Johnson’s premiership has been saved.
It looked like he might be unable to lead his party into 2024. As every day goes by, it now looks more like he will.
It’s never in best taste to bring politics into what it literally hell for millions of people up and down this country. We’re in the midst of a a global pandemic that’s claimed the lives of 100000 of our fellow citizens; we all know someone who’s been lost to this horrendous disease. Let’s bear in mind that above all else that is what matters, and that is what must always be central in our minds. Political analysis is a necessary evil to understand what’s going to happen, and why, but let’s not let it distract from the fact the whole country is mourning, and we all want to get out of this.
It is jump for joy levels of good news that the vaccine rollout is going so well, and that the whole response to COVID is turning itself around. From where we sit right now, there’s never been more hope than there is right now for a realistic ending to this hellscape within which we’ve been residing. Science came to the rescue, as science so often does, and those researchers all over the world who made this possible have my admiration, and the upmost gratitude and respect of the whole world. This is, and always will be, above all else, their victory.
Which brings us back to the domestic political calculus. This newfound huge success coming off the back of one of the worst COVID responses from any government in the world, hinges on a number of things. First and foremost, it’s because the NHS is running this, because public infrastructure is overseeing the vaccination programme, rather than outsourcing and cost cutting private contractors. Secondly, crucially, the government made the right call at the right time on procurement, getting the supplies quickly (although the way they signed away immunity for the Pharma companies was troubling from a moral standpoint). And finally, the govt knew it’s prospects of survival hinged on this, and a year of U-turns and mistakes has lead them to put together a genuinely GOOD operation to handle the whole thing.
Does the credit primarily deserve to go to the Johnson government? Sure, some of it, but majority should go to those who haven’t been responsible for 100000 deaths and are actually running this rollout, IE the NHS. Will the credit go primarily to the government? It’ll go exclusively to the government, in its spades. Johnson’s vaccine polling boost is coming, and it’s going to be bigger than any of us expected at the beginning of 2021; we’re talking an astronomical political boost, enough to live off for years.
Boris Johnson isn’t going anywhere unless he wants to. There was chatter of him resigning this year, or being pushed out before the next election, so damaged by his car crash pandemic leadership, but, alas, this will no longer be the case. Once again, Johnson can stay as long as he likes after this, and he’ll only be going if he’s sick of the job (not impossible), but knowing him, he’ll want to stick around for the fun bit; the boosterism and victorious rhetoric that jarred so terribly during the pandemic will resonate when those sunny uplands of post-pandemic Britain finally arrive.
The Tories were on the ropes last year. Keir Starmer’s Labour came within touching distance of them nationally, and in certain outlier polls secured a 2–4 point lead. This recovery from the dire Labour polling in early 2020 was magnificent, but with this success by the govt, Labour’s job becomes to tread water and not sink back to total irrelevance. Labour at 35% in the polls will be good come middle of this year, if all continues according to plan for the Johnson administration. That moment where it seemed plausible we may be able to turf these clowns out at the next election looks less and less realistic now, and a Tory majority under Johnson in 2024 looks all but certain for the time being.
Johnson is going to have a myth secured; that he did all he could, and he saved us from Europe and COVID. Both lies, both wrong. He regurgitated a worse version of Theresa May’s Brexit deal and presided over one of the worst worldwide COVID responses, but as always with this country, the myths succeed. Goal No 1 for us is to ensure accountability one way or another for the criminal negligence and open corruption we’ve all seen this year. People don’t want their nation’s response to a global pandemic to be garbage, so they’ll happily accept the more comfortable myth rather than confronting the reality of what’s happened here, what’s gone on, what they’ve done.
Boris Johnson will lead his party into 2024. The Tories will win in 2024. The government has made it through all these failures, and is heading for a political reboot placing them back to where they were pre-coronavirus; riding high and “crushing the saboteurs”. Labour’s task, and it’s a hard task, is to win the argument for a better post-virus Britain, to live to work with Johnson’s almost guaranteed incoming popularity boost, and do what Attlee did to the Tories in 1945; beat a popular leader by showing the public their party can’t be trusted to rebuild Britain. There are no such things are certainty in politics, and if Labour pull it out of the bag, they will absolutely be competitive in 2024; there are no forgone conclusions.
It goes without saying that Boris Johnson is a corrupt, incompetent, heartless, racist charlatan. Saying that in an echo chamber feels good but won’t be us anywhere. Snap out of it, realise we’re dealing with someone a lot of the public want to like, and did like, and will like again. The world won’t depose Johnson, the world isn’t just, and people won’t just wake up and all vote them out. Some may accuse me of being pro-Tory or pro-Johnson for often writing about Labour’s failings and the Tories likelihood of success; this is untrue, I write these things because unlike many centrist pundits, I’m serious about removing the Johnson project from power and replacing it with a progressive alternative. The question for those of us who really oppose Johnson’s project is this: how do we beat him?