Could Johnson’s diagnosis strengthen the Tories?

I recently had a difference of opinion with a friend on whether or not people should be wishing Boris Johnson a speedy recovery in his battle against Coronavirus. Perhaps in some misguided sense of morality, I asserted that people should hope that the PM gets better and returns to leading the country as soon as possible. Yet another change at prime ministerial level helps no one. But it was pointed out to me that maybe his affliction with the illness is the least that could be afforded to a man that many hold to be indirectly responsible for the thousands of deaths that could have been avoided had he intervened with stronger measures at the end of January when he was explicitly warned about the trajectory this pandemic would take. Instead, the UK has had to send its NHS workers to war without sufficient means of protecting themselves. An extraordinary expression of bravery and valour by thousands of poorly paid frontline staff… admirable qualities that the adulterating, lying, unprincipled rogue demonstrably lacks. Yet he is the figure that the nation will turn to at this time. The former Bullingdon Club member will rightly receive the best medical attention and recover in another week or two, fit again to lead the assault against COVID-19.  

But what becomes of him and the Tories once this sorry period is concluded? Speaking with family, friends and listening what commentators have to say, it would appear that many believe this crisis could have a devastating effect on the party due to the contemptable treatment of doctors, nurses and other medical professions being viciously exposed. If there is any good that can come out of this, it could be that the NHS is placed on the pedestal it so deserves. Increased pay? Higher levels of staff? The proper equipment? More beds? Is it possible that born out of this pulverisation of the health services they will ultimately get what they need? Sadly, I believe that it is very unlikely. Not only that, but the Conservatives could be in an even stronger position. 

The former Whitehouse Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel, once said that “you can never waste a good crisis”. This is something that Number 10’s Rasputin will know all too well. Say whatever you will about Mr Dominic Cummings, the man is supremely talented in reading the electorate and pivotal events. Without him, Brexit would not have been possible, without him Boris wouldn’t have got the unprecedented majority and without him, the Tories will struggle to spin this crisis to their advantage. Backed by the right-wing media, Cummings will embark upon a line that says “COVID-19 fought us Brits and we won!!!!”. The empire thumping nature of rule Britannia will be bellowed by Boris and his cronies and unfortunately, the British public will once again fall for it. I can picture it now, Boris, with his little sheepdog Hancock circling in and out of his legs in an adoring figure of 8 motion, telling the masses “we fought the deadliest disease the world has faced for decades and look who has come out on top. Your Health Minister and I came face to face with the toxic beast and stared it down like true Britons do! We lost many brave people along the way; they shall not be forgotten and of course, who could forget the work of our amazing NHS who put themselves in the firing line every single day for months. There is change coming for those workers and WE, the Tory party, SHALL deliver!”. 

But the sad reality is that the changes will be a fart in the wind. A small pay increase, an extra bed or two in the biggest hospitals and the latex gloves might be updated to reach all the way to the elbow rather than barely cover the wrist. But that’ll be all. These tiny changes will be presented as an NHS revolution, championed by Boris. The national papers will guffaw. 4 years from now, when the next election is due, this saga will be long forgotten about and the unrelenting grip of Tories on a vulnerable, easily led Britain will tighten once again.

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