You are currently browsing the daily archive for January 21, 2022.

When Boris Johnson won the December 2019 general election, the Conservative theme of which was ‘Get Brexit Done’, he said that he was grateful for the votes from former Labour constituencies, noting that those votes were ‘on loan’ to his party.

How true and how wise of him to recognise that, a gift which gave him a stonking majority of 80, the highest for the Conservatives in 33 years.

Boris was Prime Minister prior to that election, having been elected as Conservative Party leader in July that year after Theresa May’s resignation.

He should have known the knives would be out for him. He had unsuccessfully tried to prorogue Parliament that September. He ended up having to apologise to the Queen after Baroness Hale, she of the spider brooch and a Remainer, ruled against it.

With all that in mind, one would have thought that Boris could be more aware of the optics surrounding his premiership moving forward. Remainers — the Left and the media — have had a beady eye on him and Downing Street.

Boris’s majority is now 74: whip withdrawn from three MPs, two by-election losses to the Liberal Democrats (Chesham and Amersham, North Shropshire), one win from Labour in Hartlepool last year and one defection (Christian Wakeford).

Furthermore, it is worth noting that Boris’s resounding popularity with the public (until recently) is not reflected in the parliamentary Conservative Party.

Unlike Labour, the Conservatives do not hesitate to depose their leader. They got rid of Margaret Thatcher in the autumn of 1990. The ‘wets’ she so roundly criticised for their lack of political backbone proved they had spines after all.

Therefore, a Conservative Prime Minister faces threats from without and within.

The Opposition and the media want the UK to re-enter the European Union. The Conservatives have disgruntled candidates, past and present, who want to lead the party in a more conventional, less maverick, style. None of these groups is friendly to Boris Johnson’s premiership and would love nothing more than to see it brought down.

On Friday, January 14, 2022, the veteran journalist and author Charles Moore wrote a perceptive column for The Telegraph on Boris’s travails with lockdown parties: ‘For all his faults, there is no other Tory politician who has Boris Johnson’s political reach’.

Moore’s editorial appeared two days after Boris apologised at the beginning of PMQs (Prime Minister’s Questions). He said (emphases mine):

Mr Speaker, I want to apologise. I know that millions of people across this country have made extraordinary sacrifices over the last 18 months. I know the anguish that they have been through, unable to mourn their relatives and unable to live their lives as they want or to do the things they love. I know the rage they feel with me and with the Government I lead when they think that in Downing Street itself the rules are not being properly followed by the people who make the rules.

Though I cannot anticipate the conclusions of the current inquiry, I have learned enough to know that there were things that we simply did not get right, and I must take responsibility. No. 10 is a big department, with the garden as an extension of the office, which has been in constant use because of the role of fresh air in stopping the virus. When I went into that garden just after 6 o’clock on 20 May 2020, to thank groups of staff before going back into my office 25 minutes later to continue working, I believed implicitly that this was a work event, but with hindsight, I should have sent everyone back inside. I should have found some other way to thank them, and I should have recognised that even if it could be said technically to fall within the guidance, there would be millions and millions of people who simply would not see it that way—people who suffered terribly, people who were forbidden from meeting loved ones at all, inside or outside—and to them, and to this House, I offer my heartfelt apologies. All I ask is that Sue Gray be allowed to complete her inquiry into that day and several others, so that the full facts can be established. I will of course come back to this House and make a statement.

Sue Gray, an eminent civil servant, is still investigating the May 20, 2020 gathering and several others held in Downing Street during the lockdown periods in England. She could be some time.

On January 12, Opposition leaders and MPs piled on Boris. To an extent, I agree with them. Boris set the rules. Boris gave us the rules, either by himself or through his ministers, on television during the coronavirus briefings. Now he says he was unaware of them or should have been more mindful of them?

However, Downing Street is also a Crown property, meaning that it is exempt from certain laws that apply elsewhere across the country.

That said, the Queen scrupulously abided by the coronavirus restrictions during her husband’s funeral in April 2021. She sat alone. She was masked. It was tragic to see.

Yet, the overall design of the demands for Boris to resign over the parties — remember, he is still innocent until proven guilty — is to banjax Brexit and get rid of his attempts to make Britain a better place to live. This includes the expiry of most of the remaining Plan B coronavirus restrictions, on schedule for January 26, 2022. Their expiry puts the UK on course to be the freest Western nation in this regard.

Moving on to Charles Moore’s editorial on the parties, the eminent journalist asks:

I wonder, once the righteous anger had passed, how good it would feel for the country if the head of government had been ejected on this issue.

We may now be moving nearer to normality in relation to Covid-19. The Government, which was too draconian earlier on, now seems broadly on the right track, pushing back against scientists and social engineers in love with semi-permanent lockdown. Isn’t it better to stick to this course, without the self-indulgence of political convulsion? The international comparisons are quite favourable to Britain. We are not facing the collapse of the Government’s main policy. If anything, we are beginning to see its success.

Then there is the question as to how the news about these parties leaked from No. 10 or elsewhere. Boris’s former adviser, Dominic Cummings, is behaving like a vengeful jilted lover, referring to the Prime Minister as ‘the trolley’, careering all around the place. Does he bear any responsibility for these leaks? We should be told.

Of Cummings, Moore says:

I have a lot of sympathy with Dominic Cummings’s frustrations with Boris when he worked for him in Downing Street, but none with his attempt to prove him unfit for office by waging a continuous media campaign

If the two fell out, there will be fault on both sides, but the benefit of the doubt must go to the executive who is elected, not to the adviser who no longer advises.

As for sitting MPs railing against Boris, Moore says they represented the party when they ran for office; in most cases, they were not elected on their personal merit.

Moore was not to know of Christian Wakeford’s crossing the aisle just before PMQs on Wednesday, January 19. Wakeford sat right behind Keir Starmer, in full view of Boris.

Bury South, Wakeford’s Red Wall constituency, now has a Labour MP, with no say from his voters about this.

Moore says:

In the age of Twitter, many MPs seem to think they are in Parliament because of their own sturdy independent-mindedness and bear no responsibility to the collective.

Actually, no. Almost all of them are there because of the party label they hold – the regiment, if you like, in which they have chosen to serve. They need to understand that the regiment will come under constant attack, and they cannot survive individually if they crumple under each bombardment.

Until Wakeford’s defection, which is a serious matter in the House of Commons, a growing group of Conservative MPs were moving actively against Boris, especially through writing letters to Sir Graham Brady, head of the 1922 Committee. If he receives 54 letters against Boris, he can hold a vote of no confidence. Fortunately, Wakeford’s perfidious crossing the aisle was so shocking that those MPs have settled down, deciding to lie low for the time being. It is rumoured that some have since withdrawn their letters to the 1922 Committee.

Moore recaps Boris’s political history from the time he served two terms as Mayor of London, a job he performed admirably. Boris has had similar successes since then, including being the face of the Brexit referendum in 2016:

For all Boris’s evident faults – so evident that Conservative MPs knew most of them when they chose him – his record of advancing his party is almost unspotted. Twice managing to become Mayor of London – a very unTory city – he then won the EU referendum, thus accumulating the electoral capital to lead his party when Mrs May failed. He won a commanding majority at the ensuing general election on the proposition that he would get Brexit done and crush Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. The May era proved that no one else could do that.

I realise that gratitude is not a strong emotion in politics, and the polls are bad now, but Tory MPs should at least recognise that such skills are not easily replicated. The leading contenders if Boris falls – Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss and Michael Gove – are all able politicians, but none has exhibited anything like Boris’s reach. This man has come close to political death before – when Michael Gove denounced him after the referendum and when he failed as Foreign Secretary.

He has also come close to actual deathwhen he got Covid in the early days of the plague. But he has a way of surviving and reviving. These skills deserve respect from the party he leads. If they try to kick him out, they create a definite split for an indefinite benefit, possibly provoking the third general election in five years. Who needs that?

Precisely. There is no other leader who has the reach with the general public like Boris Johnson.

It will take some time for Boris to recover. This will be as difficult for him as recovering from coronavirus was in the Spring of 2020. It seemed to take him several months, even if he said otherwise that year. He looked and sounded tired and worn down for a long time.

The same will hold true now. The public didn’t mind when Boris tried to unconventionally foil opposition to Brexit, because we knew he was fighting on our behalf.

However, these parties took place at a time when we could not see other family members outside of our homes. We could not visit relatives in care homes. We could not be with them in hospital for any reason. We could not even get into some Accident & Emergency wards for urgent care. We were deprived of Christmas and other religious celebrations. We could not get married. We could not bury with the comfort of family around us. We could not sit on the grass in the park to soak up warm sunshine in May 2020. We couldn’t even sit on a park bench. Nor could we speak out against these restrictions or the ‘science’ behind them. We were ordered to stay at home and stay away from the workplace in order to save lives. We were constantly warned about ‘killing Granny’, a disgusting proposition and accusation.

The Government and advisers took us for fools, as if we were brainless. It is therefore amazing that we have the ability to hold down jobs and pay their overly inflated salaries and pensions. Then, at the end of last year, we found out that some of those advisers received New Year’s Honours for stopping us from living life in the way God intended, in a free society. It all stinks to high heaven.

Therefore, it is appalling to discover that, while we were cooped up at home, Downing Street was holding these parties.

Boris has betrayed the public the way he betrayed his wives. It was callous and cruel, in the same way that marital infidelity is.

That is what angers the public. Boris turned against us. How does a betrayed wife ever trust her husband again? This is what Boris will have to work on with us, ‘straining every sinew’, to borrow a favourite, albeit silly, Conservative turn of phrase.

Still, with all that in mind, we must keep in mind Charles Moore’s warning. If Boris goes, Brexit could be in trouble. Don’t believe Labour when they say that Brexit is a ‘done deal’ and they won’t try to reverse it:

One must ask who stands to benefit from the blond defenestration being talked of. Lord Adonis, the Remainer whose frankness is so helpful to the other side, tweeted this week: “If Boris goes, Brexit goes.” That is the idea. That is the constant motivation of a minority of unreconciled Tory MPs and a majority of the Great and the Good in the Civil Service, academia, the law, the House of Lords and the BBC, which is carefully managing this current story for the political effect it has always wanted.

Christian Wakeford is sure he’s done the right thing by moving to the Opposition benches, sidling up to Labour without a by-election. It will be interesting to see what his Jewish constituents make of his new alliance with an anti-Semitic party, supposedly cleaned up now. It will be just as interesting to see who the Labour candidate for Bury South is at the next general election. I won’t be putting any money on Wakeford’s selection.

What we need now is patience, watching Boris like a hawk in the coming months — especially with local elections this May — but giving him the space to repent through his actions by returning to One Nation Conservativism.

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