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making sense of the narrative

His Master’s Voice

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A little noticed (by most) statement came out in early July – effectively the day of Boris Johnson’s resignation – from an unusual source, a joint press release by Britain’s MI5 and the US FBI. The statement was on China and essentially stated that the biggest threat the UK faced was from Chinese competition. On the one hand we could attribute this to this being ‘their day job’, but on the other hand, when did MI5 start doing press conferences?

Acknowledged that the energy crisis, the migrant crisis, the cost of living crisis, rampant inflation, the failings in the NHS, Education, policing and the likelihood of widespread strikes in the public sector etc are not their remit, the timing of this press conference was still somewhat strange, other than as a ‘message to the future Prime Minister’.

His Master’s Voice, 1898 by Francis Barraud. Source Wikipedia

Thus, while the interminable Tory Party hustings for the new leader and hence Prime Minister drag on, it is somewhat alarming to see subsequent statements from both the potential candidates to replace Boris saying almost exactly the same thing. As if the priorities of MI5 and the FBI are indeed their priorities too. Perhaps, to paraphrase Elon Musk, they are the guys controlling the teleprompter?

First, when he was the lead candidate, Rishi Sunak made ‘countering China’ a key policy. See this tweet on July 25th when he had just made it into the final 2 and was 7/4 on to win. In it, amongst other statements he declared ” I will expand MI5’s reach to provide greater support to British businesses and universities to counter Chinese industrial espionage.” The rest of it was remarkably similar to the original press release in terms of content.

Perhaps related to this focus on things deemed less important by actual voters, Rishi is now firmly second favourite (of two). Remarkable then that now, a month later and shortly before she is likely to win, Liz Truss has said almost exactly the same thing.

Meanwhile, Rishi has also drawn back the curtain on some of the behaviours over Covid that many (including ourselves) talked about at the time, not least in our series about The Full Melchett . The fact that there was no cost benefit analysis and dissenters were shut down with powerful narrative management confirms the concept that most so-called conspiracy theories at the time, which were actually trying to highlight this, would actually have been better off termed ‘spoiler alerts’.

Interesting then to see a few other views previously confined to the more alternative areas of the internet also starting to become more mainstream. This time on Ukraine – which if the above is to be believed is no longer a priority for the security services compared to China. This story for instance that an early Ukraine peace deal was scuppered by Boris Johnson has been circulating for quite a while, but the fact it appeared this week on Zero Hedge, which while not mainstream is certainly a lot closer to it, raises the important question always posed by Ben Hunt of Epsilon Theory Blog and the smart guys at the Narrative Early Warning System, (see here) namely “Why am I being told this? And why now?”

Equally, this article in mid August, by former Trump National Security Adviser John Bolton also raises the same two questions, acknowledging that Europe isn’t resolute in support of the US sanctions regime (that punishes Europe a lot and the US hardly at all) and seemingly ‘advising’ Boris Johnson’s successor not to give in to any ‘tricks’ by Putin to declare a ceasefire.

Awkward though it is to talk about it (definitely in the ‘too difficult’ box other than to agree with the official narrative), the fact is that Ukraine, not China is the critical foreign policy issue for Uk and Europe right now. The fact that Hawk John Bolton is conceding that the Ukrainians might not be in such a great position as the narrative managers are claiming (this latest counter-offensive being part of this) and that Europe is not resolute in support of the US/UK might be seen as preparing the ground that Putin might want a ceasefire and some at least in the US are aiming to achieve some end point even if they say they are not. Boris can be blamed for Zero Dialogue as well as Zero Carbon.

Who knows, perhaps the, frankly alarming, shelling of the nuclear power plant might be a plan to provide the pretext of ‘international peace keepers’? General Winter is coming and the pressure to resolve the Ukraine situation and the associated energy crisis is growing. Here’s hoping, for all our sakes, and especially those dying in the prolonged conflict, that zero dialogue goes the way of zero interest rates.

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