Lesser of Two Evils


The lesser of two evils principle is well known. The maxim existed already in Platonean philosophy. In Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle states:

“For the lesser evil can be seen in comparison with the greater evil as a good, since this lesser evil is preferable to the greater one, and whatever preferable is good”.

The modern formulation of the principle was popularised by Thomas à Kempis’ devotional book The Imitation of Christ written in the early fifteenth century.

With the principle in mind, let us look forward to 2024.

A General Election awaits.

As a voter you are faced with Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party which is ahead in the polls but requires a massive turnaround in fortunes to oust Boris Johnson’s Conservative Government. As a voter you consider the facts:

  • A Starmer Government will have to yoke power with the SNP in Scotland, promising an independence vote in 2025.
  • A Starmer Government will have to rely on the Liberal Democrats, who are demanding a referendum on EU membership during their coalition term.
  • Starmer’s front bench beyond a few capable ministers is dangerously thin. The Corbyn residue waits in the wings, with some of them destined to take the reins of the great offices of state. Starmer promises a talented new intake of MPs but they have no experience of government and while Gary Neville talks a good game he still manages to slip up on the simplest questions about interest rates and inflation.

The alternative, like in 1992, is holding onto nanny. But the liar Boris Johnson is Prime Minister. He still seems intent on Carbon Zero despite recent years of sharp economic pain. His wife, successfully hidden away for the year following the damaging partygate scandal, has recently been seen in public alongside Dominic Dyer of the Born Free Foundation. Rishi Sunak is still a steady hand in Number 11. Liz Truss has been an effective foreign minister and there is talk of her taking over as PM when Boris delivers a second general election victory for the Tories.

  • Boris is tired. The red meat policies offered over recent years have been too little too late.
  • The Tories are tired. Yes, some are retiring and being replaced by fresh faces but they’ve been in power for 14 years! Surely it is time for a change?

Still, 2024 will feel more like 1992 than 1997. The risk will be too great for Middle Britain.

Hold onto nanny.

The Tories currently ponder their options. Yes, given the circumstances, Boris should be given the chance to redeem himself – to repeat his election magic then be shown the door. Replacing him now would risk expediting a 1997.

Despite recent miscalculations, Boris is still the lesser of two evils.

It hardly takes a soothsayer to see the way that 2024 will play out.