1000 Days by Arthur Schlesinger is considered one of the most important political works of the 20th century.
Schlesinger was an adviser to John F Kennedy and the book covers the short time Kennedy spent in the White House before his assassination. It takes in some of the most momentous events of the cold war period, from the Bay of Pigs invasion to the Cuban missile crisis, and shows the enormity of some of the problems President Kennedy faced and the cool heads that prevailed in his cabinet meetings de the.
Last week Boris Johnson “celebrated” (if that’s quite the word we want) the anniversary of his own 1000 days in office. It made me wonder: what would a historical/political work covering this period look like? What great achievements of statesmanship would you focus on? Let’s just look at a few, though in all honesty you could fill half this paper with Johnson’s atrocities.
BREAKING THE LAW
He illegally shut down Parliament in 2019 for five weeks before the Brexit deadline to prevent debate on a no-deal Brexit. The Supreme Court later ruled he had acted “unlawfully” and the decision had an “extreme” effect on British democracy. Even people in his own party objected. His reaction to him? Suitably Stalin-like: I have purged them. Old-school Tories like Amber Rudd, Nicholas Soames and Ken Clarke all had the whip withdrawn for the hellish crime of trying to prevent the no-deal scenario that Johnson and his fellow Brexiteers had always said would never happen anyway.
Thousands of deaths can be traced to Johnson’s dithering over lockdown for a week back in March 2020. At the time he bragged, “I shook hands with everybody,” at a hospital. He then promptly got Covid and nearly died. Insiders have claimed he was vehemently anti-lockdown from the beginning and allegedly said privately: “Let the f***ing bodies pile high in their thousands.”
GOOD OLD-FASHIONED CORRUPTION
Having called his £250,000 Prime Minister’s salary “chicken feed”, Johnson has complained about money worries since his last divorce. It has been claimed that a Tory donor was asked to “find” a nanny for Johnson and Carrie Symonds’s baby (one of his possibly seven children – no one seems to know for sure, least of all him), which raised questions about “what favors or promises may have been given in return”. The couple then spent over a hundred grand redecorating 10 Downing Street (Carrie thought it looked “too John Lewis”, thereby insulting most of their voters). Johnson – a great fat hog whose nose is forever in the trough – assumed some kind of charitable trust would pay. When that didn’t happen, Tory donor Lord Brownlow paid instead.
Johnson claimed he had no knowledge of this – but then “missing” messages revealed that he totally did. In the end, reluctantly and only after being caught red-handed, Johnson paid up himself.
BLATANT LIES AND U-TURNS
Where do you even begin? Johnson raised national insurance from 12 per cent to 13.25 per cent this month, having promised in his manifesto not to do so. He axed the pensions “triple lock”, despite promising never to do this just three years earlier. Johnson even launched a push for a return to the workplace, with warnings that workers who didn’t show their faces were likely to lose their jobs. This line of attack was subject to a fast U-turn as rampant Covid cases soon led to another lockdown. Though not all the U-turns were bad: Johnson refused to issue £15-a-week school meal vouchers over the first summer of Covid but did a complete 360 on this after being publicly pressured and shamed by footballer Marcus Rashford.
ILLEGAL HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES
In a bid to deflect from all the above, Johnson, using his attack dog Priti Patel, threw some red meat to the Conservative base recently when they announced they would be sending refugees to Rwanda. Asylum seekers who arrive in the UK “illegally” (of course, it is not illegal to seek asylum) on dinghies or in trucks will be detained, then handed a one-way ticket to Rwanda. The costly and blatantly unworkable plan was immediately denounced by the EU court of human rights and branded the “opposite of the nature of God” by that other famous leftie – the Archbishop of Canterbury.
BREAKING THE LAW PART 2
With the Partygate scandal, Johnson became the first British Prime Minister to be convicted of breaking the law. And he lied to Parliament throughout about his own role in the whole sorry affair. And then, in a breathtaking moment of thoughtlessness for everyone who had been unable to see dying loved ones during the pandemic, he (and any minister he could get to go in front of a TV camera) tried to like the whole affair to a “ speed ticket”.
And that’s just (some of) the big stuff. We’ve barely touched on the affairs with the likes of Jennifer Arcuri, Covid contracts for Tory cronies, bungled Test & Trace systems, cutting of foreign aid, ties to Russian oligarchs, the million quid squandered on his doomed “bridge to Northern Ireland” idea, hiding in a fridge, or his Peppa Pig speech to business leaders that was so deranged and incoherent that, forget the fact you couldn’t believe this man was PM, you couldn’t believe he wasn’t living on a park bench , swigging from a four-liter bottle of cider and using twine to hold his trousers up.
Yes, it’s been quite the 1000 days, hasn’t it? Who could possibly write the book on all of this? I don’t know that a scholar with the pedigree of Arthur Schlesinger would be quite right. You’d need someone more at ease with the sensational. With the unbelievable. With the downright criminal. Someone, in fact, who was an amoral and criminal Tory scumbag themselves. Let’s face it, there’s only one living writer who could do justice to the first 1000 days of Boris Johnson. His name is Jeffrey Archer.