by Danny Kruger
Monday, 6
June 2022
Debate
14:14

For all his flaws, Boris stands for the great realignment

Why I'm voting in support of the Prime Minister
by Danny Kruger
Conservative MP Danny Kruger in Parliament.

There are two principal charges made against Boris Johnson by his opponents. First, that he is morally unfit to lead. Second, that he is leading the country badly. I’ll address these in turn.

I don’t judge people’s private morals; or rather I do but I oughtn’t. I judge public conduct. And on that, I think we should be forgiving about minor slips — as I was about Dominic Cummings’ driving trip, or Keir Starmer’s beer, or the ‘ambushed by cake’ incident for which the PM was somewhat surprisingly fined. 

None of these are resigning matters in my view. Nor are the other events that took place in No 10 without his knowledge, albeit on his watch, and embarrassing and obnoxious as they were. And while we await the enquiry into whether he lied to Parliament, at this stage I am confident that he spoke in good faith at the despatch box (and I don’t believe he’d be so stupid as to lie about something that he knew could be so easily disproved). 

For these reasons, based on what we know so far, I will not call for the PM’s resignation over ‘partygate’. I do not accept that his public conduct makes him morally unfit to lead. 

The second charge against him is that he is leading the country badly. Here I have some sympathy with the letter that my colleague Jesse Norman wrote to the PM this morning. It is true that we need a more compelling vision to unite behind. To my mind that vision needs to be about national resilience: fixing our broken systems that saw us unprepared for the pandemic, unable to meet the demand for health and social care, unable even to issue passports or visas or driving licences; bolstering our national defences and our domestic supplies of energy and food; supporting the entrepreneurs who create jobs and wealth in all parts of the country; and most of all, strengthening our social foundations by investing in families and communities. 

To me, this vision of national resilience gives teeth to the levelling-up agenda that is rightly the focus of the Prime Minister. Because levelling-up is about more than redistributing some public money to the North and the Midlands. It is, as Michael Gove has said, “an economic, social and moral mission”, to make our country stronger and more united. And it is this mission that Boris Johnson, for all his personal failings, personally represents. 

The Prime Minister stands for the great realignment that the referendum of 2016 and the general election of 2019 introduced to our politics: a turning-back to the values and interests of the ordinary people of our country, in opposition to those of the professional elites who held sway in recent decades. The people who voted against the establishment in those elections expect to see us deliver on the promises that were made. Those promises were made, more than by anyone else, by Boris Johnson. He is the man to deliver them. 

The Prime Minister, flaws and all, has the personality and the courage to inspire people to believe in him — not as a moral paragon, but as a fighter who will do what it takes to win. Win for whom, you ask? For himself certainly, but also for the country, for it is the way of leaders to identify their interests with those of the nation.

Working in No 10 as the PM’s Political Secretary in the second half of 2019, I saw him up close as he faced down a hostile majority in Parliament and the massed ranks of the establishment to get a deal with the EU that everyone said he wouldn’t get, then forced Parliament to dissolve itself, and then swept the board in the election that followed. 

He was elected to deliver for the country, and especially for those people and places disregarded and disempowered by British politics for so long. We Tory MPs must not dismiss those people and places this time. We have a duty to help the PM do what he was sent to No 10 to do: to unite and level up, and to strengthen our country for the shocks that the times will throw at us.

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Geoffrey Hicking
Geoffrey Hicking
5 months ago

It is extraordinarily difficult to govern. It should be noted that Thatcher’s government was in trouble by 1982. The Falklands showed she had steel, but up to that people were concerned. 1979-1982. How many years is that?

If Johnson goes now, the conservatives will be kicked out of power at the next election. I do not believe that there are any contenders good enough. Even Badenoch would disappoint people. Why? Because there is a strain of mean-ness in the tories that turns on its own with relish.

It also feels like the Conservative Party have lost its ability to grit its teeth and get on with it. A pandemic has happened, a war is going on, and we’ve unhooked from Europe, and we have to deal with the fallout from all of this. Some conservatives tell us to grit our teeth, not to grumble, and to look for the nicer things in life to be grateful for, but they themselves then indulge in moaning and whinging, and endless “he/she’s not a Conservative!”. Ok. Fine. He isn’t. Thatcher wasn’t (she was a Manchester Liberal). Churchill betrayed the Conservatives and went over to the Liberals at one point, so he isn’t a Real Conservative either. Who else shall we tear down? How much shall we look for all the horrible bits of our country (even though we aren’t supposed to talk our country down) so as to moan about it?

Give Boris time to sort things out. He will succeed at some things, fail at others. THEN the electorate will decide what to do with him. 50 years from now, no one care whether Boris went now or at the next election.
Backbench Conservatives need to follow their own advice and lump it. Leave the ultimate decision to the electorate. Treat us like grown-ups please.

Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
5 months ago

I’m in agreement with this. Party gate is not a resigning matter and nor has the Prime Minister had a chance yet to implement the program he was elected on.

Criticism of broken promises on tax, ignore the economic reality of the pandemic and damage it did to the public finances. I had no love for the lockdowns we were subjected to and believe that at times the rules were excessive and bordering on the absurd, but politically, I doubt it was ever feasible to do away with them entirely, given the febrile atmosphere of the time.

Neither should we be expecting a precipitous drop in migration or a bonfire of EU red tape overnight, especially whist grappling with economic storms of the present. It will take time for the economy to adjust, time it has not yet had. All this is hugely frustrating and I share these frustrations. If we were to see no progress in the coming years, then it will be time for the Prime Minister to step aside; but until he has had this opportunity, how can we judge him before he has been given the chance to govern?

Finally, we have the opposition. We need only look to America to see what the results of electing a so called “moderate centrist”, when they are backed by are party of radicals. If Kier Starmer appears wooden, it’s because he is the ventriloquist’s dummy for the most extreme policies of the progressive left. He will happily wrap himself in the flag today, only to toss it in the bin tomorrow if he achieves power.

Boris is far from perfect but I still believe he is better qualified any other member of the party at present, to prevent this coming about.

Frederick Dixon
Frederick Dixon
5 months ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

“Neither should we be expecting a precipitous drop in migration……overnight”. Ok, but any drop (as promised by Johnson in the run up 2019) would have been welcome, when what we actually got was a precipitous RISE to One Million (!!) more or less overnight. And that in a year when travel restrictions still applied for much of the time. Expect a BIG increase this year.
For that alone Johnson should go, although I’m not aware that any conceivable successor would be any better. Zero choice among a bunch of lousy politicians – how did England come to this?

Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
5 months ago

I find the latest immigration figures disconcerting as well, however, when 2020 and 2021 are averaged out, then the figures are in line with recent history. Much of last years surge is a hang over from the year before and this isn’t been communicated in the media. I’m willing to delay judgment until we have a clearer picture as to where the numbers are heading, however, like you, I expect to see numbers decline as requisite of my continued support for the party.

Christopher Peter
Christopher Peter
5 months ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

You articulate my views exactly, thank you. Boris is not perfect and I too have some frustrations with him and the current government. But to ignore the huge impact of covid, to basically judge his progress on the “levelling up” agenda and post-Brexit change as if the pandemic had never happened, is unfair in the extreme. Let the public judge him at the next GE in a couple of years or so.
Tory MPs are taking a massive risk in attempting to oust him – not least because the most likely outcome of today’s vote would not be outright victory but just enough to weaken him, not enough to oust him. Who does that help except Labour?

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
5 months ago

And that’s how it looks tonight, according to mainstream media at any rate, but as we all know, they have their own agenda.

Boris Johnson is, i believe, a strong enough character to withstand this lukewarm vote in his favour, just as he has withstood the intense pressures of the past 5 years or so, and with great good humour. It strikes me, those pressures would’ve had lesser men buckling at the knees, and its precisely why he continues to be the right PM for this country – his resilience and ability to turn things around. He must now push on to prove his supporters were right to keep faith with him.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago

And while we await the enquiry into whether he lied to Parliament, at this stage I am confident that he spoke in good faith at the despatch box (and I don’t believe he’d be so stupid as to lie about something that he knew could be so easily disproved).

Wasn’t he fired for lying twice already?
But OK. You have chosen to trust the Boris at his word, and so to link your credibility to his. May one fate come over you both.

S R
S R
5 months ago

Fine. Nonsense, but fine. Is UnHerd going to have a piece from a Tory MP who is voting against Boris?

Andrea 0
Andrea 0
5 months ago

I, for one, still don’t know what the prime minister is about or where he wants to go. Thatcher had the Falklands to prove herself, he had Covid. Need I continue?

Last edited 5 months ago by Andrea X
Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
5 months ago

The media always gets excited by the prospect of bringing down a government by judicial rather than democratic means.

Otherwise I doubt they’d care about partygate.

M. M.
M. M.
5 months ago

Danny Kruger wrote, “The Prime Minister stands for the great realignment that the referendum of 2016 and the general election of 2019 introduced to our politics: a turning-back to the values and interests of the ordinary people of our country, in opposition to those of the professional elites who held sway in recent decades”

The primary issue that resulted in Brexit is immigration. Most Britons favor limiting immigration in order to preserve their Western culture.

On that issue, Boris Johnson has done a good job as prime minister. In particular, he recognizes the dangers of “open borders” and has implemented a policy of deporting illegal aliens to Rwanda. If they seek political asylum, then they must apply for it from Rwanda.

Taking this stance is courageous, for Johnson knows the hostility that it will generate in the United States against Great Britain. Unlike the British, a (slight) majority of Americans favor “open borders”. It is rapidly transforming the demographics of the United States. By 2040, Western culture will decline to the status of a minority culture, and this country will cease being a Western nation. Hispanic culture will become the dominant culture. (In California, Western culture is already rejected by most residents, and Hispanic culture dominates.)

Ideally, the new leader of the West should be Germany due to its economic heft, but if the Germans shirk that responsibility, then the Britons should step up to the challenge.

The Britons already lead the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF). Unlike NATO, JEF has only Western Western nations among its members.

Get more analysis and info about these issues.

Frederick Dixon
Frederick Dixon
5 months ago
Reply to  M. M.

I take it that you’re writing from the US? If so, you may not be aware that Johnson’s govt has introduced a new, much more liberal, immigration policy which has brought a record – record – One Million (!!) legal immigrants to our shores last year, a country which (I believe) is a good deal smaller than Texas.
Yes, his Rwanda plan for removing illegal immigrants to Rwanda is a good one. But illegal immigration, although exasperating, is trivial by comparison with the multitudes coming here legally, and Rwanda serves as a handy deflection device to draw attention away from legal immigration – sleight of hand.