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Can this really be the end of the narcissist Bozymandias?

There should be no career resurrection after the blistering verdict of the Privileges Committee. Will someone please tell Johnson to leave politics gracefully?

Jog on, Boris, your time as a politician is – finally – up. Photo: Leon Neal/Getty

It’s a sad indictment of British politics when only a real catastrophe such as Nottingham has been able knock the political clowns off the front pages in recent days.

Will someone please tell Boris Johnson (“He lied so often, so effortlessly”, TNE #345) to leave politics gracefully? There are more important things than him and his career. In the meantime, shouldn’t we now hold an inquiry to see if Johnson misled the public about Brexit? Or do we already know the answer to that one?
Tony Howarth
London SW3

By branding the Privileges Committee report “deranged”, Boris Johnson displays a ranting response worthy of Donald Trump, whose rhetoric he increasingly echoes. Are they morphing into one?

There ought not to be any political career resurrection after this blistering verdict. And it is abundantly clear his resignation as an MP was an act of craven cowardice to avoid appearing before parliament.

But Johnson and his cult worshippers won’t accept this puts his political career into the dustbin of history with no comeback prospect.

In Boris’s case, narcissism, ambition and entitlement are addictions.
Paul Connew
Author, Boris Johnson: Media Creation, Media Clown, Media Casualty

What a damning indictment of the Tory press this week has been. When Donald Trump claimed the 2020 election had been rigged, the US print media stood up against him. Here, the Telegraph and Sun endorse Boris Johnson’s witch-hunt fantasies and the Mail goes further by paying him a fortune to write his lies for them.
Melanie Sharp

If his honours list (“The man who killed the House of Lords”, TNE #345) does speed up the abolition of this undemocratic, unelected second chamber of parliament, then at last Johnson will have done something of value.
Dieter Nowak
Via Facebook

My only surprise is that Boris Johnson did not add his name to his own resignation honours list and join his cronies in the Lords.
Christopher Ralls

Across the media (including TNE) we now see frequent warnings of how AI will encroach on our lives and jobs. Alongside this we see reports of politicians misleading the public to benefit their personal agenda.

Could the power of AI be coupled with trusted sources of information to detect when they stray from the truth? One even might envisage a screen that lights up with the mendacious phrase and sounds a claxon, QI style, as soon as a falsehood is detected.
Trevor Boardman

Boris Johnson is “Britain’s worst-ever prime minister”, according to your cover (TNE #345). Have you forgotten Margaret Thatcher? The outcomes of her leadership have had long and far-reaching negative consequences.
Paul Short

I think the title “Britain’s worst-ever prime minister” has to go to Liz Truss. Not even Johnson crashed the economy within weeks of being in office.
Kevan R Matthews

With apologies to Shelley’s Ozymandias, here is a poem titled Bozymandias:
I met a traveller from antique Uxbridge,
Who said – “Two vast, pink and hairy thighs
Stand in our High Street…” Near them, in the gutter,
Half sunk a shattered PM lies, whose blond hair,
And lascivious lips, and sneer of Brexit command,
Tell that its sculptor well those traits read
Which yet survive, stamped on those chancer’s eyes,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And next to his loins, these words appear:
“My name is Bozymandias, World King;
“Look on my Works, ye Britons, and despair!
Nothing from my Brexit came.” Round the decay
Of that colossal Wrecker, shameless and bare
The empty, boarded high streets stretch far away.

James Thelluson

“Will we miss Boris Johnson?”, asks your cartoonist Tim Bradford (TNE #345). Unfortunately not; he’s going to hang around like the smell of a cracked sewer.
Ian Potts

A challenge?
June 21, 2023 marked the 80th anniversary of the capture at Caluire, Lyon, of the French resistance leader Jean Moulin and others by Klaus Barbie through their betrayal by fellow resistants on misguided political grounds.

Less than three weeks later, Moulin was dead under torture, having gone to his death without disclosing any of the huge knowledge he had as De Gaulle’s representative to the internal resistance leaders and movements.

Moulin’s self-sacrifice and inspirational life stand in stark contrast to the quality of “leader” Britain has had (featuring prominently again on your “Never Again” cover) over the last few years.

Yet there exists no reliable English-language biography of this outstanding man and his qualities. Surely one of your staff or readers is up to the task?
Bill MacDonald

Going short
Paul Mason’s column on Universal Basic Income (TNE #345) suggests that it might be paid for two years only.

This means that apart from those expecting to die in the near future, recipients will spend much of the two years looking to how to replace their income after the free money runs out.
Rory Cunningham

Red Ellen
In Charlie Connelly’s article “When MPs go under the covers” (TNE #344)
I was disappointed not to see much made of Ellen Wilkinson, who wrote, among other books, a well-received murder mystery set in the House of Commons called The Division Bell Mystery, recently republished in the British Library Crime series.

She appears to have been popular with, and respected by, politicians of all hues. A real, genuine, committed politician who achieved things, as opposed to promising them and forgetting or scaling back on them.

A heavy smoker, Ellen wanted to use the Members’ Smoking Room, only to be told it was not for women. To which she responded that she wasn’t a woman, she was an MP.

In his foreword to the new edition, Martin Gilbert calls her “the Fiery Particle” and “Red Ellen”, and adds: “With her bright, fashionable clothes and her forceful manner, she was easily noticeable – an obituarist wrote that ‘wherever there was a row going on in support of some good or even fairly good cause, that rebellious redhead was sure to be seen bobbing about in the heart of the tumult’.”
David Marshland

Not so great?
What an excellent appraisal of the life and works of Pierre Loti (Great European Lives, TNE #344) by Charlie Connelly. I personally think it was Loti’s travel accounts that were his real forte, with their combination of his keen eye and his literary genius. I am sorry that his novel Ramuntcho did not merit a mention – in my view much his best novel.

Incidentally, all Loti’s travel works have now been translated into English: The Way to Isfahan and The Holy Land (2022) recently published, and his thoughts on Constantinople and the Bosphorus (now going to press) completing the long list. Loti was quite a photographer, too, and some of his efforts can be seen in these publications.
G Rex Smith

Nowhere in the piece does Charlie Connelly state what is distinctive in Pierre Loti’s work: a racism placed at the very centre of his principal narrative mode, the erotic travelogue. This must make any modern reader hold back from headlong praise.

Why does it matter? The reason is simple. White man’s erotic fascination with women of other ethnicities can appear to be a bridge of understanding and sympathy. In fact, it can be – and was in Loti and in many other writers of his generation – a further expression of contempt and superiority. It is as pernicious as tubthumping imperialism: indeed, it may contain the very seeds of that imperialism.

No one who opens Loti’s Madame Chrysanthème or Le Roman d’un Spahi can fail to see the narrator’s visceral hatred of Japanese and African culture and peoples. Loti was a typical racist writer of the turn of the century: he’s not great and he does not deserve rehabilitation.
Hugh Ridley
Sawston, Cambs

Cheese, please
“Alex Joseph’s perfect cheeseburger” (Taste of Europe, TNE #344)? No, thank you. I do not want American “cheese” or “mustard”, neither of which resemble the real things. A homemade bun, a slice of Waitrose Cheddar (strength six), sliced gherkin and proper English mustard, please. A burger is then acceptable.

In general, I simply don’t understand why burgers are so popular. Most are at best boring, and at worst quite unpleasant.
Peter Johns
Via Facebook

Surely any New European is vegan?
A cheeseburger is by definition Old American…
Daniel Banks

Slave to art
Apropos “The Shame of Spain” in TNE #343, Spanish racism goes back a long way, and is wonderfully approached in a small but potent exhibition entitled Juan de Pareja, Afro-Hispanic Painter 1608–1670 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Largely known today as the subject of the portrait by Diego Velázquez, Pareja was liberated by Velázquez after more than two decades as his slave. He then became an artist in his own right. This exhibition tells his story and examines the ways in which enslaved artisanal labour and a multiracial society are inextricably linked with the art and material culture of Spain’s “Golden Age”. Well worth a visit.
Anne Page
London EC2Y

Fade to grey
Come on, TNE. Where is the logic in relegating the Codeword puzzle to the bottom left-hand of the page with the (random) numbers printed in faded grey, whereas the elementary quick crossword is a much bolder grid with the (consecutive) numbers printed in glorious black?

We more mature Codeworders need all the help we can get. Give us a break please. Yes, I have been to Specsavers.
Ros Gourgey
Great Bardfield, Essex

Ship of fools
Here is The Old Ship, a short poem about Brexit, to mark the seventh anniversary coming up on June 23:
No fanfare, only tears,
No cheering crowds, nor marching band,
To the sombre chimes of midnight
The old ship slips her moorings
Leaving scarcely a ripple in her wake
Drifting aimlessly out to the open sea
Through the pale and misty moonshine
To who knows where?
Her groaning weather-beaten hull
Is creaking and leaking now
In such a sad and sorry state
Let down by a shameful crew
She who had known better days
Friendship and respect
For who she was
And what she represented.
Still determined not to break
She will beat back the current
Sail past the black and jagged rocks
Ride the waves and dodge the squalls
Stay proud and upright
Drop anchor in a friendly port
Repaint, replenish and head back
To where she belongs and never left
David Harley
EU official 1975-2010; former deputy secretary-general of the European Parliament

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See inside the 7 years’ bad luck edition

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Credit: Tim Bradford

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