Is Boris Johnson a left-wing campus activist?

By Hobhouse.

21 Conservative ministers have been relieved of the whip, which deprives the government of not just wisdom but of dissent, too.

Mr Johnson, before the emergency Brexit debate commenced, sought to coerce opinion and win the vote by threatening any rebel with the loss of his or her seat and with it, their career. With this move, the Prime Minister sunk to a new low. He now behaves like those (mostly) left-wing students of campus, who seek to disrupt and coerce any voice or expression that contradicts their own cult narrative. These campus activists opine that some speakers are in danger of causing offence with their dissenting remarks and, therefore, should not be permitted freedom of speech. Likewise, this view also deprives the activist of the fundamental right to listen and broaden their worldview from divergent opinion. Listening to a dissenting opinion may even have the effect of strengthening ones own arguments by proving it correct.

Mr Johnson believes that his Conservative party must be pure and alighted with whatever he says Brexit means from week-to-week. He surely thinks that purging 21 MPs from their party will solidify his view further with the party and will woo voters with this absolute clarity. But with this action, and like the actions of those left-wing activists, he deprives himself of the opportunity to listen to dissent. Mr Johnson will encapsulate himself in a bubble of comfort without a clue about what his opposition think, feel or believe. Without this, his premiership (or what’s left of it) will struggle to adapt its views to a broader swathe of the electorate.

Mr Johnson’s authoritarian sentiment and view that anything other than a no-deal Brexit is treason has already lost his government a working majority. His purge threat only emboldened those MPs to dissent, losing him the only three commons votes he’s faced. His culture of quashing opinion, whether that be from proroguing parliament, deselecting MPs or selecting civil servants loyal to his cause, will only strengthen his electability in his own mind.

Mr Johnson’s righteousness and muffling of dissent is benign for now. However, it could become dangerously authoritarian if — as rumours suggest he might — he decides he’s so right that he must ignore parliament and the law they set down.

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