Isolated for two years: it is not healthy, and you lose track of those usual social interactions that tell you what the neighbours’ are thinking; what their needs and worries are. Isolated in a Downing Street echo-chamber it is even worse. Boris needs to get out, to meet people.
He always used to be star value on the street – I have met people who had encountered him and who babbled enthusiastically about everything he did and said – he was a rockstar. That of course was before he had to take responsibility for things, and before we felt the lash of government in his name.
The Spads have been hurled out and replaced by doorstep politicians – good. The Number 10 machine is taking back control – good. There is red meat – aye but with some festering corners, and those taxes are still Labour-level crippling. Now the big reconnect is needed.
Others now in place can hammer at the priorities of efficiency and the opportunities of Brexit, of the Culture War in Whitehall, of combating Chinese state subversion, and of stopping the world blowing itself up on the steppe. That is all within Whitehall. The Prime Minister needs to eave it, and find out how the rest of us are getting on.
Open the gates at the end of Downing Street, step into the street, walk across Green Park and out into normal London, and then the rest of the work. The nation does not live in that clustered officeworld behind, but in the terraced streets of Lancashire and the old mill towns of Nottinghamshire, and the back alleys of Glasgow and Belfast, and the lost-behind villages of the countryside. Here the mandarins do not make our priorities nor curb our dreams, or our worries. Here we see what happens when politicians have bright ideas and try them out on us, and we have the scars and bankruptcies to prove it.
Reconnecting is vital to governing, and votes to be frank. As I wrote before, the ordinary people once adored and trusted Boris, and if they feel like a spurned lover, now is an opportunity for him to listen, to learn again what their doorstep concerns are, their worries, their aspirations, their petty jealousies and to remember from his far-back memory what once made him an icon of hope. There is hope, and we want to feel it again.
- Spies, lies and mince pies
- Hebdomas horribilis
- Boris unleashed
- He that is to govern a whole nation…
- Is Boris Good Enough?
- By Boris Johnson:
- By others:
- The Borisaurus: The Dictionary of Boris Johnson by Simon Walter
- The Liberal Delusion by John Marsh
- All Out War: The Full Story of How Brexit Sank Britain’s Political Class by Tim Shipman
- Woke: A Guide to Social Justice by Titania McGrath