The Suspect becomes the Convict, but the ‘Lion of Kyiv’ is sure to keep lying

John Crace

Boris Johnson seemed to blame the police for not having interpreted the law in his favour. Photograph: Marc Ward/PA

John Crace of “The Guardian” is usually good, but this one of his is worth preserving . . .


Tue 12 Apr 2022 20.35 BST

It had all been going so well. After his successful, surprise weekend trip to Ukraine, Boris Johnson had been enjoying his newfound status as “The Lion of Kyiv” during a few days off at Chequers. Then had come the news that the Metropolitan police had now issued more than 50 fixed penalty notices (FPN). And that’s before they had even got to work on the really serious parties. If only he had put the ruthless and forensic Christopher Geidt in charge of the investigation. Then no one would have been any the wiser about any of the parties.

Not that there had been any parties. The Suspect had always been very clear about this. In as much as he had ever been very clear about anything. First he had told parliament that he had been as furious as the rest of the country that staff at No 10 could have been having parties that he knew nothing about. Then, when it had emerged he had actually attended most of the parties he knew nothing about, he had said that he hadn’t been aware that the parties were parties. Because the presence of cakes, booze, trestle tables laden with food and empties littering the flowerbeds weren’t much of a clue.

Round about lunchtime, things got a whole lot worse when Johnson discovered that he was one of the crims to be given an FPN. The Suspect was no longer the Suspect. He was the Convict. It was outrageous. Just because he had passed the law forbidding everyone from meeting up during lockdown, there was no reason to imagine that he was expected to obey the rules. Those had only been for the Little People. The suckers. Narcissists like Johnson got to do as they chose. Theirs was a life governed by their own own exceptionalism.

It hadn’t helped that Carrie had also been given a FPN. Wilfred and Romy would just have to get used to the fact that both their parents were criminals. And he’d have to find out if Lulu Lytle had also been fined as she would be sure to add it to her bill. As it was she deserved a £10,000 fine for crimes against interior design. Not that he would be paying hers or anybody else’s, of course. Least of all his own. That’s what David Brownlow was for.

The only upside was that Rishi Sunak had also been issued with an FPN. The chancellor had been in tears when he had phoned. “What shall I do?” he sobbed. “Just pay it,” the Convict had replied. “It’s alright for you. You’ve got loads of dosh. You can afford it. And you’ll probably find a way to offset it against tax in whatever country – Mauritius, is it? – your family files their returns.”

Sunak had then gone on to have a meltdown about having lied to parliament about not having been to a party. What a baby. “I was categoric about it,” he had said. Whatevs. Personally, the Convict couldn’t see what was so bad about having deliberately misled parliament. It was the sort of thing that he did the whole time and none of the Tory MPs seemed that bothered about it. He’d always found that the best way of getting out of a lie was to double down with an even bigger lie. And if that didn’t work, just keep lying until people got bored.

But if Rishi wanted to make a martyr of himself – imagine the absurdity of a cabinet minister being expected to have some principles! – then he could be his guest. The chancellor could learn the hard way that Johnson had the knack of invariably dragging anyone close to him down to his level in the end. As for the Convict, he wasn’t going anywhere.

Instead he would let some of his useful idiots fill the void. Thank God for Michael Fabricant and Nadine Dorries. While other Tory MPs and cabinet ministers were totally silent – it was as if the Conservative party was totally paralysed with indecision: it’s not every day your leader makes history by being the first prime minister to be found guilty of breaking his own laws. And while MPs knew he ought to resign they didn’t dare to be the first to suggest it as there were no obvious alternatives – these two alone held the fort.

Micky F managed to insult every doctor and nurse by suggesting they had spent most of lockdown pissed while Nad had basically restated Boris’s divine right to do what the fuck he liked. Nadine was a trooper. Even if Boris killed someone she would find a way of making it the victim’s fault.

But come 6pm the Convict was ready to record a short television clip. He was deeply apologetic, he said. Though he didn’t sound like it. Rather, as he toyed with the Toddler haircut, he seemed to blame the police for not having interpreted the law in his favour. In BorisWorld, ignorance of the law is a valid excuse, it seems. Johnson just wanted to move on. It would be wrong to resign now because of Ukraine. Though arguably the UK needed a leader with a strong moral compass more than ever these days. And it wasn’t as if the UK didn’t have a track record of replacing leaders during wartime. Not that we are at war.

Johnson was markedly less comfortable when facing questions. Could everyone just forget about the fact that he had lied so many times he had forgotten what he had lied about and broken his own rules on multiple occasions, he begged. After all, he had lied in good faith because he had really, really believed his own lies. Honest. And if we could just ignore the fact he is totally untrustworthy, he would get on with not dealing with the cost of living and energy crisis.

I mean, he’d only been to a party for nine minutes: it’s going down all the time. Before too long he won’t have been to it – so surely that didn’t count. Well, fine. Then what excuses would the Convict come up with when he was fined in the future for attending those parties that went on for hours and where everyone got thoroughly shitfaced. The other parties that Johnson insisted never took place. Boris shook his head. He would lie about that as and when the need arose.

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EFRA Report . . .Don’t mention the “B” word

I post the above for the reader to draw his or her own conclusions. My own observations are that it is interesting that a House of Commons Committee has used the word “Brexit” throughout when Boris has explicitly said he doesn’t want it mentioned – and that this has been published while the House is in its Easter recess, so no doubt the Cabinet are hoping that it will get very little publicity, and will be forgotten by the time the House reassembles.

The full report is here.

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Uncomfortable Reading . . .

I am currently reading “The Good Germans, Resisting the Nazis, 1933 – 1945” by Catrine Clay. I am ¾ of the way through and am having a short rest break. She describes very well the way in which the NSDAP achieved a firstly, place in Government and then speedily, absolute power, and the increasingly onerous and hostile measures they put in place against their perceived opponents among their own people, and of course, the Jewish people simply for being Jewish. At first the members of other political parties and those with no particular interest in politics thought that life would go on as usual, political debate and activity would carry on and the normal way of life would be as before. But as soon as the NSDAP achieved power in January 1933 they set about organising concentration camps, the first of which was up and running in March of the same year. Political parties other than the NSDAP were soon proscribed and their members began to be arrested and “disappeared”.

People who had been against Hitler and the NSDAP from the start soon realised that they must keep their opinions to themselves, and as time went on, many joined the party and outwardly became Nazis (an abbreviation of the full title of the NSDAP) in order to keep their jobs and their businesses going. As the Nazi rule tightened its grip, so people who would never have thought of actively resisting their Government found themselves convinced that there was no other way of getting rid of them except by some sort of action. The author discusses and describes the dilemmas of such people as they found themselves driven to contemplate violence of one sort or another including for some, the assassination of Hitler himself. She does so by following the individual lives of some very different Germans through the period in question.

I have had to pause my reading several times as the parallels between the Germany of the 1930s and 40s under Hitler and the America of recent history under Trump, the lies and disinformation of the Conservative Party in this country since 2016, and now, of course, the extraordinary statements and actions coming out of Russia in its attack on Ukraine become all too plain and horribly relevant, and very painful to someone of my age who lived through the Nazi era. The dilemma remains, and anyone reading the pages of Twitter can see it being acted out. Hatred of the Conservative Government in this country is repeatedly expressed, and people ask over and over again, “What can we do ?” and are made to realise that the answer is “nothing” until there is a General Election (under a non representative electoral system), unless civil disobedience and its accompanying violence and destruction of property is invoked. We have seen a failed attempt to take over the White House by illegal means in the USA, driven by Trump, and Russia is currently pursuing a policy of “lebensraum” against Ukraine, but without the easy walk overs of Hitler in Austria and the Sudetenland.

It is a book (there are others too) which needs to be read more widely in today’s UK if only to open people’s eyes to the situation in which they are living. But that sort of reading is, I think, a minority activity today, and the media which could warn people is either too timid, or unaware, or controlled by the hostile interests themselves.

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Ukraine . . .

In my experience so far, the best way to keep up to date with the situation in the Ukraine is two fold. The first is to install Telegram Messenger on your mobile phone (assuming that you have one) and also it counterpart on your laptop or computer. Then you can join “Ukraine Now – English” and “Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine” which is the Parliament of Ukraine. Through these two channels you get news from the mobile phone cameras of local people and also from official sources. And it is noticeable how non propaganderish the official sources are.

The second way is to be on Twitter and to find and follow the various Ukrainian citizens on there, and also the journalists working in Ukraine or outside Ukraine but specialising in Ukrainian affairs. I think what you get from these sources, filtered though your own judgement is much better than the BBC and the newspapers. The paper I read, The Guardian, often publishes photos which are by then, several days out of date.

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The Poor Side of Life . . .

Charlotte Hughes is back on her old beat outside Ashton-under-Lyne job centre and has written one of her trenchant posts about it. As I came across this I also came across Twitter posts about Suella Braverman getting angry at some suggestion that the Tories are inhumane. No comment.

Charlotte Hughes has also branched out on to Facebook

The link to Charlotte’s blog is also over on the right hand side of this page in the menu under “Essential Reading”.

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Old News and New News . . .

Self – Isolation

The old news is that on this day in March 2020 we heard that people should start to keep themselves to themselves so as to hinder the spread of Covid 19. Thus began what became known as “self islation” and we have more or less stayed that way ever since. We do go out in the car from time to time, but apart from buying petrol – very little over two years – or going to the health centre or some other necessary destination, we have spoken to very few people in that time, and our explorations of our new home have been stopped. When you are in your late eighties two years wasted time is a great disappointment. Now we are in the curious situation that there is a new virus variant BA2 in circulation, it is much more easily transmitted from person to person than any version before, hospital admissions have shot up and the NHS is once again in trouble. The only saving grace of sorts is that for those vaccinated and boosted, the effects of the illness seem to be comparatively mild. But the UK Government, followed by the devolved assemblies, are removing the Covid restrictions as of next week, mixing of people is on the up, with the results already described. Two years ago there was much talk of “herd immunity” – it seems now that this is back even though it is not mentioned by that name, and the vaccination programme is the thing which has to some extent at least brought it about.

Linux.

Zorin

Today I heard for the first time, I think, of a Linux Operating system by the name of Zorin. I downloaded the .iso file, tried it, was pleasantly surprised, and so installed it. And here I am posting away on that very system. I you read this blog you are up there amongst the cutting edge stuff ! Its only downside is that its logo is a capital Z, which looks uncomfortably like the Z on the Russian vehicles invading Ukraine.

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Back to the Dentist after two years . . .

Today I went down to the Dentist for the first time in two years. The Hygienist dug out the plaque first and then the Dentist examined my teeth, mouth tissues and neck tissues. I apparently passed all the tests satisfactorily. In the town I saw three Unrainian flags flying, and I commiserated with the Dentist who is a Romanian lady over the fact that Romania and Ukraine are so close.

As I opened the car door I saw lying in the gutter a bright, shiny, new looking £1 coin which I gave to the Receptionist and which she put in their charity box.

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War . . .

❗️❗️❗️In Irpin, russian military with numerous shots murdered a ‘New York Times’ journalist.
This was announced by Kyiv Police Chief Andriy Nebytov. A 51-year-old New York Times correspondent was killed in a shelling.
According to photos, American videographer Brent Renaud was killed.
Another journalist was injured. They are trying to get him out of the combat zone.
Verified

What a rum war this is.

When I was a boy we were in the Second World War. We would switch on the wireless to listen to the news on the BBC and would hear that German aircraft had “bombed towns in the north of England”. There were no more details than that because it was thought that it would be telling the Germans whether their raid had been successful and whether they had hit the right places.

Now, with this war in Ukraine we not only know where the raid took place but we can see pictures of the building or buildings that were hit – and sometimes the corpses of the victims.

Nor do we wait for the news broadcasts. I have “Telegram” on my mobile phone and laptop and via the feed ‘Ukraine Now’ in English and from the Ukraine Parliament ,’Verkhovna Rada‘, I get the news, pictures and videos in real time.

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Ukraine

Ukraine – Source : Google Maps

I have nothing new or exciting to say about the situation in Ukraine. I am one of those who still think of it as as “The Ukraine” because that is how it was referred to in my youth – a bit like “The New Forest” – but I take it that since the country declared its independence it is not longer just an area of Russia (Russia’s breadbasket once), and before that, the USSR and that is what the quarrel is about.

The interesting thing to me about this war (for a war it is) is the way in which the conventional news channels have become less relevant despite their efforts to maintain correspondents on site. The news reporter now is the ordinary citizen with his or her mobile phone (and it is noticeable how many “hers” there are as the menfolk are busy doing other things). Also noticeable, and remarkable, and very clever, is the way in which President Zelensky talks directly to the world, but also various members of the Ukrainian Parliament (Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine). They are better in many ways, as by following them on a social media channel such as “Telegram” you can get the news as it happens. There is much here that our own politicians, Government, Institutions, and local councils could learn if they had the will to do so.

The only other comments I would offer at this stage are, firstly, that Putin’s so called operation to free Ukraine from its “nationalistic oppressors” seems to have degenerated rapidly into a very bad tempered racist extermination programme. Ukrainians – all of them – are bad people precisely because they call themselves Ukrainians. I have read suggestions that Putin may be suffering from an illness or illnesses, but the viciousness and vindictiveness of his current actions are more like the behaviour of a mentally unhinged individual.

Secondly, the great efflux of now homeless refugees needs a strong international response. Other countries in Europe seem to be opening their doors, and individuals are coming forward offering accommodation. We, the UK, with our very own vicious politician, Mrs. Priti Patel, at the Home office, seem to be doing very little at all. Johnson, as usual, claims that no other country has ever responded like we have, which is true, but in the opposite sense to that which Johnson intends – and nothing which he says ought to be believed anyway. Patel, as Home Secretary, makes statements in the House of Commons which then seem to be contradicted or negated by pronouncements from the Home Office itself. So the refugee situation as far as the UK is concerned is a shambles and a shame making disgrace. There need to be special, rapidly instituted, emergency arrangements to get these refugees across Europe and into the UK as fast as possible. Temporary accommodation can be put up up quickly, and welfare arrangements made. This is where the old WVS, now the RVS, used to excel – but maybe they are a shadow of their former selves now and not able to do it. But I am sure that military personnel and civilian volunteers would come forward if only they were asked.

And, thirdly, we know that there is Russian money awash in parts of our society, and that many of our MPs have received money from these sources – sometimes considerable amounts of it. See especially below, Brandon Lewis, £62,500 !

Russian Money Payments – Source : Twitter – individual payment sources shown alongside names, but unfortunately truncated.

To what extent are our MPs and thus national affairs controlled or dictated by Russian money and the Russian Government under Putin ? Carol Cadwalladr has done much to unravel this, but of course the main stream media avoid it like the plague. One wonders how much MI5 and MI6 know about what is going on, but once corruption seeps in it is hard to know who is not bona fide, and who is not ? My own feeling is that much of what we have seen over the last 6 years, in and from the Government as such, from individual MPs (always Conservative), and from groups such as the mysterious ERG, can all be explained by the thesis that Russian money is buying their services and dictating what they say and do. I hope I am eventually proved wrong, but I suspect that I will not live to see the denouement.

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Linux Mint LMDE . . .

I have been running this laptop on Linux Mint Cinnamon for some considerable time now – that is considerable in modern computer language terms – and find it to be very good and in many ways better than Windows. An article in Computeractive Magazine told how Microsoft themselves were advising Windows users to make sure that their computer was switched on for at least 8 hours continuously on order to ensure that it picked up the latest updates – a minimum of 2 hours to get the update and then 6 connected hours to “reliably update”. I think this is terrible, and the magazine is obviously not impressed either as it asks its readers to let them know whether they regularly spend eight hours online uninterrupted ? And, of course, there is the great Windows 11 affair where many people (of whom I am one) find that their computer is not able to update to the new operating system – or that if it will update despite not being technically up to speed, the users may find things breaking down later on. I, personally, think that Microsoft needs its bottom spanked and being sent to bed with no supper, until it repents itself of its anti-consumer sins and comes to its senses.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Linux Mint are busy developing a version of their operating system based on Debian Linux instead of Ubuntu in case, as they say, Ubuntu ever becomes unavailable. It is snappily called, Linux Mint LMDE (ie : Linux Mint Debian) and is currently available for download in a beta version. So, game to the last, I have done just that, tried it out for a few days without hitting any snags, and have now installed it as the operating system for this laptop. So far, so good, I have not met any problems, there are minor differences here and there but they do not affect the user, and the Software manager seems to have all the same programmes on offer that it did when a Ubuntu derivative.

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