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The only way Boris can survive Partygate The PM must take his punishment like a man

A real man. (Frank Augstein - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

A real man. (Frank Augstein - WPA Pool/Getty Images)


April 13, 2022   4 mins

There’s nothing like a political crisis — especially if you’re in Number 10. But when the news broke yesterday that Boris Johnson, Carrie Johnson and Rishi Sunak had all been issued with Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs), one suspects the mood was particularly frenzied. The verdict of the Metropolitan Police was in: the phoney war was over — the real one had begun.

This is the true politics of wartime: battling with your political enemies (always on your own side), fighting your political opponents (the invariably smug, self-satisfied opposition parties), and wrestling with the media. As Tony Blair’s Political Secretary during the cash-for-peerages scandal in 2006 — the last time the Met investigated Number 10 — I know this well.

From time to time, I find myself wondering what I would advise Boris Johnson if he asked Switch, the legendary Number 10 switchboard which can find anyone the PM wants to talk to anywhere in the world, to get me on the line. What I would say today, with a bit of help from Ronald Reagan, is that the answer is simple, but it’s not easy.

First, Prime Minister, take it on the chin. Great leadership involves making the final decision, and that is balanced by taking full responsibility for it, even if it appears only tangential to you. So accept the judgement of the Met in full — don’t quibble with it. No-one recalls whether Jeremy Corbyn had a case to make about the EHRC investigation into the Labour Party. They remember his grumbling with the report — something which he had no authority to do. When you are being investigated, no matter how high your rank is, the authority always lies with the investigator. No equivocation. Be true to your brand, Boris. Be the Anti-Corbyn.

Next, make an apology. I know you have made them before, but new circumstances require fresh words. And contrition. You can do that, as you showed the first time you went to the House of Commons to say sorry. Today we need a performance of the same power, but one that also shows generosity and selflessness. Again, you have to take this on the chin.

You could say something like:

“The verdict of the Metropolitan Police is clear. I will not contest this judgement. I accept it unreservedly. I will not contest the facts. I broke the rules, and I have been fined. I paid the fine immediately. I will not seek to blame others, whether civil servants or advisers. As a great man once said, the buck stops here.

“This is the greatest country in the world. It is a privilege to lead and I have fallen below the standards you expect of me. I cannot change what happened in Number 10 in the past, but I promise you that my failure, when so many sacrificed so much, will spur me to deliver for each and every one of you, in every corner of our great nation.”

Apologise once, deeply, sincerely, profoundly. But don’t repeat it again and again. That undermines the impact. Just look at how Labour’s constant attempts to disavow Jeremy Corbyn and all his works has made them seem obsessed with him, as if they have something to hide.

Then, take your punishment like a man. The local elections were always going to be rugged. Now they are going to be your version of Tony Blair’s “masochism strategy”. These elections were never going to be politically important from your point of view. The ballot four years ago culminated in a pretty high tide which was always likely to ebb. Now voters can have a major political outburst – the moment when they vent their pent up anger. When you’re out campaigning, don’t ask what they are angry about, let alone argue with them. Just let them get it off their chest. Far better they scream at you this May than at the next General Election.

Finally, show you’ve changed, don’t just keep saying you will. Move swiftly after the local elections to have a mini-Budget. Use it as an opportunity to abandon the cuts in your Spring Statement. No voter will care that it’s a U-turn, so long as it gives them what they need. And what they need is cash, and quickly. Stop pandering to the Treasury orthodoxy. Indeed, there will be no better time, given the Icarean fate of your once-illustrious neighbour. This is politics. What’s good for the voters is good for the government.

Perhaps most importantly, do this fast: speed kills, in politics too. Don’t be distracted from the simple strategy. Apologise, take your medicine, give the public what they want.

There will be bumps in the road. There will be endless talking heads droning on about “convention”. Others will parse Hansard. There will be an obsession with processology: who said what to whom, who did what when, and who knew what. But don’t get involved in relitigating the past. That, after all, is the point of taking full responsibility.

Instead, briefly remind people that you took full responsibility and rapidly pivot to delivering real help to the punters. This should be genuine help: don’t just have a mini-Budget. The iron law of government communications is that you can have one multi-billion pound announcement, or billions of one pound announcements. I know which suits your style.

Yes, this is undoubtedly a brutal moment to be in Number Ten, but politics is, and always has been, a contact sport. As an adviser you spend a lot of time stopping bad things happening. If you doubt that, just ask former advisers about their proudest achievements — they will reel off a list of averted disasters. (Like the time John Prescott wanted to abandon the “right to buy” scheme: technocratically neat, politically disastrous.)

Well, the worst has happened now for the Prime Minister. A Metropolitan Police investigation isn’t unprecedented. (Though in the case of ”cash for peerages”, we were cleared.) What is unprecedented is the world we lived in during lockdown. We are all relieved that it is over, and hope it will never come again.

The challenge for the Prime Minister is if the FPNs bring back that pain, and wash away the gains of our recent freedom. The challenge for Number 10 is to allow the anger and pain an outlet, while harnessing the feeling that we have turned a corner. Battered and bruised, but still standing, should be their ambition for Boris Johnson.


John McTernan is a British political strategist and former advisor to Tony Blair.

johnmcternan

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Matt M
Matt M
2 years ago

When all is said and done, voters will prefer a PM that can’t tell the difference between a meeting and an office party to one that can’t tell the difference between a man and a woman.

polidori redux
polidori redux
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt M

To be fair, Starmer can tell the difference. He would just rather not admit it. Starmer is spineless, not deluded.

Last edited 2 years ago by polidori redux
James Chater
James Chater
2 years ago
Reply to  polidori redux

‘Spineless’ or just pragmatic?

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

Both.

John Howes
John Howes
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

He is sufficiently pragmatic that he recognises his invertebracy.

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Not knowing the difference between a man and a woman is as pragmatic as being vague on what 2+2=

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago
Reply to  polidori redux

True, but it simply recasts the point made by Matt M as “When all is said and done, voters will prefer a PM that can’t tell the difference between a meeting and an office party to one that is too scared to state the difference between a man and a woman.”

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  polidori redux

And that makes it worse. Judas betrayed Jesus deliberately for money and Starmer is deliberately betraying women for woke votes.
Johnson is just daft – big difference as I keep saying here on Unherd.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ian Stewart
Martin Brumby
Martin Brumby
2 years ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Yes indeed, polidori.
We have, anyway, a surfeit of “women with penises”.
What we sorely need is men with balls.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt M

Voters can live with a PM having a flawed personality as long as they judge that they get the big decisions right.
Johnson seems to fit this description well, but the “bubble dwellers” in the MSM are completely blind to this perfectly logical trade-off.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ian Barton
Mel Shaw
Mel Shaw
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

I broadly agree that Johnson gets the big decisions right. But, government is mostly about a lot of smaller decisions and he doesn’t seem to do those. His government never seems to get beyond the consultation stage with anything.

Martin Brumby
Martin Brumby
2 years ago
Reply to  Mel Shaw

Big decisions right?
Such as doubling down on useless, unaffordable Ruinable Energy?
You’re having a laugh.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Brumby

Join the nuclear thread below, and suggest an alternative strategy for the next 30 years 
.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ian Barton
Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Spot on, and he’s not an ideologue like the other pompous hypocrites claim to be – which makes him the perfect leader. Changing with the populist wind not ideologies.

Victoria Cooper
Victoria Cooper
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt M

Love it.

Katy Hibbert
Katy Hibbert
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt M

Maybe Boris’s excuse for his many infidelities is that he doesn’t know what a woman is and is trying, trying and trying again to find out.

Matt M
Matt M
2 years ago
Reply to  Katy Hibbert

Nice one Katy

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt M
Charles Lewis
Charles Lewis
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt M

plus Who is going to do as well re Ukraine and the vicious little KGB thug in charge!

polidori redux
polidori redux
2 years ago

I will not be supporting Boris “Al” Johnson. Not because of Partygate, but because of his insane energy policy.
If the Tories do badly in the may local elections, Partygate will be used as the excuse. It will have nothing to do with large increases in the cost of heating our homes.
You don’t need to be Mystic Meg to read modern politics.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Johnson is the only one to actually provide a strategic answer in the last 20 years – it is nuclear – and wholly correct.
It might not serve you tactically to overcome current world energy pricing – but it is the right one.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ian Barton
Matt M
Matt M
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

There is a chance – probably more likely if the PM is under pressure – that the fracking moratorium will be lifted and gas bills will drop.

Tony Price
Tony Price
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt M

Gas prices are set worldwide – fracking or not in the UK is a complete and utter irrelevance to the wholesale price of gas.

polidori redux
polidori redux
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Really? I was under the impression that gas prices in the US were far lower than here.
Here are some stats for you
https://www.statista.com/statistics/673333/monthly-prices-for-natural-gas-in-the-united-states-and-europe/

Last edited 2 years ago by polidori redux
Matt M
Matt M
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Price

In normal times that is true. But there is no reason that the government couldn’t agree with the fracking companies that in order to get a licence to operate they must sell to the domestic market at a discount for the next two years. After that they can sell at market rates. The initial loss may be worth the longer term profits.
Also transport costs are sky high at the moment. So local production would also have an effect.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Price

More supply, in the world of economics, means lower prices. Therefore fracking can only help

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Price

If you understood this subject better you would know that your point is itself irrelevant.

The real point is that if we extract our own gas, the nation then has a saleable product on those same global markets, with results in a revenue stream (and which makes a big difference to the UK’s balance of payments too, another problem that needs fixing). Even in the unlikely event that we would not simply channel fracked gas directly into domestic heating and we just exported the whole lot at global market prices, the government would then have those billions of pounds annually to use which it would not otherwise have, and since a large and growing segment of domestic energy bills comprise taxes and redistributive subsidies, the government could if it wished fund those subsidies via fracked gas revenues instead of charging householders.

And that’s before even considering the effect of opening up the UK’s shale reserves and selling it on global markets: the effect, obviously, will be to increase supply and therefore to reduce the demand pressure that is presently causing the increase in global prices.

In other words, you’ll have to do better than to repeat anti-fracking agitprop.

Last edited 2 years ago by John Riordan
Ian Morris
Ian Morris
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Is this nominative determinism in reverse? Price is the thing you seem not to understand

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Not quite. Many gas fields are developed under pre-sold contracts at agreed prices. Domestic pipeline natural gas has cost advantages over shipped LNG.

polidori redux
polidori redux
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

It is only “strategic” if you do it in good time, my friend. And anyway, Boris’s plan was windmills and sunbeams: Nuclear power is a last minute, too late, panic response to the reality that is looming over the country. If you think that I will sit quietly, shivering in the dark, ekeing out my pension, while Boris and Carrie sit at their Islington dinner table praising their own wisdom, you will be making the mother of all miscalculations!

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Don’t despair, if any of this ‘Green Voodo’ nonsense is correct it’s an army of punkhawallahs you will need, not radiators.

Last edited 2 years ago by ARNAUD ALMARIC
Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Indeed – previous governments have completely avoided addressing long term needs

Now that this seems to be happening, the immediate debate can be about whether we should subsidise people further in the near term – bearing in mind our grandchildren are already screwed with the debt we have already amassed for them.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ian Barton
polidori redux
polidori redux
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

We have had 12 years of ostensibly conservative government and 2 years of Boris Johnson following Theresa Mays’s net zero policy. Well yes, the government has screwed our grandchildren, and now they are screwing us. Our MPs have the attention spans of gnats: I am surprised that No10 managed to organise a drinks party.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for the nuclear power stations. Boris probably thinks that you order them from Amazon.

Howard Gleave
Howard Gleave
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Is 25% of nuclear in the electricity generating mix anywhere near adequate? What happens when the wind isn’t blowing? In early April, wind delivered only between 0.2 and 0.6% of our electricity requirements. We need either massive storage capacity or full backup. Nuclear is the right decision IMO but lacks ambition.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago
Reply to  Howard Gleave

The Greens are idiots.
If they had any brains they would replace Thermal with Nuclear largely, with moderate Wind / Solar to top up – and do it on a reasonable timescale.

Instead, they are hoisting a ridiculous scenario on us – replace baseload capacity with inadequate and unreliable Wind /Solar, jettisoning Nuclear and propping up “Biomass” (cut wood to generate more poison than coal based plants)

Keith Callaghan
Keith Callaghan
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Just 12 years too late. Just why have the Tories been dithering about nuclear?

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago

Because they are no longer true Tories, but rather the ghost of that party.
‘They’ have been haemorrhaging for years, and now ‘we’ are shackled to the still warm corpse, despite a79 seat majority. You couldn’t make it up.

Andrew Martin
Andrew Martin
2 years ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

I would agree…. 5 years of heir to Blair Cameron, then I love my Country sob but I love the EU more Theresa May and then Mr Green agenda Boris transfixed by the young nymphs around him. What a waste of time it all is.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Martin

Excellent similes!

Martin Brumby
Martin Brumby
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

But his solution isn’t nuclear. It would be the right one IF he drastically simplified the planning process and could get more nuclear plants operational in a few years.
That isn’t going to happen.
On the other hand, he apparently intends throwing away the planning constraints on onshore wind and to fill the Irish Sea with offshore wind. Perhaps he didn’t notice the eight days the other week when there was effectively NO wind? Perhaps he hasn’t noticed that wind prices are rising, not “fallen by 70%” – as he has claimed.
Get fracking NOW and stop the GangGreen bullshit.

Pamela Booker
Pamela Booker
2 years ago
Reply to  polidori redux

I shall vote for the candidate, not their party.

polidori redux
polidori redux
2 years ago
Reply to  Pamela Booker

I used to think that way. There are now few if any Tory MPs worth voting for. Remeber, they are chosen by Central Office, not by the local party.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  polidori redux

You prefer disguised Rejoiner Starmer to be in power then?

polidori redux
polidori redux
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

I am tired of that argument Ian. If The Tory Party wants my vote it will have to earn it.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  polidori redux

And if Starmer gets in you’ll have an awful lot more to complain about. Accepting the least bad option is standard for almost any type of governance, elected or otherwise. Abstaining puts you in the same camp as those countries that have abstained at the UN over condemning Putin – you can’t then complain when it gets worse.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

I have softened towards Bojo again since he got his Mojo back.

polidori redux
polidori redux
2 years ago

You softy!

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
2 years ago

What indications have you got that he ‘has his Mojo back’?

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Lale

He actually expresses an opinion about women in sport; he went to Ukraine on a train as these are being targeted by the Russians.
Would you go there knowing you’d be a brilliant target?

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

The FSB were a bit ‘slow off the mark’ there.
Perhaps they have run out of Novichok?

Last edited 2 years ago by ARNAUD ALMARIC
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

How long do you think it will be before he U-turns?

AC Harper
AC Harper
2 years ago

I wondered about categorising the ‘crisis’ as if from the title of a Shakespearian play. “All’s well that ends well”? “Comedy of errors”? “Tempest”? “Julius Caesar” – is this a FPN I see before me?
There are some people who hate Boris and/or the Conservatives and will seize any opportunity, however small, to try and damage him. So I decided on “Much ado about nothing”.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Despite having very much enjoyed writing my full length Jacobean revenge tragedy The Senseless Counterfeit, it remains my solitary effort in the genre. I have thought about writing a parody of Much Ado, called F__k All About F__k All. This is only a pipe dream, however, because I don’t think I’ve actually read the Shakespeare play for several decades.

John Howes
John Howes
2 years ago

I am less vexed with Johnson’s non compliance with the law of the Pandemic than I am with the judge in the Colston statue case who invited the jury to opt for Human Rights as a justification for Criminal Damage.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago
Reply to  John Howes

Precisely, even worse than Hoffman and Denning to name but two.

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 years ago

After the murder of Thomas Becket, Henry II didn’t disclaim all responsibility or blame his advisers. And he didn’t abdicate/resign. Instead he did penance, walking barefoot to Canterbury Cathedral, allowing the monks to whip him as he went. This seems to me to be an admirable precedent. The PM should volunteer to walk barefoot from Downing Street to Westminster Cathedral (site of his latest nuptials), being pelted with cake as he goes.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew D
ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Or perhaps he should follow the precedent of another Henry (VIII) and send his present wife the Tower, and find another one?

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
2 years ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

Yes! Or take the previous one on as his senior advisor

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
2 years ago

My prediction for what it’s worth:
– Johnson is going to keep losing his grip over the premiership. I don’t see much possibility he will lead into the next election
– The only possible beneficiary, notwithstanding the trouble he is currently in, is Sunak. That is, if he doesn’t quit in disgust first at his wife’s treatment, which he may. Personally, I’m not a fan, but in the land of the blind the one-eyed rule.
– Labour was toast, and still is toast. Labour is unfixable. Apart from the systemic change in the party’s cadre since Brown lost, they are also facing a systemic global sentiment shift to the right which started a while ago and will continue playing out for a while yet, so a double whammy. Recent election results across other countries are the simplest proof
– Notwithstanding the left’s troubles, a fragmentation on the right in the UK is a real possibility because there is disconnect between the ruling strata on the right and the people who gave them a big mandate which Tories have just wasted. It doesn’t change the ongoing shift to the right but things would get very messy.

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

I would actually say that the disappearance of right wing parties and the move of the populace to more patriotic and normal attitudes has happened at the same moment, and not coincidentally. There is a reason why both British and American voters have a choice of Green/Left/Globalist parties or some other Green/Left/Globalist party. That is a design parameter. They don’t plan to give the public a meaningful choice.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago

I hope this is good enough advice for Boris to survive this situation. The reason I say so is that although I fully admit that this further evidence of his shambolic approach to running the country is shameful, I also remain aware that if he ends up being deposed for this reason, the scumbags who has spent five years trying to sabotage our democracy will have won.

R Wright
R Wright
2 years ago

I don’t care that he’s morally bankrupt. I care that he’s not socially conservative.

David McDowell
David McDowell
2 years ago

Why did and is MSM practically ignoring Rishi’s fine and fixating on Boris? We know Boris is roguish but wasn’t Rishi supposed to be a paragon of sound judgement and rectitude?

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
2 years ago
Reply to  David McDowell

‘You know, the rich are different from you and me’ – Scott Fitzgerald

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago
Reply to  David McDowell

That’s because Boris is priority target no 1 right now.
Give it time.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  David McDowell

Because the Boris is supposedly the leader. The man in charge of introducing those laws gets especially noticed when he decides to ignore them.

Fam Barr
Fam Barr
2 years ago

Boris – A true libertarian but who was enjoying being a popular solemn authoritarian. I feel for those who were blindly obedient but this is what happens when we all knew that it was morally inexcusable to allow loved ones to die alone but no one was brave enough to follow their moral compass and stand up to it all. I was blessed with libertarian genes and I ignored all rules that did not sit morally right with me. I took my kids to empty parks and skate parks to allow them to find some mental health release, I visited my elderly neighbour who was lonely even though she was not in my bubble, I never put my children in masks and I went for dinners at friends because I had no family in the UK. I think to some extent we all broke the rules – but justified it to ourselves and to everyone around us.

Fam Barr
Fam Barr
2 years ago
Reply to  Fam Barr

Some unresolved self evaluation required there

David McDowell
David McDowell
2 years ago
Reply to  Fam Barr

Agree with much of this but the end requires qualification to acknowledge that it was different for the rest of us because we didn’t make the rules or impose them on others.

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
2 years ago

As a conservative, I find it hilarious to see who is rushing to Johnson’s defense. It isn’t conservatives.

Andrew Langridge
Andrew Langridge
2 years ago

Does anyone believe a word BJ says? No come on, seriously? Who can possibly hold onto the top job in the land under these circumstances? His latest defence is that he didn’t know he was doing anything wrong. The man who came on our tellies every night at 5 pm explaining the law in minute detail, answering questions from journalists about the laws that he put in place. All his energy is now being given to hanging onto his job, which is seriously shaming for Britain and harming our reputation. Any MP who defends him now is guilty by association.

Howard Gleave
Howard Gleave
2 years ago

Excellent advice. But what’s missing is for Johnson to start delivering on his manifesto. And being less ideological about net zero. Insisting on heat pumps as a one size fits all solution will be nosebleedingly expensive (The Taxpayers’ Alliance estimates ÂŁ115 bn) and won’t work in many cases. Why not consider Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil as a drop in substitute for both diesel and heating oil (it costs only ÂŁ500 to convert a domestic boiler) until the cost of, allegedly, greener technologies becomes more affordable. Johnson’s net zero plan smacks of zealotry, not a recognised conservative principle.

Andrew Martin
Andrew Martin
2 years ago
Reply to  Howard Gleave

Well we’re banned from consuming it as it is toxic to our Bodies. So who is producing it?

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
2 years ago

‘… abandon the cuts in your Spring Statement.’
The politician’s answer. Never cut. Always and for ever, print and spend more money. What could possibly go wrong?

Iris C
Iris C
2 years ago

What a hoo-ha about nothing! Linking office Christmas drinks to those who suffered from Covid is to conflate two separate issues – one has no bearing on the other.
Also, does this ruling mean that all office drinks “dos” before Christmas or at any other time (elections?) can be subjected to the same prosecution many months, even years, after the event? I am sure there will be photos and documentation if the will is there to open this can of worms.

Victoria Cooper
Victoria Cooper
2 years ago
Reply to  Iris C

Of course it doesn’t. My own family suffered horribly from the restrictions (shared by most of the world) and I never for one moment equated it with parties elsewhere. The story has been distorted by the media in order to persuade people what to think – or should I say feel, because, clearly, they are not capable of thinking. And yes, how come it took so long to appear? Is Cummings behind the timing? And is Carrie behind Cummings?

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 years ago

ps speed does not kill… the collision of two bodies may kill, but if one, or both were to be travelling at different velocity no collision would occurr…empirical fact

James Chater
James Chater
2 years ago

One gets that the ‘politics’ of government is for the ‘grown-ups’ but do we have to accept the complete overwhelming hard-nosed cynicism this piece implies? For now – sadly, yes.
We need a proper written constitution to include fixed term parliaments and restrictions on PM office-holder – no more than two parliaments in office. And some sort of ‘Primaries’ system that includes more supporters voting for leaders/PM candidates.
PMs should be supreme administrators first and foremost and they should always look for the best to assist them. The fact we have an apparently near dysfunctional oaf surrounded by sychophantic fools has to be intolerable.
As others have said, Johnson has abused the spirit of our haphazard uncodified settlement, which assumes only diligent, honest people become PM.
(I accept that I am naive. And I do now get why Blair was/is so despised. But Blair never behaved so appallingly.)

Last edited 2 years ago by James Chater
Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

I disagree. As a conservative I’d rather just stick with the admittedly very ramshackle arrangement which has got us so successfully through the last 330-odd years since the Glorious Revolution.

Last edited 2 years ago by Drahcir Nevarc
James Chater
James Chater
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

The best parts can and should be preserved – I’m no would-be regicide – but as the lustre of the monarchy diminishes and PMs start behaving as de-facto ‘presidents’, within the ‘ramshackle arrangement’, we need something more concrete. Governments should not be able to go to the country just when it suits them; PMs should get no longer than 8/10 years and they should have been selected as candidates by more people. Hardly revolutionary.

Last edited 2 years ago by James Chater
ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

Wellcome back.

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
2 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

Constitutions mean almost nothing. Haiti famously has as its constitution an almost exact copy of the US constitution. What matters is probity, sobriety and honesty in those who govern us, which we used to derive from the Christian moral world. We no longer do, which is why we increasingly resemble Haiti.

James Chater
James Chater
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Lale

But at least Haiti has a fixed, codified system that can be adhered to. The fact that no one seems to require it in Haiti at the moment is a different matter.
It seems relying on incumbents’ sense of ‘probity, sobriety and honesty’, derived from any ‘moral world’, is evidently no longer enough for the UK.
But ultimately you are right – if no one cares about rules and conventions then we get what we deserve.

Mel Shaw
Mel Shaw
2 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

We did have a Fixed Term Parliament Act (recently repealed) that got us into a terrible mess in 2019 when the remainers tried to overturn the referendum result. If the Lib Dems hadn’t blinked we could still be living with the result of the 2017 general election with either a lame duck Tory government, or a cobbled together coalition dominated by the SNP.

James Chater
James Chater
2 years ago
Reply to  Mel Shaw

Yes, the poisnous politics of the EU referendum aftermath – I agree, deliberately thwarting the referendum result was completely wrong – came up against the FTPA but personally, I don’t see that as a reason to get rid of it. If an election produces a ‘lame duck’ government or a coalition, that surely reflects the results of the democratic excercise; the choice put before the electorate. Government is for the whole country not just for the continuing fortunes of one political party. It is the duty of the government – and the Opposition – to ensure the interests of all the people are met. Those who cannot negotiate and compromise have no business in democratic politics.

Last edited 2 years ago by James Chater
Mel Shaw
Mel Shaw
2 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

The problem with FTPA was that it made no provision for what to do if the government could not command a majority for its programme, but the opposition would not trigger a no confidence vote or support a vote for a new election. Add to that a Speaker egging on the opposition and a Supreme Court willing to create new constitutional provisions and we had a near total breakdown of our parliamentary and government system. Any new version of FTPA would need to deal with these issues. Easier said than done and probably beyond the abilities of parliamentary legal draftsmen.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
2 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

No no no. It mostly works, and sometimes it falters. But not to the extent that change is required (other than get rid of the absurd Supreme Court to ensure we are not run by judges). And as for honest PM’s: starting from the beginning, like: Walpole, Grafton, Disraeli, Lloyd George, Eden (alas because otherwise admirable), Wilson…*? I don’t mean they were crooks but that they broke constitutional convention, for good or bad reason, but we survived.
*Those are just the ones I can quickly think of without looking things up

Mel Shaw
Mel Shaw
2 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

I don’t recall Harold Wilson breaking any constitutional conventions. He was a pretty straightforward politician and had quite a few heavyweights in his cabinet. The contrast with the nonentities who get front bench jobs in all parties these days is stark.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
2 years ago
Reply to  Mel Shaw

He behaved very badly in relation to some of his ministers, particularly Brown and Benn. Arguably with good reason! But he certainly had some talent in his cabinet

Mel Shaw
Mel Shaw
2 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

George Brown was his own worst enemy and Tony Benn was one of those people good at identifying a problem and almost always totally wrong about its solution. I’ve met a few like that over the years.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
2 years ago
Reply to  Mel Shaw

Alas, poor Brown. What a waste of talent. Spot on on Benn!

Andrew Martin
Andrew Martin
2 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

Blair may have been despised but he got done a lot of legislation that twelve years later the Tories cannot unfix, nor it seems that they want to. It begs the question to me a Tory voter.. is there anyone left with a brain that works?

David McDowell
David McDowell
2 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

That’s emblematic of the sort of technocrat nonsense that has destroyed France.

Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
2 years ago

….. and does the public and do his voters care????

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago

Quite a lot of sense, but I see little chance of any change concerning the Spring Statement, and Treasury orthodoxy will win. Is Sunak capable of resisting any more now than previously? (I quite understand the imperative of balancing the books, but on can’t during a war (the Second WW), or the pandemic (vast amounts doled out rapidly, and perhaps more than necessary), or during an unprecedented energy crisis and war; the former is enormous and the existing measure overly complicated and inadequate, while the latter may possibly require a great deal more expenditure before it’s over, both ro support Ukraine and to reverse the ‘peace dividend’ the Treasury was unwise enough to use.
As for bumps in the road; a large number of those wielding influence through the media or by leaks of confidential information will make sure another one arrives soon, but they’e not finished with this one yet, judging by the airtime devoted to it, what with asking of those who were unable to visit relatives in care or whose relatives died during the lockdown what they think of ‘parties’ at number 10.

Last edited 2 years ago by Colin Elliott
Caroline Murray
Caroline Murray
2 years ago

But who in their right mind would want him to survive?

Paul Smithson
Paul Smithson
2 years ago

Boris Johnson should resign. He has treat the public with disdain by making and implementing rules and regulations that he (and it seems most of his team) didn’t follow.

Odd that when he had direct access to all the terrifying models being created by Ferguson, and the ‘expertise’ of Witty and Vallance that he and his chums just carried on their lives as normal.

Whilst he and his ‘experts’ were intent on building maximum anxiety and fear in the public with their doomsday predictions and implementing fines for anyone who dared to defy their rules, they were partying.

Boris et al clearly must have known that the pandemic was not the armageddon they were making it out to be, as otherwise they would have done like the rest of us had to, and isolated themselves and their loved ones. Instead they were sipping fine wine, laughing and joking, and driving around the country having affairs

If Boris had an ounce of decency he would resign right away. But he is a lying, devious, manipulative, cheating rat so there is not a cat in hell’s chance that he will do the honourable thing.

Matt M
Matt M
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

He most definitely should not resign. He should do the following:

1. Expand gas, oil (and limited coal) production in the UK by fracking and opening new fields. This will keep energy secure and cheap until nuclear becomes the major source.

2. Pass the Nationality and Borders bill and ship illegal immigrants to offshore processing centres

3. Arrest and prosecute eco protestors blocking roads, rail or other infrastructure. Never mind if the occasional jury lets them off, keeping prosecuting!

4. Develop a position that pushes back on the woke, anti-British, anti-Western idiocies that seem to have overtaken the Establishment. He made an excellent start the other day with his views on transgender issues.

Resigning and letting in Labour would make all four much, much worse. It might not be comforting but Boris is all that stands between us and the rule of woke, open borders eco loons.

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt M
Andy Moore
Andy Moore
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt M

Anybody can implement the actions you’ve listed above, Johnson is a busted flush and needs to go. The article itself shows why politicians and advisers from all sides are failing the people of this country.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  Andy Moore

The clear danger is that Johnson would be replaced by somebody less inclined to take the measures listed by Matt M.

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Johnson is IN NO WAY inclined to take the measures listed. Haven’t you noticed?

Andy Moore
Andy Moore
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Fair point, but there is currently no plan for any of the items listed and there won’t be, because he’s not interested in them. He’s just another politician that wanted the top job, then when he achieved that, he’s been running around like a rabbit in headlights. I voted for him, but I do fear the damage he will cause before the next election. His handling of Covid means that I won’t be voting conservative while he’s still in office.

James Chater
James Chater
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt M

‘He most definitely should not resign’. One assumes there are issues/trangressions that he should resign over? Psychopaths can be effective as leaders but if they are shameless and tawdry too this affects us all as a society – or it should. The fact that many, if not a majority, think it’s OK he remains, is depressing and reflects the deep divisions.

Last edited 2 years ago by James Chater
AC Harper
AC Harper
2 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

Perhaps people think it OK he remains because the alternatives are worse?

James Chater
James Chater
2 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Clearly Sunak is now ruined but he could have done it had events/timing been different and nothing declared or uncovered. If Sunak walks, just wait and see which little lapdog jumps up, loyalty being more important than numeracy.

Last edited 2 years ago by James Chater
Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt M

Agreed 100%. Excellent comment.

Paul Smithson
Paul Smithson
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt M

I agree with all of the above, but there isn’t a chance he will do any of what you suggest. He is pretty much the architect of all you mention. He has had plenty of time to do these things and hasn’t.

We definitely don’t want Labour, I agree, but we do need a principled PM, not a lying, cheating man who will do or say anything you want to hear, in order to keep himself in power.

He is a disgrace, and I am ashamed to say I used to rate the guy, and I voted for him.

Last edited 2 years ago by Paul Smithson
Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt M

He should do this, he should do that. Boris will do none of those things you say because he doesn’t believe in any of them. What you are wishing for is completely unavailable.

Andrew Martin
Andrew Martin
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt M

Matt, with ref to No 4 after his views on the Transgender issues the federation of the top Police chiefs defiantly said that Transgender Police officers will still be allowed to strip search a woman suspect. An example of an alternative power in charge we know as the Blob.

Edward Seymour
Edward Seymour
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

I think Zelensky got it right: Be Brave Like Boris. The man is right: Boris will be judged favourably by history as the right man at the right time.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

That’s a bit OTT if I may say so? Nobody really cares about a little bit ‘high spirits’ at the Top Table.
What is comforting to know, as you so correctly point out is that despite all the mass hysteria generated by Ferguson, Witty, Valence & Co, Boris and chums knew that the whole thing was just a monstrous scam.
Unfortunately they were too timid to act correctly at the start, and thus failed strangle the COVID babe at birth.

Sheridan G
Sheridan G
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

Would it be totally unfair to say that Boris was pushed into enforcing a lockdown against his better judgement by the very same people trying to crucify him now for giving them what they wanted? “If they want so badly to be locked up in their own homes for the first time ever in the history of this country, then the fools can have it. But I’m not going to do it!”

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago
Reply to  Sheridan G

Correct in every detail, sadly.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
2 years ago

Brilliant article. I hope Boris reads it and does all of that

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
2 years ago

Boris can’t show he has changed as suggested; he most likely has not!
He doesn’t understand the difference between authority and power.