What do despots do to hang on to power?
Silence their enemies. Shut down critical media and fill the rest with propaganda. Surround themselves with cronies, sycophants and the enslaved compromised. Bung public funds to private donors. Normalise corruption. Suppress opposition votes. Shut down protest. Play the patriotism card. Blow the racist dog-whistle. Politicise the police. Deny citizens access to justice. Weaken or remove human rights. Ignore the rule of law. Maintain support from vested interests. Intimidate the doubters in the party by dangling deselection or loss of their seat in an election. Seize emergency powers and operate without the scrutiny of parliament. Undermine the truth at every turn.
Lie. Lie. Lie.
Gaslight the public into believing black is white and up is down.
Change the rules to favour themselves.
No more mention of the seven Nolan principles of public life – integrity, objectivity, accountability, transparency, honesty and leadership in the public interest.
No demand for ministers to meet the very highest standards of propriety.
Only Johnson can decide whether any breach justifies a punishment and…get this… no obligation to resign if found guilty of egregious offences like lying to the House.
Instead, the options open to the PM “where he retains confidence in the minister” will include
“some form of public apology, remedial action or removal of ministerial salary for a period.”
These are the actions of a dictator. It is not extreme or sensationalist to say that this is horribly reminiscent of the actions taken by Hitler, Franco, Stalin, Orban, Trump, Duterte, Erdogan and others to accrete more power and to place themselves above the law and protected against removal from office.
Democracy is in very grave danger. We all need to wake up and resist.