Finally, Boris Johnson is…going. Not gone but, hopefully, going.
Before I go on, lets consider what some of Boris Johnson’s own ministers have said in recent days, as it’s helpful to know what his friends think at this time:
“Government simply cannot function with you in charge” / “an apologist for someone who has committed sexual assault” / “I cannot continue to serve within your government and defend the indefensible” / “for too long we have been more focused on dealing with our reputational damage rather than delivering for the people of this country” / “events have shown that the government simply cannot function with you in charge.”
These are just some of the comments made in the ministerial resignation letters, which to me begs two questions. First, what is it they learned this week that they didn’t know last month when there was a no confidence vote, or last year when our economy was sliding towards crisis, or indeed when Johnson stood for leader and they supported and enabled him?
And secondly, having finally, (three years too late), admitted they acted because of the character they know him to be, why do they think it’s acceptable for this man to remain in power for weeks, perhaps months longer? Having now said in public that he’s fundamentally unfit, untrustworthy and “an apologist for someone who has committed sexual assault”, they have returned to government to allow him to continue his vandalism against our economy, public services and standards.
At the risk of sounding quaint, surely if you’re unfit to run government in the long-term you’re unfit to run it in the short-term. This man simply should not be living in Downing Street for another day.
I’ve always fundamentally disagreed with Conservative ideology, but the Tory party today is different. It’s become a squalid, tawdry party, that right now has an MP under arrest for rape but remains a member of their parliamentary party.
You might remember back when the ‘partygate’ scandal was raging and some people were saying ‘this isn’t really important’? Back then I said the reason why it is important is because those parties confirmed as fact several characteristics about the prime minister: he lies; he’s reckless; and he’s incompetent.
And then we look at the state of our country – almost 7 million people are waiting for NHS treatment, 7,000 for more than two years ago (with Labour we got the waiting list down to 18 weeks, remember those days!); 56,000 victims of serious crime are waiting for a crown court hearing; violent crime is up, prosecutions down; taxes are at a 70 year high, inflation is almost 10% yet economic growth is chronically low.
There is a link between the two and we’ve all known it since before Boris Johnson became prime minister – he lacks the skills, character and temperament to run our country. The Tory party have known this better than anyone because they know him best, yet they enabled him, they championed him and they papered-over his behaviour, his law-breaking and his debasement of our politics and standards in public life.
It’s not a change of Tory we need, it’s a change of government.
Labour has undergone profound change since Keir took over. We have the people, policies and politics that Britain needs to rebuild our country after the ravages of austerity, Covid and Boris Johnson. Rachel Reeves has an economic plan to get the economy back into growth and firing on all cylinders; Wes Streeting has an NHS workforce plan that’ll build the capacity we need to end the waiting list nightmare; Bridget Philipson has the post-covid school recovery plan ready to go; and Ed Miliband has the most ambitious and credible climate change action-plan of any party that’ll get us back on track for net-zero whilst re-equipping key economic sectors for the transition in a way that creates new, sustainable and quality jobs in parts of the country that need them most.
And me? I felt able to accept a job on Labour’s front-bench because I believe in Keir Starmer’s decency and desire to make Britain a better, more united place to live and work. For a time this week, Northern Ireland had no executive, no assembly and no Secretary of State. This is because of Tory neglect for Northern Ireland. From day one of a Labour government I would set about being the Honest Broker Northern Ireland deserves and working in a functional way with the EU to solve the protocol challenges through diligent and respectful negotiation.
From there, Labour will restore trust to our relationship with the EU, the US and other key global partners and start working towards ways forward that creates opportunities for British people and businesses after the damage of Boris Johnson’s Brexit and damaging, law-breaking behaviour since.
I say this because yes, this Tory party is rotten and unfit to govern. But there is an alternative. Britain needs a fresh start and Labour has a leader with decency, a team with ideas and competence, and a party that is reformed and ready to serve. I’ve waited a long time to say those words and if you know me just a little bit from these website letters, you’ll know it comes from my heart.
There is a better future if our country choses it.