Not sure I saw this coming…

I need to hold my hands up here, I suppose. It’s only a matter of days since I wrote a piece in which I stated my belief that people are not waking up.

Since then a couple of things have happened that mean I need to finesse my position, and maybe apply a little of the nation’s favourite post-hoc rationalisation.

So convinced was I that people are not waking up at all, I put money on the Tories to hang on in that by-election the other day. And boy did that not go the way I (or the bookies) expected.

Then, I had an enlightening conversation with an old friend. Let’s call her Kate.

Kate is the normiest of normies. BBC, Sky News, The Times, voted Tory for her entire life. She’s from a high-brow scientific background and works in a cutting-edge engineering field that is very much cheek-by-jowl with the government’s trade & industry people.

She wears her mask, had her jabs and clamoured for her booster, which she duly got.

She’s not a particularly political person, and not being steeped in the art and history of political debate, when such topics are broached, she tends to oscillate between shutting it down and vehemently parrotting whatever The Times is saying, which she considers – as the paper of record – to be a primary source.

I’ve had to defend myself more than once against inferences by her that I’m a conspiracy nut. We’ve all been there.

So I was rather blindsided by her statement last night that she was not at all surprised at the by-election result, and that as things stand she could never vote Tory again until Johnson goes. I was even more surprised by her statement that she no longer trusts the BBC to be fair, honest or impartial. She even spoke positively about the new opinion polls which are showing increasing resistance to further covid measures.

However, she bridled strongly against my assertion that the government has spent the last 2 years gaslighting us and taking us for total fucking idiots.

And so maybe this is the sort of awakening we are going to see. The one where Johnson and his government are a total disgrace and absolute shambles, who cannot be trusted, and the BBC has lost the dressing room, but still the masks work, the vaccines are vitally important and the hokey kokey everyone has enthusiastically partaken of for the last 2 years has been necessary and proportionate. But no more.

Kate has growing but scrupulously non-specific grievances with the ‘fucking incompetent’ government. Because if she were to get too specific, she’d have to start reasoning it through and the conclusion that she’s been made an idiot out of would be unavoidable.

Thus, as I did actually predict, people will find a way out of this that involves blaming someone (e.g. Johnson & the Tories, the vaccine-free, the BBC) and completely avoiding having to confront their own displays of cowardice, credulity, bigotry, cruelty and magical thinking.

I suppose I should be grateful that, as the people of North Shropshire demonstrated in historically significant terms, the people are taking out their anger on the right target. The Tories lost what should have been one of the safest seats in the country. and pro-lockdown Labour also took a pretty massive kicking compared to the last election.

As the Sounding Board lads point out in their latest podcast, on this occasion, it’s possible that the Lib Dems picked up this seat not just because they were the default protest vote, but because they actually opposed vaccine passports and voted against the restrictions that Johnson’s govt pushed through this week only with Labour support.

The best, clearest summary of where we are, what the nature of the factions is and what it suggests for the future are in this brilliant talk from a guy on YouTube who calls himself Coach RedPill. It’s US-centric, but it absolutely applies here in the UK.

It is a long video, but the meat we are interested in is covered over about the first two hours. It’s very thoughtful, carefully constructed analysis. Well worth a listen.

AJ

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