Transpartisan Note #121
by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner
New York Times writer, Richard Seymore, in his op-ed Brexit Has Arrived, But Boris Johnson’s Reign Is Just Beginning, offers a glimpse of the left/right amalgamation that drove England out of the EU, propelled Boris Johnson into a “Conservative” Parliamentary majority (by “borrowing” traditionally labor votes), and secured promises, and even some action, on some of Labour Party’s strongest held positions, such as expanding funding to the National Health Service.
But by fulfilling his pledge, Seymore writes, Mr. Johnson has won enormous good will from nationalist voters across England and Wales. Outside the European Union, he will also have more scope to change the British government’s role in the economy. This gives him a unique opportunity to do what his predecessors could not: build a lasting popular base for the Conservative Party. Mr. Johnson can now take advantage of his big majority to overhaul British capitalism, incentivizing long-term Conservative voters while permanently annexing chunks of the Labour Party’s historic base.
This article, written on January 31st, Brexit Day – the day England left the European Union – states, with his signature campaign promise fulfilled, “the prime minister can now reshape Britain for a generation.” But Seymore cautions us to remember who Boris Johnson is:
Mr. Johnson is not a nationalist by conviction. He is the epitome of the “reckless opportunists” that, as the sociologist Aeron Davis says, run Britain. His voting record in Parliament shows him to be slightly more liberal than his party. But his performance over the last few months — during which he agitated against Parliament, accused opponents of “collaboration” with Europe, and saber-rattled against the courts and media — showed him to be adept at using the far right’s template. Whenever the contradictions in his government threaten to unravel, he is likely to return to these tactics.
Our initial, “first blush” impression suggests to us that the Prime Minister is combining the Order-Left and Freedom-Right quadrants of the Transpartisan Matrix. This also suggest to us that, like any two-quadrant political approach, Johnson fasces choppy waters ahead.
The waters could smooth if either the Order-Right or Free-Left quadrants embrace the Johnson program. Of course, from our point of view, the most lasting solution comes from an integration of all four quadrants. We see the Transpartisan Matrix pointing a way forward for Johnson after Brexit. What do you see?
(Image CC BY-ND 2.0 by the Boris Johnson campaign, photo by Andrew Parsons.)