The saga of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s serial drinking binges signifies democracy’s nosedive. If he were not Prime Minister, he would be fictionalized as a pub companion of Sir John Falstaff, a boozy, buffoonish suitor of women, quarrelling with them in public.

Nick Hopkins of The Guardian and BBC’s newsnight had written some years ago a graphic account of Johnson, rolling like a drunk sailor at the San Francesco d’ Assisi airport. He was returning from the castle of newspaper owner Evgeny Lebedev, renowned for hosting uproarious parties. Hopkins quoted eye witnesses “Boris looked like he had slept in his clothes, and was struggling to walk in a straight line.”

Hard to believe because he was Foreign Secretary in those days. He had apparently evaded the 24/7 security detail and travelled without a suitcase. He must have slept in pyjamas he borrowed from Lebedev. Little wonder, then, Lebedev has been a member of the House of Lords since 2020 – i.e. during Johnson’s Prime Ministership.

Mark my word, he will leap into action should the Ukraine issue boil over. Who cares for drunken binges when issues of national, nay, Western security are at stake. US President Biden will lead him because he is sinking too.

Calls for Johnson’s resignation are becoming louder, but will he step down? No if he has not done enough for the establishment which brought him to power in the first place. The belief that in democracies people vote a government to power is increasingly a delusion.

The electoral process, voters pressing buttons or pushing slips of paper into the ballot box, provided legitimacy, a plausibility. Even that is now evaporating. Remember, 70% of the Republican voters believe that the 2019 election was stolen.

A government to remain in power, needs help in managing the opposition too. In India the easiest way to obstruct the unity of various regional parties is for the media to keep focus only on the solitary ruling class national party, namely the Congress. Since the Congress has no heart to win nationally, the balance of advantage remains with the other ruling class party, the BJP. Corporates will gradually, imperceptibly begin to redistribute their favours if the government they have brought into being begins to slip in the popularity stakes.

Why would the British establishment have settled on Johnson when his reputation for being flippant, unreliable, a liar was all over the British media at least since 2017? Because the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was too far left to be acceptable. All the world’s sins had to be pasted on to him by the media – he was a friend of Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan communist; he was anti semitic. Liberal values would be threatened should he ever become Prime Minister and so on.

He has to be grounded before he can take off. He faltered, balancing diverse approaches on Brexit, clinching the issue in 2019, but the media had left him no leeway to recoup. The alternative may be an unreliable drunk but he is at least not a “communist”.

No wrongdoing was involved if Corbyn knew Hugo Chavez. He knew many others of varied persuasions. You had to be in London to see hatchet jobs, not just in the media, but even in biography form: Dangerous Hero: Corbyn’s Ruthless Plot for Power. Written by Tom Bower, the book paints Corbyn in lurid colours – “a ruthless Marxist” hell bent on destroying liberal values. What Peter Oborne of the Daily Mail calls a “spurious” document, soon found itself on the second slot in The Sunday Times best seller list. Oborne researches revealed the biography was “replete with falsehoods.”

“It is hard to see how any decent person reading much of the newspapers or absorbing the broadcasting coverage of the last few years could have possibly voted for Corbyn”, Oborne wrote.

Corbyn himself noted in an interview that even he “would not want to live on the same street” as the man he read about in British newspapers.

This was the new McCarthyism amplified a hundred times by a media in the thrall of the post 90s Murdoch culture. And the malaise is on both sides of the Atlantic. The establishment dug its heels in against Corbyn and ended up with the embarrassment called Johnson. The system in the US would not allow Bernie Sanders, with his socialist ideas, as a possible candidate for the White House.

An anti establishment mood had been diagnosed for months before 2016 US elections, even before the primaries had picked up. The Washington establishment was in bad odour, but the Democratic Party machine had set its heart on Hillary Clinton who, ironically, was at the very core of that establishment. Hillary got the nomination but lost the election – to Donald Trump. Any data analysis will tell you that Sanders would have won.

Despite the outcome in 2016, the very same Democratic Party shackled Sanders once again. The media was in action. Thomas Friedman of the New York Times wrote two columns on “Why I like Mike”. The “Mike” of his adoration, billionaire Michael Bloomberg, way to the right of the John Birch Society, tossed his hat in the ring for the Democratic nomination, spent billions on the campaign and muddied the water. Everyone scrambled to produce a compromise candidate, Joe Biden. In the popularity stakes Biden is so low that Trump is only one percentage point behind him.

Contemporary democracy has gifted us a US President so weak as to be a virtual invitation for Trump to return. The process has also produced a serial binge boozer as Prime Minister.

Irish poet Brendan Behan, known for his drinking bouts was asked: “Wouldn’t you be a much greater poet if you didn’t drink so much.”

Behan: “I am basically a drinker with a writing problem.”

Recast the same question for Johnson; what would he say? To save his job he would probably fall back on blasphemy: “Don’t you know there ain’t no devil, it’s just God when he is drunk.”