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Boris Johnson’s hard turn

Prime Minister is moving away from one-nation conservativism, and rapidly

By Christie Edward James

Image courtesy of The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office via Flickr

The Conservative Party Conference this past week has been interesting to say the least. To me, it’s a great source and citation for what is the overall trend of Johnson’s administration. One that’s increasingly authoritarian and divisive. Downright ‘mask-off’ evil at times.

I think the language used by the Prime Minister at the conference, while giving his speech and speaking to his chums, was reflective of the kind of language you’d see on social media platforms. It was faceless. It didn’t seem to give any regard to the oppositions’ point of view at all. But more worryingly than that, the language he used was used fully to pander to the far-right section of his party. Long gone are the Conservative ‘centrists,’ the Damian Greens, David Gaukes, Rory Stewarts and even David Camerons. The Tories are moving away from ‘one-nation’ conservatism, no longer giving the most outcast in society even a slither of hope with some socially liberal policies. At least the conservatives used to lie when they said they wanted to be to the benefit of ordinary people, now they’re completely turning their back on them with absolutely no regard for their wellbeing, rights, even existence, at all. Under Johnson, this country has gone much further right—this conference may just have provided a historical pinpoint for this trend.

Previously, conservative leaders would have shot down any suggestion that their policies or ideas were close to Thatcherism. Now, however, Johnson is quick to invoke her name. Johnson has been quick to defend capitalism outright. For years politicians haven’t acknowledged the system we live in, merely instead attempting to defend the status quo by glossing over the details of our current economic model. In the face of shortages around the country, rising prices and increased uncertainty, Johnson is suddenly espousing capitalism as the reason why this country is apparently on the mend.

Championing capitalism, he said: ‘it was capitalism that ensured we had a vaccine in less than a year, and the answer is not to attack the wealth creators, is to encourage them, because they are responsible for the aggregate increase in the country’s wealth that enables us to make this greater improvement and to level up everywhere’; back in March he told tory members that ‘greed’ (yes, greed) helped in the UK’s vaccine success. While I guess that’s not strictly untrue, it didn’t help in the vaccine’s development outside of the UK. Plus, it’s not the best thing to boast about. Note, too, ‘development’ and ‘rollout’ are two very separate things.

He has claimed that the private sector is to thank for the covid-19 vaccine. At many points in his speech shooting down the public sector, in fact. Even backing bankers at one point! ‘Free market economy’ has been another favourite buzzword of his. In reality, an estimated $8.7 billion of public funding has gone towards the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, and about $2.5 billion for the Pfizer/BioNTech one.

His language against the Insulate Britain protesters has been harsh, labelling them as illegitimate and with no cause. At that, being purely a nuisance. Then going on to commend Priti Patel’s new authoritative and draconian actions to imprison protesters. Using divisive language against the Left of the Labour Party (though maybe it says a thing or two that he wasn’t as harsh against the right-wing of the Labour party…), calling them: ‘sellotaped, spectacled sans-culottes.’

I know Boris Johnson loves to talk the talk and not walk the walk, but this type of rhetoric, to me, lifts any fog that was previously sitting on the road to fascism. It’s clear as day now where this government is heading. It’s at the point where they’re telling us almost so unambiguously that it’s purely insulting, and in a way so that when it does all go wrong they can defend themselves by pandering to the fact that, hey, at least they weren’t trying to hide it.


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