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BORIS JOHNSON admires Churchill. He has written a book about him: The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History.
He fancies himself a Churchillian figure. And indeed, he is. Not so much in his comparison to Churchill’s overseeing Britain’s part in the defeat of Nazi Germany, but more in his debacles and disasters. Here are just a few of Churchill’s.
His use of soldiers against the miners and other union action. Two strikers were shot dead in Liverpool in 1911.
In 1915 he orchestrated the disastrous Dardanelles naval campaign and the military landings on Gallipoli.
The famine in Bengal of 1943 is attributed to Churchill’s policies. Over 2.2 million died from of a population of 60.3 million.
His racist statements about Gandhi.
At the end of the war, believing he was bound to be re-elected, Churchill had a final brainstorm. He asked his military planners to consider a possible worst-case scenario. A British military attack on the Soviet Union called aptly enough Operation Unthinkable and headed “Russia’s Threat to Western Civilisation.”
The final report was completed on May 22 1945. The conclusion of the report was that “the result of a total war with Russia is not possible to forecast but the one thing certain is that to win it would take us a very long time.”
The chief of the Imperial General Staff Sir Alan Brooke wrote this in his diary: “The idea is of course fantastic and the chances of success quite impossible.”
Churchill was firmly in favour of economic integration with Europe, supporting both Macmillan and Heath, who ultimately took Britain into the EEC in 1972. Difficult to say if Johnson sees this as a mistake as he is such an opportunist. Remember that he’d written two articles for the Telegraph — one supporting the EU and one supporting Brexit before deciding on the latter as best representing the way the wind was blowing.
Johnson stated that when we removed all restrictions regarding Covid (based he said on data, not dates) it would be irreversible. Now apparently as the song goes, “It ain’t necessarily so.”
Johnson has been responsible for more U-bends than a plumber. Some in as little as a day. For example, schools reopening after the Christmas break in January. Some a bit longer, like having to cancel Christmas celebrations with the extended family. Some in under three hours, like deciding that he and Rishi Sunak would not self-isolate after Sajid Javid caught Covid. Blink and you might have missed that one, but the storm of protest was instantaneous as was, almost, his reversal of tack. Ditto with backing of Matt Hancock.
His judgement in appointing Dominic Cummings as his chief adviser and sacking him at the behest of his girlfriend, now wife’s, insistence shows a lack of judgement in one act or the other, or both.
It was brilliant. Cummings was not in the Cabinet nor a civil servant and thus not bound by Cabinet responsibility and confidentiality or the Official Secrets Act.
Tony Blair was the first one to appoint such an adviser, Alastair Campbell. Previous to this, it had been the Cabinet Secretary who had taken on the role of adviser to the Prime Minister. Johnson appoints his own “Deep Throat” (the moniker for the one who split the beans on Nixon’s Watergate action).
Clearly Cummings didn’t have to wait to seek revenge. He claims it is not revenge but says “it doesn’t matter.”
Peter Oborne, author of The Rise of Political Lying in 2005, reveals in his new book The Assault on Truth (2021) that “by the time the Blair premiership ended in 2007, I had got into the habit of keeping a file of political lies.”
The figure who has come to dominate that file during the past five years is Johnson. Oborne writes: “I have never encountered a senior British politician who lies and fabricates so regularly, so shamelessly and so systematically as Boris Johnson.”
So well done to Dawn Butler, MP for Brent Central for saying in the House of Commons on Thursday that Johnson is a liar who has repeatedly lied to MPs over the pandemic. She refused to back down or withdraw her remarks and was suspended from the House for speaking the truth.
I’m not a betting man. This is for good reason. Gamblers generally lose.
However I had two bets that England wouldn’t get to the Euro finals. The bets were for 10p. I don’t mind losing that amount.
However, I’m thinking I might go to 20p on Johnson not lasting the year. The only other person I can think of that could have an equally short political life expectancy is Keir Starmer.
He’s busy proscribing and expelling any group or individual who has a dalliance with socialism, never mind Marxism, as he pursues his love affair with capitalism.
Perhaps I should do an accumulator!
Hank Roberts is on the NEU executive. He writes in a personal capacity.
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