​What a week it’s been for those of us who follow the soap opera that is contemporary politics!

Published: 13 June 2023

We had the arrest over mysterious SNP finances of Nicola Sturgeon, erstwhile first minister of Scotland — a inept administrator but a communicator so brilliant she was regarded by the gullible as the finest statesperson in Europe.

Closer to home, we had John Finucane, whose childhood was scarred by witnessing the horrific UDA murder of his father, giving the main speech at a commemoration of the ruthless IRA gang known as the South Armagh Volunteers— who perpetrated such atrocities as the mass murders of neighbours at Kingsmill and Tullyvallen.

He made no exceptions when he said on Sunday: “So today we remember with pride the many Irish republicans who gave or lost their lives, with deep sympathy for their grieving families.”

But before those two events, and still in the news, were developments in the long-standing storylines of Prince Harry, President Donald Trump, and ex-Prime Minister Boris Johnson, which have been full of dramatic plot twists and bizarre detail.

Harry, giving evidence in his lawsuit against the Daily Mirror over alleged phone hacking, chose to stick to the strict convention that had him addressed initially as Your Royal Highness and then as Prince Harry, while breaking the gold-plated royal convention never to criticise the government which is vital to the survival of the monarchy.

Trump, who wants to win the presidency for another term, was indicted by the Department of Justice with 37 felony counts related to the mishandling of classified documents, obstructing justice and making false statements. Improbable storage locations in what was described as the “active social club” in Mar-a-Lago, his Florida estate, included a ballroom, a bathroom and a shower.

And Johnson sought to force a crisis in the Conservative Party by resigning as an MP and encouraging others to follow suit, having failed to force his law-abiding successor, Rishi Sunak, to overrule the independent House of Lords Appointments Commission’s rejection — for good technical reasons — of a few Johnson nominees to the Lords.

This is complicated by the fact that it is clear that — as happens frequently — Johnson sabotaged himself by failing to master the details and so was once more in the wrong.

After conversations with friends in the last few days in which I variously described Prince Harry, Donald Trump and Boris Johnson as narcissists, I was challenged to be more specific.

What characteristics did they have in common? I was asked. Surely Harry’s just weak-minded, Trump a maniacal braggart, and Johnson a gifted chancer?

Isn’t narcissism straightforwardly self-absorption, I countered, which is certainly a condition they all display.

I wasn’t wrong, Wikipedia told me. In order to survive, we all need a healthy level of narcissism, but it can tip over into Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), which is displayed by people with five or more of these symptoms:

A grandiose sense of self-importance;

Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love;

Believing that they are “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions);

Requiring excessive admiration;

A sense of entitlement (unreasonable expectations of especially favourable treatment or automatic compliance with their expectations);

Being interpersonally exploitative (taking advantage of others to achieve their own ends);

Lacking empathy (unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others);

Often being envious of others or believing that others are envious of them;

Looking at the three candidates, all of whom I feel entitled to diagnose as unquestionably qualifying for a diagnosis of NPD, I would add another symptom that I would call blame deflection, or “A big boy did it and ran away”.

It is weird to see the highly intelligent and well-read Boris Johnson hurling the same paranoid accusations of witch hunts that we’re hearing from across the Atlantic.

Will Walden, who was chief of staff and spokesperson to him as foreign secretary, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “He’s convinced by his own truth in his own righteousness. There’s no apology, no taking responsibility. It all feels very Trumpian.”

And very Harry!

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