Johnson’s Inaugural Year: Mistakes Galore – Liberal Article
It doesn’t require more than a glance at headlines to be concerned about the leadership of the UK. Johnson’s his reign as Prime Minister has been defined by lies, failed promises, and – to put it nicely – communication mishaps.
Just take a look at Johnson’s first year, stumbling through office. We’ll just skip over the parts where he sneaks off for holidays during a national crisis.
The most prominent issue this year has undoubtedly been the pandemic. Missing the first five Cobra meetings set us on the path to becoming the country with the third-highest number of COVID deaths in the world accompanied by the third worse economic downturn on record.
Not a great attempt at fighting this ‘battle’ to say the least. Even just the war rhetoric adopted by our Prime Minister is frustratingly patronising, particularly when it contradicts the actions being taken.
We’re not fighting an enemy, we’re facing a virus – and badly, I might add. Covid-19 can only be beaten by following health guidelines and scientific advice. Something Johnson undermined as he shook hands with COVID-positive patients in a hospital days before shaking hands with scientists working on a vaccine.
Was it karma that gave him coronavirus or just plain ignorance (aka Dominic Cummings)?
Those on the frontline actually ‘flighting’ the virus have not just been ignored but actively endangered by lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This is a number one contributor to the deaths of over 600 front line workers. Again, a statistic that the UK comes nearly on top for.
Many of these deaths would have been avoided with sufficient PPE. Yet Johnson’s government not only declined to join the European scheme to source PPE, but spent over £180 million issuing contracts to unsuitable private organisations; over 400,000 Turkish gowns ordered were deemed useless.
Then we come to the track and trace palaver. France, Germany, Australia, and Denmark all had systems running; Boris continued to deny that it was even possible. When we did eventually get a track and trace system, it cost over £12 billion. I just cannot see any justification for such a cost, especially considering it wasn’t effective – it didn’t help us avoid our second lockdown!
This is my problem: for a party that propagates scepticism over public spending, the Conservatives were far too enthusiastic to skip regular procedures and award contracts to close ties and big donors to the party.
But I guess Johnson doesn’t have to follow guidelines if they don’t apply to him and his friends. His persistence defence of Dominic Cummings’ behaviour, in particular, has raised cross party critique. Dominic Cummings has proved untouchable from any form of discipline. From undermining the importance of lockdown regulations to having unpaid taxes on illegitimately built homes, Cummings has proven laissez-faire attitude does exist, but only for the elite.
For the majority, not fulfilling citizenship duties such as paying tax, leads to penalisation. Over 700 people have faced jail since 2010 for not being able to afford their taxes or the fine issued. Whilst people commit suicide over their inability to afford tax bills, Cummings gets excused without even an apology.
It’s clear that Johnston’s loyalty lies with himself, not the public.
This behaviour confirms what Cummings stated, that “Tory MPs largely do not care about these poorer people, they don’t care about the NHS”. The Conservatives, as a party, continually prove that they are not our public servants, they are out of touch, unaccountable elites.
You would think that at least with Cummings, the Prime Minister’s chief political advisor, having such close ties to Russia, the UK government would be on top of the Russian interference in our democratic processes. But no. Instead Johnson has actively suppressed public access to information concerning foreign interference.
The Salisbury attacks; Russian activity in UK waters; Russian oligarch money funding the Conservative Party; the independent Russian Leave campaign in our Brexit referendum. One cannot pretend or ignore that foreign interference is going on.
A democracy relies on transparency, particularly around an election. So why did Johnson refuse to publish the Intelligence and Security Committee Russia Report prior to the 2019 election and why did it take 16 months to be published? Someone other than Putin must be benefiting from the silence.
However, a number of MPs from other parties have, for the first time, taken legal action against the government. The concealing of information and failure to impose a legal framework to prevent foreign obstruction breaches article three of the ECHR: the right to free elections.
If the above isn’t clear, what this foreign interference means is that the Brexit vote is illegitimate. Conditions necessary for an informed democratic vote were actively prevented.
Furthermore, the promises of the Leave campaign have not been met. The £350 million for the NHS was never actually going to happen, and even if it was an actual promise the UK certainly couldn’t afford it now. The cost of Brexit procedures alone has cost us more than all the decades of membership in the EU combined.
Boris himself admitted that a no-deal would be a failure. So he’s even failed on his own terms.
Admittedly Johnson was handed a tough hand when he entered office, however, he hasn’t handled a single card right. His government is facing legal action, not just from our politicians but from the rest of the EU. Johnson’s approach seems to appear unbothered about breaching laws, following legal advice or sticking to promises. He is in no way in touch with the majority of voters, his decisions are based on donations. His government is not just incompetent but corrupt and someone needs to be held accountable.
Written by Senior Liberal Writer, Abby Milnes
Point of Information
The Conservative Party is in a precarious position – A Conservative Response
Admittedly, it is hard being a believer in conservatism right now. Johnson’s handling of the coronavirus (especially recently) is becoming very hard to defend. I’m losing my faith in my government. Two of my friends who are actual Conservative members are also losing faith in the government. Much of the population has too.
To answer the question of why people vote for the Conservatives: it is because I believe in (small c) conservative values. And in December, it was easy to. The Conservative Party had clear policy goals and a clear opponent.
Now it’s looking more unlikely that those policies will not be met (I’d argue that this is not Johnson’s fault). Our opponent has now shifted to an invisible force and denouncing it won’t have any effect whatsoever.
Without the virus, I think Boris would have been able to capitalise on the extra support from the North and give them what they want. Instead, he’s facing a Northern Research Group. These Tories feel their communities are being ignored, still.
The PM doesn’t have to be at every Cobra meeting. It is not part of the normal government machine. Civil servants caution against it, saying that it is not how government should be run. The relevant minister often chairs these meetings as well. This might be more effective even, and he/she understands the specifics better than the PM.
This also ties into a later point, he couldn’t remember all the COVID restrictions. That was an obvious ‘gotcha’ question. He cannot be expected to remember everything. He is no doubt dealing with other things than not just COVID restrictions.
I have no doubt Johnson takes COVID seriously. Was he late in implementing a second lockdown? Yes. Has he constantly undermined his own scientists at every turn? No. Has he used him getting COVID for political purposes? No. Has he advocated for unproven cures? No.
Donald Trump has done the last three and more. I doubt he would ever consider a second lockdown, let alone do it. America is the country that hasn’t taken COVID seriously. You could argue our measures were slow, but you could never say the government didn’t take it seriously.
I too am worried about his over-reliance on Cummings. He should have been fired from his position after the whole breaking lockdown incident.
I hope you aren’t implying the Salisbury attacks, or Russian navy in our waters are Johnson’s fault. Or that either benefits him. Because neither do. However, we do need to be sure we protect our democracy and it seems he is lacking.
Russia is not just a Tory issue. Under Corbyn, it was a Labour one. From using leaked NHS papers from Russia in an election, and his weak response to the Salisbury attack. Starmer seems to be running it better, but time will tell.
No deal is a failure, and the timing on the internal market bill was unfortunate. He openly spat in the hand of the EU; break a treaty whilst still negotiating?! That undermined the process. No deal will hurt the UK, a deal would have been better.
I do not think the fault is entirely Johnson’s. The coronavirus pandemic split attention, just when it was needed on negotiations. I would have been prepared to wait another year to get a deal because of COVID, though there are many others who wouldn’t.
I hope after the pandemic has improved, the government can recover. If not, the Tory party will lose 2024 very badly.
By Junior Conservative Writer, Kieran Burt
Stuck between Brexit and COVID-19, Johnson’s chosen calorie counting – A Labour Response
I think we can all agree that we’ve never seen a politician quite like Boris Johnson. His roguish appearance and ‘satirical’ comments originally garnered him an approachable and ‘down to earth’ reputation. Gaffes like playing sports with local children, getting stuck on the zip wire over London, his generally messy appearance and, of course, ‘Bo-Jo’ only added to this.
However, this approachable exterior effectively camouflaged how dangerous as a politician Johnson actually is, as outlined by Abby.
Individually, he’s a pretty awful person. A brief list of all the terrible things he’s done and said includes the time he: lied about having affairs (resulting in him being sacked from cabinet); called women in burqas “letterboxes”, gay men “bum boys” and black people “piccanninies” with “watermelon smiles”; was accused of being an inactive Mayor of London, using it only to further his political status (lest we forget ‘the bridge’); said that Liverpool revelled in its “victim status”; derogatorily called then-President Obama “part-Kenyan” when he cautioned against leaving the EU; irresponsibly commented on Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case, accidentally adding years onto her sentence in Iran; said that Libya could be the ‘next Dubai’ if it cleared the “dead bodies away”; implied that Malaysian women only go to university to find a husband; I could go on.
You get the point. He’s a racist, sexist, homophobe.
But more dangerously, Johnson is the literal definition of a career politician. He went to Eton and university with David Cameron; was President of the Oxford Union (whilst attending Oxford) which is a position held by former Conservative leader Hague and former PM Edward Heath; was editor of the Spectator after stints at The Times and Daily Telegraph; then became Mayor of London and eventually chose to be a Leave supporter because he thought it was easier to get votes that way.
His brother, Jo Johnson, was also in politics and was even Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation (appointed by his brother…) until 2019. He resigned from cabinet over his brother’s handling of Brexit, citing that he was divided between his loyalty to “family loyalty and national interest”. Even his own brother doesn’t trust his capabilities.
Then, in the midst of a national crisis, he chooses to set up an initiative for the nation to lose weight?! Don’t worry Boris, plenty of people will lose weight under your government; I’m sure that was your exact intention when your party voted against providing meals for school children.
Admittedly, whoever was in charge was always going to have a tough time of it during a pandemic. People would have held a Labour government to account and put then under massive scrutiny. We will never if they could have done a better job.
Despite this, the fact that Johnson’s been gunning for Prime Minister since his first day makes me feel that he’s ecstatic that he’s in charge during COVID-19. I bet he thinks he will go down in history as the Prime Minister who got us through a global pandemic; the modern iteration of Winston Churchill.
I’m not trying to imply that Johnson doesn’t take COVID seriously, no one can claim that. But the bottom line is he is a career politician and his unabashed political ambition shows that he was never in politics for the people.
This, plus his favouritism of Dominic Cummings and the handing out of private contracts, shows that Johnson approaches politics as the boys’ club; it’s as if he never left Eton.
Written by Senior Labour Writer, Abi Smuts
Hello, my name is Kieran Burt and I am going into second year at Nottingham Trent University studying Politics and International Relations. I first developed an interest in politics through reading the Dictator’s Handbook by Alastair Smith and Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, when I was 16, and have furthered my interest by studying politics at A level and now at university.
Hi, I’m Abi, a final year at Uni of Exeter studying International Relations and English. To me, it was only in A Levels that I realised how important politics was, when I was stuck in my male-only, extremely conservative Politics class having to constantly justify and defend my opinions to them.