Sabre rattling over Brexit certainly helped to keep many voters’ minds distracted from other pressing issues. It also helped to keep their minds off the PM’s habitual absenteeism. Johnson’s quite practiced at this now famous disappearing act. In fact he was frequently absent as the former Mayor of London and even inspired a hard back publication entitled “Where’s Boris”
This didn’t do anything to curtail Johnson’s behaviour so the following year we saw the publication of another hard back, similarly entitled “Where’s Boris, Can you find the missing Mayor?”
As Jeremy Corbyn put it so eloquently at this weeks PMQ’s…
“the Prime Minister is keen to pose for cameras when there’s a crisis on during an election but he often goes A.W.O.L. He was late to respond to the London riots because he was on holiday. He was on a private island when the Iranian General was assassinated and last week he had his head in the sand at a mansion in Kent…. The MP for Calder Valley, another one of his colleagues, said ‘It’s not good enough’. How can the country trust a part time prime minister? Last night schmoozing Tory party donors at a very expensive black tie ball instead of getting out there and supporting the people who are suffering because of the floods”
The government, presumably unable to function in the absence of their illustrious leader, seem to be incapable of coming up with any original ideas of their own and, if any of the current crop of prospective Labour leaders ever had any doubt over who won the argument on policies, I think the fact that the Tories seem to be putting together an emergency grab bag rammed full of ideas they’ve stolen from the Labour Party, it’s fair to say Labour won the arguments. Policies like…
- Promising to tackle climate change
- Promising to tackle rough sleeping & homelessness
- Promising to invest more in the NHS
- Promising to hire more Drs & Nurses
- Promising to hire more Police Officers
- Promising to invest in more buses
- Promising to “bring broadband to the hedgerows”
- Promising to spend on infrastructure in the north in order to “level-up” the divide
That’s 8 policies they’ve nicked so far that we’re aware of and it’s not yet been 3 months since the general election. One might speculate whether the real problem here is that the Tories hadn’t felt the need to give any thought to policy development since 23rd June 2016. Let’s face it, for the past, almost, 4yrs they’ve been banging the Brexit drum rather loudly and Leave supporters have been more than happy to march to that solitary beat. This might also explain why hardly anyone can recall a single policy from the Tories 2019 manifesto. Of course Brexit Day has now come and gone and someone’s snatched the Brexit drum out of Johnson’s hands.
Having no drum to beat must leave the PM feeling rather exposed and vulnerable, which might explain his reluctance to make appearances. In fact, it might also explain why he’s desperately grabbing popular Labour policies – it’s one way he might have a hope of retaining Labour supporting Brexit voters. The thing is, most Labour voters know that when it comes to the Tory party delivering on policies there’s always going to be a very big caveat. They’ll promise you the earth, the moon and the stars but deliver you a sand box…. and, chances are, it’ll be a smaller sandbox than the one they took away from you the year before.
On a positive note, it seems the Tories have at least acknowledged Dominic Cummings has become a liability. Sajid Javid’s speech at PMQ’s was scathing and, judging by the responses he got from his own benches, he clearly had support from the rank and file. Former Johnson aides are already dropping little hints that Cummings is very probably already walking the plank and you can just imagine a bunch of rather nervous Tories looking at how Cumming’s is prepared to take on and remove senior cabinet ministers and then ask themselves, now that Brexit’s supposedly done, why they need Cummings at all?