“It wasn’t one man that created record foodbank use, it wasn’t one man that ripped apart our public services and it wasn’t one man that handed out dodgy contracts to the super-rich. It was the product of 12 years of rotten Tory government.”
By Richard Burgon MP
Boris Johnson has now appeared in Parliament for the last time as Prime Minister – and it’s good riddance to him.
What a disastrous legacy he leaves behind. Polls show most people rightly think Boris Johnson is dishonest. Polls show that people rightly think his government is corrupt. I agree – it’s the most corrupt government in modern history.
But when we look at Boris Johnson’s record it’s not just about his conduct. It’s about in whose interest he governed.
Boris Johnson’s government was always designed to look after the tiny fraction of society most of them are drawn from.
A government that behaves like the rules don’t apply to them – that it’s one rule for them and another for everyone else – was never going to deliver for the vast majority of people.
Despite the synthetic outrage now from Tory MPs at his behaviour and lawbreaking, and the desperate attempts by Tory leadership candidates to distance themselves from his record, Tory MPs always knew exactly what Boris Johnson was like. And his former cheerleaders in the right-wing media knew too.
This was a Prime Minister whose newspaper columns whipped up racism against women in burkas, said working-class men are “likely to be drunk, criminal, aimless, feckless and hopeless”, and described the children of single mothers as “ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate”
Tory MPs were all happy to go along with this character as Prime Minister until all the dodgy behaviour caught up with them and started to put a future Conservative Government (and their own seats) at risk. Only then did they act. Tory MPs haven’t acted out of integrity. They haven’t suddenly become concerned by what is happening in our communities as a result of Johnson’s policies. His removal was naked self-interest.
But even now, as he goes, we have been hearing all sorts of deluded defences of the Boris Johnson’s record which, like so much with this Prime Minister, are far removed from the truth
Instead of levelling up, in the last two years the wealth of billionaires has risen like never before – by £220m per day – while real wages are tumbling.
Instead of 40 new hospitals, we have an NHS crisis with ambulance services on the fringe of collapse. NHS staff are feeling so badly treated that there may be strikes from doctors and nurses and we have a new NHS Bill that gave the private sector a greater say over our NHS
In some sort of sick joke, they brag about Johnson’s Covid response. Yet we were once told 20,000 Covid deaths would be a “good outcome” and it’s now over 200,000 deaths. If we’d the same death rate as Germany, Japan, Canada or Australia then tens of thousands of people would still be alive.
It’s a government that pretends it respects democracy – but it is attacking the rights to protest, suppressing votes and attacking trade union rights as it prepares to try to head off the growing opposition to its policies.
The truth about this Prime Minister is this: behind the jokes and the clown act was someone laser focussed on delivering for the super-rich. The wealth of UK billionaires is up 25% since 2019, bankers’ bonuses are up 28% in the last year alone and profits at the largest companies are up 34% at the end of 2021 compared to pre-pandemic levels.
He led a government that was never going to level up because the Tory party doesn’t ever level up, it just punches down, as they try to grab a greater and greater share for the top 1%.
So, it’s great that the current PM is going. But it wasn’t one man that created record foodbank use, it wasn’t one man that ripped apart our public services and it wasn’t one man that handed out dodgy contracts to the super-rich. It was the product of 12 years of rotten Tory government – under 3 Prime Ministers and backed by hundreds of Tory MPs.
With austerity, they made working-class communities pay for a crisis they didn’t commit – ripping apart public services that hold many communities together
Now they are trying to do that all over again, with leadership candidates licking their lips at the prospects of using the cover of this crisis to drive down wages while profits soar.
The real aim of the Tory leadership race is to find someone with more political capital than Johnson had left to push forward their abhorrent policy agenda that will punish the most vulnerable while letting the billionaires and the oil and gas giants off the hook
So replacing one Tory PM with another won’t solve the deep crisis faced by our communities. We now need a General Election to kick this whole government out.
In the meantime we need to build the protests, demonstrations and support for trade union strikes that can deliver an alternative to the next wave of Tory attacks on our communities.
- Richard Burgon is the MP for Leeds East and the Secretary of the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs. You can follow him on Facebook, Instagram and twitter.
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