IN December 2019 the Conservative Party was riding high in the polls and had won the General Election with a thumping 80-seat majority.
With Labour suffering its worst defeat since 1935, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was on the ascendancy and nothing could stop him from leading his party for the foreseeable future. Contrast then and now to see how the mighty has fallen.
Mr Johnson’s tenure had hardly begun before coronavirus struck with the well-known and devastating consequences for all. This crisis had to be managed and he and his Government did what they thought was best for the country. Sadly, the management of the pandemic had its faults and mistakes were made, although it has to be said any government of whatever persuasion would have had a hard time finding all the answers. In any event the virus has dominated the headlines for the last two years and these mistakes were highlighted front and centre by the media.
This was bad luck for the Prime Minister and his luck has not changed since; he was unlucky to catch Covid himself, unlucky that one of his advisors broke Covid rules, that his Home Secretary was accused of bullying, that his Health Secretary broke social distancing rules, that the Americans pulled out of Afghanistan with little warning, that sadly illegal immigrants died in the Channel, that the MP for North Shropshire broke lobbying rules, that details of alleged Christmas parties taking place in Downing Street last year and his press secretary joking about a fictional party were leaked to the media and that the Cabinet Secretary tasked with holding an investigation into the alleged parties had to recuse himself due to a party in his own office; finally, but not least that the Brexit Secretary has recently resigned. Mr Johnson’s clumsy attempts at defending many of these issues fell flat and the public finally rebelled, evidenced by the mauling the Tories received at the North Shropshire by-election.
It is claimed that Napoleon once said: “I would rather have a lucky general than a good general” and never was this statement more apt than when discussing Mr Johnson’s leadership. Unfortunately, as an erstwhile avid supporter of his I find myself reluctantly having to declare that his time is now up and perhaps he can be replaced with a Prime Minister who not only carries luck but does not appear in public looking like a burst bin bag, at worst, or that they have been dragged through a hedge backwards at best.
Christopher H Jones, Giffnock.
* YOU report the Prime Minister responding to the photograph of him and more than a dozen staff drinking wine in the No 10 garden by saying that it involved “people at work, talking about work” (“PM defends No 10 garden lockdown image of himself and staff drinking wine”, The Herald, December 21).
Well, that’s (maybe) okay then, but who paid for the purvey?
We should be told.
Eric Arbuckle, Largs.
* BORIS Johnson is fond of referencing the heroes of Classical Greece and Rome, and it’s clear that he sets himself firmly in the heroic model, set by such military leaders and heroes as Pericles, Aristides and Themistocles, and among intellectual and moral giants like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.
It’s just a pity that he turns out to resemble much more the shapeshifting liar and cheat Alcibiades.
John Jamieson, Ayr.
* CAN the Queen dismiss Boris Johnson? Possibly a matter for the Supreme Court.
Should she? No doubt.
Dan Malloy, Paisley.
LABOUR AT A DANGEROUS POINT
PETER A Russell (Letters, December 21) is correct. Labour, as a British nationalist party, believes all sovereign power resides in London. It was not always so: when formed, Keir Hardie and his Scottish Labour party believed in Dominion status for Scotland, as most people then believed sovereignty in Scotland lay with the people of Scotland.
Mr Russell’s article of faith of “common endeavour” is a little strange as well, now that Labour is fully committed to the UK separating from the European Union. Labour has also stated recently that it will not oppose Northern Ireland leaving the UK and joining the Irish Republic.
Welsh Labour has set up a wide-ranging, multi-party commission to examine the future constitutional position of Wales, including independence. Not much “common endeavour” in Wales and Ireland, apparently.
There may be no constitutional resolutions being debated at Scottish Labour conferences (surely an odd thing in itself), but it is estimated that up to 40 per cent of Scottish Labour voters, would vote for independence. The modern Scottish Labour party stands, shivering and directionless, at the crossroads of history, with its Tory chums beckoning them to cross the road, against the flow of traffic.
GR Weir, Ochiltree.
CONSIDER STANDARDS OF LIVING
HAVING lived in both Sweden and Denmark, I am used to the shrill warnings from British people about the cost of everything and the high taxes in Scandinavian countries. Unfortunately, I have never had the opportunity of living in Norway but know something about the country’s way of life.
Steph Johnson (Letters, December 20) produces the familiar narrow, smug British comment about the cost of living in Norway. It is not apparent that this cost has resulted in widespread poverty. On the contrary, Norway has an enviable standard of living and, like the other Scandinavian countries, pays high taxes in the knowledge that they are generally well spent and provide good value for money in terms of the services provided by the state.
Your correspondent should try to see beyond the narrow boundaries of her shopping lists. What matters most in any country is not just the cost of living but the standard of living of its citizens.
Peter Dryburgh, Edinburgh.
WHY NO ESTIMATE FOR ENGLAND?
I NOTE that not only just annually following their publication but also, almost monthly, correspondents debate the relevance of the GERS figures to the finances of an independent Scotland.
So that those of us who are not economists might have the benefit of perspective I should look forward to seeing the Government Expenditure & Review Scotland (2020/2021) figures compared and contrasted to those of the Government Expenditure & Review England (2020/2021). I have never seen any publications or discussions about the latter.
If the “GERE” figures are not being collected, collated and published I should look forward to learning why England can be managed without them and why we are unable to compare and contrast the GERS and GERE figures.
Stuart Swanston, Edinburgh.
A STRANGE SET OF PRIORITIES
AT the risk of being accused of excessive sarcasm, there seems no end to the benefits we enjoy because we have a Scottish government. At a time when the NHS is struggling with a new virus and there is a backlog of elective surgery and a struggle to offer cancer treatment and a potential for staff shortages due to the virus, our Government has decided to draw up plans to provide an improvement to gender identity services, currently carried out in England (“Gender surgery could get approval”, The Herald, December 21).
Irrespective of our views on gender identity, I’m supposed to be pleased that our Government has indicated that such services can be carried out here in Scotland rather than England, at a time when ambulance waiting times and elective surgery and cancer treatments are all facing increasing delays. How lucky we are. Unless, of course, we break a leg on the ice or find our health has deteriorated due to age and/or confinement, or find ourselves having to wait even longer for a bed or an ambulance.
James Watson, Dunbar.
SURRENDER IN THE COVID WAR
IMAGINE … it is 1939, war is declared, conscription is introduced, restrictions brought in, civil liberties reduced, families separated, night-time curfews, black out, rationing, bombing. People die but defence is working, the Battle of Britain is won.
Two years later, MPs revolt, protest about civil liberties being eroded, the effect on the economy, people increasingly switch on the lights at night, sneak in an extra ration card, decide air-raid shelters are for wimps, when asked to fight say their freedoms are being infringed, assert the right to choice, talk about conspiracy, is there really a war or has it been invented, gas masks make you infertile, night clubs are a human right, we are all guinea pigs in a vast deception.
Meanwhile, the war falters, more battles are lost. More are injured, more die, medical facilities are overwhelmed. Dunkirk is just the beginning of withdrawal, desertion, defeat, our forces overwhelmed.
Remind you of another time, another place?
Trevor Rigg, Edinburgh.