The two candidates are so alarming that, in an unprecedented intervention, former prime ministers from each of their parties have pleaded with voters to block them. Tony Blair and John Major have urged tactical votes against Mr. Corbyn and Mr. Johnson. Everywhere, exhausted, disillusioned, skeptical voters debate who is worse. British politics has never known anything like it.

These very different men share remarkable, unflattering similarities. Each is ill briefed, hazy on the facts and implications of his policy proposals, uneasy under scrutiny and belligerent when challenged.


Mr. Corbyn may believe, delusional though it is, that he really can restructure British capitalism overnight without damaging the economy. His stubborn moral certainty means he's deceiving himself along with everybody else. Most politicians, of course, have ambitions beyond their competence and dreams they can't deliver.

Mr. Johnson is playing another game entirely. Amoral and power-hungry, he's lying with knowledge, calculation and abandon. He and his advisers have made a ruthless and sinister decision -- to subvert and smash up British political culture. They have learned from the successes of the Vote Leave campaign, which Mr. Johnson fronted, and, it seems, from Team Trump.

The old assumptions -- that truth matters, that lies shame the liar, that in a democracy the press and the public must have a right to interrogate those who seek the top jobs -- have all been swept aside by the Tories' conviction that in an inattentive, dissatisfied, cacophonous world, victory will go to the most compelling entertainer, the most plausible and shameless deceiver, the leader who can drill home a repetitive and seductive incantation. Facts and details will be irrelevant so long as voters feel a politician is on their side.

Comments: Be the first to add a comment

add a comment | go to forum thread