The Prime Minister, prophecies and the Parable of the Cornflake Box

Janet Downs's picture

Nearly six years ago, Boris Johnson gave the Margaret Thatcher lecture at the Centre for Policy Studies.

Thatcher, he said, put forward ‘a new idea – or revived an old one: that Britain was or could be an enterprising and free-booting sort of culture, with the salt breeze ruffling our hair, a buccaneering environment where there was no shame – quite the reverse – in getting rich’.

Sounds familiar.

Johnson also made a prediction:

By 2050 Britain will be the second biggest country in the EU…’

Not if he has anything to do with it.

He also made some prophecies.  In 2050, we would still have a crown.  I presume he means the Crown and not commemorative currency.  (Please, don’t give him ideas)  

We would still have a union.  As the SNP have just said they want another independence referendum, this could be in doubt.   

 And we would have dealt ‘eupeptically’ with ‘mass immigration so that our cities are not just proudly British but also boast a vast mongrel energy’.

The word ‘eupeptically’ (I had to look it up) means ‘cheerfully, happily’.  But there was nothing cheerful or happy about fears of mass immigration stirred  up by Johnson’s Vote Leave.   Too late now to say the strategy was wrong.

Johnson’s speech wasn’t just crystal-ball gazing or an appeal to unleash Thatcher’s ‘animal spirits’.   He said society was unequal:  16% had an IQ below 85% while just 2% had an IQ over 130.   Brains weren’t doled out equally.

Society, Johnson said, was like a cereal packet.  The harder you shook it, the easier it would be for some to get to the top.  Those who succeeded would become wealthy and pay more taxes for public services (obviously not heard about tax avoidance schemes).   Any rich person giving to charity could benefit, he said, from the ‘snob value and prestige’ attached to philanthropy.

This inspired the Parable of the Cornflake Box.   I’ve updated it for today:

And behold, a certain person stood up and tested the Prime Minister saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 

And the Prime Minister answered and said, " Make as much dosh as you can and give some of what you make to the poor for the 16% will always be with us.  And they lack real talent.   They are as crushed as the cornflakes that fall to the bottom of the packet.  For, verily I say unto you, the box will be truly shaken so the toughest will rise to the top and settle upon the rest.  And when thou givest, make sure you make a great noise so that you will benefit thereof.  For those who give so publicly will be rewarded with a gong." 

And the certain person left, satisfied, because he was not of the 16%. 

And the Prime Minister also left having spoken with the tongues of angels about unity.  And to prove his intent he set upon his right hand a man who was truly divisive.  So endeth the first lesson.


CORRECTION 26 July, 15.00:   I had wrriten '...just 2% had an IQ over 30'.  This should have been 130.  Thanks to agov for pointing out the error which is now corrected.

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agov's picture
Fri, 26/07/2019 - 09:24

"‘By 2050 Britain will be the second biggest country in the EU…’"

It has already been widely noted that he has barely, if at all, mentioned immigration - the main reason for population growth in the UK - in his pronouncements as Prime Minister. In fact he has stated that hundreds of thousands should be given the legal right to remain here. I think you can rest content that it continues to be the likelihood that millions will starve to death (i.e. even more than do already) at some point due to the inability of the planet to sustain populations of such huge size. That of course was why the United Nations for years had a worldwide programme to stabilise or lower population size. Until politicians decided to import replacement populations who were expected to more readily obey the orders of the misruling class.

"the SNP have just said they want another independence referendum"

What's new?

"an IQ over 30"

Still with that 30!

2013, Boris Johnson: "Those who succeeded would become wealthy and pay more taxes"

1998, Peter Mandelson: “We are intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich as long as they pay their taxes."

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 26/07/2019 - 15:19

Thanks for spotting the typo!   I've put it right.  It was far too hot yesterday.


Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 26/07/2019 - 15:21

agov, I had to laugh at your comment about it being 'widely noted' that Johnson has barely mentioned immigration since becoming PM.  He's only been in  the job 24 hours.  And the Bojo quote was not to stress population growth but to highlight Johnson's belief that we would still be in the EU.  Perhaps I should have typed that part in bold to make it more obvious.

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 26/07/2019 - 15:27

agov, you're right - Johnson has said EU citizens already in the UK should be given the legal right to remain. The irony is that the Johnson/Gove campaign made a cynical appeal to fears about immigration which he had welcomed in the 'cornflake' speech.  A further irony is that his promise to give EU citizens here the right to remain isn't going to play well with those who voted leave simply because they wanted immigrants to go. (And, no, I am not saying all those who voted leave did so for this reason, just that some did.  It was a raw nerve which those on the Leave side exploited).

And you're right that both Mandelson and Johnson were happy about people getting 'filthy rich'.   Unfortunately, many of the rich take part in perfectly legal tax avoidance schemes so they can keep as much of their riches as they can.    Taxes, it appears, are for those who don't get to the top of the cereal box.

agov's picture
Sat, 27/07/2019 - 13:19

Then clearly I misunderstood. (Except, fun though he may be, it can still not be assumed that he will really actually get us out of the EU as opposed to adding a few hundred words to May's BRINO leaving it still an entirely unacceptable BRINO.)

agov's picture
Sat, 27/07/2019 - 13:21

"fears about immigration"

To paraphrase a poster on another site:-

Big business when the cost of capital or raw materials increase: 'simply the ebb and flow of capitalism - what goes up may go down, nothing to see here'.
Big business when the cost of Labour increases: 'We are all going to die: quickly, import more cheap labour'.

Real wages for the many (not the few) have not increased for very many years, not least because of 'free' movement of labour.

"tax avoidance"

True, but in America the rich can also save money by reducing taxation through 'charitable' giving. Not, imo, a position of great moral ascendancy but arguably better than what we have in the UK.

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