Sympathy for de Pfeffel

I have seen many pleas like this in recent days: Whatever your politics, have sympathy for Boris Johnson, he is after all just a human being like anyone else. 

Indeed, humanity and sympathy ought to be above base party politics. But look to whom you are offering your politics-free sympathy: 

This man supported DWP policies that have killed perhaps 130,000 of his fellow citizens. 

In the ten years his party has been in power, thousands of rough sleepers have died on the streets as his party put them there and then closed the support services that might have protected them. This man’s cynical careering led Britain out of the EU on a campaign of lies and manipulation, diminishing the life-opportunities of everyone in the country, while turning the place into an unregulated financial refuge for his entitled tribe. 

He comes from a bubble of privilege in which nepotism, self-interest and fucking dead pigs are the norm. 

He is an active part of an international trend that has brought us Trump, Erdogan, Bolsonar, Orban, Duterte, Modi and many others. 

He has trumpeted concern for environmental degradation while awarding lucrative licenses to the fossil fuel industry and blocking any legislation that might control the damage industry is doing to the planet. 

He is a hypocrite, making crisis announcements from a podium inscribed with pleas to protect a health service he and his kind have run into the ground ahead of selling to foreign buyers. 

He is a proven liar, racist, and philanderer. 

The crowning irony is that just a few weeks ago he was championing a government policy of herd immunity, which would have seen many thousands of people suffer or die of the same disease that now threatens his life. 

Now, in another illustration of the inequality with which his kind has infected Britain, it is certain he is receiving a level of medical care that is unavailable to the herd.

The market-fundamentalist/neoliberal ideology promoted by his party has caused inequality and insecurity on levels not seen since the early 20th century; the richest people in Britain have multiplied their wealth by a factor of about 10 in the last ten years while millions get by with food banks, zero-hour contracts, and Victorian working practices.

Demanding sympathy ‘whatever your politics’ is itself political, it asks for validation of for the harm he and his kind have done to the world. Political differences are not like supporting different sports teams, where ‘well-played’ and sporting prowess surmount tribal differences. Ideologies have the power to wreck lives or make them. 

Wishing Johnson well is like hoping Joseph Mengele gets over his nasty cold because, even though some people think his medical experiments are a bit controversial, at the end of the day he does work hard and he is a family man.

I do not wish suffering or death on anyone. That would be barbaric. So how about: ‘whatever your politics, you should condemn inhumanity.’ That’s a good sentiment, is it not? Can we try that? 

About chrispagefiction

Author of the novels Another Perfect Day in ****ing Paradise, Sanctioned, Weed, King of the Undies World, The Underpants Tree, and the story collection Un-Tall Tales. Editor, freelance writer, occasional cartoonist, graphic designer, and all that stuff. At heart he is a London person, but the rest of his body is in long-term exile in Osaka, Japan.
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