I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm about to go into bat for Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.
Yes, yes, fair enough, I have to date regarded him as pretty much the fount of most things wrong with politics today, and I stand by that. But there is one thig that I'm not going to criticise him for, and thats's his religion.
As you might imagine, I regard mos religion with a mixture of bemusement and contempt. At its best it's something to get you out of the house. At its worst? Genocide, torture, repression, untold misery. As a concept, I'm not pro, on the whole.
But inasfar as I have any opinion on which deity or manifestation thereof you wish to have guide your daily decisions, I pretty much put them all on a par. I don't giver a monkeys which iteration of the magical sky fairy you choose to believe in.
So the news that Johnson's recent marriage to his inamorata has caused something of a constitutional kerfuffle has caused eyes at Coastalblog towers to toll to no uncertain degree. BJ's presto-changeo conversion to Catholicism has meant that, as PM he's fallen foul of some archaic law dating from Wellington's time about recommending Bishops to her maj.
This fucking country man.
I mean, every aspect of this, the PM...recommends......clergy....to a Monarch? Is deeply embarrassing, and yet further proof that we're still mentally living in a cosplay of Mallory's Morte d'Arthur. I'm all in favour of collective folk legends, but the idea that any of this is remotely relevant to the machine of the modern state induces acute queasiness.
There are many reasons to dislike Boris Johnson: his disdain for due process, his elastic approach to the truth, driving a coach and horses through the law when it suits him to do so, selling the country out on the whims of his own ego. His religion (and does anyone think that this serial philanderer has a religious bone in his body?) is not one of them.
The problem is, that he incites such levels of dislike, that it becomes all too easy to grab any stick to beat him with. I tend to his view that his personal life is personal, and bears no relevance upon his job as PM.
Take the Jennifer Arcuri affair, for example. Yes, he was shagging her on his sofa as his wife was out getting treatment for cancer. Pretty morally reprehensible, I'm sure we can all agree. Not, however, relevant to his job. The 130K her company was funded? The business trips she went on without the correct accreditation? THEY are relevant.
There is a tendency in our press to play the man and not the ball, and it doesn't help anything at all. The obsession with people makes it easier to ignore policies.
So you can dislike Boris Johnson for ignoring 5 COBR meetings at the start of the pandemic, the disastrous failures over lockdown, the release of Covid positive patients to care homes, the 120K + death toll, the chaos in Northern Ireland, the complete mismanagement of the Brexit agreement, selling the fishing industry down the river, chucking the farmers under the bus, screwing up lockdown again, the naked theft of public funds by Tory donors and cronies, threatening the Union, rolling back civil liberties and trying to distract everyone from his mistakes by fomenting a made up culture war in which minorities are a target.
You can dislike him for his racism, his sexism, his boorishness. "Letterboxes", "Piccaninnies", "Fuck Business", reciting Kipling in Asia and saying "your wife will get bigger breasts if you vote Conservative."
By all means hate him for his clear contempt for the NHS despite it saving his sorry hide, the attacks on teachers who've worked their arses off right the way through the pandemic, the assaults on human rights lawyers, judges and anyone who tries to trammel the power he believes should be unconditional, the brushing off of Ministers breaking their own code, for "forming a square around the Prittster", for not sacking Cummings, for not sacking Hancock, for investigating himself and finding out he did nothing wrong, for getting everyone else to pay for him, for freebie holidays, for 72Ks worth of takeaways when people in this country are using food banks. All good reasons.
His religion? Don't give a fuck about that, mate.