We are accustomed to personality politics, though its 2017 incarnation – with the prime minister sending out leaflets that don’t mention the party, preferring “myself and my team”, and the opposition leader seeking to sail into Downing Street on a wave of 20,000 Libertines fans singing his name – is pretty rum. We are less accustomed to politics in which the personalities are sold as the diametric opposite to what they are. A woman who changes her mind on everything, and days after she’s said something says the opposite, is running as the immovable rock in a turbulent world, while a man who hasn’t knowingly changed his mind on anything since 1983 is presenting as the pluralist, the one who can listen.
All the restraints on political discourse, which force the elegant manoeuvres where you soften or pad out or re-contextualise reality so that it better fits your story, have been removed. To say the opposite of what is true is now more than acceptable: it amounts to a core strategy. Or, to put it more simply, they will just say any old bollocks.