26th July 2019
Johnson – blah, blah, blah
The first days of the Boris Johnson premiership have confirmed a number of things. Johnson’s blustering performance outside 10, Downing St, when accepting the role of Prime Minister, was full of hot air. His speech and response to questions in the House of Commons this week was an object lesson in talking loud and saying virtually nothing. In short, Johnson is little more than an incorrigible windbag.
That such windbagging has landed Johnson the top job in UK government says more about the parlous state of the Conservative Party than it does about Johnson’s skills as an orator, negotiator or political operator. In truth Johnson’s oratorial appeal lies almost entirely in his ability to deliver a witty one liner or a quick witted riposte when cornered. These are useful skills that will undoubtedly garner a few headlines from journalists, too lazy to see beyond Prime Minister’s Questions, but they are not sufficient to justify being in charge of the government.
As a failed Foreign Secretary Johnson does not bring to the job of Prime Minister any notable experience in a senior ministerial position. On the contrary, he has demonstrated that he cannot be trusted and that his grasp of foreign policy goes little beyond kowtowing to US President, Donald Trump.
In relation to the UK/Iranian citizen, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, currently jailed in Iran, even Johnson acknowledges some culpability in her ongoing incarceration. He either blurted out the truth in suggesting she was training journalists in Iran, effectively implying she was a British agent, or he has inadvertently implicated an innocent woman in activities she has had no part in. In either scenario, Johnson’s intervention can hardly be seen as a diplomatic coup de grace.
Johnson’s first Cabinet appointments clearly reflect a desire to brook no disagreement, about Brexit in particular, with a hard core of pro-Brexit loyalists being brought in to help prop up Johnson’s Brexit by 31st October, “do or die” pledge.
Such luminaries include Priti Patel as Home Secretary, a hang ‘em, flog ‘em or deport ‘em appointment if ever there was one. Patel’s credentials include being sacked by Theresa May for having secret discussions with Israeli officials, in order to influence UK policy, including advocating that the UK send military aid to Israel. Patel has also consistently supported anti-immigration bills, and opposed same sex marriage.
The Chancellor’s role goes to Sajid Javid, a Tory in the mould of Norman ‘get on your bike’ Tebbit, who will no doubt exhort the poor to work harder and stop whinging while their benefits are being cut. Dominic Raab comes in as Foreign Secretary, a former pretender to the premiership in the leadership race, a Johnson loyalist, while he is PM, and fully paid up member of the pro-US, pro-nuclear club.
Michael Gove resurfaces as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, a title of meaningless bombast, which will effectively see him in charge of no-deal Brexit preparations. Long time Johnson cheerleader, Liz Truss, turns up as International Trade Secretary while recent convert and former Remainer, Matt Hancock, hangs on at Health and Social Care. Jacob Rees-Mogg bags a Cabinet post as Leader of the House.
The list goes on. The chairs may have changed around but the tune remains the same. Johnson characterised it as “to deliver Brexit by 31st October, unite the party, defeat Jeremy Corbyn – and energise our country.” Deliver, unify, defeat, energise – DUDE, as Johnson would have it. Unfortunately for Johnson there is not a dude in sight, young or otherwise, and the Tory Cabinet could only ever be a collection of duds. They have managed to deliver ten years of austerity, initially aided by the opportunist Liberal Democrats and lately by the Democratic Unionist Party thugs. For the good of the people of the UK they should not be afforded ten minutes more.
The sooner a General Election is called, the better chance Labour has of turning back the tide in favour of the many, not the few.