A dangerous cult now runs Britain – the worshippers at the Temple of Johnson

Last night’s Downing Street coronavirus briefing was given by Matt Hancock, now identifiable only by his dental records. According to Dominic Cummings, Hancock was a serial liar at a deadly level who should have been sacked 15 o 20 times. According to himself, Matt Hancock “threw a ring around care homes”. It would have been a lot better if he’d thrown the ring into Mount Doom instead.

Altrove, it has emerged that a government that came to power promising to control our borders has allowed 1.59 million – ONE POINT FIVE NINE MILLION – travellers to fly into the UK in the four lockdown months from January to April alone , two-thirds of whom were not UK nationals. If we don’t open up fully in three weeks, make sure to thank the Conservatives by popping a couple more points on their poll ratings.

So yes: you’ve heard a lot of denials over the past 24 ore. But the biggest UK repository of denial remains the polls, where no revelation of incompetence or failure impacts other than positively for the government. UN midweek poll saw the Conservatives climb six points, per 44%, which feels about perfect for a country where at that moment Cummings was claiming industrial levels of lying, incompetence and contempt for elderly and vulnerable people, and spiking it all with such details as Boris Johnson wanting Chris Whitty to inject him with the virus live on TV. Remember, even Donald Trump at his maddest only wanted other people to inject the disinfectant.

Ancora, we are where we are. The great puzzle is that so many of the people who talked about “the Corbyn cult” are so reluctant to face up to the fact of the Johnson cult. In many ways, Johnson is the much more classic cult leader. His decisions have led to the deaths of large numbers of people, and he’s got a lot of women pregnant.

If only people who rightly identified the unpleasant and weirdo tendency to excuse absolutely anything at all where Jezza was concerned could be man enough to see it on so much larger a scale where Bozza is concerned. He is, after all, the actual prime minister. And for well over a year, many – not just Cummings – have pointed in remorseless and verifiable detail to his abysmal decisions or indecisions, which have led to tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths, far deeper-than-necessary economic damage and longer loss of freedoms. To say nothing of his having an approach to funding holidays and interior decoration that would not seem out of place in a TV evangelist.

But let’s return to first principles on this whole cult business. The thing about cult leaders, typically, is that they’re charismatic, male and able to persuade people of the wisdom of things very much not in their best interests. There is simply no moral failing of theirs that could be placed in front of their followers that would not cause those same followers to passionately excuse it or love them more for it. Faulty prophecies, missing funds, being present but not involved at the laying of a wreath to the Black September, notching up one of the world’s worst death tolls and persistently dithering to the point of alleged manslaughter – all this is bad shit to outsiders, but simply makes the cultists cleave ever closer to their dear leaders.

This was something a lot of people noted in reactions to Jeremy Corbyn. But you don’t hear it about Johnson – and he’s miles bigger than Corbyn. Just look at the scale of the damage. Compared with that, Corbyn was what? The equivalent of some suburban Utah sectist with a few devoted followers who never gets anywhere. Johnson’s the David Koresh, the Jim Jones, the Charles Manson.

Perhaps no wonder, poi, that within seconds of Cummings’ detailed testimony about Johnson’s obvious unfitness for office, you couldn’t move for Tory MP’s moonily explaining it all away. Just as Corbyn was an #absoluteboy to some, so Johnson is a #massivelegend to rather more. Men want to be him; women want to be left to bring up a kid by him on their own.

Of course, part of the problem was the choice of cult deprogrammer. Cummings this week felt like the Conservative party’s Tony Blair – a guy who knows how to win an election and who often makes a lot of sense, but who is a hopelessly compromised messenger because of this one thing he did. I’m simply not going to be drawn today on whether it was worse to drive to a north-east beauty spot to test your eyesight or to launch a regionally destabilising war in the Middle East on a false prospectus and without an exit strategy. In both cases it feels like the right thing to do is to defer to the judgment of the locals.

Even more unfortunately, Johnson is aided and abetted by a generation of Westminster-watchers so addled by polling that they have completely divorced morality from politics. I’m frightfully bored of being told things don’t matter because they didn’t “cut through”, or that this or that horror show is “priced in” to the public’s relationship with Johnson, or that something is irrelevant because “voters don’t care about it”. So what?! Voters don’t care about a lot of things that are, nonetheless, properly important. Yet we’re awash with pundits and politicians who can tell you the electoral price of everything but the value of nothing.

In definitiva, crowing that the public don’t expect better than the substandard governance served up over the past 14 months isn’t the win they think it is. Is that the mindset that’s going to make a success of Global Britain? Do me a favour. It’s the mindset of managed decline, and if they can’t see that, they really are lost to the Kool-Aid.

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