The green zealot in number 10
After opening the Glasgow eco-jamboree, Boris Johnson did something which once would have been unexceptional for a Conservative prime minister. He raced back to London in his RAF jet for a dinner of journalists for the Daily Telegraph, still Britain’s establishment newspaper. Unsurprisingly it was held at one of London’s men-only private clubs.
Given that Johnson had just gone full apocalyptic prophet – ‘it’s one minute to midnight on that doomsday clock and we need to act now’ – his jetting to the dinner inevitably led to charges of hypocrisy, notwithstanding his minders’ pathetic attempts to claim that his plane’s fuel was ‘sustainable’. For his return journey to Glasgow, he took the train.
Labour and the leftist media seemed keener to dwell on Johnson’s dinner. For once he conformed to their pantomime view of the Tories, schmoozing with the ‘right-wing press’ in sexist, elitist, racist, transphobic, etc. London clubland, which provided them with a rare opportunity to portray him as an out-of-touch reactionary.
Before he became Prime Minister, Johnson was widely seen as much more of a proper Tory than David Cameron or Theresa May. Unlike them he was firmly committed to the right-wing, populist Brexit cause and his devil-may-care use of non-PC language also encouraged perceptions that he was on the Tory right. He was also a climate change sceptic, rejecting claims of humanity-caused climate change and implying that wind farms were useless.
Yet since Johnson’s move to Number 10 he’s gone radically green and effectively soft-left. And while the Westminster bubble is again obsessed with ‘corrupt MP’ stories, come election time, if Johnson doesn’t change course, voters will be far more likely to punish him for his green-woke hijacking of the Conservatives.
On climate change, by the normal rules of politics, Johnson seems to be on a path to self-destruction. He’s bought into the line that Britain, though it produces only one per cent of the world’s carbon, must go harder and faster to decarbonisation because it started the industrial revolution. Try selling that to voters, to explain why they have to accept punitive taxes on gas, meat and long-haul flying, to rip out their effective gas boilers at great expense and to change over to costly and still dodgy electric cars.
Amid Britain’s fuel shortages and skyrocketing energy prices, Johnson didn’t improve matters with his Glasgow love-in. The main impression it left was epic hypocrisy. The world’s powerful and rich arrived on hundreds of private jets. They were let in without Covid checks and the likes of Leo Di Caprio lectured the plebs on why they need to reduce their eco-footprint. The issue of hypocrisy also hovered when Johnson rejected the idea of a referendum on his net zero 2050 commitment.
The Conservative base, already irritated by the COP26 spectacle, is also white hot with anger over the explosion of cross-Channel illegal immigration under Johnson. So far this year over 23,000 have arrived, nearly three times the total figure for last year. On 11 November an all-time record was reached for arrivals in one day: 1,185 on 33 boats. All this on the watch of a prime minister who said ‘we will send you back’ (no one has been this year) and who argued that taking back control of borders was a major argument for Brexit.
Lurking in the background of the Johnson government’s limp handling of illegal immigration is its terror of being accused of racism or Islamophobia. For this reason, the authorities absurdly devote more bureaucratic resources to tracking white right-wing nationalists than to Islamist extremists. When Tory MP Sir David Amess was recently killed by a knife-wielding Islamist maniac, Michael Gove, one of Johnson’s senior ministers, echoed Labour’s Sadiq Khan in describing Amess’s ‘passing’ as ‘sad’, as if he’d died after an illness.
Johnson has caused yet more bewilderment among Tory voters – to whom he promised tax cuts – through his decision to increase taxes to throw yet more money at the National Health Service (NHS), rather than asking hard questions about its scandalous waste and incompetence. While vaccination rollout was fast, the test-and-trace system has been a multi-billion pound flop. Covid hospitals were built and then dismantled without being used, ambulance waiting times often stretch to hours and GPs resist direction to resume face-to-face consultations. Yet the NHS is highly efficient when it comes to backing woke causes, be it integrating rainbows into its logo or deleting references to women in its guidance for maternity wards.
The Johnson government’s surrender to woke apparatchiks is yet a further irritant to the people who would normally be Tory supporters. The police persist in responding weakly to ‘progressive’ protestors, such as the ‘Insulate Britain’ militants who repeatedly cause traffic mayhem by blocking major roads. The ‘Border Force’ defies ministerial direction to turn back people-smugglers’ boats. And the Ministry of Defence recently told staff to state their preferred pronouns with their email signatures. Universities, the BBC and cultural institutions all continue to wander through wokeland with barely any pushback from the government.
Attitudes towards Johnson among those who should be his natural supporters are steadily hardening. Strikingly, most of the conservative commentariat is now highly critical of him. Perhaps that was why he was so keen to get to the Telegraph dinner.
Labour is now leading in the polls, probably mainly because of Conservative disillusion with Johnson. With three years until the next elections, Johnson probably won’t worry too much – especially as he currently faces no serious opposition from parties on the Right. However, if the Tories’ political survival depended on it, Johnson might change course. That would require shelving unpopular climate change policies, stopping the boats and challenging the grip of the woke Left on state institutions. Were Johnson stubborn, a challenge from the Tory Right would be conceivable. Otherwise, Britain might face the grim prospect of Labour slipping into power by default.
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