Wins built by making honesty the real loser

It may seem churlish to begin consideration of the spectacular Tory election victory in Washington but it seems unavoidable.

Wins built by making honesty the real loser

It may seem churlish to begin consideration of the spectacular Tory election victory in Washington but it seems unavoidable.

The first lesson President Donald Trump, and earlier as a candidate, offered the world is that honesty is absolutely irrelevant in electioneering.

Like brandy butter with plum pudding, it enhances but it is not essential.

Trump uses lies as freely as he uses hairspray and does so without compunction.

This offended some American Republicans but not enough to make a real difference.

However, Trump’s normalisation of lying as a political tool has become so complete, so pervasive, that American political debate has been utterly debased and rendered almost pointless.

How, after all, can you challenge an opponent who does not have a fixed position on anything?

Where once there might have been an attempt at intellectual rigour, that nicety has been cast aside.

It is no longer necessary to win hearts and minds, the heart will do; emotion is everything.

Democrats around the world would be very foolish to dismiss this corruption, to pretend it cannot reach them as it has reached Britain.

It would be unfair to suggest that Boris Johnson is a pupil of Trump because he has, over a colourful career, never felt constrained by the obligations of honesty.

He always had an active genius for invention. Trump, though, showed Johnson and his inner circle that if you have a version of “Make America Great Again”, you can transcend probity and pluck at an angry the electorate’s heartstrings with great success.

Johnson’s “Get Brexit Done” filled that role even if the slogan is as fatuous as that of Trump. It endorses the template even if the prospect of making America great again remains as remote as getting Brexit done.

Shameless as Johnson’s dishonesty has been over the last three years, it pales almost into irrelevance compared to the dishonesty, though of a very different kind, of Britain’s Labour Party.

It has been obvious for a number of years that Jeremy Corbyn would never be elected prime minister.

There are many reasons for this, all of them now irrelevant. What is relevant, and what will leave a scar for years to come, is that Labour’s hubris sustained Corbyn’s doomed leadership, gifting the Tories a priceless advantage.

Labour’s natural constituency was abandoned, thrown to the wolves of the most right-wing government elected in Britain in a generation.

Brexit and Corbyn have left Labour deeply divided and recovery and reunification are not guaranteed.

Their former blue-collar supporters’ prospects are hardly cheering either. The same challenge to become relevant again faces the Democratic Unionist Party.

Arlene Foster’s party lost two seats — including Commons leader Nigel Dodds. He has been, after a particularly nasty DUP campaign, replaced by Sinn Féin’s John Finucane.

Not so very long ago the DUP were cock o’ the Westminster walk but now they are irrelevant castaways and, unsurprisingly, the in-fighting has begun.

Jeffrey Donaldson has declined to back the party leader. It must mean something significant that the reaction south of the border to the DUP’s difficulties is of a very different hue to what it might have been 30 years ago.

Then, unionism’s bloody nose would have been celebrated, even if quietly, but any pleasure taken in this week’s result is because social fundamentalists are losing their grip on Northern society just as they have in the Republic.

Social progress and evolution seems unstoppable even in the Wee North.

A strengthened Sinn Féin, hopefully, will not press for an early border poll on foot of this result.

One is, like a second Scottish independence vote, inevitable but a mistimed, premature vote would be disastrous for this island.

The DUP’s reduced circumstances and Sinn Féin’s stronger hand should see Stormont disinterred in time to minimise Brexit disruption.

That would be at least one positive outcome from this Conservative conquest.

Brexit was, of course, the defining issue and even if it is a slight exaggeration to suggest that cause is just a Trojan horse for a renewed, autocratic, right-wing conservatism, it is not too far-fetched a case to argue.

Despite that, EU leaders have expressed cautious optimism that Johnson might revert to the idea of a close economic relationship with the bloc.

That would be good news for our economy as it might, finally, put to rest controversy over renewed borders. However, it is impossible to predict timescales.

That is no longer the case with our own election. Johnson’s victory means we will go to the polls in the immediate future.

Hopefully, shameless dishonesty will not play a comparable role in that campaign.

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