What does Boris Johnson stand for? Does he stand for something? Does he have robust political views?
He obtained Brexit carried out, it’s true, although at the price of conserving Northern Eire partly below the thumb of Brussels and inside the Single Market, which might transform too excessive a worth.
However since then he hasn’t needed to reveal his hand due to Covid. The pandemic has dominated all the pieces. It consumed a lot of the Prime Minister’s power and time, and practically took his life.
Not that it may be mentioned he has performed a blinder. There was confusion, contradiction and incompetence — as we now have seen through the nonsense of the ‘pingdemic’. With out the triumph of the vaccine rollout, the Authorities would have scored three out of ten in my e book. As it’s, 5?
Now, although, even the usually grim ‘Professor Lockdown’ — aka Neil Ferguson — means that by October we could also be trying again on the pandemic via our rear-view mirror, regardless of the virus nonetheless being round. Thank goodness quarantine guidelines are being dropped for double-jabbed travellers from the EU and U.S.
Covid seems to be ebbing away, at any fee on this nation. This creates an issue, in addition to a possibility, for Boris Johnson. Whether or not he likes it or not, we’re finally going to see what he’s actually made from.
STEPHEN GLOVER: The pandemic has consumed a lot of the Prime Minister’s power and time, and practically took his life
He’s effectively conscious of this, in fact. A few weeks in the past he delivered what was billed as a keynote speech. The topic was ‘levelling up’. If you happen to didn’t know what this meant when he started to talk, you had been most likely none the wiser after he had completed.
There have been the same old jokes and rhetorical prospers. The PM mentioned robust management was ‘the yeast that lifts the entire mattress of dough, the magic sauce, the ketchup of catch-up’. He want to see extra native mayors, however was a bit anxious concerning the ‘loony Left’ taking cost.
The joke about ketchup is humorous, although not excessively so, and one wonders whether or not his editor might need suggested him to take it out if he had included it in one in every of his Telegraph columns. It doesn’t imply something.
Two days in the past, Mr Johnson set out a second stall in an effort to present that the Authorities has different strong concepts for a post-Covid nation. It’s his ‘Beating Crime Plan’, which is, in precept, totally laudable.
Generally virtually woke-ish, Boris on this event channelled his internal Genghis Khan. He promised to pressure offenders to work in ‘fluorescent-jacketed chain gangs’ to discourage individuals from delinquent behaviour.
I personally would haven’t any qualms if recidivist burglars, scammers (if ever apprehended) and inveterate muggers had been subjected to such remedy, however everyone knows that it’s by no means going to occur.
To paraphrase a Boris Johnson column from years in the past, I’ll eat my hat garnished with bacon if I ever see a sequence gang of criminals in fluorescent overalls sweeping the streets or clearing the drains.
STEPHEN GLOVER: Now, although, even the usually grim ‘Professor Lockdown’ — aka Neil Ferguson (pictured) — means that by October we could also be trying again on the pandemic via our rear-view mirror
It’s crowd-pleasing stuff. Not that I’m in opposition to typically pleasing the group. However it’s infinitely simpler to crack a joke or conjure a picture than it’s to undergo the grind of introducing new insurance policies that make a discernible distinction.
Within the case of housebreaking and petty crimes, offenders received’t be deterred as long as they know the police haven’t the faintest intention of arresting them, far much less charging them. A revolution within the considering of senior cops is required — and that could be a mighty activity.
To return to ‘levelling up’, a couple of extra native mayors are unlikely to make a lot distinction. If economically depressed areas are going to get better, they are going to want larger productiveness, higher coaching, extra funding and, I’d argue, decrease taxes. Are they going to obtain any of these issues?
The very fact is that this Authorities, having hardly coated itself in glory through the pandemic, faces extra daunting challenges that any of its latest predecessors. Is it as much as them?
STEPHEN GLOVER: I doubt Priti Patel has the mental acumen to thrive on the House Workplace and suspect her abilities could be higher employed in one other job, akin to occasion chairman
Social care, rising crime, an overstretched NHS, housing shortages, unlawful immigration, squabbles with the EU, threats from Russia and China . . . the record may be very lengthy.
And it’s doubtless that when — or if — the Authorities grapples with these issues, it’s going to achieve this in opposition to a background of rising inflation and a rising variety of debilitating strikes within the public sector, the place the wages of many employees are in actual phrases considerably lower than they had been ten years in the past.
If one had been in a position to carry again a post-war prime minister from the lifeless to deal with the various crises we face, I’d most likely select Clement Attlee or Margaret Thatcher.
In fact, the 2 of them differed enormously politically. However each had been characterised by precept, willpower, consideration to element and ceaseless laborious work.
Can the extra easygoing and fewer centered Boris Johnson rise to the check? It’s one factor to sprint about cracking jokes and producing vibrant phrases. It’s a far, far tougher factor to control.
Furthermore, Attlee and Thatcher had been every surrounded by a lot of extremely competent Cupboard ministers, though in her first time period Thatcher was undermined by the so-called wets.
Boris, in contrast, is hardly blessed with first-rate lieutenants. A clearout of over-promoted and ineffectual ministers is overdue.
I doubt Priti Patel has the mental acumen to thrive on the House Workplace and suspect her abilities could be higher employed in one other job, akin to occasion chairman.
The questions are: can Boris metal himself to wield the axe in the appropriate locations? And are there sufficient high-quality middle-ranking ministers to step into the sneakers of those that needs to be sacked?
There are quite a few causes for worrying concerning the subsequent few years, although I don’t doubt the economic system will bounce again within the brief time period. However Boris does not less than have one factor in his favour. He’s a extremely bold man who cares deeply about his legacy.
He has learn some historical past and should know that posterity won’t be particularly eager about jokes or vivid turns of phrase. He will probably be judged by his achievements.
If, for instance, he can summon the braveness to grip the problem of social care and discover a simply means of elevating the estimated £10 billion wanted to fund an honest scheme, he will probably be rightly celebrated by future generations.
Nonetheless, elevating extra Nationwide Insurance coverage from these in work to pay for social care — however not from the over-65s who’re nearer to needing it — would virtually definitely be divisive and broadly unpopular.
With cautious and energetic planning, ‘Johnsonism’ could possibly be remembered not as a set of off-the-cuff and purely pragmatic responses, however as a coherent assortment of insurance policies. Even ‘levelling up’ would possibly make sense if intelligent individuals in Whitehall took the difficulty to consider it.
After the nationwide trauma of Covid, individuals’s hopes and expectations are very excessive. Significantly in disadvantaged former Labour ‘Crimson Wall’ seats within the North and the Midlands, many yearn for an sincere politician who lastly does what he guarantees.
Phrases and jokes can amuse and divert, however ultimately they aren’t sufficient. As Covid recedes, a brand new period begins. There will probably be a horrendous backlash if Boris Johnson fails to ship.