Even if you accept this view of international relations, these tweets suggest an extraordinary contempt for democratic government at home. Let's take a couple of examples. [Thread]
"Nobody ... incl the PM thought there wd be a US deal".

But Johnson repeatedly told voters that Britain was "first in line" for "a fantastic trade deal". The 2019 manifesto promised a wave of deals "starting with the USA".

If Cummings is right, voters were misled.
"We intended to ditch bits we didn't like".

No one told British voters that. The 2019 manifesto insisted that "we have a great new deal that is ready to go", which would "get Brexit done", secure "friendly relations" with the EU and let the country "move on".

Was that not true?
"I always intended an IM Bill after we won a majority".

But you didn't plan to tell the electorate that before they provided that majority?

It’s as if elections are just some obstacle to be navigated, before getting on with the serious business of government.
The idea that "cheating foreigners is a core part of the job" is bad enough.

The idea that cheating *the electorate* is part of the job is worse.

This isn't just a grim view of diplomacy. It's a grim view of democracy.

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More from @redhistorian

7 Aug
This thread highlights a key difference between the US & UK. The UK doesn't have a respectable political tradition, like "republicanism", that can be pitted against "democracy". So authoritarianism has to justify itself in democratic terms, as expressing "the will of the people".
When people talk about the end of "democracy" in Britain, what they usually mean is a shift from "liberal", "parliamentary" & "pluralist" democracy to an "authoritarian" & "executive" version, in which "the people" speak with a single voice & critics are "enemies of the people".
Authoritarianism in Britain invariably comes in democratic clothing: as defending "the will of the people" against "unelected judges", "Remainer Parliaments" "metropolitan elites" and other obstacles to an elected government, pursuing "the people's priorities".
Read 4 tweets
3 Aug
It's often said that Britain relies on a "good chaps theory of government": that the British constitution only works if operated by "good chaps", who choose to obey the rules.

I think that's wrong. Here's why.

My latest for @prospect_uk [Excerpts follow] prospectmagazine.co.uk/politics/has-t…
"Far from trusting politicians to be “good chaps,” British politics was once on a hair-trigger for bad or unconstitutional behaviour". As Lord Acton put it in 1887, “Great men are almost always bad men”. And the presumption of wrongdoing should “increase as the power increases”.
"The problem today is not that leaders have ceased to be “good chaps,” but that we no longer seem to care when they behave badly". We have lost our sense that "bad chaps" matter: and that it is our responsibility to police their conduct.
Read 6 tweets
2 Aug
This article, on the repeal of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, raises a question that needs more public discussion: who wields the historic powers of the Crown once the monarchy is no longer politically active? Should there be *any* limit on their use by a prime minister? THREAD
2. Some of the highest powers of the British state still technically belong to the Crown: from declaring war & making treaties to suspending Parliament. Those powers are now exercised "on the advice of the PM". But they do not *belong* to the PM, & might, in theory, be withheld.
3.For example: the 1950 "Lascelles Principles" set out three conditions under which a monarch might refuse to dissolve Parliament (a "Royal Prerogative" pre-2011). Others might include "when the Oppn is in the middle of a leadership contest" or "when electoral fraud is suspected"
Read 13 tweets
26 Jul
"The politics of support have trumped the politics of power to such an extent that the Conservative Party has broken with almost everything it might once have seemed to be its function to defend". Richard Vinen on "The Conservative Nation" since 1974. onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.11…
Lots to think about in this essay. How did the "politics of support" go from being a vehicle for "the politics of power" to subsuming it altogether? A leadership class drawn from PR/the media, with very short careers & little prior experience of govt, must be important here.
Or is it inevitable in democracies - in which "power" depends on the organisation of electoral "support" - that the boundary between them will eventually collapse: that parties will stop thinking of campaigning as a means to power & start regarding govt as a tool for campaigning?
Read 7 tweets
22 Jul
Lying to Parliament was once thought to be among the most serious offences any Member could commit. That's why the *allegation* of lying was treated with such severity.

Now that the sanction against lying has collapsed, punishing the allegation simply protects the offender.
A culture in which ministers can lie with impunity, while MPs are punished for calling them out, is manifestly absurd. If the House will not punish dishonesty - which would be the best solution - it must stop pretending it never happens.
Above all, our democracy needs to stop treating those who lie as roguish scamps, scrumping apples from the orchard. To quote @OborneTweets, "political lying is a form of theft. It means voters make democratic judgments on the basis of falsehoods. Their rights are stripped away".
Read 4 tweets
13 Jul
"No prime minister of modern times has been so deeply rooted in the Establishment. None has been so routinely tipped for greatness. And yet few retain such an enduring air of mystery".

My profile of David Cameron, who left office five years ago today. gladstonediaries.blogspot.com/2016/06/the-ca…
Comparisons between Blair and Cameron were always overblown. Unlike the Labour leader, Cameron was not temperamentally drawn to change.
"Cameron had secured for his party "the right to be heard". But having cleared its throat and stepped up to the microphone, it appeared to have nothing much to say". It was the financial crisis of 2008 that was to give Cameronism the purpose it had previously lacked.
Read 7 tweets

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