Dread Locked

So, batshit albino-bear Johnson gave his conference speech, which was less of a serious manifesto and more that of an acid-dropping ‘Generation Game’ contestant with a limited time to recall as much as possible on the political conveyor belt before the breathing walls closed in around him.

And ‘Didn’t he do well?’ Well, no. The most realistic part of the whole shebang was the absence of a standing ovation at the end. Now I know that’s because it was delivered remotely, but nobody would have applauded that dross and not just because they are all sitting on their hands.

It reminded me of reading 2000AD in 1977 when Judge Dredd and the posse were zipping around Mega-City One on monorails, or in Dropships in the year 209. Dredd is of course a ‘street judge’ whose badge enables a ruthless spectrum of summary legal powers, from arrest to conviction, sentencing, and execution. Hold that thought for a moment.

The Judge Dredd strip was nothing more than entertainment, a distraction. Johnson’s comic-book narratives serve as a distraction too, but none of this is entertaining for a population slipping down the refuse chute. And he does have more pressing responsibilities than arsing about and general clowning.

All this bonkers ‘New Jerusalem’ tripe is pie-in-the-sky blather with not a fact or scintilla of tangibility yet in place to offer it any credibility. Just when you might have hoped some concrete plans to avert a collective plunge into the sinkhole. Most disturbingly – and this has been nodded through on the quiet – the powers of the dystopian future city are already being steadily assembled, with enabling laws not a million miles away.

We might have all attended history lessons about the rise of extremism, but have we really learned the lessons?

Meanwhile, the heads of five local government organisations have written a scathing letter to the PM with a plan to kick-start themselves out of the downwardly mobile COVID helix. When local government – who uphold the finest traditions of public service indolence and incompetence – take the reins, we can be sure on two counts. Opposition politics has died, and fat lady is stage left and approaching the mic.

The Dredd strip had a Simpsonseque knack for social forecasting and predicted everything from smoking bans, labour automation, and the dominance of authoritarian state apparatuses. Saturated in absurdity, it was never entirely clear whether the yarns reflected a steroid pumped fascist fantasy or a hefty slice of over-the-top, leftist irony. It does rather seem that Labour are allowing the monstrous absurdity to run its course so that the Tories are banished to the electoral wilderness forevermore, so perhaps it is a question of the latter or a combination of both.

Either way, who knows whether we will have much of a democracy or a country left by then?

If you were describing Johnson and his cabal to a Martian, you could invite the same either/or conclusions. Life sometimes does imitate art.

But don’t count on Johnson’s vision materialising. As a vision, this is the ‘psychic’ rather than the ‘planning with imagination and wisdom’ version.

Accordingly, it will likely start to fragment by the middle of next week, if it has not already done so. Failing to embrace the harsh realities of the here and now will mean that there will be rebuilding from the foundations rather than ‘building back better‘.

As we approach the challenges of a fresh lockdown, Government droids are muddying the waters with Dredd-like fantasy while we remain firmly in dread lock about what the future may now hold.

Possibly a post-apocalyptic wasteland for Brit-Cit.

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