THE near future of the United Kingdom is looking particularly bleak at the moment. With drastically increasing cost-of-living expenses, the majority of the population is looking ahead with concern to a year of serious decisions to be made over just what they can cut from their lives to stay ahead of rocketing food and energy costs.

Throw into that mix an increase to council tax and to National Insurance contributions and you have the makings for violent confrontations from a populace pushed to the edge. Banking institutions and investment firms have already privately started preparing for serious civil unrest across the UK, US and Europe as the cost-of-living crisis bites.

At Westminster, however, the jovial belligerence of the UK Government continues unabated in the face of not only the possibility of wholly justified riots on the streets of London, but the very real and heartfelt anger bubbling over Boris Johnson’s selfish behaviour throughout the pandemic. As far as it is concerned, the party is not over. The party will never be over.

This has led me to the conclusion that Johnson’s Conservative Party is not, in fact, stumbling from mistake to misjudgment by accident any more – the British state is now actively mocking us.

It has always felt very intentional that, on introducing austerity regimes to the UK Parliament, the Queen has delivered the legislative programme for government bedecked and surrounded in lavish wealth – a deliberate reminder of the gulf between us and them. While this has often passed without serious criticism, it did come to a head in 2018, when the Queen delivered her Christmas Day speech in front of a gold piano while urging self-sacrifice from the punters watching, a sly shield from behind which she could deliver “we’re all in this together” without letting the filthy masses ever get too close to thinking they could ever be her equal.

The Royal Mint, too, recently boasted of a giant pound coin they made for a private collector to mark the monarch’s jubilee. Valued at around £15,000 and weighing 15kg, this may have been the result of a private commission but it certainly feels deliberate to have flaunted such an example of excessive wealth in our current climate of escalating poverty. Instead, they perhaps should have quietly kept that one behind closed doors.

It’s odd to start thinking about winter when summer in Scotland has really just begun. However, understanding how unaffordable basic necessities are becoming, it’s difficult not to look ahead with unease to those cold, dark months that will be a challenge for us all.

Yet this was the backdrop to the State Opening of the UK Parliament earlier this month, in which a fancy hat for the reigning monarch was given its own car to be transported to the House of Lords, while Buckingham Palace advertised for cleaning staff willing to work for below minimum wages.

At the top of the British state there appears to exist nothing but the same indifference toward the people it governs that is characteristic of aristocrats and royals throughout history – though under Johnson it’s less “let them eat cake” and more “let us eat cake and lie about it”.

Prime Minister’s Questions could not have made clearer the distance between the occupant of 10 Downing Street and the people he is meant to represent. There is tangible anger in the air over partygate and alleged attempts to water down the Sue Gray report. Yet the Prime Minister thought it appropriate to crack a joke by calling leader of the opposition “Sir Beer Korma” at a time when real contrition was what was needed.

Amid the bellowing laughter and jeering from the Conservative benches throughout last week’s session, you would never have known we’re on the edge of turmoil, nor that the Prime Minister has been found to have partied his way through the pandemic while people died.

Perhaps the only thing that could have made the whole event more sickening would have been to try make the argument that Johnson’s reign should continue purely to keep an eye on those pesky immigrants – and as the Conservative Party continues to sink lower, MP Peter Bone was more than happy to oblige.

It was a display of pure disinterest in the pain that has been caused, and the cheerful sidestepping of accepting the blame for his behaviour reeks more of gloating at our expense than anything else. Now, like the perfect troll, Johnson has moved on from outright denial to attempting to justify his behaviour as good and moral, portraying himself as a morale boosting force of nature valiantly keeping up the spirits of his staff, while quaffing down some spirits of his own.

Speaking at a press conference, the Prime Minister stated he “respectfully disagreed” that it was wrong to attend a leaving do for a colleague, despite his own guidance saying as much. Johnson wants us all to move on, but so far all we’ve been able to move on from is one newly released party photo to another, calling the validity of the Metropolitan Police’s investigation further into question every day.

There is a pattern of behaviour at the very top of the UK Government and the British state that shows disdain for the people of the UK, and a propensity to flaunt wealth and power in the faces of those it exploits. Whether it’s the wealth of the monarchy or the belligerence of Downing Street, it appears our modern aristocracy takes delight in asserting its supremacy, in stomping down on the people to remind them of their place in Britain’s fortress to class. But things fall apart, and the centre cannot hold.