Well, I don’t know. After Teflon Tony, is this Bulletproof Boris? In the old days, political journalism was a simple scalp-hunt: a single word that would be twisted to be portrayed as a gaffe, and a public figure would resign, and a party leader who faced the same anger from his own MPs and the public as Boris has would have gone ages since. Boris stares them out, and it used to work for him. Maybe he thinks it will, and maybe he is right.
It does not look like it at the moment. Once he was loved, but as Congreve reminds us “Heaven hath no rage like love to hatred turned”. The magic spell once broken may not be conjurable again.
All the old socialist conspiracy theories are doing the rounds again in the old Red Wall. As the inestimable ConHome observed recently, no Conservative leader since the egregious Heath has been defeated by a leadership challenge or party vote of no confidence, but after a challenge, none has survived the year.
The problems are well recited and all because of the lockdown: the creeping recession, the debt burden, the sweat-inducing taxes, inflation, and the petty party scandal. He was warned by the backbenches, but he looked strong and popular pushing the waters back, until the tide rushed in again, as it had to.
What now though? After Labour-level spending we have a senior Cabinet member speaking:
“when a country faces an inflationary problem, you can’t just pay more or spend more”, and condemning “the same mindset that we had during COVID: that the answer to every problem is more state spending.”
Who is this paragon of Conservatism, who condemns excessive spending and goes on to demand a quick lifting of the excessive tax burden? It is Boris himself, speaking this afternoon in Blackpool.
As the sage himself is now saying: “The answer is economic growth. You can’t spend your way out of inflation, and you can’t tax your way into growth.”
Is this the same Boris who has has spent and taxed his way into an avoidable national slump?
Speak well, but we expect action. I dislike Biblical parables for politics, but this grand exposition of fiscal probity and devout Conservative faith recalls what James warned “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” In government, salvation is by works.
When the wild spending began, it was uncomfortable but was in a period when the economy was booming; immediately after Brexit and with investment flooding in and confidence restored, the economy becoming one of the fastest growing in the developed world. That stopped when China’s latest gift to the world appeared and the world’s governments panicked. Good times can come again, but not with this tax burden.
An election is approaching, quickly. That is not much time for Boris, or whoever is in his seat this time tomorrow, to perform a miracle. Strangely, Boris is the only man who has ever performed such a miracle before.
- By Boris Johnson:
- The Borisaurus: The Dictionary of Boris Johnson by Simon Walter
- Woke: A Guide to Social Justice by Titania McGrath
- The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity by Douglas Murray
- Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles MacKay (1841)
- 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, by Jordan B Peterson
- All Out War: The Full Story of How Brexit Sank Britain’s Political Class by Tim Shipman
- Brexit: Why Britain Voted to Leave the European Union by Harold D. Clarke, Matthew Goodwin and Paul Whiteley
- Brexit: How the Nobodies Beat the Somebodies by Sebastian J. Handley
- By David Cameron: