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Boris Johnson at Covid-19 press conference

Boris Johnson at Covid-19 press conference, Photo: Pippa Fowles / No 10 Downing Street / cropped from original / licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, linked at bottom of article

The Prime Minister is not fit for office and is directly responsible for the Covid catastrophe, argues Sean Ledwith

Just over a year ago, Boris Johnson was promising a golden age for Britain. This week he has been forced to confront the horrible reality of his own incompetence and announced that the horrific landmark of 100 000 Covid deaths since the onset of the pandemic has been reached.  Of course, that is according to the government’s preferred methodology; according to the more realistic ONS figure we are actually nearer 130 000. With typical cynicism, the Tories-along with the neutered journalists at the supine BBC-have deployed a total throughout the crisis that downsizes the bodycount. However, even with that method, there is now no hiding the catastrophic failure of Johnson and his cabinet to protect the British public from the onslaught of the virus.  

He did everything he could?

During yesterday’s event, Johnson admitted his own role in the ongoing disaster:

I think on this day I should just really repeat that I am deeply sorry for every life that has been lost and, of course, as I was Prime Minister I take full responsibility for everything that the Government has done.

Incredibly, he did not draw the logical conclusion from this admission that his position as Prime Minister is totally untenable. Evidently, the complete absence of any moral compass that is the hallmark of this government, entails that Johnson sees no issue with such disastrous leadership continuing even though the virus is tightening its grip on the country. In a sane society, any person whose political record included 100 000 avoidable deaths would be forced to step down. Outrageously Johnson went on to say:

What I can tell you is that we truly did everything we could, and continue to do everything that we can, to minimise loss of life and to minimise suffering in what has been a very, very difficult stage, and a very, very difficult crisis for our country, and we will continue to do that, just as every government that is affected by this crisis around the world is continuing to do the same

Where to begin?

It is difficult to know where to begin with this denial of the facts. Johnson is such an amoral personality, it is possible he believes the above, but no objective analysis of the last twelve months can avoid highlighting the appalling blunders made by his government. Just for starters:

1 January-February 2020: Johnson misses first five Cobra briefings on the merging virus

2 January: Health Secretary Matt Hancock states: The risk to the public remains low

3 February: Johnson misses 13 conference calls of EU leaders about the crisis

4 March: Johnson boasts about shaking hands of patients in a hospital

5 Attends rugby match of 80 000 people at Twickenham

6 Gives the green light to the Cheltenham racing festival attended by 250 000

7 Gives the green light to Champions League football match in Liverpool attended by 55 000

8 15 000 elderly patients are transferred out of hospitals back into the community, many undoubtedly carrying Covid

9 Covid is downgraded from a Level 4 threat to Level 3 so the government can reduce the PPE requirement for medical personnel

10 Track and trace is abandoned even though WHO has stated this is the best method of virus control

And these are just from the first wave in the Spring. We are now in the second wave and the third lockdown. A comprehensive list of Johnson’s blunders would have to be a multi-volume work. This despicable government has proved itself utterly incapable of learning the lessons of the pandemic. As further evidence of this criminal ineptitude, the Prime Minister bizarrely announced today, along with the second highest daily death toll, he is planning a reopening of schools from the 8th March. Incredibly, he does not seem aware that the former statistic should mean the latter point should not even be contemplated.

Spiteful ideology

Although Johnson’s risible performance should be visible for most now, we should not fixate exclusively on his personal failure. A more fundamental problem is that the British public have been exposed to this terrible danger by the wider ruling class. Johnson won the Tory leadership race with a crushing majority in 2019. His shortcomings as a national leader were apparent even then, but the establishment chose to overlook them and focus on his supposed popular appeal. The contempt the British ruling class have for their own population has been horribly demonstrated by their championing of Johnson and how, even now after 100 000 Covid deaths, some make excuses for him. The best way to honour the memory of these needless victims is to fight to remove this shameful government and its spiteful ideology of profit before people   that has accelerated this catastrophe.

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Sean Ledwith

Sean Ledwith

Sean Ledwith is a Counterfire member and Lecturer in History at York College, where he is also UCU branch secretary. Sean is also a regular contributor to Marx and Philosophy Review of Books and Culture Matters

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