The first December election since 1923 is upon us and while my intents on this blog when discussing politics has to been to remain fair and impartial mostly; I have been keen in the past year to reflect the truth. Hence, the series of posts I’ve done entitled A Tory Said What. Those posts have been difficult to get on top of with the number of mistruths and spins spun by the Tory government. However, since Boris Johnson became leader in the summer the scale of mistruth and keeping up with it all has been virtually impossible.
So, with the country going to the polls, I make this impassioned plea…Please for the love of God, do not return Boris Johnson and his ‘new’ Conservative Party to Downing Street with a majority!
Waking up on Friday 12th with Boris Johnson commanding a Commons majority for five more years would be catastrophic for the UK. While in understanding peoples reservations about voting for Jeremy Corbyn given the attack lines in the media that he is an anti-semitic racist despite campaigning against racism throughout his career or being some sort of terrorist sympathiser when in fact he is a life long pacifist. If you time or day to listen to him, you would know that. However, five more years of the Conservatives would be much worse as the very fabric of the United Kingdom will be at risk and this is how…
1. Brexit and the Union
One of the main sticks Boris Johnson likes to beat Jeremy Corbyn with is the potential to break up the Union via a Corbyn-Sturgeon coalition. Obviously, if it were a hung Parliament and the SNP were to support a Labour minority government, there would be a second independence referendum. It is the only purpose of the SNP, so yes that would be on the table, the same would be the case even in the unlikely event she was to prop up Johnson. However, the timing of it is not as Johnson would argue, be in 2020 as Corbyn would want to leave it until after the next Holywood elections to firstly inject investment in Scotland and secondly, to see if there is still the appetite for it in Scotland; i.e if they return another SNP majority.
However, the integrity of the Union is threatened by Johnson’s Brexit agreement. What about Northern Ireland? Northern Ireland has been the stumbling block for Brexit with it first being the backstop that brought down Theresa May’s agreement but Johnson’s deal, while it removed it put in place something worse. In fact, his deal is worse. It effectively puts a border down the Irish Sea cutting Northern Ireland off from the rest of the UK.
When asked by Andrew Marr if there would be tariffs and checks on goods travelling between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, he replied ‘Absolutely Not’ and went on to state that his Brexit Secretary was wrong. Stephan Barclay had told the House of Lords EU committee that additional paperwork would indeed be needed while the governments own economic impact assessments argue the same. The document, dated 21st October accept, ‘Goods moving from great Britain to Northern Ireland will be required to complete both import declarations because the UK will be applying the EU UCI in Northern Ireland. This will result in administrative costs of businesses‘. That sounds an awful lot of tariffs and checks; effectively a border.
2. It does not get Brexit done?
Their headline slogan for this election and indeed Johnson’s since his leadership election in the summer has been to ‘Get Brexit Done’. It is short and to the point, hence why it has been fairly effective and why failure to stick to the October 31st deadline can be a useful weapon for him. He can pass the blame on to someone else. However, he claims his ‘oven-ready’ Brexit deal will get Brexit done by January 31st but that is misleading. It is merely only stage one. While it gets us out it is not the end of it all.
3. He can still take us out with no-deal Brexit.
Stage two is the implementation period, the date of which has not been moved along at the same pace as the Brexit extensions meaning it is still at the end of 2020. Under his agreement, only the Prime Minister can propose an extension and Johnson has insisted he won’t do it. That means if a Parliament, not wanting a no-deal Brexit could not propose it as they did with the Benn Act. That is the real reason we are having this general election. Also, this extension needs to be requested by July 1st. That gives them five months to get to a stage where they feel they can get a deal done by the end of the year. Is this possible?
It is thought Johnson wants a free trade agreement with the EU similar to what they have with Canada; a Super Canada ++. That deal took Canada and the EU 7 years to reach. Even though they insist we are starting at the point of total realignment which makes it easy, the fact they want to diverge on standards, workers rights amongst other things makes the year deadline difficult to see met especially when they EU have announced plans for three years worth of talks. It will not be done.
Potentially, there are years to come of what Johnson has blamed parliament of, ‘dither and delay’. Only, that is if they want to avoid a no-deal Brexit. I always found it odd that the ERG members backed Johnson’s deal and not Theresa Mays and it was speculated they were given assurances of a no-deal outcome at the end of 2020. However, while there is evidence of Brexit fatigue which he is hoping to cash in on, there is no proof that the people would support a no-deal Brexit.
That was the lesson from the 2017 snap General Election. Theresa May went for the hardest possible Brexit to appease the right of her party and it backfired spectacularly with the Tories losing their majority. It was a lesson for the parties to communicate and compromise. That has not happened and instead, the Conservative Party as a whole have acted as if the 2017 election never happened at all.
4. The US and the NHS
Labour has been insisting the Tories have put the NHS on the table in a future post-Brexit trade deal with the US. The Tories have insisted that is not the case and have accused Labour of scaremongering. This is something you have to accept at face value from the Tories but an argument from both camps you take with a pinch of salt. However, that does not mean there is no risk.
There is a risk in the event that we have no extension to the implementation period and leave the EU on WTO (World Trade Organisation) terms at the end of next year. The UK will be in a several weakened position in any negotiation table. It could be a panic station situation if it all goes wrong afterwards. Could the crown jewel of UK society (the NHS) be the price that is paid for a much-needed trade deal with other countries such as the NHS? I’ll stress that no UK politician would ever propose it, or at least I don’t believe they would because they would be severely punished at the polls. However, if the situation is that dire, they may have to accept it. That is the risk.
There have already been trade discussions between UK and US officials in which the NHS has bee brought up as a topic of discussion. It has been reported that the 6 meetings held between July 2017 and 2019 but the contents of the discussions weren’t fully available until they were released after a freedom of information request the other week. The price of drugs has been discussed and while it is not selling off the NHS as such, it is a big part of the health service.
As part of the EU, the UK has an even bigger bargaining position and the US corporations believe we do not pay enough for medicinal drugs from them. Once that collective bargaining position has been removed, it is a fresh deal to negotiate and they could propose what they want. It is also alarming that Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab did not even consider that they may want to put up prices to make more money when he was interviewed by Adam Boulton on Sky News on 3rd December. In the exchange, Raab said, ‘I think it’s hugely unlikely, why would they do that?” to which Boulton responded, ‘To get more money, that’s why.‘
How naïve are they?
5. Their Record
The Conservatives also do not want reminding of their record in government. Why not, if a party had been in government for nearly a decade you would have thought they’d want to promote what it is they have done as a reason for them to continue on with their work.
Their legacy of the past nine years is austerity. Austerity was a political choice. That may be a bold statement for some but we could have done what Iceland did and jailed the bankers who caused the financial crash. We didn’t. As a country, we went for Austerity that has seen soaring homelessness and in-work poverty, the country’s Humans Rights, international duty to keep citizens from hunger neglected. It has been responsible for the deaths of 130,000 people. 14 million are currently living in poverty and up to 40% of children expected to be by 2021. The UN rapporteur, Philip Alston claimed at the end of his research into austerity ‘Food banks have proliferated; homelessness and rough sleeping have increased greatly; tens of thousands of poor families must live in accommodation far from their schools, jobs and community networks; life expectancy is falling for certain groups, and the legal aid system has been decimated’.
While the Tories bang on about there being record unemployment, remember you only have to be contracted for one hour a week to be classed as employed; how can you live on that? Remember, 780,000 to 1.8million people are working on zero-hour contracts. Remember, that 7,900 have died after been passed fit for work in the first five years the cruel benefits assessments as part of Universal Credit. Remember, the 800 libraries and community centres that have closed. Remember the schools that have been forced to operate four day weeks due to funding cuts. Remember, the failed A&E targets. Remember, record poverty and homelessness.
Remember that, as their legacy.
6. Do their promises add up?
Johnson is insisting this is a new One Nation Conservative government he has been leading. The idea of that is laughable. For example, he kicked out 21 MPs for rebelling against his Brexit deal and supporting the Benn Avt requesting an extension and has come into this election with 635 candidates who all support it. Of course, he would, if they didn’t support it, they wouldn’t be allowed to campaign. However, the promises he is making do not stack up either…
• 20,000 more police officers: Well, it would be more than what policing levels are at present it is not more than when the Tories first came into office. 20,000 does not cover the 21,000 officers they cut since 2010.
• 50,000 new nurses: It is not 50,000 new nurses as it is relying on 19,000 who are currently in the NHS to stay put. Heaven forbid any of them reach retirement age in the next 10 years, or is that why they want to put it up? By my maths anyway, it is 31,000 new nurses and it would not fill the 43,000 vacancy shortage in the NHS.
• 40 new hospitals: I rarely if ever swear on this website but this is total b*******. It is 6 new hospitals by 2025 and while there is seed funding for 40 new hospitals by the end of 2030, it is effectively a business plan. That’s all it is and do all business plans get put into action? Of course, not. If he is only building 6 new hospitals in the next 5 years, is he really going to be able to get 34 new hospitals built in the following 5?
7. The Environment
Who remembers when David Cameron famously declared his Conservative government would be the greenest in history? Yeah, I do but that seems like a distant memory. In their manifesto, Boris Johnsons party promises ‘We will lead the global fight against climate change by delivering on our world-leading target of Net-Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, as advised by the independent Committee on Climate Change’.
The promise falls short of other political parties with the Labour and the greens targeting 2030. I find it the least ambitious of the plans set out in the manifestos and being brutally honest, do they support efforts to beat the climate change and the environmental crisis? Britain did become the first country to declare a climate emergency when the commons supported the motion earlier this year but the Tories abstained. Why?
If Johnson wanted his environmental credentials to be taken seriously, surely he would have attended the environmental debate hosted by Channel 4 the other week. If he couldn’t make it, fair enough but at least have the good grace to say where you were as Jeremy Corbyn did when he missed the ITV debate a few days later. Also, while campaigning if he was serious about the environment then why would he take a private jet to travel between Darlington and Doncaster; a journey that took 25 minutes when it takes under an hour on the train? His schedule can’t really be that congested, can it?
One thing Boris Johnson tried to do in his Andrew Marr interview was rather disgracefully make political gain out the London Bridge terror attack by arguing for tougher and longer prison sentences. While he was chuntering on about tougher sentences which I’m sure is a vote puller, he fails to mention that his Brexit deal actually puts the security of the UK in a less safe position. With Brexit, the UK loses access to EU security systems such as Europol. Given that the UK has seen 10 terror incidents in the past nine years (stated by Andrew Marr in that interview), you would have thought this was something you would want to keep?
When the former head of MI5 says, ‘I find it very hard to see any security upside from Brexit. It seems to me that our task is to minimise the downside‘ then surely that is the time to think. Will Brexit keep us safer? The fact he tried disgracefully to take political points out of the London Bridge attack brought criticism from the father of one of the victims; Jack Merrit who spoke out against him.
‘What was required was just a dignified approach, whereby the politicians would express their regrets, express their condolences to the people affected and would then get on with campaigning in the election – it wasn’t an election issue. Instead of seeing a tragedy, Boris Johnson saw an opportunity, and he went on the offensive and started talking about extending the tariff for prisoners serving sentences with a maximum of 25 years.‘
That brings me to my next point.
9. What integrity does Boris Johnson have?
Boris Johnson is much like Donald Trump and I have to say, they both seem like narcissists. He is a compulsive liar. He was sacked twice for lying in the past, one of those from Michael Howards Tory Shadow Cabinet for lying about not having an affair. The other was for falsifying quotes for a newspaper column. Indeed, the fact there is even a website set up to expose his lies even exists suggest that quite simply, he does not.
Even worse, he seems to believes his mistruths. For example, he still insists there will be no borders or custom checks at Northern Ireland as a result of his Brexit deal even though his Brexit Secretary Stephan Barclay believes there will be and it is even the view of his governments economic impact assessments. Who else remembers when he claimed responsibility for delivering the London Olympics in 2012 when he was Mayor of London when in fact the groundwork had been done by his predecessor and the late Tesse Jowell.
This is a man who was found to have misled the Queen into proroguing parliament for five weeks unanimously by the Supreme Court. This is a man who has ducted out of big televised interviews with Julia Etrincham for ITV, avoided an interview on Good Morning Britain, instead opting for cosy one with Phillip Schofield and Holly Willobough on This Morning despite promising Piers Morgan an interview and the BBC election interview with Andrew Neil. He even missed one leader’s election debate with Channel 4 which they unseated him for. The Good Morning interview has seen an advisor tell the reporter to ‘f*** off’ before hiding away from it in a fridge on the eve of the election. This is man who took a phone off a reporter when he was confronted with a picture of Jack Williment-Barr laid on the floor waiting in A&E; he barely looked at it by the way. As for Andrew Neil he had a damning message challenging him…
No broadcaster can compel a politician to be interviewed. But leaders’ interviews have been a key part of the BBC’s prime-time election coverage for decades. We do them, on your behalf, to scrutinise and hold to account those who would govern us. That is democracy. We have always proceeded in good faith that the leaders would participate. And in every election they have. All of them. Until this one…The theme running through our questions is trust – and why at so many times in his career, in politics and journalism, critics and sometimes even those close to him have deemed him to be untrustworthy. It is, of course, relevant to what he is promising us all now.
“Can he be trusted to deliver 50,000 more nurses when almost 20,000 in his numbers are already working for the NHS? He promises 40 new hospitals. But only six are scheduled to be built by 2025. Can he be believed when he claims another 34 will be built in the five years after that? Can he be trusted to fund the NHS properly when he uses a cash figure of an extra £34bn? After inflation the additional money promised amounts to £20bn. He vows that the NHS will not be on the table in any trade talks with America. But he vowed to the DUP, his Unionist allies in Northern Ireland, that there would never be a border down the Irish Sea. That is as important to the DUP as the NHS is to the rest of us. It is a vow his Brexit deal would seem to break…Questions of trust. Questions we’d like to put to Mr Johnson so you can hear his replies. But we can’t. Because he won’t sit down with us.
“There is no law, no Supreme Court ruling that can force Mr Johnson to participate in a BBC leaders’ interview. But the prime minister of our nation will, at times, have to stand up to President Trump, President Putin, President Xi of China. So it was surely not expecting too much that he spend half an hour standing up to me.
There could be trouble for the BBC and Channel 4 after this. The empty chairing incident and refusing to have Michael Gove on the Environment debate could land Channel 4 in trouble especially if the party source that spoke to BuzzFeed is correct. Channel 4 is a publicly owned ‘public service broadcaster’ which is almost unique of the TV channels apart from the BBC. As part of that, it is enshrined in legislation to be impartial in terms of their coverage of news and cultural affairs outside of London. That licence currently runs until 2024 meaning that the next government will be reviewing it. Then, they have now questioned the licence fee that helps fund the BBC which is surely no coincidence it has come after Neils challenge. It seems to be if the state-funded broadcasters even try to criticise the government, he threatens them.
This all paints the picture of a man who does not want to face up to proper scrutiny but for the corporations who have stood up against Johnson there could be more trouble ahead and for the rest of us which can be found in my next point.
7. Page 48
There are damning implications for how we are governed and hold ur politicians and governments to account hidden within the Conservative manifesto. The paragraph in question is situated in their ‘protect our democracy’ section. It reads…
‘After Brexit, we also need to look at the broader aspects of our constitution: the relationship between the Government, Parliament and the courts; the functioning of the Royal Prerogative; the role of the House of Lords; and access to justice for ordinary people. The ability of our security services to defend us against terrorism and organised crime is critical. We will update the Human Rights Act and administrative law to ensure that there is a proper balance between the rights of individuals, our vital national security and effective government. We will ensure that judicial review is available to protect the rights of the individuals against an overbearing state, while ensuring that it is not abused to conduct politics by another means or to create needless delays. In our first year we will set up a Constitution, Democracy & Rights Commission that will examine these issues in depth, and come up with proposals to restore trust in our institutions and in how our democracy operates.’
He called the Benn Act the surrender Act, we could call this the revenge act when it comes around. This is his revenge to the supreme court and an attack on our system of government. ‘ensuring that it is not added to conduct politics’ is a clear indication that this is in response to the Supreme Court ruling against him unanimously over prorogation.
The ‘update’ to the Human Rights Act means getting out of the European Convention of Human rights, something the Tories have wanted to do for years. It is his politicisation of the terror attack at London Bridge and while you may think the changes, whatever they might be when his review is done may not affect you but you never know what can happen. Then, there is some of the phrasing used. ‘effective government’, ‘needless delays’, ‘the royal prerogative’. These are all phrases that indicate that he means shutting down democracy as we know it. Not in terms of people going to the polls but by debates in Westminster. Curtailing our elected representative’s ability to represent us, their consistent and hold our government to account and that they act within the confines of the law.
Combine this with the threats that the Tories have issued Channel 4 and the BBC and it looks like this could lead us away from the representative parliamentary democracy we know but to a system where proper and adequate debate, criticism and scrutiny is cut from the picture. It sounds an awful lot like Johnson aims to be an elected dictator of sorts. Coincidentally, 48 is also the same number of the Weimar Constitution that Adolf Hitler abused to consolidate power in Germany.
10. His views?
We see countless attacks on Jeremy Corbyn calling him a terrorist sympathiser or an anti-semite (though he really should have apologised for it in that Andrew Neil interview) but there are also countless character assignations on Boris Johnson and for good reason. However, I will continue it with some of his questionable quotes…
‘The modern British male is useless. If he is blue-collar, he is likely to be drunk, criminal, aimless, feckless and hopeless, and perhaps claiming to suffer from low self-esteem brought on by unemployment’.
‘[Single mothers] ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate. Families on lower incomes the women have absolutely no choice but to work, often with adverse consequences for family life and society as a whole – in that unloved and undisciplined children are more likely to become hoodies, NEETS, and mug you on the street corner.”
‘It is said that the Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies. They say he is shortly off to the Congo. No doubt the AK47s will fall silent, and the pangas will stop their hacking of human flesh, and their tribal warriors will all break out in watermelon smiles to see the big white chief touch down his big white British taxpayer-funded bird’
‘It is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letterboxes, and I thoroughly dislike any attempt by any – invariably male – government to encourage such demonstrations of ‘modesty’.
These are all comments written by the Prime Minister in his varying articles. Is this really the man you want to lead the country and represent us?
Whatever the outcome of the election, it cannot be that we allow this aloof man, compulsive and manipulative liar the keys to power. The best answer to stop him and I hate to admit this as a staunch Labour supporter is tactical voting.
Generally, I despise this notion as I believe everyone’s vote counts but a lot does depend on key marginal seats and targeted campaigning. For example, in his Esher and Walton seat, Dominic Raab has a majority of 23,298 but current polling indicates he is most at risk with the Liberal Democrat candidate less than 2 points behind in the latest MRP poll. Ian Duncan Smith is at risk too in Chingford and Woodward Green with a majority of 2,438, he is polling just 3% ahead of his nearest rival, the Labour candidate. Even the Prime Minister could become a scalp with some tactical voting but the odds of that are slim. It would be historic though, no sitting Prime Minister has ever lost their seat in an election.
As a Labour member, I want to have a Labour government, I would. It could happen but in areas where Labour are going to struggle to win or can’t win then I reluctantly accept that tactical voting needs to happen. However, there is only one-way tactical voting will work to keep Boris Johnson out of Downing Street. Labour needs to end up the largest party. It is no good just denying Johnson the majority, it needs to be Labour as the largest party. Why, because of the Liberal Democrats.
The Lib Dems do not want Corbyn in number 10 but Jo Swinson insisted she couldn’t put Johnson into number 10 either. In Hung Parliament territory she would have to support one them and if the Tories are still the largest party then what do they do? They are completely opposed to Brexit but a second referendum in that eventuality could be Johnsons get out of jail card and it is the only concession the Lib Dems would make.
Overall though, I reiterate my plea. Britain, please do not return Boris Johnson to Downing Street with a majority! We have had nine years of Tory rule who accept no responsibility for their actions including the 130,000 deaths their austerity caused. Their promises don’t even get us back to where we were in 2010 and it says it all that the Financial Times editor believes we would be better of as a country under Labour. Now, we have a man leading them who won’t stand up to scrutiny and wants to rip up the fabric of the UK from the Union to the way we are governed. Could we as a country really take five more years of this manipulating liar with the keys of power?