WHAT does Boris Johnson believe in other than his own destiny to be Britain’s prime minister one day by hook or by crook?
His Bullingdon Club cronies David Cameron and George Osborne thought that he was on board with them on the EU referendum only for him to jump ship when he saw which way the wind was blowing.
Last week, amid growing unease on Tory benches over the government’s unending offensive against public service workers, Johnson suggested that it might be time to phase out the 1 per cent cap on public-sector pay rises.
But after Theresa May threw her weight behind Chancellor Philip Hammond’s ongoing capitalist austerity agenda, Johnson wants to have it both ways — posing as a Cabinet loyalist while hinting that ending pay restraint is just around the corner.
He tries to straddle his own credibility gap by stressing the importance of recognising that “people are weary of restraint” and that government will look at public-sector pay review bodies’ reports “very closely” while accepting Hammond’s warnings on extra borrowing and managing the economy “sensibly.”
To this end he returns to attack dog mode, attacking Labour’s plans for industrial recovery as “a crazy Corbynite splurge.”
Tories love him in this role, relying on an excess of posh-boy self-entitlement to play to the gallery by deriding Labour’s plans to look after large numbers of people who have been ignored for too long.
“You can’t endlessly spend,” says the man who demanded that Cameron cut income tax for the rich elite while slashing benefits for the working poor.
He, his Tory colleagues and their Liberal Democrat cronies all pin the supposed need for austerity on “excessive” public spending by the Blair-Brown Labour governments, relying on mass amnesia to obscure the reality that the 2007-8 global financial crisis was caused by the private banking sector.
Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell condemned New Labour’s light regulation of the private finance sector at the time — unlike the neoliberal party leaders — and they won’t countenance a repeat of that shameful banking bailout financed by hardships imposed on society’s poorest people.
Far from planning a splurge, Labour under their leadership has identified where spending will be directed and how it will be financed.
It will also borrow to invest in areas of the economy that will spur growth and create well-paid jobs, especially tackling the green energy sector that will be increasingly important in future years.
Such posts will drive higher tax revenues unlike the hundreds of thousands of dead-end, zero-hours, insecure jobs or phoney self-employment that the Tories boast constantly about creating.
Dropping people from the unemployment register is not tantamount to them finding a means of providing for themselves and their dependents.
The Tories chant their mantra that a job is the best way out of poverty, but for too many people finding work means staying poor and depending on inadequate in-work benefits and rent subsidies that cosset tightfisted bosses and profiteering private landlords.
The London Rental Standard initiative that Johnson introduced while London mayor was a flop because he had no real interest in tackling rogue landlords.
His attention-seeking “people are weary of restraint” ploy will be just as useless because his only interest in low-paid workers is to exploit their frustration to suit his long-term political goals.
People have seen through Johnson’s posturing and prefer the Labour leadership’s open and honest approach.