I listened to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s forty-five minute speech intently. I even paused it a couple of times to answer two phone calls. I didn’t want to miss anything. To say I was underwhelmed would be an understatement.
If this was an after dinner speech you would be suggesting the booking agent be changed forthwith and the speaker’s fee withheld. He rambled and mumbled and threw out rhetorical questions that bombed like stink bombs in a lift. ‘We are a pro-European party’ he shouted, ‘we love Europe don’t we?’ he asked. The reaction in the hall of English nationalist new Conservatives was embarrassing looks all round. ‘Us’? ‘Pro-European’? Have you been sniffing the white dust Boris?
Much worse was to come. The wisdom of Plato came to mind as his contribution exposed his obvious inadequacy for the job of Prime Minister:
“Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.”
Ignoring the fact Johnson has been at the heart of the British Government over the last nine years he quacked and cackled about improving schools, recruiting more police officers and opening new youth centres. Is there no limit to this man’s capacity for deceit and dishonesty?
Improving schools? Under his government schools in England are reaching breaking point due to Tory cuts. Teachers are compelled to do cleaning duties as cleaning staff have been cut so deeply and they are also purchasing essential teaching tools like pens, paper, jotters and books because school equipment budgets are virtually non-existent. Funding for 80% of schools in England next year will be worse than even 2015 when it was already woefully inadequate. State education has been ripped to shreds by Tory cuts over the last nine years and this Pinocchio PM now slavers about schools!
Recruiting 20,000 police officers he rants! Not everyone is as daft and gullible as the selfish greedy Tories sitting in the Manchester conference centre. Since 2010 it has been the Tories who have slashed police numbers in England by 20,000 in the forlorn hope of securing justice and security on the cheap. Those figures were fact checked by Channel 4 and expose the verbose emptiness of Johnson’s concern for policing. Their bold and accurate headline is a collector’s piece in the days of universal media condemnation and distortion of the Corbyn message: “Jeremy Corbyn is right: the Tories have cut 20,000 police officers since 2010.”
Under the Tories violent crime has doubled and the levels of knife crime in particular are worse than at any time since records began. But Johnson wants you to believe he is concerned with crime.
He had the temerity to mention ‘youth centres’! His Tory government track record on youth services is nothing short of criminal. Promised spending today won’t even bring it back to 2010 levels. In the Tory and Lib-Dem government period 2010-2018 youth services funding have been cut by £737m. In the years 2012-2016 600 youth centres have been forced to close and 140 000 places for young people in the youth service sector have been lost.
The more I listened to Johnson I swear his nose grew in size as lie followed lie and misleading statement followed misleading statement. His ability to utter untruths with a straight face is truly remarkable. Am I the only one who noticed he felt the need to say “It’s true, it’s true” after the man who refuses to comment on his private life outed his own mother as a Brexit voter? He could sense that after his catalogue of lies throughout his life were highlighted by several observers in the independent press and social media he knew many would even doubt what he was now telling us about his mother! What a sad state of affairs indeed.
On average just under 10 million viewers tuned into I’m a Celebrity in 2017 while over 32 million voted in that year’s general election. The only relevant reality TV show comparison is surely the fact that millions of the public vote in I’m a Celebrity, X-Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and others but only 138,000 got the vote to decide who the current PM was to be and of that Johnson could only muster less than 100,000 of those votes. He has been placed into No10 Downing Street with the votes of less than one percent of the UK’s registered 46 million voters.
Johnson has no mandate, no majority and no morals. He is a proven liar and master of deceit. His best conjuring trick was in relation to the NHS. He repeated the Health Minister claim from the weekend that they would build “40 new hospitals”. It sounds great. When the Health Minister was challenged to reveal the details of this hospital building programme he was forced to concede that he really meant 6 new hospitals but another 34 were hopefully going to be built at some time in the future! This really is the stuff of Hans Christian Anderson and Disney rolled into one. How much would it all cost and where would the money come from? ‘We don’t know yet but from taxation’ Matt Hancock the hapless Health Minister spluttered. Even the Sky TV interviewer was struggling to contain her contempt for the answer.
Johnson repeated this empty 40 new hospitals pledge in his speech and then stretched incredulity to breaking point. Confirming his brass neck could withstand even a blow torch without any damage he stated:
I nearly fell off my couch. An austerity loving Tory who has backed every cuts budget in the last nine years and presided over a catastrophic reduction in real terms budgets for the health service and hospitals in England claimed to be “the party of the NHS”. What a lying toad.
The Tories only honest claim in relation to the NHS is one of consistency. They have consistently opposed it and reduced real terms funding in an attempt to so undermine it that people would eventually accept the need to hive parts of it off to the private sector.
The NHS is a fundamentally socialist concept. That ordinary folk regardless of income, status or power are entitled to first class healthcare from cradle to the grave. When the 1945 Labour Government introduced the idea under the guidance of Labour Health Minister Aneurin Bevan it was met with huge British Establishment opposition from the elite British Medical Association (BMA), well-heeled charities and the opposition Conservatives in Parliament.
The Tories voted against the formation of the National Health Service 21 times before the act was passed, including both the Second and Third reading.
They and their elitist friends wanted healthcare to remain a private commodity to be bought and sold like food and clothes. Socialising healthcare was compared to ‘National Socialism’ and Bevan was called ‘a medical Fuhrer’ and accused of ‘Hitlerian coercion’. Such fascist slurs are disgraceful now but think how much deeper they would have hurt in 1946-48 when the memory of the Nazis and their atrocities was much fresher in the minds of the public.
In the face of organised opposition from the Tories and the Tory supporting BMA the bill to establish the NHS was eventually passed in July of 1948. The Tories are not the ‘party of the NHS’ they are the party who opposed the very creation of the NHS and have continued to financially undermine it throughout its 71 years of existence.
Johnson should be ashamed and embarrassed to claim the mantle of the NHS but he is so consumed by his own importance and well-spun narrative that he will ignore the reality that most ordinary people can see.
However I ask you to contrast and compare the treatment of Corbyn Labour spending plans on health, education, justice and the economy with the treatment of the Johnson’s Tories. Labour is subjected to forensic financial analysis and undermining as unaffordable while the ‘magic money tree’ approach to funding is allowed on the nod when it comes from the Conservatives.
As well as Plato the immortal words of Aneurin Bevan came to mind when Johnson spoke and the camera panned the hall to show the faces of his right-wing, rabid and reactionary cabinet colleagues. Also speaking in Manchester but on the eve of the National Health Service Act entering into law on 4th July 1948 Bevan recalled his poverty stricken upbringing and gave a speech as relevant today as it was then:
“That is why no amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party that inflicted those bitter experiences on me. So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin. They condemned millions of first-class people to semi-starvation. Now the Tories are pouring out money in propaganda of all sorts and are hoping by this organised sustained mass suggestion to eradicate from our minds all memory of what we went through. But, I warn you young men and women, do not listen to what they are saying now. Do not listen to the seductions of Lord Woolton. He is a very good salesman. If you are selling shoddy stuff you have to be a good salesman. But I warn you they have not changed, or if they have they are slightly worse than they were.”
This article was written by our Political Adviser, Tommy Sheridan and does not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or policy of Solidarity as a whole