of all stripes were say­ing to me on a recent visit.

“Talk to me about any­thing, except Brex­it.” “Right, we vot­ed, so let’s get on with it.” “We’re tired of plat­i­tudes and use­less debates.”  “Keep did­dling and we end up with Cor­byn.”…

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