I was intrigued by the piece “We should not be surprised by Boris Johnson’s decision to support Priti Patel – it is all part of a worrying pattern”, (20 November, Voices) by Andrew Grice. I could not help wondering if the problem is to do with another aspect of the prime minister's personality.
We all like to be loved and maybe this is more true of so-called populist politicians. While he is quite capable of being ruthless with political opponents, at other times it seems that he is so desperate for approval that he avoids difficult decisions.
For example, when faced with the question of an extra runway at Heathrow (an issue that would make him unpopular, whatever the outcome) he dreamed up the mythical alternative of a new airport.
He was late ordering the first lockdown because he knew it would be unpopular.
He did not sack Dominic Cummings following his breach of lockdown because (as well as needing him) he wanted to play "Mr Nice Guy Who Everybody Loves". However, later, when faced with a greater fear (the disapproval of his current partner) he did what was necessary – and quickly.
It seems to me that he does not understand that there is no such thing as a popular government. Leaders have to make decisions that inevitably offend someone. If this is a character trait that prevents him from facing up to big decisions, it does not bode well for the United Kingdom.
Britain’s doomed foreign policy
As we move towards Brexit, the shape of the UK’s foreign policy is becoming clear. Recently, the government has sought to pass a bill that breaks international law; indicated that it will cut overseas aid, further reducing our standing abroad; planned to increase defence spending, including on space warfare; demanded an EU trade deal entirely on our terms; demonstrated that bullying is OK, with the PM sticking with Priti Patel.
So our foreign policy is and will be based on expecting the world to kowtow to us, “or else!”, as aptly illustrated by Friday’s Dave Brown cartoon. How much we suffer from delusions of a long-lost grandeur!
A dance that can no further go
With Boris Johnson’s ruling in Priti Patel’s case, the UK would seem to be moving, once again, into Trump territory. Black is white and white is black. This, to put it mildly, is not healthy for democracy or due process in government.
We already know what contempt Johnson has for the law, evident from his illegal prorogation of parliament and much else.
In the light of the most recent revelation – regarding the way the prime minister tried to tone down the report into the Home Secretary’s behaviour – in my view, we have surely got to the point where Johnson should be impeached. He seems to care as little for the law and due process as Donald Trump. This surely is a dance that can no further go.
The Rev Andrew McLuskey
I write in dismay and sadness regarding the prime minister’s decision to not sack Priti Patel for her bullying behaviour. What do his actions say to all those people, as well as their families, who have been bullied and, in tragic cases, committed suicide?
Is the prime minister supporting bullying? As UK leader, he should set an example.
Am I alone in cringing every time I hear or read the term “loved ones”? Ashley Cowburn couldn’t resist reporting yesterday (“England lockdown will end on 2 December – but the country will face tougher tier system, Boris Johnson to announce”, 22 November) that the PM will “set out how the public can see loved ones over Christmas ”.
Stop it! Or at least use inverted commas to show you care. Nobody, but nobody refers to their friends and/or family as “loved ones”.