Boris Johnson and the Tories have cynically utilised the war in Ukraine to whip up jingoism and distract from their own crimes. But as the patriotic fumes wear off, the spotlight will once again be focussed on their hypocrisy and corruption.
At a recent emergency NATO-G7 summit, responding to appeals from Ukrainian President Zelensky for more help from the West, Boris Johnson lamented his personal “agony” over the UK’s “inability to do more” for Ukraine.
In words, the British Prime Minister promised his counterpart that Ukraine was “not alone”. Yet in deeds, it is increasingly obvious that the western imperialists have left Zelensky’s government high and dry.
The conflict in Ukraine, in this respect, has once again demonstrated that these establishment hypocrites do not miss a trick when it comes to posturing and taking the moral high ground.
Grandiloquent rhetoric about defending ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’ seems more than a little incredulous, after all, given Johnson’s recent round of dealings with despots.
We have been treated to gestures galore from the Tories. Boris even dropped into a Ukrainian cathedral in central London to retell the story of the Good Samaritan at the beginning of the conflict.
We would call on Boris to think of that parable as he returns from his trip to Saudi Arabia to secure future guarantees of oil.
The PM’s visit happened to coincide with the country’s largest mass execution, with the regime in Riyadh citing ‘crimes’ such as “participating in and inciting sit-ins and protests” as justification for the state’s brutal killing of 81 men.
Such cruelty is commonplace for the Crown Butcher Mohammed Bin Salman – also responsible for ordering the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.
Despite these atrocities, the Tory government has continued to turn a blind eye to the heinous human rights abuses of the Saudi regime, at home and abroad. After all, why let such minor details get in the way of doing business?
Blood on their hands
Similarly, Boris’ indignant denunciations of Putin’s “brutal and unprovoked” actions in Ukraine would be more applicable for describing the Saudi-led massacre in Yemen.
Yemen is facing the worst humanitarian crisis in the world; and Britain’s role in this catastrophe has been instrumental, with the Tory government giving the green light for UK arms manufacturers to sell the belligerent Saudi coalition billions-worth of weapons.
It is rather ironic, then, that the loudest voices decrying the bloodshed in Ukraine are the very hawks that have the blood of Yemeni men, women, and children on their hands.
Business as usual
It is not only cosy catch-ups with the Crown Prince that have been on the agenda. The Tory government has also been making overtures to the Iranian regime, formally treated as a pariah by the West.
To the public, the recent Anglo-Iranian deal was presented as a great victory for British diplomacy, with the UK government agreeing to pay off historic debts in exchange for the return of two British nationals.
But this was mere window dressing. The real purpose of this mission was an attempt to mend relations in the name of securing access to oil supplies.
The sight of Boris Johnson going ‘cap in hand’ to dictatorships has left liberals feeling rather squeamish. But we must be clear: this is business as usual for these capitalist politicians.
Human rights abuses and war crimes do not factor into the cynical calculations of the imperialists and their lackeys. They never have, and they never will.
As 19th-century prime minister Lord Palmerston bluntly remarked: British imperialism has “no permanent allies or enemies – only permanent interests”.
The conflict in Ukraine may have offered some reprieve for the Tories in the short term, allowing Johnson a little respite. But once the patriotic fumes wear off, the knives will once again be out for boozy Boris.
The #Partygate saga is already rearing its head once again, with the Met Police beginning to issue fines for Downing Street’s multiple breaches of lockdown rules, putting the scandal-ridden PM back in the spotlight.
At the same time, the economic impact of Western sanctions is yet to be properly felt. And with the cost-of-living crisis looming large, minds will increasingly be focussed on the question of who pays for this war: the working class, who have no stake in it; or the imperialist warmongers who have brought about this clash.
At the end of the day, workers in Britain cannot pay the bills with flag-waving and jingoism. Tory grandstanding, meanwhile, does nothing to support the plight of ordinary Ukrainians.
The task of socialists is to expose the cynicism and hypocrisy of our rulers; strip away their halo; cut through the fog of lies and propaganda; and agitate to overthrow our own imperialist governments – the enemy at home.