It was once his greatest asset – but language is now lacking in Boris Johnson
It is a shame that the ultimate ambition of many successful politicians is to become prime minister. The skills gained in years spent at Coal often leave the rising star deeply under-prepared for the top position, requiring an entirely different set of talents and personal characteristics. It’s not good to be a great politician inside No 10; once there, you must give up politics and practice the art of government instead. You have to show leadership, measure, calmness. Boris Johnson was always going to be at fault.
What makes Boris (look, we all know who I’m talking about even though I only use his first name) a brilliant politician is his inability to utter a single sentence in public without using highly politicized language, like s ‘he was permanently on the verge of snatching an unexpected victory in the by-elections.
A journalist friend once told me the story of a meeting he had with Johnson while working for a local newspaper in London. It was during the Blair years; Johnson was still a long way from meaningful power and yet still played the role of a colorful figure in our national politics. One day, a large tree reportedly fell in the road – I don’t remember if it was supposed to be in Johnson’s garden, or just nearby – forcing the young reporter to knock on the door and ask what’s going on. had passed. Without missing a beat, Johnson made a brilliant quote about the tree that looked strong and healthy on the outside but, like the Labor government, rotten to the core. It’s politics. He knows how to play it. He knows how to win.
Unfortunately for Britain, Boris Johnson continues to play local politics even though he is now our Prime Minister and we enter the third year of a global pandemic that has claimed millions of lives. The way he uses highly political language crafted for the election campaign is deeply inappropriate for the feverish state the nation is in now, with much of the population still reluctant to be vaccinated, infection rates in rising and hospital wards filled with healthy unvaccinated people. And, as if everyone could forget, a new variant on the loose that might require a new vaccination program.
Boris Johnson denies breaking Covid rules with Christmas party No.10
Just yesterday we saw two examples of this political sense wreaking havoc in the government’s national message regarding the latest wave of cases and the emergence of the omicron variant. First, as he told a national press conference that a booster would be offered to every adult by the end of January, Johnson said the vaccination schedule would be put “on steroids.” It is the language of the electoral campaign that creeps into a major scientific update, a dissemination of public information. Most importantly, a show aimed at a population that does not have a deep knowledge of science.
The vaccine has nothing to do with steroids; Steroids are a strong anti-inflammatory drug sometimes used to treat severe symptoms of Covid-19 in hospital patients and, in some trials, at home. This may seem obvious to you. For the many people who take their news of the pandemic on social media, including Twitter headlines, Facebook links, and TikTok videos, this is not the case. Mixing facts and metaphors like this together is a dangerous approach. It is the job of the Prime Minister on a precipice like the one on which we are teetering to deliver simple facts. Information without bias or spin. He can’t do it. Rather, he does politics with the health of the nation.
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Second, the more predictable Boris approach: letting Dr Jenny Harries, Managing Director of the UK Health Security Agency, play bad cop, warning revelers about the temptation of a Christmas party, and personally asking them to think hard. to the form of socialization that was really “needed” in the midst of the pandemic. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister took on the happier and more festive role of a good cop. It “doesn’t change the advice on how you should live your life”; he urges you not to cancel events such as Christmas parties and cribs. If and when restrictions are to be introduced, he wants to shirk responsibility, even when it is – immediately, directly and only – his.
The chef is unfit for work because he does not know how to moderate his tone on occasion. Peppa Pig’s prank last week may have hinted that the gift of gossip is finally starting to lose its political power. Today, Johnson finds himself unable to find the words to clarify whether or not his office hosted a Christmas party last year, when the virus was widespread and only a handful of the population were vaccinated – and beyond what he went on to (in his own politicized terms) “cancel Christmas”.
We are all exhausted from the course of this pandemic. After a difficult week, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Coronavirus has called for “clear and timely” decisions that will not leave families “in limbo” at Christmas. What a test for a man who relies only on a faded charm.