Boris Johnson’s vacuous interview on Good Morning Britain shows a Prime Minister who is out of touch and struggling to survive, writes Terina Hine
It’s local election time and the Tories are set to lose 100s of seats with significant ramifications for both the national party and its leader. So on Tuesday morning Boris Johnson agreed to appear on Good Morning Britain for the first time in five years, and for the first time since becoming Prime Minister.
With his own political future at stake he perhaps should have thought twice. But no, instead he chose to rely on his finely tuned Oxford debating skills and agreed to a live interview with ITV journalist and GMB host Susanna Reid.
But far from being a vote winner Johnson’s performance was vacuous and embarrassing. Each day he appears to becomes less an election asset and more a liability. Conservative Central Office must be desperately seeking another fridge to hide him in.
Whether pensioner Elsie will be to Johnson what pensioner Gillian Duffy (aka “that bigoted woman”) was to Gordon Brown is yet to be seen. But when informed how Elsie, a 77 year old widow, is cutting back on food and spending all day on a bus just to keep warm, Boris Johnson responded by boasting it was thanks to him (not true) that the pensioner had a free bus pass at all. Boris Johnson’s absence of compassion was shocking, and matched only by his absence of shame.
Two days before the country goes to the polls he had absolutely nothing to offer voters struggling with the cost of living: nothing about increasing pensions, welfare provision or help with energy bills. He was told how Elsie’s heating costs had risen from £17 to £85 per month - a staggering rise of £816 per year. But he had nothing. Likewise he had nothing to offer about the growth of food banks or the increase in child poverty seen over the last few years, even though he was asked directly about both.
Instead, Johnson was keen to talk about Ukraine - the perfect war for him - where he gets to play Churchill with Ukrainian lives. No body bags come home, and Johnson rides on the wave of war propaganda.
But on the eve of the local elections the main issue for voters is not the war in Ukraine, however much Johnson wishes is was, but rather how to pay ever increasing bills.
And those bills are huge, rising across the board from food to fuel, while at the same time the energy companies continue to rake it in. Only hours before the Good Morning Britain interview, BP announced its highest quarterly profit in more than a decade. But still, when questioned, Johnson refused to even consider a windfall tax.
In fact Johnson gave very strong signals that no further help with the cost of living would be forthcoming at all: it would risk an “inflationary spiral” he said. So there will be no increases to benefits - be they pensions or Universal Credit - regardless that claimants are facing a real terms cut in benefits.
The interview closed with Johnson embarrassingly asking “Who’s Lorraine?” when told the famous presenter, Lorraine Kelly would be up next. Reid was incredulous, replying “‘Who’s Lorraine?’ Lorraine’s a legend.” Once again Johnson has proved to be poorly briefed, out of his depth and totally out of touch.
In just one interview, intended to show himself as a man of the people, the Prime Minister has managed to do the exact opposite.
So what will happen on Thursday? Few Conservatives have switched to Labour - no one is sure what Labour stands for, and no one particularly likes its wooden leader. One in five of Tory 2019 voters say they currently support no party.
One Tory insider has predicted “carnage in Surrey and Oxfordshire” and it is clear things are bad in Scotland, London and the South West. It is even rumoured they might loose their flagship London borough Wandsworth, where the local Conservative contenders have printed election leaflets in turquoise rather than traditional Tory blue, in an attempt to disassociate from the national party.
If the Tories do as badly as some predict it will be the end of Boris Johnson’s leadership and crisis for his right-wing, power grabbing government. And that, however poor the alternative, is worth voting for.
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