Johnson’s speech exposes the incompetence at the heart of the government – Labour Article
“Incoherent and lacking common touch”, was a particularly derisive headline describing the Prime Minister’s televised speech on Sunday. Even more telling was the fact that it was published by none other than The Daily Telegraph. Somehow our nation’s leader addressed the public with a message so vague, confusing and fundamentally worrying, that even the most sycophantic journalists had to drop their charade and face reality. Boris Johnson is a man out of his depth.
His speech was littered with manipulated statistics and contradictions. The most glaring was the baffling guidance for public transport. How on earth can Mr Johnson “actively encourage” people to got to work, and then shortly afterwards warn that they “should avoid public transport if at all possible”?
The cognitive dissonance on display here is incredible and irresponsible. Not only is an untold number of working people being encouraged to risk their lives every day, but their situation is not even being addressed by the Prime Minister. Instead, it is glossed over in a flurry of ‘if’s, ‘should’s and ‘must’s.
Before the inexplicably delayed announcement of a 14-day quarantine for those flying into the UK, something which Hong Kong enacted two whole months ago, Johnson blustered that “we are going to be driven by the science, the data and public health”. Coming from the man who hubristically boasted that he “shook hands” with coronavirus patients before falling gravely ill, it’s hard not to find his pretensions of rationality utterly meaningless.
How can the government be driven by “the data”, when barely two weeks ago Matt Hancock was revealed to have counted potentially unused testing kits to reach the measly target of 100,000 tests a day? Not only is this a scandalous manipulation of the very data the government is apparently “driven” by, but Germany had surpassed that target nearly six weeks ago, making it woefully clear how far behind we really are.
How can anyone possibly believe Mr Johnson when he tells us he “will not hesitate to put on the brakes” if there are further outbreaks? He has a long way to go if he wants to win back the public’s trust. A poll by The Independent found that a majority of the public believe the Prime Minister acted too late in enacting the lockdown, potentially causing thousands of preventable deaths in his negligence.
Confronted with the trials of a genuine crisis, Boris Johnson’s charismatic façade has deflated. It reveals what was there all along – a lazy, recklessly incompetent charlatan. Practical reassurance is what the country needs. But, this does not come naturally to Boris. He is far more comfortable breezing his way through life, cracking wise and avoiding hard work. However, this time his callous nonchalance has cost lives, and very nearly his own.
Written by Labour writer, Max Ingleby
Point of Information
A speech that is hard to defend – a Conservative response
Mr Johnson did not shower himself in praise on Sunday. I agree with several points raised by Mr Ingleby. Yes, there is manipulated data everywhere. Yet it is also important to remember that test centres are not as busy as expected. Many people are just worried about going outside, even for medical advice.
The clarifications made the next morning by Dominic Raab – which some feel was also deceptive and unclear – shed light on many nuances glossed over on Sunday. It does make sense why so many parodies of bumbling speeches popped up on social media platforms later that evening, given the tone of Mr Johnson’s address. A longer, more detailed and considered announcement would have shown more thought. I know Mr Ingleby appropriately highlighted this in his article as a recent downfall of Mr Johnson.
Overall, it was not the PM’s finest hour. But, there are reasons behind the minor easing of the lockdown. To resume some semblance of normal everyday life, the public has to be trusted. Maybe alertness is not the most eloquent way of telling us to use our common sense and better judgement. However, I believe there is a real need for some normality to resume.
Written by Conservative writer, Joshua Tyrrell
An appropriate response to an encrypted message by our Prime Minister – a Liberal response
Overall, this article highlights the deceptive message by Boris Johnson and his cabinet. For a long time, I have pondered the ability of the government to act responsibly. As I am currently residing in Switzerland, where lockdown measures are finally easing as the number of cases falls, it is evident that the British government has not handled the situation well at all.
Johnson’s address on Sunday evening provided little clarity to the public on how to proceed. Alongside his buddy across the pond, Boris seems to be focusing too heavily on the economic impact of the virus. Rather than concentrating on the individuals who are dying because of inconsistencies within the information about safety.
The UK has been on the back foot from the very start and it is time that the public finally realises that Boris has very little knowledge on how to save lives. Encouraging people to go back to work is an outrageous statement. The likelihood of infection will rise, even with social distancing measures.
Seeing polls showing that the public believes the government acted too slowly is not surprising. Instead of learning the techniques used by countries where the spread of the virus was controlled, Boris believes that he and his posse can tackle the virus alone. I believe that the NHS has done a terrific job of saving countless lives. However, the Prime Minister’s attempts to rush the process severely undermines its value to the public.
Written by Liberal writer, Charlie Papamicael
A late bloomer when it comes to politics and current affairs, I first dipped my toes in the political pool at the tender age of sixteen with a bracing submersion into the AS politics syllabus, and I have been hooked ever since.
‘Hold a flexible mindset’ was a piece of advice I once heard and I find it appropriate to mention when introduction myself as a member of the POI team.
I am a second year student currently reading International Relations and Modern Languages at the University of Exeter.