Author: Richard Haviland

Compassion must win out against the drip feed of propaganda

Richard Haviland

Recent years have led many of us to question what we once felt about this country. But one thing I do believe is that most people, whether here or elsewhere, feel instinctive compassion for those in need when they are not being subjected to a drip feed of propaganda. But the drip feed of propaganda […]

How to facilitate an autocracy in six years – an MP’s tale

Richard Haviland

How it’s done, little by little… In accepting the vote, pretend you now think Brexit is a great idea even though you were a strong advocate for remain. Claim that any debate about the nature of Brexit is anti-democratic. Conflate opposition and scrutiny, on any issue, with attempting to thwart Brexit. Conclude that all opposition […]

Foreign Secretaries since 2016: has the UK been well-served?

Richard Haviland

The position of Foreign Secretary is one of the Great Offices of State. It requires tact, command of a brief, outstanding communication skills, and a real interest in the wider world. Here’s a look at recent incumbents, picking a random starting point of June 2016. In January 2017, Boris Johnson accused the then French president […]

Pride and shame

Richard Haviland
Union flag

Some years ago, while staying in the Loire Valley, we were taken by our French host to visit a memorial to seven crew members of an Avro Lancaster shot down over the Commune of Grez-Neuville in June 1943. It was special to him, since he was responsible for its upkeep, a role in which he […]

If Johnson’s Conservatives wrote the constitution…

Richard Haviland
a row of evil clowns

Many will feel that the need for a written, enforceable constitution must surely be beyond doubt. But imagine if Johnson’s government decided to write it? [They’d want to ensure they were in power forever, thereafter, for sure. Ed] 1) When a prime minister or minister breaks the ministerial code, an apology will suffice instead of […]

The Johnson guide to government

Richard Haviland
Cartoon of Boris Johnson with A Pinocchio nose and flying Peppa Pigs

On a day (29 March 2022) when the PM has made it clear he has no interest in mass law-breaking, on his watch, in his office, here’s my revised essential Johnson guide to government: Accept responsibility for nothing. 2. Blame others for things that are your fault. 3. Take credit for things that aren’t your […]

The smell of corruption

Richard Haviland
figure in gas mask with toxic orange smoke

In 2020, I wrote in The Times that, if the pattern continued of the Johnson government refusing to be held to account, “corruption – both political and financial – will seep into the national bloodstream” Today you can smell corruption in the words and deeds of far too many of the Conservative Party. Not just […]

The red light is flashing for our democracy

Richard Haviland
Polling station sign fixed to mesh fence

Former civil servant Richard Haviland sets out a chilling and all-too-possible vision of a bleak future for the UK with a hollowed-out faux democracy. Ed With all the red lights flashing at the state of the UK’s democracy, I’ve seen it said we shouldn’t assume the next general election will even happen. The issue, though, […]