this is the clip pic.twitter.com/Hi9b6GsUsd
— Iain Overton (@iainoverton) January 10, 2022
There are many Conservative MPs (Guy Opperman among them) who will remember this episode in the House of Commons where the Prime Minister expresses his fury at the abuse of 10 Downing Street by staff “seeming to make light of lockdown measures“.
Today we may find out if the Prime Minister himself, made light of lockdown measures , in particular if he attended a party on 20th May 2020 in his own garden, to which 100 “staffers” were invited.
It’s possible to draw parallels with America , where the cult of Donald Trump means that the most venal behavior of the former president goes not just unpunished but upheld by the Republican party.
But there is no Q-anon in the UK. We as a nation support our Prime Minister as the person put forward as the senior representative of an elected Government. Whether that Government is a formed of a single party or coalition, we accept that the Prime Minister leads the Government and the country.
— Rebecca Front (@RebeccaFront) January 11, 2022
So he or she has special responsibility. We do not expect to be taken for fools by a Prime Minister who says one thing and does another. And at this time when the estimated Covid death toll is four times higher than the worst predictions of Government at the outset of the pandemic, we expect sobriety in the Prime Minister’s behavior.
The harrowing tales of those who have lost loved ones to the impact of the pandemic are seared into our consciousness right now. We all know of those who died without the solace of family and of families who had to watch loved ones die at a distance. We did not even have the chance to collect to mourn at funerals. And yet the clownish behavior of the old Boris Johnson appears to have continued even at the height of the first wave.
The time for the clownish antics is gone. He is no longer the bumptious editor of the Spectator or even the charismatic back-bencher. In both those roles he amused us and annoyed us, but was tolerable.
But as Prime Minister, Boris Johnson is our representative and we expect him to behave with the dignity and probity of his predecessors. We may have differing views of figures such as Thatcher, Blair, Brown, Major and May, but we remember them as having personal integrity. But the behavior of Johnson , and to a lesser respect David Cameron , falls far below what we expect.
I complained to my mother of the behavior of the Prime Minister at the outset of the pandemic and in particular of his and the Government’s attitude to those dying in care homes. I quipped that there was at that time a feeling that since people in care homes have no economic value, their deaths are less important.
My mother pulled me up and said that I should not speak ill of any Prime Minister in that way and I backed down, I even apologized to her as I knew I had injured her set of values which were deeply felt. We as a nation recognize the authority of those who lead.
But when through what they say and what they do, leaders break the trust we have in them, then we don’t just get angry for ourselves, we get angry for the Government of the Country. Even my mother has not infinite patience.
We are now at a point where our tolerance of the current behavior of our Prime Minister is at maximum stretch. The wire is close to breaking. Last night I listened to decent people speaking on vox pops on how they felt. One, like my mother, simply expressed her sadness that it had come to this – that she no longer trusted the Prime Minister, this was not a political point, it related to the damage that was being done to her values.
Forget the clever tweets and the strident voices of activism. There is a sullen and deep resentment of the behavior of the Prime Minister and those around him , who unlike some who have resigned from service – have shown no remorse for what has been going on in 10 Downing Street. Indeed Johnson’s angry rhetoric suggests he considers the breaches everyone’s fault but his own.
Britain is not America and we will not tolerate Johnson as Trump is tolerated. There is no cult of personality that can outweigh our deep respect for the office of Prime Minister and our anger when that office is abused.
Today is the first of a number of days of reckoning ahead for the Prime Minister. We will shortly hear from the redoubtable Sue Gray, there is no doubt that the truth will out.
He has the opportunity to come clean with us, or he can continue to dodge the bullets. It would be best if he apologized now and to use his phrase “levelled with us”.
We will not be taken for fools. Nor will the Conservative back-benchers who I hope will find ways to restore our confidence in the office of Prime Minister.
Robert Shrimsley summed up the Prime Minister’s position in the Financial Times
In this matter, Tory MPs will be governed by fear. They will not act till their fear of defeat outweighs their fear of striking, but the gap between those two points is narrowing fast.