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Men behaving badly...

Comment
Mike Gaunt


Whether we like it or not, we have an influence on the people around us. Others see us and that influences them. Some of us are more visible than others, of course, in that we may have a higher profile in our communities, but the same principle applies.

As parents, we influence our children, in that our standard of behaviour is seen by them and forms a model for them to emulate. As friends and work colleagues, our comments are heard and noted and may affect the thinking or actions of others.

As leaders, we are more high profile and so many may be influenced or affected by our actions and deeds and words.

Some people enjoy a very high status and, naturally, they must exercise caution and discretion when interacting with others as what they say and do will be seen by many people and will generate discussion.

Some people´s words have had an enormous impact; an example which I can just about recall is the ‘I have a dream’ speech of Martin Luther King, in 1963. If I’m honest, I suspect that I remember the words afterwards, probably from a news programme, but the point remains: The words have resonated very strongly. Neil Armstrong’s words as he put his foot on the moon, or Winston Churchill’s rousing ‘we will fight them on the beaches’ speech are not only quoted but affect people.

So, when Boris Johnson says something, he cannot simply ignore the fact that people are listening and that his words have an effect: I suspect that he is all too aware that his words have an effect. After all, he is a bright chap and he knows the power of language.

When he was spewing forth unpleasant vitriol the other day in the House of Commons, I have no doubt that his comments were not simply unconsidered and stupid. I believe that he is deliberately stirring the pot. He is adopting the same tactics as the quiffed buffoon in the White House. There is a thought-through policy of creating a blizzard of news regarding anything but the real issue. In Boris’ case, he wants to prevent too much discussion around his failure to strike a deal and so makes outlandish statements and behaves grotesquely.

If I were to suggest that I intend to avoid doing something which I had been told that I had to do, in law, I would be branded a criminal or at best, stupid or arrogant. Perhaps I would be called a stupid, arrogant criminal.

When Boris says that the Supreme Court’s judgement is something he doesn’t agree with it smacks of arrogance, too. To mislead (is that the same as lie?) the Queen is plain stupid. To not comply with the Benn Act (or to surrender to it) should be criminal.

Perhaps Boris is hoping to accomplish something momentous during the next month which will avoid the stupid, arrogant criminal moniker. I certainly hope so, as he is currently presiding over a catastrophic constitutional crisis and, from the outside looking in, it’s a most unedifying spectacle.

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