WE’RE living in an age of the anti-role model. Donald Trump in the USA, Boris Johnson in the UK, Dick Dastardly in re-runs of Wacky Races.

The first pair’s incontinent mutterings, angry pronouncements and off-the-cuff antics have legitimised others within and outside public life to let it all hang out in terms of prejudice and intolerance.

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Hey, if the big man in the White House says it’s okay, or if the Prime-Minister-in-waiting can say it out loud, why can’t we?

Their USP is LCD – lowest common denominator politics and they don’t care who they hurt and what damage they inflict as long as it’s America and Boris First. It’s not about setting agendas, leading the way and raising the bar, it’s rather about taking us backward, giving in to our baser instincts. It is the id over the superego to use Freudian terms that would be employed by the army of phychiatrists required to analyse the antics of this pair of complete chancers – to use the alternative Glaswegian definition.

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Here’s some context for the former foreign secretary’s latest headline grabbing comments, comparing Muslim women wearing niqabs to bank robbers or letter boxes.

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A report in July by monitoring group Tell Mama, which aims to tackle anti-Muslim hatred, noted a record number of Islamophobic attacks in the UK last year. Their findings show an increase of 26% on the year before in these incidents, the vast proportion of which involved Muslim women targeted by young males. In a statement in reaction to Johnson’s article in The Telegraph, Tell Mama reminded the former minister of the mental and physical suffering of those targeted by hate crime and warned that his words will only seek to “dehumanise” these women even more. They go on to invite Johnson to spend some time with their organisation to understand the impact on the lives of people who suffer hate attacks.

The National:

Something tells me Johnson will not be bungee jumping to take them up on their offer.

The Muslim Council of Britain has also condemned Johnson’s denigration of women who choose to wear the niqab and warned of the dangers facing Muslim women who bear the brunt of this intolerance as they try to go about their daily lives. They rightly advise that this kind of commentary should have “no place in our political discourse”.

Sans doute Johnson will brush off these criticisms, rather like Trump played down his “locker room” banter about women in that infamous recording with the lily-livered TV presenter who encourages The Donald’s disgusting bragging. Johnson may abdicate responsibility for the fallout from his bigoted musings on other faiths, but it is exactly this kind of attitude that is dragging political discourse into the gutter, and the repercussions are already severe.

Looking at his latest ravings in black and white, it’s amazing that he retains the capacity to shock, given his catalogue of past undiplomatic outbursts. This time, however, he’s pushed a little further into truly unadulterated prejudiced and misogynistic territory and that’s a very dangerous place. This outburst is set in the context of the rise of global right-wing extremism, with the recent release from jail of far-right activist, Tommy Robinson, and Johnson’s liaisons with Steve Bannon, who regards Robinson as “the backbone of Britain”.

We know Johnson is a motor mouth, but now he is free of his Cabinet position and with his new buddy Bannon in the background, pulling strings and whispering in his ear, he may continue to up the ante in his racist rhetoric. After all, we know he’s a fan of Trump and his hardball antics. One of Trump’s trademarks is to try out some pretty outrageous policies to see what sort of reaction he will get. Ban Muslims from the USA? He got away with that one. Separate “illegal” babies and toddlers from their parents at the border? He didn’t get away with that one. Its classic far-right “try-before-you-buy”, working out just how far you can push the letter before the sentient majority say stop, enough.

What is really worrying, is that Johnson obviously thinks that spewing up his darkest thoughts out loud will increase his popularity, will appeal to the anti-elite, the anti-liberals amongst us that are sick to the back teeth of political correctness “gone mad”. Here is an ego desperate to be the next prime minister, and this is what he thinks will help him achieve his ambition.

He believes he can get away with making such inflammatory comments about Muslims despite his own party being at the centre of an Islamophobia storm. It took a while for the current PM to come out to publicly condemn her former colleague for his language or warn against such incitements of hatred, but she did eventually – a day later – and asked him to apologise. Theresa May has promised in the past to deal with Islamophobia, but, as with so many of her promises, little to nothing has been done about these weeds so they fester and multiply.

If the UK Government can’t deal with religious prejudice at its core, or reign in loose cannons like Johnson, then it will be up to the people to decide what to do with them come the next election, which may be sooner rather than later.

In my experience as an MP, I met a lot more people trying to heal divisions in communities and increase tolerance than the reverse. Because, in the real world, away from the polished wooden floors and white table cloths, stiff upper lips and cut-glass hearts, I believe that across our islands a different sentiment exists to the one that fills our headlines and TV news programmes, a country that has no time for Trump-style shock-horror politics and no room for bigotry.

It’s these “secret people” who will say stop, enough. Johnson may find that the gutter is a lonely place.