By Michael Curzon and Michael Psaras
Many Conservatives (Party members, that is, including those of a more traditionalist bent) are salivating over the election of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister. All scepticism about where our nation is heading has been thrown out of the window. ‘Worry no longer,’ us remaining doubters are urged, ‘for Boris WILL be our saviour; he has promised to make ‘this country the greatest place on earth’’.
We are urged, also, to stop being so ‘defeatist’ when we offer slight shreds of doubt about Johnson’s ability to save the world. We will not. The election of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister is many things. One thing it is not is good news for traditional conservatives.
This excitement is shared by both Party members and Party MPs. The rejection of ‘defeatism’ (a pejorative term for sensible scepticism) by members is – we can only imagine – a result of the excitement created by a change in leadership and by increased optimism surrounding Brexit (perhaps also of the hot weather we experienced last week). Among MPs, however, this attitude has less to do with excitement than with power.
Nick Cohen, in an article for the Spectator, has pointed out the fact that a number of ministers sacked last week by the new Prime Minister were avidly pro-Brexit (long before Johnson was, if he ever was). On the other hand, certain appointees to the new government have proved themselves in the past to be undeserving of high office and are not completely behind certain Brexit plans Johnson supports. Why was all this the case? Those mentioned with strong(er) records backed Hunt. Those with little worthy experience backed Johnson. It is all about power.
Apply this rule to other MPs and we see why scepticism has been so rare since Boris’ win. Speaking against the new leader could greatly damage one’s career prospects. Why risk it?
Supporters of Johnson outside of Westminster have been quick to show recent polls indicating that he is popular in the nation. For example, a YouGov poll for the Sunday Times suggested the Tories are polling at 31 (+6 since Johnson became leader), Labour at 21 (+2), the Liberal Democrats at 20 (-3) and the Brexit Party at 13 (-4).
As a result of a bombardment of propaganda from the legions of optimists who are quick to put down anyone with doubts as being ‘defeatist’, there seems to be an atmosphere of ecstasy with usual Tory voters. This, however, will surely die down (especially when they find out Johnson cannot deliver on his promises) after but a few weeks.
Furthermore, why are these people so quick to jump on polls when they are so often wrong? Polls seem to be a rather useless tool – they are there for the benefit of political parties grabbing power, in that they can substitute having principles for whatever is the seemingly popular mood – and the popular mood can be wrong.
Supporters of Johnson – however much they inflate the support of his premiership – are not quite able to gloss over Farage’s Brexit Party and the trouble that may cause for the Tories at a general election. Quite often accusations of ‘splitting the right-wing vote’ are thrown at Farage – as if the Tories have the monopoly over the ‘right wing’ electorate. To put it mildly, this is an extraordinary accusation to throw about. Quite rightly, a portion of the conservative vote in this country is finally seeing the Tory Party for what it is – an entity not pushing a conservative agenda but, instead, often accelerating the attacks on it.
Johnson’s supporters are going to have to do a lot better than accusing people of ‘splitting the right wing vote’ and ‘letting Corbyn in’, when even in recent times, socially conservative voters have had nine years of Tory-led government and have seen extremely little, if at all any, conservative action put in place. Whilst Farage and his party are not the solution, the Tories quite clearly are not either. Perhaps many of Johnson’s vocal supporters are scared of losing career prospects (as indicated above).
As always, Tory voters will be let down.
Signs of this are already becoming apparent. Johnson has planned amnesty for half a million illegal migrants and has scrapped the migration targets set by Theresa May. He also previously called monogamous marriage a ‘bourgeois convention’. Despite knowing Johnson is no friend of conservatism, many conservative-minded voters still count on him to get us out of the European Union. Though even on this issue, Johnson did not support leaving the EU out of conviction but rather but rather only did so when his career could prosper as a result (how nicely this has worked for him).
Within his first full day in office, the new PM has ended the policy of reducing net migration to under 100,000 p/a, and has flirted with an amnesty for up to 500,000 illegal migrants. Social conservatives must be careful not to fall in to the honey trap of a Boris premiership. pic.twitter.com/AMa4YBAG9f
— Bournbrook Magazine (@bournbrookmag) July 25, 2019
The Boris Project so far has shown pessimism should not be underrated. Instead of putting on joyful faces and shrugging off anything that makes us unhappy, we must face the reality of this debt-ridden, morally vacant country that has declined for a great many years. Our nation needs a leader who will provide the not-so-joyous cures that are necessary for us to survive and genuinely prosper. Johnson is not this man. He will simply tell us everything is okay whilst Britain sinks even further into the abyss.
Photo by BackBoris2012 Campaign Team on Flickr.
This article has been republished as a part of collaboration between the Economics Editorial Board of Miranda House College and the editorial team of bournbrookmag.com at the University of Birmingham. You can also find this article here. If you wish to write to the authors, kindly e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.