The revenge of the Blob

In 2023, the technocratic elite made big strides towards taking back control.

Mick Hume

Mick Hume

Topics Politics UK

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They have got rid of more Brexiteer Tory ministers and re-confirmed their authority over big policy issues from the British economy to immigration. In the UK in 2023, the unaccountable technocratic elite known as ‘the Blob’ has had what it hopes will be its final revenge on the British people, who dared to vote for Brexit in the 2016 EU referendum and for Boris ‘Get Brexit Done’ Johnson in the 2019 General Election.

Top Tory minister Michael Gove popularised the idea of ‘the Blob’ back in 2010. He was talking about the hostile civil servants, entrenched in the upper echelons of the Department for Education, who were doing everything in their power to block his plans for radical reform of the school system. It has since been used to define the amorphous, multi-tentacled, left-liberal / woke establishment that dominates powerful British institutions today, from the Whitehall government machine and the top courts to the BBC and academia.

The Brussels-loving Blob was shocked and shaken to its blancmange-like core by the Leave victory in the EU referendum. It spent the following years seeking to undermine and even overturn the democratic verdict of 17.4million Leave voters – the largest vote, lest they make us forget, for anything, ever in British history. Then the Blob was traumatised again by the landslide electoral victory of Boris’s pro-Brexit Tories in 2019.

It has taken the Blob four years to ‘take back control’, but as 2023 draws to a close the elites can surely be quite pleased with the results. They have been greatly aided, of course, by a Conservative Party reduced to a hollow shell – noisy but empty of substance – and the way that successive Tory prime ministers have squandered the potential of Brexit.

Back in 2022, the media and the civil service helped to over-inflate the ‘Partygate’ scandal until it exploded in Tory prime minister Boris Johnson’s face. Having been elected by 14million voters, Johnson was effectively removed from office by one civil-service mandarin, Sue Gray, who led the official investigation. Gray has since been appointed chief of staff to Labour leader Keir Starmer, the great and good’s nomination to be the next PM. Shortly after Boris’s prolonged fall, taking down his replacement, the hapless Liz Truss, was much easier.

This year, with the smell of blood in its upturned nostrils, the Blob built on the successful Get Boris / Swat Liz campaigns to go after remaining Brexiteers in Rishi Sunak’s Conservative government. The most notable scalp would be home secretary Suella Braverman, sacked in November after daring to try to make good on Tory manifesto promises to control immigration, criticising multiculturalism – the Blob’s pseudo-religion – and correctly describing the ‘pro-Palestine’ protests in London as ‘hate marches’, while the woke Metropolitan Police stood by and debated the different meanings of ‘jihad’.

But then, what did it matter who was home secretary, when the unelected anti-Tory establishment was apparently in charge of UK immigration policy anyway? Civil servants have put aside any notion of neutrality to campaign against the government’s attempt to deport illegal migrants to Rwanda. Top civil servants dealing with migration issues have resigned to join anti-government human-rights campaigns. But others remain in post.

As Dominic Raab said in April, after being forced to resign as deputy prime minister over bullying allegations, there is a ‘minority of very activist civil servants, with a passive-aggressive culture, who don’t like some of the reforms, whether it’s Brexit, whether it’s parole reform, whether it’s human-rights reform, effectively trying to block government’.

Perhaps he should have said ‘very effectively trying to block government’. In this, they have been aided by activist judges who sit on Europe’s highest bench, the European Court of Human Rights, who outrageously have the power to meddle in Brexit Britain’s affairs. The Blob got another boost with the appointment as foreign secretary of Remain campaigner and former prime minister David Cameron, who Sunak had to send to the unelected House of Lords – the stately home of Blob dignitaries – before he could re-enter government.

In UK economic policy, too, the technocrats took full charge of the nation’s affairs this year, with the acquiescence of one of their own – the allegedly Conservative chancellor of the exchequer, Jeremy Hunt. The Bank of England and the allied Office for Budget Responsibility have usurped the Treasury and elected government as economic sources of authority, with the media and politicians hanging on every word of their interest-rate decisions and (often changeable and incorrect) economic forecasts. The argument of course is that these experts are ‘independent’, but these elitists are truly only independent of any democratic accountability for their actions.

The removal of financial affairs from democratic politics was begun in earnest by the 1997 New Labour government of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, which gave the Bank of England autonomous control over interest rates. Some 26 years later, Starmer’s Labour Party has vowed to enhance the power of the technocrats to control the economy, if and when it forms a government.

In an article for the Financial Times in September, Labour’s shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves, wrote: ‘It was the Labour government that gave the Bank of England independence and I will protect it. It was a Conservative chancellor that established the Office for Budget Responsibility and I will strengthen it.’ Reeves and Starmer’s slavish deference towards the Blob is another reminder of the dire state of British politics. The past 13 years of Tory government have proved even worse than many of us might have imagined. Yet, remarkably, on the big issues that matter in a democracy, a Labour government is set to be even worse.

For all that, democracy remains our one great hope in the battle with the Blob. They can control the institutions, but they still cannot command the people to do as we are told. We have seen across Europe how populist revolts have pushed back against the EU bureaucracy and ousted technocrats from office. With a UK General Election due in the next year, we sorely need something here to recapture the democratic spirit of the Brexit revolt against the Blob both in the EU and at home.

Mick Hume is a spiked columnist. The concise and abridged edition of his book, Trigger Warning: Is the Fear of Being Offensive Killing Free Speech?, is published by William Collins.

Picture by: Getty.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Topics Politics UK


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