As an opinion writer, Boris Johnson presents quite a lot of exciting, creative opportunities. Like any columnist worth their salt, my writing style allows me to inject a certain flavour into my points of view. With Johnson in power, there are endless opportunities for said creative flavour injection, such as comparing him to an albino lemming, or calling him a ‘mop-haired twat’. Lots of people don’t seem to like this. They think I’m attacking Johnson himself rather than his political policies, but his recent announcement that he wants to lift some lockdown restrictions by mid-February brings yet another perfect analogy to mind: a blonde, tory bee slamming itself against the same closed window over and over again.
Much like his nectar-collecting counterpart, Johnson doesn’t seem to be learning from his mistakes. First, there was his genius idea to not close the borders of an island nation in order to stop the invasion of COVID-19 via international travel. COVID first hit the shores of the UK at the end of January 2020, Johnson decided to close travel corridors in January 2021, a full year after the initial wave. Next, he decided to lift lockdown #2 whilst cases were still higher than they were at the peak of the April lockdown. Another absolute banger from the former editor of The Spectator. And now, a mere day after door-Matt Hancock said that lockdown will have to be in place for a long time, he decides to inform the press that he’ll be “looking at the potential of relaxing some measures” before mid-February. Judging by his sizeable number of marital and extra-marital children, Johnson is no stranger to acting prematurely, but this time his decisions will affect more than the new student intake at Eton college.
For clarity’s sake, I’m not saying that Johnson is making bad decisions because I believe that lockdowns are the only way for the country to move forward in the wake of the pandemic. There are plenty of reasons to be anti-lockdown, many of which are presented in The Great Barrington Declaration signed by thousands of professors and healthcare professionals who want to avoid nation-wide lockdowns yet still reduce deaths. My problem with Johnson is that he doesn’t seem to be following either path properly, and when he does, he’s nearly always mistimed it. For example, during the first lockdown there were endless rumors about the Government’s secret strategy to increase herd immunity by allowing people to become infected, but there’s no way this could be true? Surely if this was their plan all along, they would’ve focused on getting younger and non-vulnerable people infected to boost the herd immunity percentage? What we got instead was the appalling failure to adequately protect care homes and the elderly from a virus that would prove deadly to them.
We can probably assume, then, that lockdowns were the plan all along, and this is totally fine. Lockdowns have been proven to work, especially for an island nation that can cut off international travel. But, obviously, this didn’t happen. Between not closing travel corridors and pre-emptively lifting lockdowns, Johnson and his party have abjectly failed to control the pandemic, costing Britain thousands of lives. Johnson’s yo-yo-ing between enforcing and lifting lockdown rules has done nothing but ruin any long-term change that lockdowns could have had.
This brings me to the confusing heart of the political problem. Obviously, as a career politician Johnson wants to be re-elected as Prime Minister, so what on earth does he think he’s doing by making such hugely unpopular decisions? Johnson, like his former counterpart Donald Trump, is a populist. You would think that as a populist, he would want to make simple and decisive decisions that would increase his popularity. Policies such as enforcing a lockdown until herd immunity is achieved via vaccination, or at least until most or all vulnerable people are vaccinated would fit this kind of decision perfectly and shouldn’t take years to achieve. Thus, the eternal enigma that is Boris Johnson’s leadership bares itself once again: is he making such poor decisions in the name of some twisted, deliberate agenda or is he simply incompetent? Despite my last article on the man labeling him as ‘braindead’, I’m still not entirely sure where I land. Perhaps time will tell.
Words by Olly Singleton
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